Thursday, January 27, 2011

Arguments with Myself: The Unbearable Lightness of Being

These days, time is a bit heavy as it is full of reflection, every moment seems to stop before it is over, with a pause almost and a throwback into time I can see but can't get back. My movements, which must follow a routine and crucially, the railway time-table, are laden and almost slow-motion, burdened with the ever-present question of what I could have done. In a way, I am reminded of Katherine Mansfield, like her fly stuck in the ink, forever trying to dry itself and fly again and forever dragged down.

But I also feel light, as if in a train. Time is such a carrier, as if I don't have to move on myself but I am being moved into. As days pass and suddenly I know that January, which turned out to be the cruelest month of my life, is almost over, it seems a different age and time that I was thinking of: Suddenly, with a flick of a calendar, what was my day-to-day reality seems like a movie, where I was an observer and which I mistook for reality. I play silly games: Like saying a Hi to my dead brother on Yahoo Messenger. I play with the expression that I learned from my morning readings during my train journeys: Absent Presence. I think about the flip side - Present Absences - but don't spend time on it. All the momentary shadows and games and silliness fill my time, let the days move on as if by itself.

These are not times of passion or engagement, or of commitment, but of flitting thoughts on heavy subjects, like what the meaning of life could perhaps be, in almost a lighthearted way. Sudden compartments in me feel quite empty; bad bits like jealousy and frustration are gone. I try to make myself feel ambitious, try to steer away from my overarching desire to be unburdened of my loneliness. One relief: I feel unashamedly creative, full of new ideas as if they are low hanging fruits all around me. Words suddenly come to me, as the soothing touches of affection of wrap-around time, and they are fulsome, generous, sticky. I also see that the lord of darkness, doubt, has also left me, finally: Since I have no beliefs, I don't seem to need the effort to hold onto them at all.

Some bitterness gushes out, though. In a passing discussion with a younger colleague, I suddenly sound like a bitter old man myself, complaining that there was so much my generation has to offer if anyone cares to look at us. Is that regret? Or just unease to adjust to my new-found age? I remember scratching onto my notepad only a few days back that a sense of humour should prevent aging, but that seems to be another life altogether. From this point on, it seems that the balance of my life has indeed tipped: Ready for the part ahead but the years behind seems unreal. This is the preparation for graceful aging and final adieu to the refusal to grow up: In a way,this is just-in-time readiness for my absent presence.

So, my fantasies turn, yet again: From what could have been if I was bold enough to hold the hand of the girl I desired then in the eighth year of my school life, to what would be, if I am not around tomorrow morning just in case my sodium or potassium levels suddenly fluctuate. Part of it is, instead of feeling like a bird or some comparable beast, I start feeling like a test tube mixing various chemicals in precise proportions. But, on the other hand, my desire for photographs, which was or could have been taken, give way to my desire for random words, like these here, which must be created. Who cares what I thought at this precise moment in time, just before, in case it is to happen, I turned non-existent: Yes, at least for a passing moment, I would like to believe, these words may become significant only then, if such an event happens, because the meaning of my life will then be transferred from my being into what I left behind. The point, however, is that this is still meaningless if my life meant nothing, even if this is my last testament. Our presence, however much vanity we have about it, is not about leaving things behind, but about moving forward, till one must drop out.

You would say I understand now the unbearable lightness of being, that every moment must invariably made to return. As if instead of moving on this time-train, we falsely assume ourselves stationary and think everything else is moving on. That, after all, is pompousness extraordinaire, taking us to be some sort of immovable center of the world. But, unless the death frees us of our own gravity and grounded-ness, we are forever held to such illusions.

At this time, however, no presumptions: One's life, unless it is about painstakingly spending every moment making a difference to others, is rather shadowless. It is indeed interesting to see the being and non-being as two sides of the mirror image, but we are constantly flipping the real and the shadow and imagining that the non-being is less true than the presumed being. The exact opposite is what one feels when put at the sharp end of the present, as I am now, where there is no road going back to very real past but all exits to the future are open.

The words like these, therefore, are only meant to capture the escape of thought from presumed importance of what I am to the urge to what I can be. They are almost pointless without a future. If I drop dead at this time, they die with me: Their only meaning remains to be created, by me, tomorrow morning. This interplay, of the sketches, words, conversations, relationships, likings, possibilities and lives, is all that is left in our lives to enjoy. Death, only from that perspective, is a distraction, a sort of final curtain to an intensely interesting, unending unfinished movie.

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