Thursday, June 18, 2020

Life, not a picnic neither a race!

From the past few days I must have tried multiple times to pen down few thoughts....but somehow either I feel lost half way... Or I again wonder what's the purpose. Nevertheless, let me give it a try again today and see how far I get. So, the turn of events in the last few days have been shocking one after other. First with the news of the sad demise of the actor Sushant Singh Rajput and second with the news of loss of lives of our army personnel in the India China face off. 

Usually, I refrain from posting anything on the current ongoing events as I consider this space to be my safe haven to escape to when mind needs solace. But this one time I thought let me just get out the things disturbing in my head. And go by the philosophy that ....writing it down helps. 

So, coming back to the events.....both the events are devastating... And devastation I guess can't be measured as greater than smaller than and all that.. It's immeasurable. So, I am also not going to attempt to do that. But, I just want to understand a few things by putting down the words on paper to reduce it's effect on my mind I guess. 

Depression... Just a word or real?  

Now, while this is just a word for few it's a battle for few others and for some others it's an abuse. I myself will own up that for a very long time I had believed just like others that this is a 'luxury illness of the rich' or for those who are 'mentally weak'. Till I came quite close to experiencing it myself once. 

It was just after my Son was born and we had returned home bringing our bundle of joy with us....and the sleepless nights and the exertion were all an ongoing daily routine...and for some unknown bizzare reason I used to have this humongous urge from inside to wail (not just cry). No, it's not that I couldn't identify myself with my Son or anything like that. I only had that urge to wail for no good reason. I was myself perplexed as to why I want to wail when I am so happy... What the hell is happening... And none of us, neither me or my family had any clue on postpartum depression. 

I remember asking people around in my family... That I feel clueless... As to why I am having this constant urge to wail my heart out. I only heard them call me crazy till my husband found out about postpartum depression. But luckily, I didn't go into depression.... The urge to wail passed in 2/3 days... And I was back to normal. But that's when I realised that the brain can be so vulnerable ....and it's fully possible to lose control on it under such circumstances.... Depression can be very real and without any reason. This sinked in me only when I came close to experiencing it... Even if the experience was for a short time fortunately! 

When it's not to do with chemicals going wrong in the brain or body

Now, that leaves us with the other type of depression.... When it's not to do with the chemicals. What's exactly going wrong in these cases. 

Again a personal example, I lost a promotion once in my job and I was devastated. I remember I couldn't sleep for 3 months... Yes,  for that long... I just used to stare into the night and repeat things in my head wondering if I was a loser....I felt betrayed! I just didn't feel like walking back to work.... and lost a lot of mental peace in doing so. All the feelings stayed with me till I changed my job which took 3 months. Again, luckily I didn't go into depression...

But this taught me a lot of things. One that the definition of 'success' has got distorted in our heads. Two that we just are unable to value life for what it is. 

Life during earlier times were simpler. People used to go for jobs mostly 9 to 5....earn less....therefore, focus on spending less as well and were busy saving just enough for future.... Saving was for the needs not the wants.They also had a more balanced life. They used to return home on time and give that time to family or themselves. I don't know if people then used to refer to the words 'career' and 'success' so much... Let alone 'money' and 'fame'. The motto then was job is a means to earn livelihood and nothing more or nothing less. Steady government job was the dream....and people used to make close friends not only in the neighborhood but also at work place.... Long lasting true friends. The world was still not so tech savy and everything was done with personal touch. Hence, the question of virtual and fake etc didn't rise much.

Now, in this era everyone is running a race.....a race with no finish line! Career, success, money, fame have all become synonymous with each other and the greed (sorry to use the word) for it seems to be endless. I wonder at what point self worth got associated with all this too. And the saddest part is while running the race no one turns their head to look behind. No one sees how far they have already come. No one sees if anyone has fallen while running.... Do they need some help.... Rather there are many who feel happy with others fall! 

So, now the question is if everyone is running and you suddenly are not able to keep up the pace.... And want to pause... And look around for a shoulder to put your head on for a while.... How is that going to happen. Everyone is running remember! 

Where are we going wrong

This also makes me wonder when depression is so common these days how come the soldiers in the army or the doctors in the covid ward are not facing it (even if we don't count in the workers and the class dealing with hunger as a daily struggle). Especially when it's a life and death situation for them and they lead such tough lives. What are they made of if not flesh and blood.... How does their brain function? Why is depression keeping away from them more than us? 

So, then is it wrong to assume that depression hits only when we lose the sense of purpose in our life. I am not going to talk about the grief of losing someone dear or ailments and disabilities .... That unimaginable pain is something that is way above this kind of depression.

Sense of purpose in life

What exactly is this sense of purpose in life? Where did we go wrong in defining it because of which we are facing depression as the result. Is it our education system? Do good marks define a sense of purpose? Does a good seat in a college define? Or does job define? Or money, fame, success.... What defines? 

When we are teaching our kids to pursue things in life with grit and determination.... Are we also telling them that incase you reach there and don't find that sense of purpose... It's OK... Drop it and try something else. Do we tell our kids that job is not something which defines your sense of purpose in life.... It's just a means not an end in itself! Do we tell them that once you secure that basic first hierarchy of Maslow's needs roti, Kapda,makaan in the bare minimum sense rest is luxury... It's not success or it doesn't define any purpose of life.... It's just your endeavour and your liking as to how far you want to go. 

Success has no definition neither does failure. How do we ingrain that sense of nothing is be all and end all in life ?! Shouldn't we ourselves practice it for them to learn! 

We can't define success or failure but can we define gratification and peace for them so that they don't lose that sense of purpose pursuing meaningless things in life. Are we showing them the right examples as the inspirations so that they dont end up in the race too.... Running and running.... Not knowing that it's OK to pause....its OK to not belong.....  It's OK to quit and step out and go sit under a tree and relax.... Only if you do that maybe you will find there that shoulder you were looking for in that race!! And even if you don't find that shoulder.... Look within yourself... Only if you pause you can see that peace was always there inside.... You just never reached for it! And sense of purpose is always pursuing many many things....  everywhere ....all around.... You just have to lift your head and look around....! 

Life, may not be a picnic.... But we don't have to make it a race! 

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Saibal Barman said...

It's an interesting I read I was hummong the song, Demons, by Imagine Dragon....I need to take out of me to thinks over it as I have a simple subscropsubs of accept life as it is...I was a rebel and a realist till I came closer to life's own play on own said, nothing happens before time and beyond destiny...words have no meaning unless they are felt...and a feeling has no meaning unless it is felt with an urge to feel...the urge has no meaning if it doesn't breed upon consciousness...the consciousness has no meaning unless it takes the ethical path...the path has no meaning unless it traverses through hills and vales of life....the life has no meaning unless it embraces it as opportunity, a privilege, to offer itself only for goodness...somewhere, I wrote ,.long back, abbut axioms in life...if I find it our, shall post it also...there are some axioms in life, which cannot be doesn't require reasons to justify why hatred is evil and love is divine...why integrity or truthfulness is to be chosen..why peace is precious and war is betrayal of races or suceeds or stumbles or fails doesn't connect to life at all until those leave legacy...the journey the life traces remains a sinhle tribute to the life itself....premature deaths of Keats or Mozart offered unimaginable heights of legacy than millions racing, suceeding, living and dying for much longer a life... it is entirely my premise of understanding the life...nothing to contradict or disrespect any other views on happiness and peace are only two faces I see if life is coin tossed upon before me..
My sincere thanks for taking me to the depth of the article and I respect the feelings it has regards

Dashy said...

Most of us get trapped in the race and lose sight of what really matters in life. You're very right about teaching the younger generations that marks or a job are not what define our purpose.

I have a few times in the past found myself in a melancholic mood for no reason. I also end up crying without understanding why. But I recover soon and let it go, I've never been able to understand it. I recently came to know that I have polycystic ovary disease (PCOD), and I have blamed this hormonal imbalance for my emotional instability. There is so little we know about mental health. It's good that people are talking about it. Awareness helps a great deal.

Ira Mishra said...

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this post of mine sir... Very true sir some lives are I guess meant to leave a legacy behind... I guess as you said the single tribute to life itself is the journey the life traces indeed

Ira Mishra said...

Sadly we do Darshana... But it's good that many people are realizing that the race is meaningless now and just as many are able to get out of it as well

Tomichan Matheikal said...

I have passed through acute depression on three occasions. It's terrible. People need a lot of inner strength to cope with it. Youngsters will need external assistance too.

Amit Pattnaik said...

A lovely heartfelt and thought-provoking post...

Lopamudra Barman said...

A well presented article that dwells on the issues affecting the current generations mostly......simple living makes simple yet happy life, but people have long list of happiness these days and they have different ways than what I have walked so is thought provoking and people suffering from it may be able to reorient their paths of life...take care

Tomichan Matheikal said...

I think it's not easy not to make life a race in those exotic worlds like the Bollywood.

Arti said...

Dear Ira,
I'm glad you put your thoughts on paper/screen in order to 'distance' them from your mind. Writing helps.

I wish that the wisdom of the 'Geeta' was imparted and explained to us when we were growing up. I don't mean knowing the words (or shlokas) but absorbing the meaning of a philosophy which if adopted into ones life can actually turn it into a picnic.

All it says is that we are not what we do--performing the functions of a human in this body is like performing on a stage. The actor does not (or should not) start identifying himself with the role he plays. Amitabh Bachchan is not the role he plays. Similarly, we (the Jeeva Atma which is always in bliss for it is a reflection of the Divine--is never born-never dies) must understand the difference between who we are (atma) and what we do (functions to sustain a human body)

The tragedy of modern times is that the material and therefore impermanent world gets all our attention (it's like an actor performing a role forgets who he really is and perishes when the character he's playing dies on stage/in a movie). The one that is 'amar' --our atma-- gets no attention from us.

It's not too late. jab jaago tabhi savera.

As a nation, as mothers, as parents--I hope we share the 'truth' with our children by imbibing it. Leading by example.

Who am I? Atma.

What do I do? I write, cook, earn money etc. etc. to sustain this body that houses my atma.

This simple distinction can create a beautiful space between actions and results. So, one does ones duty to the best of ones ability but without attachment to the fruits of his labour.

Yes, easy said than done. But practising this simple tenet daily can truly turn this life into a blissful picnic.

I'm sharing what works for me and what has brought me peace. It's not a sermon. Please take it as a warm hug from a friend who happens to live in Doha:)

Ira Mishra said...

That's true sir... If only people realise and seek help at the right time it would help a lot.

Ira Mishra said...

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting

Ira Mishra said...

Thanks so much ma'am... As you said yes the list for happiness seems to have really got long now... But it's all our doing.. We keep adding to that list... Otherwise the list can always end with far lesser items

Ira Mishra said...

It requires as much self determination and courage to walk out of the race as to be in Sir. Again, it's as easy or as difficult to walk out of the race as it is to be in it.

Ira Mishra said...

Thanks so much Arti for wording your thoughts so beautifully and spiritually. I am so glad you wrote your thoughts that I read it multiple times and just reading your words feel so therapeutic