How we rob ourselves of meaning in our lives

January 20, 2018

Recently I went back to Penang for a break all by myself. It has been a long time. Or maybe it just seems that way. I was at first afraid that I would not be happy going for break all by myself….as it turned out, it was a very beautiful day. It was a cloudless sunny day, the sort where the sun can cut a building like a cake rendering deep contrast of light and shadows. For some inexplicable reason this is the way I associate happiness with the place called Penang.

I spent the whole day cycling around Georgetown and at times, I would simply stop and watch the play of light on buildings and things….the story of light and shadows I notice operate by indirection – often changing the mood from this to that and that to this and letting the mood carry us to the final destination. Rather than speaking outright…it is this quality of imprecision of the language of light that allows us as the observer to wordsmith the narrative of what we see…the way light curls ever so slightly at the outer edges around old glass…..the unevenness of the brick and old lime walls as they swell in and out creating ripples of shadows…so much like human flesh that they’re almost alive….I even discovered by sheer chance, a variety of tree that secreted the full majesty of it’s bloom within it’s thick canopy.

I savoured all these with my eyes slowly in my own time. I wish I could find the accuracy of words and phrases to describe the sensation of savouring the freshness of nowness….but it would not be far off to say, it is like seeing things for the very first time. Even things we have always seen and experienced before.

Perhaps if not me, in the borrowed words and eyes of Elena ferrante…where she once described the magical qualities of the first time,

‘Some time ago, I planned to describe my first times. I listed a certain number of them: the first time I saw the sea, the first time I flew in an aeroplane, the first time I got drunk, the first time I fell in love, the first time I made love. It was an exercise both arduous and pointless.

For that matter, how could it be otherwise? We always look at first times with excessive indulgence. Even if by their nature they’re founded on inexperience, and so as a rule are not very successful, we recall them with sympathy, with regret. They’re swallowed up by all the times that have followed, by their transformation into habit, and yet we attribute to them the power of the unrepeatable.’

I did not care where I was or even where I might be headed or end up…like a man cycling around a labyrinth I was not beholden to either time or space ….on some of my most memorable rides. I even found myself in places where I could hardly recognise where I was…I actually came back here to bury a painful past – there is an aching pain in my heart like an open wound that I will always associate with this island of my lost heart.

As I moved in the rhythm of the afternoon that eventually gave way to an indigo evening…..Soon I felt happy and I am very glad that I made an effort to come here again…..all by myself….I often tell myself…if you do not try your best to make yourself feel happy…then who will?

You must try….you really must try to be happy all by yourself.

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We are living in a culture that is fixated with ONLY what will happen in the future and what has happened in the past.

That is the reason why the so-called present moment does not seem to exist at all.

Since we are NEVER present in the present. Our entire frame of thinking is almost completely designed to look for meaning by scanning our memories or by forming expectations about what will happen in the distant future….it is never about the act of appreciating the NOWness of what is happening in and around us….so much wasted…so much is left to rot away.

We have forgotten that there is such a thing as now…and why NOW is infinitely more important than what has happened or will happen.

It would not be incorrect to say.

We are therefore out of touch with reality.

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