Last week, as I was driving through the busy streets of Mumbai my car paused for a breather at a traffic signal. Steams of sweat rising from my shirt, fumes of carbon blinding my vision, the only place I could look was up, up at the gigantic advertising hoardings coaxing me to buy something. As I had sometime at hand I started reading the messages one by one. “Achieve results faster than before”, “better than the rest”, “why settle for less when you can have more?”, “double the fun in a bigger better pack”, bombarded by messages of excess I drove away with a mind full of “excessive” thoughts, questions fired in my mind like a automatic gun, couldn’t chase the train of thoughts, unless I reached home and stayed still in the body and let the tides of mind calm down.
Were we humans trying to achieve too much? Were we trying to hold excess in our palms only to let the valuables slip through our fingers, where does this hunger for faster, higher, stronger end? Or does it? How much is too much?
Stilling myself in my easy chair, I contemplated and reflected upon a time in history. The time was around 2nd century BCE, well before the Romans conquered Greece, certain uneasiness was in the air. The impulse that had led Socrates to suspect that true happiness lay beyond the hedonism of symposium had prompted the great Romans to question whether whatever they had in Rome was enough to give them what they desired. The race suffered from a stubborn refusal to rest content in what they acquired, raising a spectacle of excess around 1st century BCE, generating mistrust in the sanctity of Roman Felicitas.
As mentioned by the great Roman poet Horace “Clogged with yesterday’s excess, the body drags the mind down with it”. Probably, I was going through the same thoughts what Horace would have gone through when he wrote the above lines around two thousand years ago.
Our lives in modern city are growing too complex and crowded externally. As we pull the bed sheet over our head, our obligations and commitments seem to grow over night, the plant of desire is hungrily watered by ease of opportunity and myriad of stimulations to make us achieve and strive, it grows like Jack’s beanstalk and keeps growing till the creepers of committees, commitments, never – ending appointments, thick Gigas of Blackberries strangle around our neck resulting in breathless, strained and a deflated mind in a dehydrated body.??We are too busy being that perfect wife to our husbands, best friend to our friends, most successful employee, and if in case we withdraw from these public engagements to spend quiet moment in solitude the guilty calls of non-productivity whisper disquieting claims in our ears. Our social groups should receive our interest, near and dear friends need a hand and even a piece of our shoulder for head and tears, the civic problems of our city and country need our attention, the wider issues of nation and the world and its impact on us, the responsibilities of family are heavy upon us, the next vacation with its logistics and budgeting needs to be mobilized, our professional status, our social obligations, our memberships put claims upon us and our time. And in frantic fidelity we run, to chase and sometimes to escape, to finish with it and sometimes to drown in it, to try and meet at least as many possible calls made upon us. At the end of the day we are weary, tired and breathless, wrinkled in the mind and spirit like a deflated balloon. As that exhausted body rests on the soft bed, the buzz of momentum still continues, the inertia of achieving “this and that, and that too” whizzes around in the whole body, the body is motionless, the mind racing, still. No sleep that night, we wake up and live thorough the next day like zombies.
The other night, if the buzz quietens, the depth of our “inner unknown” calls us to reflect and wonder, we know and with some ounce of regret we realize that the life is slipping away. We have tasted joy and peace in little quantity but why doesn’t it stay as a permanent feature, we wonder. The aching body cramps in the night as we smother it further with shallow breaths, one part of the Being realizing, to at least now answer the call of heart and make time for ourselves. This body, a gift given just one time in this life, we sew it and we guzzle it with chemicals to prolong its utility, to serve the hollowness of accountability towards things we don’t even care about. Once in a while the depths of Heart calls us strongly, the silences seem so few but in guilty regret we must postpone our “Soul” appointment until next week, the only “call” that can compose our shaken life in steady state of Balance is missed, for this week is much too busy and full.
Day after day we toss and turn, waiting for the sleep to come, unknowingly still wanting to know when will I simplify? When will I set myself free from the web I have weaved my self ? When will I walk on the path of the unknown in my heart? Only to wake up by the second snooze alarm, it’s late already for today’s commitments…..
On a lighter note …??Tom Cruise’s attorney said he is going to sue anyone who claims he is gay. In a related story, Ricky Martin’s attorney has been hospitalized for exhaustion…… ?- Conan O’Brien