Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The human endeavour for a perfect life

Tyler Durden would have you believe that "this is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time" and sometimes that is what really dawns upon you. When you are at the coffee shop, sipping your creamy latte with a bit too much of sugar and you see the wall clock in your cup. Your eyes drift towards the wall clock on the wall. It's been 20 minutes and you have been at your coffee, working on it like a connoisseur without the discrete faculties to tell a Nescafe from a Lavazza. Essentially, politely speaking, a not so good connoisseur. Yet, we let time crawl around us and sneak up behind our backs while we roll through the various mundane loops in our day; Almost every single day of our life!

The Tyler in my head often asks me, "If you wake up at a different time, in a different place, could you wake up as a different person?" and I quip back, "What difference would it make?". At that point, Tyler smiles at me and walks away. Usually he doesn't like confrontations with me, specially when he knows that I got the point.

At the many different junctures of my life, when I have thought about the possibility of being Super-man (and well occasionally Bat-man), I have always found myself feel more lonely than what I started with. This brings me to a realization that power, popularity or any such thing which we either idolize or fantasize about, are usually also associated with a down-side. The fact that Newton realized that every action has a equal and opposite reaction, probably has a corollary attached to it. That in order to push something up in our lives, something else must go down. We become richer and unhealthy. Or healthier and dumb. Or smarter and lonelier. You get the point. The fact is that all of us have yearned for that perfectly balanced life at some time or the other. At least most of us have.

I drift back to the coffee and the wall clock with Super-man lurking in some far-off corner of my head. "What difference would it make?", I ask myself as I visualize myself in a blue and red jump suit. I see myself sitting there and sipping my coffee. Occasionally flying around to do something fancy but mostly letting life pass by. So is that it? Even if I wake up as someone else, I would still have to experience my diminishing life-time-remaining balance. I would still have to fear the unknown. I would still have to do something that would eventually make an agent go, "Only human!". Why is it then that we yearn for some sort of completeness? Why is it that we want the spot-less whites and the sprawling house? The Tudor mansion, the office on the 73rd floor, the business class tickets, the refrigerator that tells me my schedule, the antique lamp or just a Rolex. Timeless desires? Or efficient targets that help us in procrastinating reality? The closer that we get to realizing that we are just fragments of entropy in the universe, the more something inside us nudges to wave it off as rubbish. So we set goals and tell ourselves, "The day I have the Ferrari, I will have a perfect life". We walk, we toil, we waste ourselves, empty our tender insides and become hollow so that we can fly better.

All the while there is something inside us that is waiting for a Trinity to come and tell us "I know why you're here, Neo. I know what you've been doing... why you hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your computer.". Well something of that sort. Some angel of realization that will come and lead us to a light. Help us free ourselves from the bonds that we have so intricately worked ourselves into! We wait while we further tie ourselves down. Making gas engines, jet fuel, microprocessor chips, machine intelligence, sharper televisions and what not. The consumer inside us takes the front seat. It makes us the knowledge worker, the business leader, the evangelist, the stock broker, the slave to it's whim and the means to its non-existent end. What is it that we consume after all? How does the plush carpet make us a better human being? The earnest truth is that we don't ask ourselves these questions. We want things. We want them now. We want to see Wayne Rooney strike the 90th minute goal in full-HD wide-screen view. That makes us perfect. Helps us conform to the checklist of success that we as the human race so keenly maintain.

I do not stand in judgement of that being right or wrong. I do not have a better answer, to life's questions, than anyone else. What I do have is an opinion, a perspective. Something doesn't feel right in all of this. Something does not seem to fit. They say that our galaxy is just a tiny speck compared to the universe. The earth is a tiny speck compared to our galaxy, the milky way. And we already know that we are a tiny speck on our vast planet, Earth. So I ask myself, "What difference does it make if a tiny speck on a tiny speck in a tiny speck in the Universe wears a Prada?". Something tells me that it doesn't really matter. Something tells me that our search for the perfect life, the ulterior goal, the eventual balance should culminate outside of the conventional image of success. Something tells me that driving to work every day is equivalent to a predator running in the Savannah to hunt its prey. There is no glory in it. There is something that we are not doing yet, that we ought to do. Something that will make the tiny speck matter to the bigger whole. Something that will set a chain reaction to light up space. Something that will make sure that we as humans are not just fragments of entropy. What is it? I don't know. Not yet but let's keep searching. For there is always hope. And remember the what Andy said when Red told him, "Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.". He said, "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

- Anubhav


  1. Liked the flow of thoughts and the way you worded some of it. Now that's a fight club meets'in to the wild'. May be being Alexander super tramp is the answer or may be not.

  2. Dude, you need a drink... actually quite a few drinks!!

  3. prashant is so rite ..lolz.

    i have a big smile on my face after looking at the artful piece.!! Refreshing-read it is :)

  4. Well..Superman or batman..i think you are a superhero one of ur own...the world is still oblivious to IOLOTUSBOBo :D

    Liked many abstractions..esp. the wall clock in your coffee cup and the predator running in the Savannah..and ofcourse the tiny speck with a Prada is brilliant :)

  5. pretty interesting.. bt leaving everything nd setting out as in Into the Wild is also nt the ans tht one shd be looking for...

  6. Brilliantly written! As for the thought itself, well I couldn't agree more.

  7. Thanks for reading. It is not just about the abstractions or the parallels. It is about perception and I am glad that I can share it. While we must not throw caution to the winds and run out in the wild but there is some path-breaking that has to be done. One of us has to do it. So I will look forward to that! Thanks again.