Monday, February 13, 2012

A marathon that won't end

Of late, I am never satisfied.

I am beginning to get gripped by the fear that I am going to be on a perennial search all my life - a search without knowing its object or end.

I keep thinking of different careers that I could be involved in and live through them in my mind - yet, the exercises always have me coming out knowing that this career is not going to be the magic panacea where I am going to feel complete. On some days, it feels like I need to have many careers at once to feel complete. On others, it feels like nothing will ever achieve that objective at all. 

I read Leo Tolstoy's "How much land does a man need?". A devil plots to ruin a man's mind and gets him in possession of some land. This only gets him embarked on a journey of greed, desire and dissatisfaction as he only keep wanting more and more land with each victory. The last few lines of the story hit you hard:

His servant picked up the spade and dug a grave long enough for Pahom to lie in, and buried him in it. Six feet from head to his heels was all he needed.

I wonder if not long ago, the devil plotted a similar conspiracy on me. I keep conceiving of new things to do and feel that the accomplishment will make me feel elated and farther in the journey. Yet, with each new addition to the basket, I am only setting in action further commitments, demands and sleepless nights - long term projects that require sustained efforts; a parasite that only needs more and more food and eats on thoughts without productive nourishment.

And I wonder if this increasing expansion of my to-do lists is really helping at all. The more I start, the more there is to finish and the more time each needs to be finished, the farther I need to schedule life. Looking ahead, I see multiple dust filled roads in the vast sunny desert, each competing for attention and with their destination nowhere in sight. Slowly, I start to wonder why I had charted them in the first place. What if there is no destination at all and these stretch to endless miles, with intermittent mirages...mirages that urge me to believe in the devil further?

I feel like I need to go on a great Master cleanse and purge the system of all the opened charts - simplify - clean the clutter - detox and seek the destination within - one that does not need a road of projects or accomplishments that will get the world to notice me - only a mind of goodness. 


Tangled up in blue... said...

Sinduja, this is an amazing coincidence! I was having the exact same conversation with a friend of mine last night on her blog! She said the same thing - that she needed to take a break of sort from things. But she was afraid to because she might be losing out on something if she did.

And I told her about this insatiable hunger I feel to read more books, watch more movies, go for concerts, wander around in exhibitions and travel more. Just you know, wrest more out of life every day!

And this feeling of longing for more and more to do and have and learn is very, you know, difficult to satisfy.

But I suppose this is the way we're built. Some people just HAVE to take the scenic route in life! :D

CHIBI said...

we keep learning things, if needed or not. but with the need, there's a direction and without direction there's no journey... There's a destination, it has multiple paths, but not all directions lead to it, trying to do so, will end in a circular run.

so use a map, try all the paths to the same destination... mirages along the way are fine, as long as you know it's the same route.

I guess you don't need a purge of system, a fine tune of the engine and enough fuel for the ride is good enough

Do i make sense? too philosophical?

:) said...

Exactly the same thought running in my head. Everytime i do something, a more exciting idea or path comes up before me. I divide my attention between different things and wonder if this is really my goal in life.
Beautiful article. Makes me wanna rethink what im doing right now.

karthick r said...

OK! How do I put this? This feeling will slowly fade away once you fail, or once you start feeling that you are not doing justice to the task that you're doing. You see others putting their heart n soul into it. With too many things on your plate, will you be able to do the same is the question.
If the answer is yes, then you are doing a great job. Stick to it. On the other hand, if the answer is No/Maybe-not-in-the-near-future - LET GO.
Good one.
~ cheers.!

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

Yes! there is frustration, desperation and almost everytime, landing into depression. But all this is not the work of the devil. Because if it was, then you would be running around to get things done (like all the myriad middle class families) and not stop to ponder over it.

The very fact that you are contemplating on the frailities and vainities of life is proof that God's hand had touched you.. Its half the battle my dear!

Sinduja said...

@Tangled up in blue: Wow, coincidence indeed. But you know what Karishma (I hope I am spelling the name right), wanting to read more, watch more and travel more is okay. Acceptable. I mean there, we just need more time what if you suddenly felt you not just have to watch the movie but analyze it - come to conclusions - and then perhaps communicate it to others? I mean, a new scenario where you have a deep compulsion not just to experience something but also make something concrete out of the experience?

Ah, it is maddening I tell you.

@CHIBI: 'With need, there is direction' - beautiful thought. But I wish I knew what the destination was AND most importantly, if it is worth all the struggle to get there. Journeys that do not have any good purpose are a mere waste of time and energy.

Sinduja said...

@ :) - Wow, I like your profile name. Feels like I am starting something with a smile! :) I am glad to hear you could connect to this - things do seem exciting before we really start the hard and tiring work on them.

@Karthick: What? It is because of failure and a sense of injustice that the whole feeling started in the first place! :( Had I done well with all the demands, I would have gladly gone forward without any repent.

But on further read, I get what exactly you are coming to and I think it is a brilliant point - about knowing what the unwanted additions are to the platter - to let our interest and passion guide us. Hmmm. Interesting. Unfortunately, nothing seems to be guiding me right now.

Sinduja said...

@Vicky Dada: Vikas! I take a bow! Wow, what a revealing point you have made! - Yes, somewhere Good is in there. I really am speechless. You really know the nuances of putting forth powerful 'hitting' points in few lines.

CHIBI said...

@ Sindu : the search for your destination might be like finding distant land from a ship in middle of the deep blue sea, the happiness and true satisfaction you get on finding it, will be the greatest.

Alas, you may not find the perfect utopia, but you might find in your destination, a new world to explore :) or maybe have it named after you.. :P

Dobby Severus Salazar said...

The author of this post and all those who commented, most probably be of like minded people.

@Karthik comes from experience.

Just to add flavor, lets imagine that all humans are having a copy of the same soul called 'source soul'. What this post describes is a problem of this 'source soul'. It has desire and capability, but lacks satisfaction. So, it takes many human forms and tries its hand in every art, science and pleasure imaginable on this earth. Now, it is not satisfied. So, it also takes many births to repeatedly do everything. Result , today's world, science and arts. Still it keeps going.

You should have noticed that some people do only one thing and they are best and they are content, probably they reach god through it with their life of fullness. Example: Sachin Tendulkar, M.S.Subbulakshmi.

So, when we reach this juncture of no satisfaction and see no point in anything as well, well to be practical, settle for a comfortable life, build a supportive family and friends. Your old age will be pleasant. Now why should we do it? Because you can contemplate about your destiny for the entirety of your lifetime :) without a rage in you.

Dobby Severus Salazar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sinduja said...

@Chibi: Thanks Chibi. Gives me hope :)

@Dobby: Was there some mockery or anger in your post? Lol, I can not say. But interesting - the 'source code' concept; true computer engineer huh :)

But seriously, it was very profound. I totally got your first point. Then, I dint quite understand why you mentioned about ppl who are satisfied with one thing alone. Is their soul probably designed in a more fortunate way or they are the wise ones who know that instead of searching in everything, even one single activity is enough to find bliss?

I am quite offended by your suggestion ;) - no satisfaction and seeing no point in everything is not a tragic end whose only solution is settling down with family - in fact, these people are the ones who are here for the greatest realization - finding the true meaning of satisfaction itself. It might be hard, take time but they will find it eventually.

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

Sinduja - If you want to take a bow, then do it in front of the mirror.. because as I see it, you are not living in your dreams anymore.

About me! I am still a bit confused. Like a great philosopher once said, "One day I dreamt of a frog. Now I don't know if I am a frog dreaming of man, or man who dreamt of frog"

Arumugam said...

I had always wanted to read that book of Leo Tolstoy,but never got around to it.Thanks:D The books he wrote were a reflection of the anxieties torturing him at whatever particular life stage he was in.

This reminds me of an earlier post of yours titled "What are the missing pieces of the puzzle".I quite strongly identified with it at the time.

The panacea is in realizing no particular career "is going to be the magic panacea where I am going to feel complete."We humans are simply too multifaceted for that.And to expect the world to satisfy that craving in the form of a career for you,will cause misery more often than not.The current ideology of work is that it should be meaningful and entertaining,thats one's colleagues should be ones friends and work is primarily a tool for self realization,which is quite surprising considering work fundamentally is about survival.One must be wary of putting all our eggs in the career basket.

"There is unthinking cruelty discreetly coiled within the magnanimous bourgeois assurance that everyone can discover happiness through work and love.It isn't that these two entities are invariably incapable of delivering fulfillment,only that they almost never do so.And when an exception is misrepresented as a rule,our individual misfortunes,instead of seeming to us quasi inevitable aspects of life will weigh down on us like particular curses.In denying the natural place reserved for longing and error,it denies us consolation for our fractious marriages and unexploited ambitions,and condemns us to solitary feelings of shame and persecution for having stubbornly failed to become who we are"

The following two books helped me tremendously in pondering this very question.

Tangled up in blue... said...

Sinduja, yes, you're spelling it absolutely right! :) And I totally get what you mean. To milk from life its very essence and imbibe it into our souls - feels like a lofty preoccupation, doesn't it? But that's the way we're built. :)

Arumugam, I must say you're by far one of the most prolific readers I've encountered. :) Oh and there's this famous joke about Woody Allen reading one of Leo Tolstoy's books. Famously, Allen claimed, "I speed-read through War & Peace. It's about Russia!" :D

Sinduja said...

@Vicky: Hmmm, seems to be quite a favorite saying of yours. Confused? I think all deep philosophers are!

@Arumugam: True...but I still feel one's work should be as close as possible to what the ideal thing could be. The closer, the better.
That one was a lovely para...truly needs to be framed. Hmmm..somewhere it still feels like there IS a calling. Lets see.

@Tangled up in blue and Arumugam: Phew! You guys are praising each other everywhere! What is this I say! Lol. But then you know what, I am going to just have the last word and say you guys totally deserve it and am glad to have you both reading this blog! Cheers!

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

"All deep philosophers are confused" quotes Sinduja. So does that mean Philosophy begins from confusion or ends in it? Mind you, it can't be both, because to go from confusion to confusion is Life, not Philosophy :)