What is life? Is it just our everyday living? Fulfilling our portion of the work in the giant cycle of humanities existence? Is it collecting experiences and having adventures to inspire and motivate others? Do we exist for others or do others exist for you? Or is a journey of the self to understanding?
As someone famous once said, “The Paris of youth and the Paris of middle age are quite the same, yet somehow not quite the same. The journey is not so much about changing the landscape as about seeing them with new eyes”.
Our lives are buoyed down and often tied up with inconsequential and rather trivial matters. There are ups and downs – but we keep going. The noise and the clutter distract us – we forget that noise is temporary while silence is more powerful and dangerous. Today, we try to live our life one day at a time, making short term plans without bothering about the longer future prospect. We may be part of a great machinery just doing one small fragment of its processing in living.
Reflecting a bit on religion, it is said that god created man in his own image. True to that I believe god forgot to remove pride and vanity from man – the only mistake he made. We fail to grasp how small and miniscule we are to his greater machinery. Life is not just doing your portion of the work – it is going beyond, understanding the greatness of the world.
We climb the highest peaks and mine to the lowest depths – for what? Do we really understand ourselves better by pursuing the impossible? Great men and women have achieved new height, been successful in their exploits – but still do they truly understand themselves?
I myself have a fascination for the mountains. Every time I visit them I feel helpless and humbled, but with a fire to understand more, know more, explore more. It makes me feel grateful – there are so many things to learn from the hills, even if I stayed there for decades I still would not understand half the things. The lofty snow-capped peaks look down at you, waiting for you to join them. Stilled by time, watching everything in the plains below and the changes over the millennia. The silence of the mountains, the wind blowing through the pines, the sparkling streams and the sudden waterfalls – they radiate a sense of tranquillity and thoughtfulness. It’s like you could just sit there and watch time pass without fully comprehending or even knowing everything going on around you. I think that is the best definition of life – being at peace with yourself despite the going-on of the world, maybe trying to fix the trivial issues in the process helping future generations who follow you.
Life is not something just biological or logical – it transcends the barriers of time and place. It is not dictated or controllable – you just go with the flow. The structure of life is shaped in that fashion – we cannot change the flow, for good or bad. The ancient civilisations tried to shape lives of others through divination and magic. But do these really work? Can anyone change the life of a person just by making predications from animal entrails or weird concoctions? They challenge the imagination and the natural flow of human species understanding. That is why maybe they were not thought as real and more of imagination rather than tested methods.
A person’s life is not just a journey or even justified by being part of the greater world machinery. It is the changing perceptions; as quoted by one, “With knowledge comes understanding and with greater understanding, better knowledge”. The more we learn, the more we open ourselves to more learning. The pursuit of this, though not very appealing to many I gather, but helps us understand ourselves better.
The Buddhists believe that life is an incarnation based on our actions in the past life. Therefore, what is life if not a culmination of our experiences and our adventures – tweaking the world and touching lives in the process. While it is not entirely true we exist by ourselves, it is not entirely incorrect also. We exist for those around us, with us – all the way from birth to death. We just enter and leave the world alone – those are the happiest and saddest moments we ever live. Through us and our acts, others live. Our attractions to people, being social, creating relationships – it is nothing but redefining our own relationship with the divine. We exist so people exist – a flower blooms when its spring, but it is the act of blooming that makes spring. It is what we do and how we do what we do that defines the act and not the act itself. After all, do we know ourselves well enough to know what we want?