Almost everyone I speak with these days exclaims, “I need a life!” Well, everyone has a life. At times, we are more weary than alive, because we are probably leading two or more lives when we have permission for one. We are trying to make sense of what we have, what we don’t have, what we can’t have, and what we can’t believe we can’t have, in addition to who we are, who we should be, who we could be, and who we are seen to be.
Those of you, who are spoilt by life’s multiple choice questions with innumerable options, pause and take a step back. The all-encompassing fatigue factor is due to the many possibilities that are turning our lives into one giant factory, churning in mindless actions and spewing out dissatisfaction. The constant “inner” battles is largely due to the disconnect between the Self and our image of the Self. We are trying too hard to prove to ourselves that we are really what we show ourselves to be in public. The hyper world with its super achievers is getting to us. What if we have created a celluloid image of ourselves that we will never translate into 70mm success? Ouch! It is a clash of images!
Self-image is a tough one. The social media does a fabulous job of helping to clarify that. It holds up the Brothers Grimm mirror to show how poorly you are faring on the image account with your ‘status’ posts revealing the varying degrees of your self’s deterioration or elevation for the day. If the image is too grand, you are embarrassed to death because you can’t live up to it. If it is too commonplace, you are shocked when someone calls you out as winner material. Alternately, if it is dependent on what you acquire (houses, cars, clothes, jewellery, trophies and publicity to name a few) then you need to quit Facebook and Twitter in favour of an ashram for deeper introspection.
When people’s self-image is controlled by powerful positions in corporations, foreign holidays, intellectual prowess, promotions, children’s achievements, new electronic gadgets, celebrity friends, other people’s approval, and plastic surgeries, they need to put some distance between the Self and the image.
I believe that it is necessary to go away in order to come back to the Self. I had a Zen moment recently when I went to Coorg. A couple of friends and I were driving through the Nagarhole forest since the safaris hadn’t started yet. In the jungle, the trees stood as trees and the call of the wild wasn’t the ringing of a cell phone. We demanded a tiger sighting because of our sense of self-importance, but of course, we didn’t get any. The vast stretches manned by looming age-old trees, burnt forest wood, wild flowers, expanses covered by dried bamboo thickets and towering elephant grass, and an the impenetrable silence of the wild magically put our real Selves into proper perspective.
So, what about the image struggling to stay almighty during the wild journey? What image? There was nothing or no one to applaud us or belittle us or gratify us in the jungle, because we were nothing more than animals to the animals, and no one even spoke our language there. The wilderness served as the perfect mirror, a divine assessment tool that stripped us off the coat of ambiguity to reveal what we are and will always be — minus what gets inadvertently created in the unnatural world of people. All we need to do is develop a sense of humour about this disparity and know that we have the ability to differentiate between the two.
The writer is a communication specialist.