In Pursuit of Passion.
Yesterday, I was a man on a mission. The unfortunate usage of the past tense in the previous sentence can mean only one thing. Either I am no longer a man or I am no longer on a mission. Of course, some of the more intelligent and indulgent readers may point out that I could have lost my manhood as well as my mission and will be looking forward to reading this piece with juicy fingernails to extract the gory details of the former. Although I can verify that I have successfully retained my manhood(physically, if not metaphorically), it has to be with shameless apathy that I declare myself to have completed the mission in the time it takes for the word ‘today’ to indicate a newer time frame.
The mission in question is the act of reading all my blog posts. (What a lame climax! Fire this guy.) It was a piece of cake since the combined word count of all my posts still cannot match the length of a standard Arundhathi Roy essay, the more alarming part being that the information content in my posts are far less than those in the latter. Apart from noticing that my writing has taken a turn for the worse on every post, it occurred to me that the tone of the blog had changed, from being a blog that touched philosophy (for those readers with a smirk on their faces who have scrolled down to the end of the page and then remarked with a distasteful frown “He is lying”, Friends, the “philosophy” was introduced too subtly, which is the motive of this blog in the first place, or maybe it is my imagination) to being a blog that has acquired a more personal nature. A simple explanation to this paradigm shift would be that I would like to solve my own problems before poking fun at the world. Unsolved problems? A booming voice in my head, which is the voice I always imagine that I would possess 30 years from now, told me in its lecturer-like sing-song tone “Instead of writing pointless sentences, whose gist in the end can be summarized in fewer than 140 characters on a popular website, why don’t you solve your problems?”
Fickle-minded that I am, I promptly forgot the topic I was going to spew some sentences on and instead replaced my brain with a Turing machine that can accept only rationality.
With the preliminaries taken care of(drumming on the mouse pad of my laptop in anticipation, throwing threatening glances at my dog, making a common gesture with the middle finger held upright and then smiling at how funny human fingers look, and tossing a coin to see if it eventually falls flat because I had watched Inception just a day ago, and ensure that the coin falls right inside my pocket because I have been practicing Rajni’s tricks from Shivaji) , I finally settle down to exercising my right and the art of solving problems. The fact that there were preliminaries meant I was hesitant. I usually don’t ROFL looking at my fingers and my dog doesn’t entertain eye-to-eye conversations, although it is true that I sometimes prefer hand gestures over face gestures.
Problem Definition: My previous posts indicate that I have a problem finding happiness. I could work that one out, thanks to the suggestive title of one of my posts “In pursuit of happi(y)ness”.
OK. Going down towards finer layers of granularity. Define “Happiness”. At this point I have to remember that because of the rationality- only condition, I can’t use abstract dictionary meanings nor quote conveniently from Wordsworth (or keeping with the present times, Chetan Bhagat). I need an explicitly quantifiable expression representing happiness which can be manipulated mathematically in several contexts.
Then let’s take a different path. Why do I feel that I am missing happiness now when I haven’t felt that before? Can this revelation imply that I was happier before?
The previous question gave me a glint in the eye. Yes, I had been happier before. My childhood was like an ultra-long honeymoon with no sex and full frolic. I had gone through some tough times since then, only to be back to my previous self in the last two years of my engineering days. Was I happy during my engineering days? For those who know me well, I hated my college (not the management but the environment) with a passion. I lived in an ocean of regret on my choice of college and was always ready with my grumblings to anyone with so much as half an ear to listen to them.
But let’s get back rationality into the picture. Hatred and regret doesn’t necessarily translate into unhappiness. Contentment and happiness have two very distinct meanings. The last sentence rang a bell. Are contentment and happiness inversely proportional? If you aren’t content with how things are panning out, then you lose happiness. When you get things going your way, you get happiness. But then in this characterization, happiness becomes a mirage. It is an endless loop, which by the way, is exactly what life is all about. What if you are the embodiment of contentment? This leads to a static characterization. You are either happy all the time or you are not. Which possibility is true?
Statistics point to the latter. Opinion Polls, the Human Happiness Index, the Happiness Quotient etc all point out that the Scandinavian countries are the least happy of all. Yes, the Scandinavian countries that have the lowest poverty rate, the lowest crime rates, the lowest corruption rates in the world. While I don’t believe in opinion polls for many reasons like the sample space being too small, the questions being not representative of the general trend, and the human inability to know what they know, so many polls bringing out the same results bring some credibility to the results.
One can infer from the above that it is the lack of contentment that leads to happiness indirectly.But…I am not convinced. Let me explore another angle.
Why did I have a happy childhood? Was it because of a lack of contentment? Bringing back rational reasoning, innocence of childhood doesn’t translate to a happy childhood. We all had innocent childhoods with our parents shielding us from all our problems, but a happy childhood is a totally different matter. I know quite a few people whose childhood sucked and they readily agree to that. So what was so special in my life back then?
Before I could get caught into a nostalgia spree, I already got the connect (Quizzer style). There was one common thread that ran through all the earlier days of my life.
This brings me to a time when a few of my friends had “fallen in love” .Some of them requited, others unrequited. While the “love failures” were planning of leading a life in the Himalayas for mourning(ROFL), I told them it is not love as they thought, but it was a psychological condition called “Limerence”(Check Wikipedia for an awesome article on it. P.S : Jimmy Wales ads rock) The main cause of this condition is an idle mind, which is not only a devil’s workshop, but also an abattoir of happiness.(Ever heard of the phrase “Too busy to fall in love”?)
I succumbed to my fickle-mindedness and digressed from the plot. Getting back, passion was what made me busy. Passion was what made me have so many hobbies. Passion was why I wished a day had more than twenty four hours. Passion was why I fell asleep as soon as I went to bed because I had so many exciting things to do the next day.
But now all that has changed. Why? I don’t have an answer. I work much lesser than all of my classmates. (for a different reason). In fact, I am almost as free as I was during my B.E days, except that I spend an unnatural amount of time grumbling that I don’t have time for anything else. I have just lost interest in a lot of my hobbies.
No. I need to erase my last sentence. I have not lost interest in any of my hobbies. I have lost the passion in them. My mind is idle, like that of an animal. Suboptimal use of optimal organs. I haven’t fallen prey to limerance or other psychological conditions (I am stronger than that), but then an idle mind has made me lose my piece of mind.
Therefore, this vacations. I make a resolution. To end all sorts of procrastination, and to regain my passion. And to retain my passion for the rest of my life.
This is my new mission. As all “cool” mission names go, I have a Greek name in handy : Mission Pi.
Anyone wants to join me? :-)
Update: Philosophy apart, I finished my first semester to a much anticipated break. From sleeping in corridors to getting featured on the front page of Hacker News for totally unexpected reasons, it has been a wild journey. A journey, which has been a learning curve in the bigger scheme of things.