How do you want to die? Do you want to go silently into the night, or with a gun under your chin like Kurt Cobain? Do you want to be surrounded and lamented? Or would you much rather only have the waters of the Pangong Tso singing your farewell?
Death has always been considered morbid, terrifying and even powerful at times. But to me, if there is something that happens faster than Schumi’s car, faster than a hypersonic jet, faster than a fickle girlfriend’s break-up, it is death. One moment you are alive. An entity. An individual. The next, you are gone so far away that the human mind can’t even begin to imagine where. For a lifetime, we accelerate towards this escape velocity in various ways. Some people accelerate more than the others… they are perhaps the Maseratis and Bugattis amongst the crowd of Maruti 800’s. And they are remembered for their run. Long after they have left the track, their skid marks inspire an adrenaline rush amongst those to aspire to run those miles again.
Do one thing before you read any more of this… tilt your head back and look at that ceiling fan turning above your head. It’s a hazy disc, isn’t it? In school, the chemistry teacher had used this visual to explain the benzene ring. Somehow, years later, it shows me the way we look at life. We get up, get dressed, and go through our days like we are set on an assembly line. We go through the motions mechanically because we are supposed to. And if someone had a camera sophisticated enough to capture life around us 24×7, it would catch a blur at best. Life is progressing around us at a breakneck pace and we can only see what we manage to slow down in our minds.
Sometimes life seems like a mixer with you and a whole lot more in it. And every successive generation, someone steps up the speed a little. And you are left with one of those unsolvable Irodov problems where you struggle to find the Centre of Gyration to be at equilibrium while you get centrifugally pushed to the outer bounds. The equilibrium here, perhaps, represents happiness. Happiness that does not need material gains or thick bottom lines. Happiness that does not fluctuate with the stock indices. Happiness that is not counted to two places after decimal. But happiness that one feels after feeding a hungry puppy, or after donating an afternoon to an orphanage. It does not even have to be charity. You may find happiness in listening to Frank Sinatra or Bhimsen Joshi on a lazy Sunday afternoon. You may find happiness in riding your motorcycle in the twisting roads in the Himalayas. You may find happiness in getting wet in the rain and having a hot pakoda. But whatever it is that makes you truly happy, you are constantly battling that centrifuge to get to it. And here is the best part – the harder you run towards your happiness, the faster you turn the blender, and the more difficult it gets. It’s like one of those twisted Economics theories where A leads to B leads to C leads to A. By the time you realize this, you aren’t sure anymore whether you ran first of the blades turned first.
Although we may want to say “Life is ours we live it our way”, the truth is its not really a road. It’s a treadmill with a giant display in front of it showing us all that we want, and all that we might be led to desire. Consumerism sets the pace for today’s lifestyle when we attune all our actions to get what we want, and when we do, we find more things to want. We lead a causal life where we work so that we can buy that big house, and we learn so that we can get into that swanky office. Ever wondered what would happen if we changed the rules of the game? Rather than being a mere puppet in the hands of corporate dictating what we should eat and drink, what if we say like Jim Morrison “I believe in a long, prolonged, derangement of the senses in order to obtain the unknown.” What if we indeed immerse ourselves in our internal happiness and stop this materialistic quest for happiness? What if we say that we won’t eat a pizza just because it comes in 30 minutess and we won’t drink a Cola because my favourite star wants me to?
So go ahead. Pull on that andon string and jump off the assembly line. Happiness awaits you within.