Sunday, August 02, 2009

My mid life crisis

I wrote this post in a hurry. The sentences might seem rather long and my thought process rather choppy. Be warned. Proceed with low expectations on clarity of thought and expression.

I have, for some time now, been disillusioned with the road map of a normal life. You grow up doing the things most normal children do - you go to college with dreams of a successful career and comfortable life, you want to fulfill all your parental obligations and keep them happy. You try and reach higher for better colleges, better jobs, higher pay, better comforts etc. In my opinion, the ultimate worth of being a lead rat in this rat race is really nothing. Nada. Zip. You still, despite your best efforts, go through life much along the same lines as a lesser accomplished individual except that the degree of refinement in your life is higher.

Don't read this the wrong way - this is not to say that ambition is bad. In fact, I think it is the very essence of what makes us better individuals. People without any ambition are the worst offenders from the perspective of this post.

My point is that despite all the fruits of your ambition, your life is fundamentally no different and hence, no richer, texturally speaking, than a life confined and stifled by normalcy. Let me lay it out for y'all - this grand plan that governs just about everyone's life (including mine)

go to school-> (harder/faster/better routine) -> good college -> (continue to follow harder/faster/better routine) -> good high paying job -> higher studies (abroad) -> (you know the words - harder/faster/better) -> get into a job -> start worrying about immigration.

Meanwhile, your personal life follows this routine -
you hit 25 or something nearby -> you've already been dating or been in a few relationships -> look to get married -> get into this "save, save, save for your future" mentality -> get married (either because it's the right time or you've to fulfill parental obligations or your girlfriend/boyfriend is yanking your chain or maybe you really want to(!)) -> move into plush apartment -> furnish apartment with the latest and greatest that your combined salary can afford -> have elaborate parties, hob nob with sheeple and discuss politics and economics.

Aren't you already disgusted with the pointlessness of a life awash with the gray of boredom and accepted norms?

Depending on the green card situation, your job stability and the pressure from back home you (along with your spouse) decide to start a family. -> buy a house (this can take a long time and significant investment) -> deck up your house in the usual way - game room (with attendant giant screen TV), living room also with large flat screen TV, plush leather furniture etc etc -> pop babies -> green card approved (it could very well be that your green card is approved before you decide on a baby).

I hope you see where this is going - other individuals, whom you left on the wayside of accomplishment as you sped past them on wings of ambition, have, I'm sorry to say, a life that is darned similar to yours. In some cases, way better than yours.

Coming full circle, the ultimate worth of running this rat race? NOTHING. A life time of effort and sacrifice and yet, no sense of fulfillment, no real improvement in your sense of self worth.

Have you really thought of what makes you content in life? I am not talking about the happiness you get from taking that adventurous vacation or going sky diving or hand gliding or whatever is the current rage amongst sheeple trying to be different from the rest of the sheep and hence, exclusive. I am talking about happiness that can only come from being contented in and with life.

Most people over compensate for the abundance of boredom/discontentment/disillusionment that is a direct consequence of the stifling grip that a plain ol' vanilla life has on your life and future. I do too.

The following thoughts run quite tangentially to the point I was trying to make all this while.

Have you ever stopped and wondered what really separates you from a kid, any kid, growing up in a slum somewhere in the world? just pure chance. I'll repeat, just pure chance. I do not subscribe to the argument that one should be grateful for what one has and all that jazz. My point is more along the lines of what are you doing with it? Just living it as is? Just going through it with a mindlessness of a drone that wakes up periodically to the reality of its meaningless existence but by the sheer inertia of a lifetime of laziness, just sinks back to the torpor that has been the hallmark of its life?

The sheeple that most people are, end up pissing away their infinitely more valuable lives, one day at a time just by pursuing their fascination with self gratification through living life in the trenches of accepted norms. A normal life that guarantees them a secure, safe life peppered with episodes (often lengthy ones at that) of escapism when each tries to mold himself/herself into something exclusive in a vain attempt at being different from the herd. From what I've been told, being a normal sheep is highly over rated.

Some people are actually somewhat satisfied with their lives(!!!) and ever so often indulge themselves in some form of escapism to compensate for the boredom in their life. They feel renewed anew after an episode of escapism and feel like they can go through the drudgery they think is life for a little longer before they need another break. I think I am in this stage now. And if you are anything like me, this feels like exactly a drug habit - you need fixes faster than before and each with a bigger/better high than the last. You know where that story is going to end don't you?

Sigh! I sometimes find my cynicism too cynical.

But, my question is just this - What is the point of it all? Is there any? Is there meant to be any? Is terminal boredom a fact of life, a way of life even?

What does one have to do to BE alive? to FEEL alive?


direkishore said...

Brilliant post !! Wish I knew the answer ..

Anonymous said...

You will feel alive when - you get out of your comfort zone ready to set new expectations and change.

MyriadMaiden said...

No way am I qualified to advise or trying to provide any answers, but a few (random) 2 cents in response:

If contentment is what you're after, haven't you already answered how to get to it by asking - "Have you really thought of what makes you content in life?" ? The answer to this lies within oneself, and I am pretty sure very few people in this world have figured this out. I think it's difficult to figure this one out because our identity is in some ways a mystery to ourselves - it gets moulded and framed and criss-crossed by different perceptions and feedback, that it takes a while (a whole life!) to figure out who we really are and what we are really after.

Also, careful what you wish for - contentment does not necessarily preclude boredom, does it? One could ask, what is the point of being content? Wouldn't you get bored with being content if there's no "life", "action" in contentment? Wouldn't ambition die with contentment? I'm not sure if you're talking about contentment with respect to only material benefits and wealth, but having an exciting life as far as enriching "experiences" are concerned. In which case, the so-called "forms of escapism" that you describe could lead to those enriching experiences that could shape you, couldn't they? Not necessarily in that very - shall we say - instantiation of the escapism, but in some long-lasting impact that one-time experience has on you. You cannot suddenly paint a masterpiece without dabbling with colours and messing with them.

I think what we all struggle with is translating our recurring but ephemeral moments of inspiration and motivation into real paths of life that CAN bring a more lasting happiness(I'm still not convinced about the usage of "contentment", as you can see :) ). I'm not talking about random "Eureka" moments, but the ones that come from within time and again, make you reflect on your life, and then vanish since they didn't find a nourishing mind. Sometimes, the ones that are consciously ignored, for whatever reason - fear, past experiences, prejudice, family, lack of confidence, and a myriad other things.

As I was typing this, I saw your other post, so I'm going to try and address that as well here.

" The point I make here is that the longer I stay in a lifestyle governed by these norms and accepted ways, the harder it becomes to break out and change your life in a fundamental way. You may compensate by launching onto themes that are finely nuanced to differentiate you from the rest of the herd but that is as far as you are going to get with this exclusivity. "

I agree wholeheartedly with the first sentence. But, as you are trying to differentiate youself from the "herd", the herd is changing itself. So, there's no way you'll ever catch up. If we are to avoid making the same mistake of being sheeple again, I guess more than anything else, we need to look within as an "absolute" person, rather than compare ourselves with others. If we break out of the comfort zone just because others are doing it, it's not going to help. If we do anything just because someone else did it, it's never going to bring contentment, because of the comparison, and because the other object of comparison is constantly changing.

Back to my original theme - It's probably the most difficult thing in the world to look within and find that which really makes you tick. I'm still searching. Never say never! :)

EmperorFrost said...

Very interesting and thoughtful comment MyriadMaiden! I'll put up my reply as a post soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Did you say sheeple?