Imagine. Your life is drawing to end, only this time right in front of your eyes. If someone could show you that the right time to do anything in life, is ‘now’, what will you make of it? Will you realise that you need to start living, and that requires more than breathing and thinking. We have heard this a zillion times that one must not take life for granted, but little do we understand its meaning. The reason is that we simply do not know what this ‘taking life for granted’ really mean. We listen to people, read books, watch motivational videos; only to seek advice from a different person’s experience. We forget that we ourselves define meaning in our life. We give the least amount of attention and respect to our point of view because we are looking for validation from the outside. And the most intimidated we are from a perspective, the more we want to follow it. But we fail, precisely because it is not meant for our ‘unique’ experience. There is no shortcut, the only way to deal a problem is ‘your’ way.
So, when I say, ‘taking life for granted’, each of us is supposed to define it, for ourselves. These questions are before us all: What is it that we take for granted? How are we meant to live? What do we want from life? What is it that we live for? The most difficult of tasks is to be truthful to ourselves. We often lie and lead our life in pretence, ending up unhappy and unsatisfied. If one is trapped in mere thinking and not doing, then that person is caged in an abstraction and will never be able to realise its potential. And so, anyone who wants to get answers must stop thinking and start living. We get a hang of most things in life, by doing them. So, why do we wait? Perhaps because we are afraid of the new and unknown. Most of us are comfortable in our cocoons but they do not take us far. It is because we are afraid of ‘doing’ and the results it might hold for us, that we do not begin. That is where thinking and procrastination kicks in. Making of plans in our heads, charting of schedules like pasting sticky notes on a wall, maintain a chores manager, setting of targets etc. which by the way does not count as ‘doing the actual work’; it is rather an extension of our planning. We make so much attempt to convince ourselves of something, by thinking of it rather than doing it. But no one gets convinced of the worthy unless one gets a taste of it. That is where the question of living is of utmost importance. The point of living is not to fail or succeed, it is merely ‘living’, going through it. And we have different ways of ‘going through’- suffering and non-suffering, that depends on us.
Let us remember, when we were a kid at school, art teacher provided us a plain sheet of paper and asked us to draw anything as per our wish, did we ever ponder as to what will make us win or lose? There was no question of winning or losing. Each of us was judged by our own drawing and not by that of a fellow classmate. Life is like drawing one’s own picture, painting it with colours and then enjoying one’s creation. But instead of drawing our own picture, the horrid consequences concern us. And we are trapped in thinking about it, feeling the ghostly pressure and stress of ‘not being good enough’. Thus, we have given up even before participating. The anxiety giving us weak knees and making our heart shudder; we feel the chills of failing at something. At this moment, we are the most near to death and have forgotten to live.
Paying head to every voice inside one’s head can be tremendously disorienting, delaying what is important before us – time. The reason that time is given so much attention while discussing life is because without it, life will lose its appeal. Birth comes with a condition of death. Hence, respecting life means respecting time, the time we have in our share. Everything does not go on forever, so we are told. I do not want to impress that we must hurry up or that we are running out of time. Instead, the intention is to suggest that do take your time, own it, use it well, doing something that you are proud of. Or even if you make mistakes, learn from them. But you will never know unless you put yourself ‘out there’ to experience. Living is then, a reminder to one that ‘we can do something’ or that ‘we can change our condition’. Living is living with hope and dreams, there is no other way to feel more alive every day. Death is not what comes to us once and takes our life, death is also in the mundane of life, in the helplessness of existence and in the loss of faith or optimism.
The world today has set us ‘thinking’ about every bit of ourselves, and so, we are constantly trapped in a process of judging ourselves. We gather information from our surroundings and without delay we apply it in our lives, compare ourselves with the standards, then we strive to become something else, something better. If we can find someone in the whole world who believes in what we are and accepts us, we become the fortunate ones who found love. Such instances are not impossible, but they are rare. Because we all are trapped and afraid to accept ourselves, leave alone accepting others. Our thinking is doing us no good if it is taking us far from ‘living’ and making us question things more than enjoying them.
Today, we are a generation of over-achievers, who want to prove themselves in every sphere, from academics to sports to acquiring all sorts of talents. Also, with the kind of resources present and exposure at an early age, we have better opportunities to prove ourselves. From a young age, parents have engrained in their children to be ‘all-rounders’. They do not want him/her to fail at all, on the contrary to excel in everything they put hands in. With this sort of glorification of achievements and a constant motivation attached with certification of milestones, there is nothing else we look forward to in life. However, there is so much to life beyond these calculated and measured successes. A mind lost in thinking of past failures and future endeavours is divorced from the present wonder life has to offer.
From an old era where social structures were unbreakable and social life was vibrant, to the contemporary times where individualism has stretched to the level of isolated individuals; there is an increasing tendency to get lost in a mind’s reality. Thinking comes easy to individuals, scared of the social contact and in this setup introvert-ism starts getting glamourized. There is no denying the fact that there are people who find it difficult to socialise. But making it a trendy lifestyle is another thing altogether. We must recognise our social needs and set our grounds firm as reality is not made of computer screens but of human bonds. Living requires us to be conscious of our surroundings and to perform our role in this setting. To live is to perform, to act, to behave, to laugh, to cry, make mistakes and much more. Whereas thinking does no more than reaffirm to a kind of self-imaging which is afraid to live up to that image. All of us are perfectly sorted individuals in our minds, however, only when we ‘live it’ that we realise the truth. We realise the assumptions and misconceptions we carry pertaining to ourselves; we find our true self in the journey of life while making errors and amendments. It is only then that we notice our aspirations, strengths, weakness, and our temperaments. Only by getting out of a pretentious self which is lost in its thoughts and make-belief, can we enter a more realistically rich space of ‘living it up’. While thoughts are ranked in highs and lows, even ‘thinking’ of some is celebrated and remembered over others; there is no ideal one way of ‘living’. Nobody tells us how to live, for as long as we do not forget that we must live. To each his own way of enjoying life.
-Tanya Yadav (Freelancer)
Picture Credits: collaborativecbt.com