Tuesday, May 22, 2007

unleashing a self-seeking spirit

Sometime later, or earlier, a bus passed by. It was as packed as packed could be. Suddenly, unsurprisingly, I had this pang of pity.
People’s lives, hard as flintstones, and peopled lives smacked hard by myriad everyday gavels, grunts passing off as breaths, making ends meet only by burning at both ends. And then? This hard anatomy turns brittle. As brittle as rickety bones. Or glass. And breaks into shards that pierces their bodies or makes them crumble into amorphous masses, shapeless, and brings them at the mercy of a solitary gust. During moments of weakness, they measure their stretched existences in all or nothing. During moments of joy, they try to forget their moments of enervation.
But then, I thought, it is their choice. Haven’t they chosen to expend their waking hours under the shade of a dubious shape, in the quest for a greater pursuit. Comfort, security, insurance against bouts of profligacy, endorsement—a higher ideal, nevertheless. Higher than their horizontal, flattened lives. A Shangri-La where their lowly hunger—this extreme desire to come good, deliver, meet the expectations of others—should be appeased. Why, then, do I find solace in pity? Shouldn’t I be proud of, and happy for, them; should not this very awareness embolden me to lay claim to being selfless, by virtue of being happy without a stake?

Selfish—it sustains an odor. The odor of something concealable. Garlic on breath. Or that of censures, mock and otherwise, that condition to an extent wherein should the very word be uttered in anything addressed to us, all elements of our existence react to throw out its sheepish smell with a single-minded sincerety only replicated in affairs beneath the sheets. Huge endeavors are undertaken to mask a guilt-ridden smell by periodic, convenient, intermittent altruistic deeds and thoughts. Like my pang of pity that tried to camouflage the odor of my ignoble, selfish existence by sensing the poignancy of the bus-laden lives of my less fortunate brothers. In the span of that one thought, I atoned for my sins. O, Father! I know I have sinned. Let my path meander with the bends of your hallowed course such that at every opportune occasion I can let your waters cleanse me. And thus I did wash my sins clean.

Opulent, ornate facades of buildings are gloriously analogous to the empty designs that we showcase in the course of the tirade to fit in, in society. The ostentatious archways only expiate the dingy matchboxes inside, stacked unimaginatively, laboriously upon one another. What could I have been? When did I realize that I’m as corrupt as the ones I despised in fables? When did I become one of them?

So that we are valued agreeably in societal eyes and earn good riddance of our compunction, we propitiate by offering alms and acting meek. This by far is the most popular path to selflessness: The duties include satisfying the presumption of others, being projected favorably onto them, and, in doing so, sacrificing the absolute ideal—the purpose of existence. Should I quell my spirit to bargain for an acceptable apology for a moral code? By being flung to the streets at throwaway prices, it is demeaned, rather ironically, to a more humanly character.

I earnestly aspire to offer my selfish self at the altar of altruism. I, as the embodiment of self-absorption. Why do I need to ask for forgiveness? Nothing, but the individual spirit, is absolute. I have a purpose that far outruns that of bandy altruistic legs. There is no end to the means. It is only the means. Perfect happiness is not in its realization. It’s not in retrospect, nor in summing up. It’s in the moment. In the somersaults without a crowd. In the lonely smiles. In the process of being unleashed. Like a rabid spirit.


Candid Confessions said...

"In the lonely smiles" - Oh I absolutely understand what you mean! It is absolutely joyous to have those thoughts winding back and ahead lighting up smiles! Rather have them than the pompous glories!

Charlotte said...

Aha. I can see what thought a little miss Ayn is provoking in you!


satyajit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
satyajit said...

candid confessions: i'm having trouble responding to comments..i write in a fit and after that, when i'm grounded, i'm totally at a loss for words..and now being such a time, i'll just say hmmm..nonetheless, i feel just as strongly abt it

charlotte: but i still think no work of art can change the world..it will eventually be gotten over

Ergo said...

Your line, "Opulent, ornate facades of buildings are gloriously analogous to the empty designs that we showcase in the course of the tirade to fit in, in society" reminds me of a similar idea I convey in this line: "...people hid behind more layers of ostentatious facades than the buildings they erected."

satyajit said...

ergo: i wrote this in the context of 'the fountainhead'

Ergo said...

P.S. you said: "but i still think no work of art can change the world..it will eventually be gotten over"

Well, explain the influence of Bible! ;) That's certainly one persuasive work of fiction that has drastically changed the world.

satyajit said...

ergo: hey, sorry i didnt put a disclaimer..i assumed that this article needed to convince people about the values of selfishness..therefore, no atheist was considered as part of the targeted audience!

Anonymous said...

i quite agree to the last paragraph..but then I can ask this question, just what makes you so sure the crowd is something different from you as well? there could be another..or perhaps ten others..going to the same destination...and their means are just not the same as you but its their own.otherwise, on second thoughts, a rational mind as you would have kept the deleted portions of the first publication. then the question of judgement based on such little knowledge of another person's life seems a little unreasonable...by all means an ambition to unravel oneself for an individual is the ultimate right of that person..and the path a matter of personal choice. but what do you/we know about things an inch apart from our noses...so how can you look into other people's lives and necessarily decide they hanker for something higher than their " horizontal lives", To be happy without a stake is awesome but to judge people by what you see from across the road or how you interpret their actions by how it affects you is just one part of the picture.there might be another you looking at you and thinking the same thoughts about you..relativity would make both claims equally true....and for him you would be another "other"..as much as he is to you.and you are no more fortunate than he is,in the common ignorance of one another :)

in anycase, very well written, though i beg to differ, and i am liable to correction :)

satyajit said...

anonymous: What i imply by my example of people commuting in extreme conditions is that they're not sacrificing anything by doing that. instead, they're subjecting themselves to discomfort only in pursuit of something higher. like say, an education or a profession. so, i'm not comparing myself with anyone at all. even i commute to work, and i feel the pain of travelling is worth it cos my job holds a higher value for me.

however, people don't feel so; therefore, you've husbands saying that they sacrifice for their families' well-being, and wives saying that they relinquish their ambitions for familial security, and viceversa. people think that their everyday hardships are sacrifices; they're are not. they're trade-offs. but this can only be so if they believe in what they do and not just do it for money or comfort or whatever that os beside the defining purpose of their existence. these are the elements that constitute 'horizontal lives'.

i'm clear that i'm not judging anyone. i mentioned a specific example only to illustrate a point and to get that purport across in my post is important. I hope you understood what i said.

thanks for the comment. i understand that my post has got you thinking, which is what i primarily intended :-)

Anonymous said...

a higher value could also be for them, someone hu has a few days to live chooses to see his daughter/sister get married. someone else cancels shifting to US bcos his father is ailing.Yes the moment you utter the word sacrifice the meaning is lost. people say a lot of things, under circumstances, for several reasons. but if they feel it inside to be a sacrifice the meaning is lost..we would never know. because we will never know.. like yours a " higher value" is perhaps a very personal, very intimate and very silent & probably very opposite to what most people put forward in front of others..

Anonymous said...

Nothing is ever absolute.somewhere i believe there is a beauty and a purpose in every chaos.Something good always comes out of every loss. because if we stop believing in life/people just because of a single/few bitter experiences where someone reminded us of what sacrifices he/she had/has done, we will miss the ones who will give meaning to the spirit and faith you have in your purpose.you just have to have an eye for it..and just live on..."unleashed".. goodbye.