Lost in abstraction

Lost in abstraction

10 trillion-The number of cells in an average human being. That’s more cells than the number of people on the planet. 10 Trillion cells. All working in unison humming every second or two.  From a certain point when we tumble forth into the World.

Such enormous complexity in such a simple and fragile exterior. All it takes is a poke, jab, blow, or fall to end it all. What is the end of it all anyway?

Then there is the brain. The most amazing few million cells. Lets call them “the specially chosen”. The brain that is capable of observing, and being observed at the same time. capable of perceiving reality and understanding abstractions. Capable of writing love songs and planning the most vile campaigns that are meant to destroy every living being in its vicinity.

Life surely flows through streams and rivers of thought- through fables of heroes and the horrors of villains. Through the frustrations and pain of suffering to the serenity of contentment and love. Life is everything and nothing- all in one. The proverbial World that is presented to us through the eye of a needle.

For millenia – scientists, doctors, healers and the curious ones have been studying the “how” of life. How does so and so work? Every year we recognize and reward those who tell us something truly unique about the how’s of life. I wonder how many of us have asked this question.


Why must we live? and why is the opposite of living- dying? What is living really? Is it me perceiving the things around me and other people seeing me move? If that’s the case then I’m no more alive than a car or an airplane. If living means learning, understanding, moving, and observing- that means the laptop I’m typing on is as alive as I am (and maybe better at it!) If it means feeling emotion- then half of the organisms that scientists classify as “living” aren’t really alive. And if it does mean responding to stimulus- then a dead person is as alive as a person alive- the body still responds to the stimulus (of rapid deoxygenation) by turning blue.

Yet somehow, all these suppositions and arguments seem incongruous.

A brief objective and dispassionate look at the World seems to suggest that its nothing more than an experiment in motion. Just like a scientist who mixes chemicals in the lab- just too see if the result, a great thinker suggested that nature is one big experiment called evolution. Random, chaotic, survival rather than living, and a constant state of flux. Where every being survives day to day.

That does throw our moral compass out of gear though. If survival is the goal, then there is no “good” way to survive, no “honorable” way to live and no “destiny” to fulfill. All that matters is eat or be eaten, kill or be killed.

And then- the biggest doozy of all time- is there a soul? if so what is it?

There’s something very reassuring about believing that there is a soul. Something that survives out brief existence of 50-60 summers in a planet that has probably has a hundred billion of them. Something that is ours- something that is us – that transcends. Gives value to learning, meaning to life. Just like the Philosophers Stone gives value to lead- turning it into gold. The kiss of death- something so scary- now turns into a divine transformation, where we are free of the physical bonds that bind us and many a times- burden us, into a sense of complete freedom. This is where we transcend into an abstraction- where we transcend flesh into thought. There have been so many books written by so many incredible thinkers, who after years of digging at the stem of life, discovered roots that were inexplicable and incredible- roots that were – for a lack of a better word- “divine”. Where does all of this fit into the grandest experiment of life- The evolution of the Universe?

I would like to believe that my life has meaning. And that meaning can be found by learning and understanding. I would like to believe that the crazy parts of life and the fun parts of life are there for a reason, that  my mind – muddy lake that it is- can be made transparent- and then I would be able to see the depths of cognition and perception. I would like to believe that the air around us is cackling with magic every moment of everyday- taking life from some, while giving life to others. Parching some parts of the World, while creating cherry blossoms in another.

I would like to believe that friendships and true relationships transcend time and lives, and the dead are not gone forever. I would like to believe that the voice in my head, constantly chatting with me, chastising me, motivating me, and protecting , is all the magic of the World somehow creating a “Reverse Butterfly effect” where I can travel through space, time, distance, and people, without moving an inch.

And I would like to believe that there is more to life then living, like there’s more to death than dying.

I also know that this entire premise rests on one word.


Hope- the principal human delusion- simultaneously the source of our greatest achievements and failures.

And so I remain lost in this World of hallucinations- called Maya. Knowing that for every fact, there is an equal and opposite fact that’s every bit as true.

Like Le Petit Prince- my World has everything. And nothing.

Everyday in this World, I lose my self- in this wondrous abstraction called life.


Old Wine…

What is the distance between Texas and Bangalore? I’d say about the same distance as the width of Brigade Road in Bangalore.

Its a strange ethereal feeling meeting old acquaintances and friends. Long periods of being incommunicado followed by a meeting, one never really knows what to expect. People change day to day- and over a period of three years we have changed, a lot. Sort of reminds me of the short story ‘After Twenty Years’

Yet there’s always a feeling of familiarity, a sense of great affection that cannot be expressed in words. Genuine laughter knowing nods in scams undertaken together- a long long time ago.

And the experiences come back in a rush- like a dam that burst open. And that familiar feeling of being partners in crime returns. Eyes never Lie. The same streak of hair that runs across her face, the sharp laughter that makes the world a little less unbearable and voice that can calm calm me down from murderous rage to carefree laughter in minutes. The same look of wonder and terror.

We hanker for change in our life, everyday, fight for it, sometimes die for it, and yet it seems we all want things to remain the same. Back to the same bumbling 18 year old, who got all tongue-tied in the presence of a rather charming girl.
Life encompasses within it a very deep and profound madness. I guess meeting old friends gives us some sort of a respite from our own little insanities of living everyday. A similar feeling to drinking very old wine. Initial exhilarating that transcends into serenity followed by moments of untarnished beauty. Towards the end, all that remains is a warm glow that radiates from within, knowing that fulfillment is the easiest thing in the world.

Three Years ago, we said our goodbyes only to meet three years later. Lives have diverged but our way of living hasn’t. Because of technological changes we keep in touch even though we’re separated by oceans, but fulfillment is never reached… The void of emptiness that cannot be fulfilled by keeping in touch alone.

And it remained so through large internet chat discussions, favors and video’s exchanged, and messages passed on, and news shared. It was not even fulfilled when I heard she’d landed in Bangalore. Bangalore or Texas, it never really changed. Local Calls and ISD Calls have the same dull sense of being impersonal and metallic.

… Until I saw her across Brigade Road waving to me. Thats when memories came back flying through the night sky- Memories of classes attended and classes bunked. Memories of the unbridled fear in her eyes because of the dog pound. Memories of endless cups of coffee and being curious because of intellectual chatter of the monkeys near the electrical department. Memories of circular reasoning that would drive a certified psychologist to insanity.

That was the distance between Texas and Bangalore for me. the time and distance it took for me to cross the road. A place where our conversations stopped being ‘telecommunication’ and started being personal. I guess, because of our busy lives and the horrible traffic it took us three years to cross the road.

A happy thought for me to remember that the first Happy memory of the year was gifted to me by two incredibly warm people who who remembered me when they didn’t have to. They chose to celebrate joy of togetherness on a cold dry winter evening, instead of curling up in their homes with family.

The Call of the wild

The charade of civilized life continues as it always has…with plastic smiles and come-hither looks . With untamed ambition masked by snakeskin of caring.
Through the cavernous valley of life, the one thing that each one of us has learned – is to have an insatiable hunger-a monster that we create of our own will. A monster of discontent- created by the seed sown very early in life. A hunger that we create for ourselves, that gives us some ‘purpose’ in life, before enslaving us to its wily charms of Gold and Gifts. Today we have knowledge about so many things of the Earth and beyond, but the understanding of our own insignificance and limitations seems to have passed by us completely.

The beasts in us are more active then ever. Time and time again we feel the call a voice from deep within us that tell us in whispers that beneath the veneer called knowledge, we are no different than the beasts we seek and the beasts we eat. That the same anger and lust that animals seek over their own kind and others seeps through our veins too –
Anger- Always prevalent just beneath the surface. We wait in the shadows looking for a mistake made by someone- To break something (perhaps even ourselves) when the moment is right. The eternal glow of destruction that always calls out to us in the darkest recesses of the mind.. to find the strength to strike and strike harder until emptiness descends upon us.
Lust- Eternally Red which the most primitive Call the one that is all pervading, all consuming-the very basic instinct of them all.A guttural feeling that begins somwhere near the navel that slowly dominates all thought because of a visual impulse. The roving eyes that try to compensate for all the five senses and fail always. The Parched throat that can never be quenched, the fire of desire that can be extinguished only when bodies meet.
Look at the world around- where the Business of voyeurism earns the maximum followed by the Business of anger (War)
Today, the knowledge we have gathered have enabled us in ways never thought of before, to feed our dominant emotions and enable us to be more destructive than every before. The Lacunae of Peace, Tranquility, Understanding and wisdom have grown larger- a balance that was fragile to begin with has ben shattered long before toddlers say their first words.

The charade of civilized life continues as always… Allowing us to plot miserable pain on others in the seclusion of our homes while feeding our own private lusts.
Dominated by our desires and ambitions we step from stone to stone in the sea of life while forgetting fully that the achievements of the past and present (and history will agree) all get ground to the dust in due course of time.
And all this while, the Call of the Wild – to pander to our wants and needs, to fight for survival and to dominate and live or Accept and perish – is getting Louder within us…