I don’t want to sound like a cliché but why is “adulting” SO FKN HARD? The worst possible aspect of this time period in my life (I am 24 right now), is that I feel the pressure of pursuing a self-actualized life – which in saying so is a huge irony in itself. I mean, how can self-actualization even happen when you have to go to the trouble of pursuing it? Does it not have more to do with a sense of balance – a discipline to life that encompasses a certain amount of activity, stability, security and creation that keeps you happy?
Of course, complete happiness is too far a fetch. I have come to terms with how that is never going to be possible. I always imagined (especially at a time when I was immersed in depression) that in a life where I am away from today’s racy pace of civilisation, co-existing with nature, existing through sustainable means of living, with no worries of money, with no phones and the internet and social media – I’d be happy. That was the algorithm to my expectation of certain and permanent happiness.
Then I watched Captain Fantastic – a movie where a family of 6 (I think?) has managed to live exactly like that. (Except for their occasional visits to the nearest town for medicine and superbly basic supplies which they are able to buy with the little money they make in exchange for their numerous daily craft projects.) But in this movie, a character who we hardly see – the mother – suffers with mental health. I have never wept through a movie the way I wept through this one. I could say, it shattered my dreams. But the truth is, that thought never even occurred to me until I just wrote the last sentence. For me, it exposed me to a hard-hitting reality – that happiness alone as an element is not a reliable investment to ensure a good life. I’d say how that kind of projected into my life was when I moved out of Bangalore, found a place that suited my internal frequency (what I mean is peace of mind LOL), started living independently and consciously (at least, I try to), tried to do things that I truly enjoy and love doing – a life that keeps me productive along with keeping me creatively and intellectually stimulated. Yet another algorithm that yours truly kaatukozhi chases. It was only after making this shift and being a whole lot happier in comparison to the pre-shift times, that I truly learned that sadness, disappointments, self-doubt, death, pain and even happiness are all inevitable in this thing called life.
Imagine how much pressure we put on such a vulnerable existence! I think that’s the problem with humans today. A lot of us forget that our kind is vulnerable – and that makes all of you and me vulnerable too. But instead humans are preoccupied with superheroes and money and power. Modi saying “We will end poverty” really made me think. What does poverty really mean, especially in a country like India? The ones who are below the Poverty Level? So, even a family living like they do in Captain Fantastic, living self sustainably without any specific margin of income? The various indigenous communities spread across India who have managed to sustain themselves for generations, living independently in harmony with nature? Are they considered poverty too? How do you get rid of “poverty” for them? By forcing them to move out of forests and employ themselves in towns and cities? Maybe I am just less informed. Maybe there is a better definition. But imagine, for the common man that’s stirred up and excited about a superhero of a leader – do they know these definitions – that is, if there are any?
My mother warned me not to be explicitly political online. I get her worry. I worry too. I worry that my inability to keep my opinions to myself may not just risk my life but people I love too. There are valid reasons for me to be this paranoid – it’s not just allotting myself so much self-importance. How are we supposed to even think about self-actualization when the need of the hour has to be selfless – whether it’s in socio-political turmoil or in ecological turmoil? Self-actualisation who, chechi?