My X Std CBSE English Prose carried a short story called 'Without Glasses'. It was a fascinating story, which I never forgot. The author loses his glasses and so cannot read books. The author does not really need to read a book. However, reading a book helps him go to sleep. In the course of searching for his glasses, he remembers that even when he had glasses, he really did not read much. He dozed off before he completed a sentence. He discovers that reading a book did not put him to sleep. It was the knowledge that he could read the book in case he wanted to - that put him to sleep. Without Glasses, he simply couldn't sleep. And, funnily enough, one usually does not need glasses to go to sleep.
As is inevitable, I began to extrapolate this concept to life itself. There are several crutches people use to 'just get through' something or simply get to the next state. The crutch, however irrelevant to our purpose, pretends to help us get there 'faster'. And we do want to reach the next state soon, don't we? The sheer 'whats next' attitude that is dominating our times is simply fascinating. There used to be a time when I waited endlessly for A.R.Rahman to release an album and would listen to his songs in minute detail. I'd try and catch all the funky instruments he'd use (the ones that can only be heard on a earphone) and spend hours listening to the same album several hundred times. Time seemed to be available in plenty and there was no hurry to get anywhere. Nowadays, any new album I hear, I can't wait for the next song to start and once it starts, I can't wait for the next song after that. Same with life events, work, projects and other 'milestones'. Once something gets over, there is a immediate need for 'what is next'.
Sometimes, I see everything I do as a crutch - that just helps me get to tomorrow, the next week or the next month. Everything I look forward to is just a tool that helps me look forward to something else. Transcient-ness prevails. And it is sometimes painful. Is work a crutch to get to the ultimate ambition of a peaceful, nothing-to-do retired life? Are family, children, career, crutches without which 80 years of life will become extremely boring? In school textbooks, stories and proverbs we are taught by wise men to enjoy the journey and not focus purely on the end. At that time one wondered - this is so obvious, its the journey that matters - why wouldn't people know that? I find it funny that it was so obvious once upon a time. As one grows old life becomes a series of 'lets get to the next part'. One is not as impressed by the romance of the journey as one is afraid of the journey going sour anytime. So one wants to quickly get to the end.
I was reminded of a time, 3-4 years ago, when the 'whats next' syndrome started really taking over my life. A colleague of mine - a very nice bright girl - stopped abruptly as we were rushing to a meeting in another building. She stopped to admire a flower and remarked to me how beautiful the flower looked. I laughed uncontrollably. I had never heard or seen anything as absurd as that. In the flowing adrenalin of that time - the flower seemed irrelevant to the customer presentations, hikes, bschool applications and the pursuit of what I called a 'career'. I laughed at the girl openly and was thankful that I wasn't as spaced out as she was. I told her that I was happy. Happy, that I was past the phase she was going through. No more, was I deluding myself that the journey mattered more than the result. Suchithra, almost had a hippie like care-free-ness about her. Didn't mind my remarks about structure, discipline and rigor. She read a novel at work, drew portraits of co-workers, wrote poems and constantly asked me and my team to enjoy life. To stop and smell the roses. But I was sure that the journey wasn't important. Ends were facts. Journey, was a silly romantic consolation story told by losers. I was dismissive of her 'dreami-ness', thought she slowed down the work and asked her to code better.
In the last couple of months, I met with 2 car accidents. Strongly believed that either one could have killed me. When I was in 8th std and my ambassador car hit a bus, I couldn't stop thinking about it for months. Last saturday, 'who won the toss' was in my mind seconds after I ran out of a crashed car. I was already thinking of the boredome of having to deal with the post-accident stuff. The moment of clarity when the car hit the one in front of it is as lucid as my apathy. I have been saying this 'dramatic event' to a few friends. As if that would induce fun into my journey. As if that would make the journey appear more interesting. Sometimes when I tell the 'accident story' to people - it does. Sometimes it does not. Now, I am not so sure. I hate to hurtle through time and see everything as a crutch. But I can neither ditch the iPod nor listen to the songs.