Existential crisis

#86/100

“I don’t know if what I’m going to say will hurt or help, but screw it. Do you know what’s really happening right now? You’re learning what it is like to be human. All humans are aware of death. So… we’re all a little bit sad.”

-Eleanor Shellstrop from The Good Place

I’m watching an absolutely mind boggling American TV series these days called “The Good Place”. The show is witty, quirky, funny and the theme also involves a fantasy element which is a big win-win situation for me. What I love most about the show is the underlying philosophical interpretation of every human’s life in general. I’m drawn to philosophy and finding out the greater meaning of life, any person, show or thing that connects me over and above the basic knowledge of our existence has all my attention.

In one of the episodes of this show (I don’t want to give out any spoilers, watch it, you’ll be mind blown!), they discuss the concept of existential crisis, in a witty and funny manner of course. The show has an immortal being who doesn’t have a conscience. The concept of having regrets or guilt doesn’t apply to this being as they live on forever. They don’t have to deal with these feelings at the present moment as it disappears with time which they have in abundance.

Humans on the other hand have a fixed shelf life. Our biggest fear is the fear of non-existence. I always felt that I feared many things above death, but that’s not true. When I say I fear public speaking, I am scared to make a fool of myself and end up in an embarrassing situation. This will cause me to lose face in front of others and become non-existent in a manner that I won’t be acknowledged, respected or considered unworthy of attention. We constantly feel pangs of sadness, guilt and episodes of depression all through our life as we believe that we aren’t making the fixed time of our existence on this planet, worthwhile. At the end of each day I feel upset for not having a remarkable day, wasting my time is considered the biggest sin by my mind, I constantly fear the future, I feel like I would eventually die without living an extraordinary life.

The fear of non-existence can make us do crazy stuff at times. But it’s high time that we slow down a bit and pause to pay attention to the present. There’s no yard scale to measure an extraordinary life. You don’t have to do everything that’s considered cool or awesome by others to feel cool or awesome yourself. As long as you do every single thing that makes you happy, you are doing a great job! It’s time I lift the heavy burden of this self imposed deadline on my life and cut myself a little slack. I don’t wish to feel sad every Sunday evening for not having spent the weekend productively, upset before any big event for not having prepared well or empty at the end of my birthday for having to wait another year to feel special. I don’t know if we can truly be unbothered by fear of the unknown or regrets of our past, I will try to divert my attention to the present at every single opportunity I get. That’s what I learn in my meditation exercise every day.

Distractions are everywhere. Notice what takes your attention, acknowledge it, and then let it go.

-Headspace

The joy of learning

“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding”

– Leonardo da Vinci

#25/100

I still remember my oldest memory as a student. I had a little cursive writing book that had enthralled me. One day, I resolved to complete few pages of the book and was so engrossed in the activity that I didn’t budge even at my mother’s constant calls for dinner. I completed the task and proudly showed my mom the finished work.

But I didn’t feel the same way throughout my student life. Somewhere down the line, my mind stopped being in tandem with my brain. Studying became a burden as getting good grades was a requirement instead of an accomplishment. The concept of studying involved mugging formulas, long answers and chemical equations. Many a times I would completely zone out while studying, failing to understand the reason why we were made to do this.

I am a person who is inquisitive by nature. I enjoy learning about new things, understanding it’s background and everything related to it. But as a student, I had no idea of what studying really meant. It was just another routine that we followed, there was no greater meaning to it. When I think about it now, it just seems a waste of precious years of a human’s life. If a person isn’t aware of the purpose behind their actions, they’ll just grow into a clueless human being. It might strike them much later in life when they try to question the true meaning of their existence.

When I study or research about any subject now, it’s just out of pure curiosity for knowledge. It took such a long time for me to understand what my mind truly needs. My instincts and actions are in sync with each other and that’s why I can find joy in them. If a kid repeatedly portrays dissatisfaction towards learning, it might not be because he is lazy. I understand it’s very difficult to relay the importance and value of education for kids at a young age but a small step can be taken towards sparking a curiosity in them. Education needs to be more practical and interactive. Students need to be taught life skills from a young age. They need to be taught to be brave and headstrong to face any situation in life. They also need to understand psychology and how their mind works at a younger age so that they are able to judge their emotions well.

When we are young we have people to seek guidance and help us out. However, we are still ill equipped to deal with life and reality when we become an adult. We do learn with experiences but a little head start can help way beyond our imagination. It could help improve the quality of our life to a great extent, make us a little more happy and fulfilled with ourselves. Well, isn’t that a good thing to seek?