Monday, January 28, 2013

The Certainty of Uncertainty



Four days of braving cyclonic storms, tornadoes, torrential rains and finally flooding, dredged out the philosopher-in-hiding.





Image courtesy - http://field4.co.uk/protools.html

What is the first thought that occurs to you when you come to know about a natural/manmade calamity? It’s a feeling of relief, right? That comforting thought that it wasn’t you grieving the loss of a limb or someone you loved deeply. Saying a silent prayer of thanks that it was someone unknown who will be dealing with grief.
 
It’s a little later you start feeling sorry for the futures lost, luck that chose to play truant, musing on the what-ifs that condemn the afflicted to a lifetime of remorse.

Call me a sadist, but I often imagine myself as the victim. I wonder, in the face of adversity, will I be the one who stays back to help others or simply run for my dear life, putting my conscience on mute. Too selfish to care about others, worried sick about my well-being, my high ideals abandoning me the moment I needed them the most. It scares me to know that there might be a frightened, hysterical coward waiting to come out at the hint of calamity.

How many times have we dealt with tragedy without even feeling a hint of resentment for someone else’s normalcy? Battling the “why me”, “what did I do to deserve this” laments! Blaming our friends and family for not being kind enough, understanding enough and time stretched to pay heed to our distress?

Grief makes us selfish.

They say, it is during our darkest moments we come to face with blinding clarity. Just when we are about to lose it all, do we see truth that we had been seeking all our lives. Realizing, we wasted our precious years confusing the inconsequential for the consequential, putting up with crap when we should have walked away from it! Foolishly thinking that happiness lay in a bigger bank balance, swankier cars, posh vacations, when fulfilment was waiting to be found in the simplest pursuits…Working too hard, pursuing goals that had no meaning and wilfully ignoring things that mattered the most…

Regretting that I did not have the courage to live a life true to myself and not what others expected from me.

Wishing, I had the courage to express what I felt and devoted more time to my loved ones…

If only I had let myself to be happier.

Why do we relegate happiness to the past or postpone it to the future and choose to ignore the present?
 
Isn’t it ironic, that it’s during the worst in our life, do we realize, what we were taking for granted, and dismissing as mundane was actually a blessing we were turning a blind eye to?


50 comments:

  1. Grief does make one selfish. People keep repeating truisms like Count your Blessings, and we don't care to think much about them. But when calamity strikes, all the truisms make so much sense. Sitting here in a landlocked place, I cannot imagine what you are going through. Hope it subsides soon and the sun shines again. Love

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sun is shining and things are limping back to normal, I can finally say - thank God! it's over.

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  2. Grief makes us selfish ... an AHA moment for me

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    Replies
    1. You my dear, are the brave one.

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  3. All I can say is, one who is a saintly in the time of grief is a true saint.

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  4. Grief usually leads to regrets .. regrets for time not spent together or for words harshly spoken !
    We only realize how much we have when we are on the verge of losing it !
    Stay Safe Purba !

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, my love.

      All I can say is, we take too much for granted.

      Delete
  5. A quote I saw that came to mind while reading this post - the beauty of a toss is not in the outcome, but in the fact that at the moment the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you want. Crises and calamity are such things. What is important to you suddenly becomes clear, and you are faced with the insignificance of the multitude of things you cling to as they defined you. Great read. Stay protected. You and yours are in our prayers.

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    Replies
    1. It is during these moments, we are able to sift the consequential from the inconsequential.

      But once we limp back to normalcy, we forget it all.

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  6. It is hard to face the fact that we indeed want to run and hide when faced with calamity -- protecting ourselves and ours. That is the first instinct. But sometimes, the very fact that we are not touched by the calamity brings out the best in us too. that is when we feel grateful to god, fate, luck, call it whatever you like -- and rush to help others not so lucky. Calamities and death indeed brings out the philosophers in us too, but then the effects begin fading, unless we have been marked indelibly by it. Be safe, dear. God bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Knowing what we should we doing and still not doing anything about is the biggest crime.

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  7. Life teaches us lessons in multiple ways -- some cruel, some happier, some scary, but lessons there are in each such situation. The sad part is that these jolts are forgotten as soon as life goes back to routine. Yet, having felt that once will hopefully nudge us towards a change, may be small but a change nonetheless. Stay safe.Stay well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think its laziness, complacency that stops us from learning from adversities.

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  8. Replies
    1. My inner tiger refused to come out :-)

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  9. Yes, Purba. Grief helps us value things, moments, people...it is an ace university professor. A very diff post from you but with the usual insight and depth. Remembering our sweet moments at that Hauz Khas cafe and glad we met...love from afar, b

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    Replies
    1. We had such a lovely time, didn't we? Hoping we can do it again, once I get back to Delhi.

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  10. Purba,

    I could not have told it so well as you brought out with this - it is during our darkest moments we come to face with blinding clarity.

    Take care

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  11. Unusual post from you, Purba, but wonderful as ever! The problem is that we shed the lessons that misfortune teaches the moment that time is past. In Tamil they call this 'Smashana Vairagyam" - the realization of what is important to you that comes when face-to-face with death - which vanishes the moment you are out of the cemetery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it because change requires a full time commitment that we'd rather not make?

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    2. I think it is more because we are resistant to change. And the one change that is the most difficult to make is to live by your own yardsticks when it is a marked deviation from Society's yardsticks - like sacrificing significant material success for emotional satisfaction. So we snap back into the inertia of our usual lifestyle once the first flush of realization has worn off.

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  12. Wonderful sentiments, Purba - straight from the heart. Why regret the past? Now that you know what it is you value most it will be that much easier to concentrate on just that and let go of the rest.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Also, watched with sadness the fires and flooding and humans who lost so much trying not to break down in front of the tv cameras. And heard wonderful stories of people trying to help each other too. Hope (selfishly) that you and yours are safe.

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    2. It was heartening to see the indefatigable spirit of the people. Complete strangers reaching out to the afflicted.

      Yes,we are safe. Thanks for asking :-)

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  13. When we cherish what we have and are grateful then each day, each moment becomes worth living! Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, we tend to take all the good in our life for granted.

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  14. That's why they say a person is tested in difficult times. This question has bothered me for long. If I ever be in a situation will I fight or flee. Will I have the nerves to put myself in risk for the sake of others! tough question! who say they can answer this are either too brave or they have still to discover themselves.

    very thoughtful post, Purba, I am now a follower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As they say, there's a devil and God that resides in all of us.

      And thanks so much for the follow :-)

      Delete
  15. Grief and fear, both make us selfish. In fact, humans are naturally selfish- very few things make us not selfish.

    Great thoughts, wonderfully articulated. Loved it.

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    Replies
    1. It's not a comforting thought.

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  16. I remind myself to be grateful and happy every day -- sadly, I still need reminders. Thanks for this one.

    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    Replies
    1. Those unexpected calamities, aren't they reminders in disguise?

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  17. Agreed!! We often think we lie in a safe zone and misfortunes are meant just for others until we have a hand-on with one such tragic moment.
    a similar post : http://surbhibafna.blogspot.com/2013/01/captains-thinking-cap.html

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  18. Great post Purba! And extremely true as I can vouch for it myself. It was when I was losing my dad to cancer and while waiting indefinitely at hospital corridors that I realized the treasure of normalcy, of getting up without a worry. At that time, every other worldly problems seemed completely petty in comparison. But then, that's the way we are wired, arent we ? We have to see the big line by the side of the small line to understand the difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's so much grief, hope, unanswered prayers lurking in the corridors of a hospital, the world outside seems like paradise.

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  19. It is a natural instinct to save self--that is how species survive.This is inbuilt in our genetic code.And we all get our share of grief & calamity;if we have cared for others they too will rush back to support us.

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    Replies
    1. Agree! do good before you start expecting from others.

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  20. Very well written. All of us do what is within our reach to help others when they are in need of help. But all we think of immediately when in distress is why we are in that situation, when our thoughts should actually be focussed on how to deal with the situation

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    Replies
    1. To be able to think clearly in the face of calamity, is a gift.

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  21. Just came in from subho's blog....lovely write up!
    Grief does make one blind to others needs. We get so absorbed in ourselves that we can't seem to look outside.
    The ability to look beyond ourselves especially in our griefs is a gift not many people have.
    But then there are those who don't look beyond themselves whether in the midst of griefs or not. And dealing with them is difficult for most part.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I really envy people who can think clearly in moments of duress. I'm certainly not one of them :-)

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    2. The ability to think clearly is indeed a gift not everyone can boast of.While reading this, I went back to the night of Mumbai deluge when I spent the whole night wading through chest high waters ,searching for my five yr old son who had not reached home. The uncertainty at times like these is what scares you the most.

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    3. What a nightmare it must have been for you! Where did you find him finally?

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  22. When faced with some dreaded situations the reality stares at us!Having gone through some such events I now only live in present and am grateful to god for having been so kind. This post is all about knowing our priorities in life and thanks to you Purba for same!

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    Replies
    1. In the business of earning our livelihood and doing things the right way, we often forget what our priorities should be :-)

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  23. Grief is a selfish emotion. I knew it in 10th std. and when I said it to many people who always ask why I don't cry for people who passed away, even a parent. I told them that one cries remembering how the departed made us feel in the past or would have made us feel in certain scenarios and not for his death. Would you be surprised that they cringed at the statement. Happiness is a privilege because society breeds on grief. It's our grievances which make us unique. Everyone who is happy, looks the same. Hence we don't let go and think clearly. Loved it !

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    Replies
    1. Yes, we cry for our loss and not the loss of a life. Selfish things, aren't we?

      Glad you liked, Manu.

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