If you check a dictionary and look up to the meaning of life, you will find a kind of answer, “the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.”
It seems to articulate an answer that aptly describes the phenomenon of life. But does this resonate with anyone of us? Let me take the liberty to answer for us all and say, no, it does not. It’s simply good as a definition as much as to score marks in a test, that’s where it finds space, on an answer sheet.
What is so complicated about the idea of life and living that we cannot seem to wrap our heads around it? If asked what life is, our response seems to quaver in doubt and we find it impossible to answer such a direct question. Is it probably because, while we may think we are living, we are merely existing?
Which brings me to my next point, that is truth. What is truth? And what is our truth?
Again, if you go to the dictionary finding meaning of the word, truth, it will read something like this, “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”
This makes me wonder, what is fact? And what is reality? We know there are two kinds of truths, relative and absolute. While the absolute truth states facts about life, for example, you were born one day, you lived a life and then you died. What truly happens in between is what constitutes the notion of relative truth.
A truth that is unique to us all and is yet contradicted by the society at every step of the way.
In an article published earlier here on TNT, the author asks, “Who am I if I do a job that I don’t like doing but I do? Who am I if I am a happy person while listening to music but immediately get fed up figuring that a new work email awaits me? Who am I if I am writing stories about how to survive a relationship but I recently had a breakup? And who am I if I am excited at work but my life sucks?”
Our societal conditioning forces us to be grateful that we have been given a life of human. In the Hindu mythology alone, it is believed that after 84 lakh times being born as every living species on earth, you are blessed with a human life.
A life that is bestowed upon us after so many lifetimes ought to be extraordinary. There are so many expectations and so many disappointments, that we face and we go through every single day, as societal conditioning forces us to make it extraordinary, have it extraordinarily. Ironically, this relative truth has been etched in our minds as an absolute truth and somehow compels us to live life in a paradox.
However, let’s ponder over how extraordinary are our lives? Yes, we are living better lives than our parents and grandparents. In our twenties, we have dared to move to new cities, we have jobs that make us independent, we have pay-cheques with which we can afford to travel abroad and buy imported branded goods. Society has led us to believe we are truly living a happy life, that we have a fulfilling and prosperous life and must therefore not deviate from our daily goals.
But are our lives truly extraordinary?
Who decided this was the way to live? Who decided that this was a way of living? Who decided that this was the meaning of life?
It wasn’t us. Then, who was it?
In an article published on TechCrunch titled as, Why we lie to ourselves every day, the author Danny Crichton notes that “humans care deeply about being perceived as prosocial, but we are also locked into constant competition, over status attainment, careers, and spouses. We want to signal our community spirit, but we also want to selfishly benefit from our work.”
“We solve for this dichotomy by creating rationalizations and excuses to do both simultaneously,” he writes.
How do you see your life? Is it through the spectrum of someone else’s experiences? Or is it through the spectrum of your own desires? A life that is merely calculated in relation to the job you have or a virtual presence you can create, does this life establish an absolute truth or a relative truth?
It’s harder to find the purpose in life, of life. Which, in itself, is something that only you can do alone. But we all do know in our hearts that finding purpose in life can surely not be achieved by following the conditioned societal norms that is perceived as conventional wisdom. You need to bring yourself above this imaginary surface of absolute and relative truth, and demand your own truth.
Many things that we do in our lifetime are man manufactured. We follow them because we see them as a rite of passage that must be crossed at a certain time and age. We may or may not know the prevalence of these passages but nevertheless, we believe in them. When someone dares to point out that the rite of passage is a lie and not the truth, our whole belief system gets shaken and we struggle to find balance and find our truth again.
The motive of this article is not to provide you with a new truth to life and how one should live it. It is not even to shatter the existing truth about life because many of us do take comfort in it and seem to be happy being a part of it. It is merely to establish the fact that life is not just about relative truth and absolute truth. There is also a bigger truth to life that is unique to us all and that comes with the way we choose to seek purpose in our life.
That one stroke of happiness that guides us back to our real selves, and our truth outshines our lives.
We may not see it now.
We don’t even have to see it now.
(With added inputs from Ayush Garg)
A language student currently pursuing masters in French. Being an army brat and hence having travelled a lot, I like to believe I’ve acquired quite an understanding of life for my age. Hoping to make more sense of it by winning lots of wisdom, experience, a little bit of hogwash, and lots and lots of love. Being able to master skills that pay my bills along the way would be an added bonus.
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