India is very vibrant, alive but in the jungle sense of the word – there is no order and everything feels organic. Structures, even when new, seem be in a state of permanent disrepair. Nature and Culture face off in a constant battle, neither winning, only keeping entropy at bay to allow continued existence, to allow life to propagate, to allow chaos, to allow colour and decay, beauty and brutality. Inimitable.
One is not sure if a view into the past is afforded or, indeed, a vision of the future. For the world has many paths it can follow – all possibilities along the quantum stream, liber universum.
Ultimately, we determine our fate.
Every choice we ever made, good, bad or worse,
has brought us to this moment in time.
Sure, sometimes we do not seem to have a choice.
But even then we can choose how to react to an overtly dictated circumstance.
We must not seek to blame others or think the world owes us a living.
It does not.
Instant gratification and the resistance to persistent effort – speak hard work,
have become the norm.
We will not all be movie stars, live in mansions, drive Bentleys and be called Kardeshiham.
A life, I think, can be measured by the friends we have, the aid we offered, the difference we made.
When you go is the world a better place than when you found it?
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
– Marcel Proust
I think that is very true. It is very hard to view the world afresh, without the filters that we have been taught to use, the barriers of perception we built up around ourselves. Some of the filters might be genetic, such as our preference for symmetry when judging beauty.
I see a man in the street. He is old, shabbily dressed and as he comes close smells of alcohol. I do not really SEE the man but rather my perceptions of him.
I have no way of knowing his essence, I only see what my filters allow me to see. Old, poor, smelly, derelict.
I am wrong. I cannot really see him until I let him in, but my filters will most likely prevent that. He passes me and I have made a dozen value judgements I am not even aware of. I may have moved slightly out of his way in order to minimise the chance of an incidental physical contact.
We all do that. Having new eyes is the ability to let go of those filters. I do not really know anyone who is able to do that. Even the most tolerant and open-minded person will have some perceptive predispositions.
The best we can hope for is to recognise our shortcomings and actively work against them whenever we become aware of them. Who knows this might open the door to wonderful friendships and experiences we could never have imagined.
I, for one, will smile at the next old man that comes across my path as we pass each other in the street.
Time to write again. I have shared with you some of the pictures I was lucky enough to take around the world. We do live in an amazing place, on an amazing planet.
In some ways we are the guy that works in an office overlooking Sydney Harbour or Central Park or the Eiffel Tower. Initially, this guy would feel fortunate to be allowed to have that view every day. He would look at it constantly and feel uplifted.
After a while he would but glance at the vista, maybe enjoy his lunch while gazing outside. A little further down the track the view would just blend in with the wallpaper and shelves next to his desk.
That guy will become blind to the unique beauty he is allowed to behold.
The amazing has become the mundane. Too much of a good thing.
This is how I think we live most of our lives. At first – as children- we explore the wonders of the cosmos. I used to watch ants (and other insects) for hours, in our backyard in Germany, as they went about their business.
I remember the smell just before and after a massive thunderstorm. I remember the taste of forest strawberries and vanilla ice blocks. The way the light came in through our red and orange curtains just before my favorite TV program would start on a Saturday afternoon in summer was magic.
Each and every day was an adventure.
Now, some 40 years later, I am a cynic and a dreamer and a stark realist.
I look at my nephews, 5 & 7, and feel gladdened by their adventures and wonder. There is hope for all of us if we can just recapture that magic, just a little of it. Watch the children, really watch them and remember how you felt and what your enchantments were.