For past one year, since the travel bug bit me, I have been travelling more often than I usually do. I have been creating opportunities and time to wander in between the busy schedule. This being the result of realisation that anything can’t be left for future, life being uncertain. Waiting to get free after some task is an illusion. Soon after finishing one task that occupies our mind space and time, another follows, and the cycle continues. Then, one fine day, we die.
All the traveling and wanderings did me some good. This article is the result of the countless discussions with so many people, their views about life and its purpose, and the various travels that moulded my perspective. Thanks to India Fellow for letting me sit back, and view at my life in this manner, and for giving me the opportunity to interact with this motley of people and learn from them.
As one of my traveller friend quoted ‘You are born on this world, not in India, Delhi or anywhere else that you are conditioned to believe. Religion, border and country, everything changes according to whims and fancies of humans. The earth is same for everyone me, and you, Obama or Osama. The earth is our home. And there is no better way to understand our planet, our home than exploring it.’ In this vast universe, earth is just a small piece of rock. And on this rock, there are millions of life forms of which we comprise a small part. We created boundaries, physical boundaries that made nations, and mental boundaries that fettered us from thinking beyond certainties and concrete. Thousands of religions have been created and for the sake of these petty issues, we fight and slaughter. It is amusing at the amount of false pride we embellish ourselves with. Humans are no different from other species composed of the same cells, the same molecules, clearly insignificant, but we choose to ponder over the significance of our existence.
I was highly influenced by Carls Sagan’s reflection on the ‘pale blue dot’. Thanks to my co-fellow for introducing me to it.
“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”
I see people immersed in so many different activities, pursuing their lives so differently, yet so similarly. And most of the people I meet are nice, vulnerable, innocent, confused, lost like any of us. In Mayan tradition, there is a law of oneness and unity called ‘In Lak’ech Ala K’in’, which means ‘I am you, and you are me’. It’s a way of honouring each other like Indian Namaste, a greeting that reflects the same emotion ‘my soul recognises your soul. I honour the place in you in which the entire universe dwells. I honour the place in you, which is of love, of truth, of light, and of peace. When you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, we are one.’ Mitakuye Oyasin from the Lakota (a Native American tribe) tradition means that ‘we are all related’. All these codes honour nature, trees, birds, sky and stars. According to these beliefs, whatever action one takes has positive or negative ramifications on this entire earth.
All this instinctively transports me to Ecology and the interconnected cycles of biotic and abiotic components, biogeochemical cycles, food webs, interspecific and intraspecific interactions, all these processes amidst the basic organic molecules that constitute life. Maybe these traditions hold some grounds scientifically, maybe they do not. Who knows?
There is no single universal truth. We must learn to accept the world with all the different people and beliefs. Intolerance propagates most of our problems. What is the purpose of fighting over some petty issues of boundaries, ownership etc., when we are nothing but just a speck of dust in this vast universe? Each one of us plays a part in creating this world. Who knows whether it’s real or not? All the laws of the universe, whatever little we know, learnt in school, or the community we grew up in, everything that we all as humans know may be merely concoctions of the myopic three pounds of neuronal cells residing in our head. Who knows the reality or if reality exists?
It’s just the parochial vision of our eyes and the rhythm of our heart that creates a small world for ourselves in our little brain. It might be unreal. I might be sounding crazy, but the fact remains that we are nothing in this vastness. So, just shun your egos, take the dive, accept, and spread love while you can. Enjoy the little pleasures of mundane while they last.
A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved. – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Through the eyes of a rookie in stoicism