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From The Afterglow

Verses, Tales, Thoughts

By Varsha Panikar

Figuring Life Out

There was a time I used to think it was necessary to figure the world out and as a small niche of that, my life. Worse still, I believed it was possible given enough thought. I then went through a stage of believing I had pretty much done both of those. What can I say? Vanity knows no bounds. In fact, I went through a stage of heavy disillusionment, both with the belief that I had figured out my life and the world. Luckily, I soon realized the answers to questions in society were false or only partially true and would require a lot more experience, thought and learning to even approach. So with time, I trimmed down the tree of my expectations and aspirations. Growing older kicked me hard with reality. It killed some or much of my youthful optimism and exuberant idealism.

Gradually, my thinking, my beliefs — fell in line with my experiences rather than trying to work to experiences based on my beliefs. I developed a stoical attitude to life. Accepting it pretty much as it is, imperfect but still good, neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Personally, I came to hope for little. It’s strange to consider yourself an optimist when you expect very little. On a wider scale, my politics and philosophy became more humanistic, more realistic. I realized that politics is nuanced, complex and exceedingly difficult, and philosophy has come to be somewhat irrelevant in our modern society and where it is not, it doesn’t serve much either. I learnt that life is nuanced and rarely, black and white. We’re all figuring it out as we go along — as individuals, as societies. Like art, living is a creative process, where you look for the ability to create something within it, the opportunities for fun, for pleasure, for kindness and the like. Even though I had heard it many times, it was only then that I understood that life truly was like an adventure, a multifaceted journey which you define with each step. It can be exciting and inspiring! Still, there was something I could not wrap my head around. The uncertainty that comes with it; it got to me nearly every time.

Uncertainty is a curious thing. It is complex because it doesn’t have any sort of form. It’s mutable and constantly changing. It doesn’t sit in your stomach like hopelessness, it doesn’t course through you like anger, it doesn’t freeze you like depression. Uncertainty is just that - uncertain. You can’t deal with it because it shifts all the time, but it’s not always bad because it thrills us as well as crushes us. Anticipation is one of the most intense feelings you can have.

Think about the last few minutes of a game, your team up by 1. Anticipation is one of the most intense feelings you can have. Think about the last few minutes of a game, your team up by 1. That feeling, the increased heart rate, the rapid breathing, the excitement? That’s uncertainty too, and it would be unfair to discount it. Uncertainty is the most intensely personal drug the human race can experience. Everybody rides it at one time or another, but nobody gets the same reaction — and in our own way, we are all addicts. That’s what makes it feel so bad. It gets to us because it taps into the most powerful emotion we are capable of experiencing, hope! Do you know what they say about hope? That hope, is a rainbow winged bird flying high in the dark night sky, only to be seen by a dreamers eye.

They say that life isn’t good or bad, it just is. I am slowly starting to grasp that idea. In this present moment, all I can hope for is hope itself. A hope where I am able to just be more in the present and not linger in the past, or worry about the future; be more accepting of its uncertainty. A hope that I am able to focus on creating myself and be more accepting of me. A hope that one day my body will give into my soul and I might be to understand my place in this world, or perhaps, see beyond infinity. A hope that maybe one day I am able to truly stop trying to figure all this out. Deep down, I’ve always felt that whatever I am looking for is present within me, even though I haven’t been able to explore it; but what I hope for most of all, is that one day, I can truly learn to just be!

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