Monday, September 14, 2009

Zest. For Life. In Spite Of Life

It hurts. To meet people dear to you after a span of months or years and see them less cheerful, less happy and more cynical. It hurts to see flowers wilting away.

But I understand.

In the face of hopeless circumstances, fleeting time, a body that is creaking under the demands made of it by stressful days and sleepless nights and generally, the unfair ways of life, it is very difficult to have faith in goodness, keep the hope in your heart, a smile on your face, spring in your step and zest for life.

As I write this, I am thinking about some of my friends and acquaintances, who were extremely positive in life at the time I met them. They were cheerful and confident of themselves. They believed strongly in certain ideals. There was an innocent belief in “As you sow, sow shall you reap” and “Good begets good”. Their effervescence could even light up other peoples’ lives. They were more or less in control of their lives or so they thought. These were people you could draw inspiration from.

I met these people again after a long time. Of course, I met each of them separately and at a different time.
I was eager, ebullient and enthusiastic to meet them after a long time.
But I was surprised and pained to see them so changed.

What happened to her smile?
What happened to those ideals? “It was just my perception. And perceptions change with time” came the reply. But I could see that she was not happy to let go of that ideal. She had let go but with reluctance.

Rahul. A die- hard romantic. He had written some beautiful love poems. He had loved before. And lost. But his search had not stopped. He would find her. Sooner or later.
Now when he told me he was engaged, I was all curious. “So, did you find her?”
“No. it’s a typical arranged marriage. There is no such thing as love. One has to be practical in life. Can't go on waiting. I am 34 already”.
That was a long wait. And a futile one.
Though he did not say so, he was disillusioned and disappointed.
He would probably never love her enough to be inspired to write a poem for her. He might. But who knows? It was not somebody he could not live without. It was just somebody he could live with.

He was one of the people who had shown me my next level. It had just been a three hour conversation. And I advanced by leaps and bounds after that. Twinkle in his eyes. Dimple smile. Purpose and meaning. A versatile fellow who had written 20 short stories and was looking forward to get them published.
We were meeting after just two years. But he looked so much older. Whatever happened to that twinkle now?
Life had been harsh in these two years. He had lost his father. And a lot of money in the stock market crash. A dental surgery. A painful one. House loan. EMI.
The book is not published and he is not even making an effort. He does not write anymore. "No time. Work is crazy. I hate it. But..."

What happened to the promise you had made to yourselves? About living the life you wanted? What happened to that self assurance? You always told me to listen to my heart and follow my inner voice. You always said everything happens for the best? Do you believe in it still?

It did not seem like that with these people. A tenderness had been lost. They had smothered their Ideals. They had allowed time and circumstances to harden them. A shade of resignation could be seen in their demeanour. The incorrigible optimism had been uprooted and cynicism, though imperceptible had germinated in its place.

These were people I once drew strength from.
It hurt. It pained to see them having given up. It feels like I could do anything to revive that hope, that twinkle and that dimple on their face.

It’s amazing how life strives to prove unworthy of all the hope and trust people have in it.
It’s remarkable how it chooses to let down, among all, those who have believed in it the most.
Those who do not pause, even for moment to think about it, life leaves alone; but it hunts down those zestful, thoughtful, lively custodians of life who strive to salvage it from the negative philosophy of the cynical, pessimistic ones who proclaim that ‘it all ends in death’!

I walked back home after meeting these people with a heavy heart. The weekend saw me in a philosophical, contemplative and serious mood.

No matter how life treats me, I don’t want to resign, I don’t want to be hardened, I want to keep hoping and believing. I want to keep my innocence. I want to hold on to my ideals.
No matter what happens to me, I want to be positive enough to tell people "Everything happens for the best."
No matter what destiny has in store for me, I want to be able to tell people to keep trying, not to give up.
Whether or not life rewards me for all my good, I want to be able to tell people to believe in goodness and tread the correct path.
Whether or not I find love, I want to always believe in love and be able to tell people "Do not marry someone you can live with. Marry someone you can’t live without."


Anonymous said...

Smart observations. Touching, though a bit romantic.

Rehan Qayoom said...

May God not bring the time when forlorn
A peaceful sleep is forbidden to you like it is to me

I once transltated this brilliant poem by Faiz. I don't know where it went and your blog has reminded me of it after all those years.

Sowmya said...

Rehan, thanks for the comment... do you have the full poem translated? send it to me...

and if that was a blessing, a prayer, thanks for the same.

Thank you anon... Who is this by the way?

Ketan said...

Hello Sowmya!

I'm partly embarrassed by your post 'cuz it's a total antithesis of what we just discussed between us about the themes of your posts! But then such is life, and such are people, and probably hence, both are interesting. :) Have you ever read the description of my blog? It's a summary of how what you've written would equally apply to me.

I'm not trying to gain your sympathy when I say this, but I feel sorry for the person I've become from what I used to be at certain point. There are many areas in life wherein I've become cynical. But I'm not sure if it is pessimist that I've become or simply more of a realist!

I can totally understand your pain of seeing someone having changed a lot, and your not being able to relate to them.

There's a story I'd written very remotely touching on this issue. Please read it if you find time, and I'd certainly feel honored to have your views on it. :)

The story would take over an hour to read.

Also, I'd done a post tracing similar changes in my own outlook of life as have occurred in your friends'. Don't know if you'd find it too childish/simplistic.

You might understand what happens in cases you've described. Thanks for writing this post! :)


Sowmya said...


I will read your posts in leisure... Thanks for the comment.

And like I said, since you have not read all my posts, you are mistaken in thinking that I dont write about anyone other than myself.

But yes... you are right to an extent... but then, thats how narcissists are supposed to be. right?

Anonymous said...

Do narcissists enjoy special privileges in assessing and defining
people's emotional dilemmas?

Sowmya said...

There was neither assessment nor definition. Just observation. And everyone enjoys the privilege to observe...

Ketan said...


The only reason I'm making this clarification yet again is that I suspect some bitterness/sarcasm in the last lines of your response above to me. You're one of the bloggers I value, otherwise I just wouldn't have included your blog in that list. And despite the fact that our interaction has been limited, I'd not like you to be upset at all 'cuz of my choice of words.

In my post, I've described your posts as something that capture the beauty of your surroundings, and your skill at truthfully being able to recount your feelings towards your experiences. This, the way I see it, does not come even remotely close to self-obsession, and is further far-fetched from self-love (narcissism). But again, I don't have anything against self-obsession or narcissism, also! Both terms can have negative as well as positive connotations! :)

I'd told you before too, that rather I admire you for your ability to be able to enjoy all that in solitude. Is there any other way, I could convince you of the sincerity behind what all I say apart from actually saying all that?

Especially after reading this post, I would most certainly like to edit the description of your blog, but then honestly, I don't have time right now! :( I myself am not publishing any new posts despite having many new ideas.

My this entire comment was only based on the suspicion I stated above. I'd be quite relieved if my suspicion is wrong.

Take care.

Sowmya said...

Hey Ketan,

You really need to chill man... I am not at all offended. I really meant those last 2 lines... no sarcasm at all...

And please dont make changes to whatever you have written about me... I really liked your writing..

Just chill...

Anonymous said...

Hi Chomi,

While I do relate entirely with the content of this post, I also wonder what could be the reason for people who have shown promise to give up midway and compromise.

And if you look at the usual progression (or regression, as the case may be), they would've started out with so much passion, idealism, and energy that they could not have been bogged down just by the vagaries of time. There must have been something else that hit them so hard and AT THE VERY ROOT that their entire struggle would've seemed meaningless after that.

Within this group, you see people with naive idealism, who are bound to give up at the first reality check. So, let's not even talk about them.

However, there are also those who, in addition to the passion, idealism, and energy, also had a profound wisdom and keen insight into the state of things. Why did THEY give up? That's the nub of the question.

They could not have given up because of external factors alone; not because their problems, challenges, and enemies were larger than themselves; not because they were lacking in strength or endurance; not because they were lacking in wisdom.

I have to suspect that these people, at some point, in their struggle, were made to feel compelled to give up when their own trusted friends and supposed well-wishers gave up on them, accusing them of being too idealistic. For, these people would've been the very raison d'etre of their struggles!

As the saying goes, it could be a case of "God, protect me from my friends; I think I can deal with the enemies myself". I suspect, in many instances, this unsaid sense of being betrayed lurks inside; and even when this is given expression to, pray, how many take it in the right spirit?

I know that I have taken off at a tangent from your post, but I think there has to be a stronger, albeit subtler, reason that explains this phenomenon than the simplistic, "They yielded to the vagaries of time".

Sowmya said...

Welcome Vijay,

Thanks for providing more insights into this phenomenon...

Yet another cause...When life does not reward one suitably for their penance, one tends to give up...or seek revenge from life by treading the path of over indulgence...

We tread the right path, believe in ideals, keep up optimism etc., because we see an incentive... and after a long journey, if we dont find the reward, then...