I very nearly titled this blog “And then there were none” or “Death comes as the end.”. (That these dramatic phrases come entirely from my Agatha Christie addiction is a whole other topic for another day.)
But then I realised how awfully morbid and mood-dampening they sounded. Because this isn’t meant to be a sad, despondent write-up. Far from it!
Sure, I want to talk about the unpredictability of life and how ironic it is that we think we have ample time ahead of us when that is the one thing we’re absolutely certain is uncertain. But I also want to talk about how each day, each moment, each breath holds the very essence of life in itself.
In a recent, widely-watched interview with David Letterman, Shahrukh Khan (also see: King of Bollywood) said something that has stayed with me till today. When speaking about his parents’ deaths, he said, “I think death can be very alluring!”. And I remember thinking to myself, “What an optimistic way of looking at a subject that none of us want to even think about.”
I suppose that line inspired the title of this blog. But a lot more inspired me to write the blog post itself.
Life is NOW! This very second is life. And yet, for some reason, when the word “life” comes to mind, we almost always think of a lengthened period of time. A few years. A few months. A few weeks at the very least. But we certainly never think of life in terms of moments. We don’t think of life in the morning breakfasts or the evening bus rides or in the smell of petrol when you roll down your car windows at the station. We don’t think of life in the fleeting moments we spend looking at the clouds as we drive along the highway or the feel of fresh vegetables as we cook or the smell of the coffee we make for ourselves in the office pantry.
We certainly do think of life in terms of acceptance at a reputed university, those top GPA scores, a good job, getting that 5 or 6 digit remuneration, marrying a certain kind of person, having a certain number of children…A never ending list of check-off items that validate your life and existence.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not invalidating any of these.
But where has our quest to lead an ideal life led us? Why are we so sure that an ideal life equates to a good one? And is that keeping us content? Do we all have that inner peace we so rapidly seek and crave for in everything we watch, read, and consume?
Listen, getting your dream job is great! Finding a compatible life partner is fantastic! You absolutely should be proud of owning a car or a house. Topping your class is a fine achievement. But none of these are life itself. They are simply the larger puzzle pieces that give you a vague sense of direction. Even then, you’re not guaranteed, what we fool ourselves into believing, “a good life”.
The goodness in life is in the smaller puzzle pieces.
Kobe Bryant’s death at the start of the (what feels like the longest) year shook all of us to our core. Here’s what intrigued me about our collective reaction to it though. We know fully well that people die everyday. But for some reason, it’s almost as if we believe celebrities will remain untouched by death. Which is exactly why a famous person passing away stirs up entire nations; sometimes the world. It makes us deeply uncomfortable. It makes us uneasy. Kobe’s passing brought to the limelight, in the most public way possible, the grim reality of death – and how we all have to face it one day. That made us restless and anxious.
It’s a perfectly normal reaction, I suppose.
But how oddly ironical it is that the very idea that life will one day come to an end makes us forget that we are still here? We start, instead thinking of all the things we still have to do and achieve. All the big puzzle pieces that are still missing. We fret over the time that has gone by and how little we’ve done. A constant mental battle between doer-ship and just being.
When really we should be slowing down. Contemplating. Introspecting. Listening. Seeing. Feeling. LIVING.
These days, the Coronavirus pandemic, despite ravaging the entire globe, has forced so many of us to do exactly that. Slow down.
For possibly the first time in our lifetimes, so many of us are starting to realise the value, and lack thereof, of daily events in our lives. Life is suddenly working in slow-motion. Schools, universities, offices, companies – big & small, gymnasiums, all those fancy malls and restaurants – shut down! The existence of the very things we seek certainty and validity in are no longer certain. The very institutions we depend on to create and shape our lives are suddenly the very places that could potentially be life-threatening. The big puzzle pieces are all out of the picture.
What remain, however, are the smaller puzzle pieces. The immeasurable value of the time you get to spend with those you love. The sound of chirping birds (if you listen closely enough you hear their conversations!). The smell of that book you’d bought three months ago and completely forgotten about. The importance of prioritizing your mental health (and how you’ve neglected it all this while). The value of having a fridge full of essential groceries and not having to worry about shortage. The sounds of the eggs crackling when you fry them. The time spent with your pets. The value of the job that you crib about to everyone. That indescribable feeling of elation when you finish a painting or do a full yoga workout. The beauty of the clouds floating outside your window. The sheer idiocy of letting feelings of jealousy and comparison ruin your peace of mind. The undeniable importance of human touch.
Like I said…life is in the smaller puzzle pieces. So the next time we think about “life”, let’s break it down to the atoms that make up the molecule. A series of singular, defined moments. That is where life exists.
Death is inevitable. Sure. But so is life. Life, and all of its defined moments, is inevitable too. I suppose, ultimately, that’s where the allure of death comes from…from life itself. Because when lived with good intention, mindfulness, and a pure heart, what about life isn’t alluring? A good end to a good life. That is the allure of it all.
You are here. You are present. You reading this, in this very moment, is life. 🌻 Breathe. Let it all go. LIVE. 💫