Since my childhood, I have heard tons of theories about right-and-wrong and how it subjects us to either Hell or Heaven. And now I have finally come up with a theory of my own. Right or wrong doesn’t matter. Each one of us is already living in our own specialized Hell.
You ask me how? Well, don’t we say we all have a unique brain? And hasn’t it tormented you enough? For centuries, humans have been trying to decode the brain, and yet we suffer with it daily. It’s the one thing that makes every human unique and every suffering personalized. On a loop, we wake up with same insecurities, vulnerabilities and instabilities. We wake up and try to fight them with a false sense of confidence, unaware of the fact that it’s an unending road that we have started to tread on. You’ll laugh and probably think how sad my life is. But when you do that, think about your happy times and then think about the time it took you to reach those moments. The small capsules of happiness just provide you enough to elongate your time in Hell. So in the hope of finding this medicine, you don’t pull the plug. But sadly, even if you do, you don’t escape your agony; you just restart the timer. And it goes on and on. And on.
So when you once again go to sleep after your tiring job, planning your next but similar day, give a thought to what you just read, how much sense it makes and how we can escape Hell. 😉
A few billion years ago, in a serendipitous moment which would come to change the course of the universe, all the cosmic eventualities converged to give birth to two globes of fire and bound their fate together for time unbound. One destined to be the doom of the other. Vita and Mortem.
Vita, Mortem and their family weren’t the only ones in the universe. Surviving alone in the universe was out of the question, so usually, a few hundred stars would come together to form a small group. Each star in the group was tasked with protecting a few planets. The smaller celestial beings like moons accompanied the planets to take care of their day-to-day needs; meteoroids were used to send messages across the family, and asteroids just formed the first layer of defence around the elder stars. Upon reaching the end of their lives, stars would go into a deep sleep creating a void in the space, sometimes called a black hole. Due to the sentimental value behind them, black holes were considered sacred, and it was advised not to go anywhere near them.
Though born under the same stars, Vita and Mortem were stark opposites of each other. Bold enough to make hard choices, Mortem brimmed with pragmatism and was always full of new and creative ideas. Someone would even call him a bit crazy. On the other end of the spectrum stood Vita, who was a conformist, picked the safest bets, followed all rules and regulations, and hence was elders’ favourite. Needless to say, the two never saw eye to eye while growing up.
The differences were also prominent in their appearances. While Vita transformed into a beautiful sphere of blue and green, accompanied by a single small moon, Mortem was everything exotic. A deep shade of framboise reflected from his body, and more than 40 tiny moons revolved around him aligned in an intersecting set of rings. The structure gave Mortem the shape of an extrinsic being. He was anything but simple, which made him beloved in the younger generation. Young fellows loved to hang around with Mortem, and he too would fascinate everyone with his crazy ideas about how the universe is expanding, theories on how they came into being, and whatnot. But what he longed for was an approval from the elders. He soon grew envious of his birth twin who charmed everyone just with her gentle ways. Every time Mortem brought up an idea to shake things up a bit Vita slid in with her traditions and principles. Sometimes it appeared as if she was doing it intentionally. Mortem was growing out of patience. He just needed a chance to pitch his ideas to the elders without Vita interrupting him.
Word got out that a rogue band of miscreants was out to wreak havoc upon anyone in their way. The elders called everyone, including Vita and Mortem, for a family assembly as their family was next on their path of destruction. Vita had got herself a vital seat in the community by now and right now she was helping in building an attack strategy. They discussed multiple ways to defeat the band but every possibility ended in at least a few of them putting themselves in harm’s way. This was the opportunity Mortem was looking for. But he was afraid to speak up in front of the entire community for he knew his strategy was a bit radical.
“What if we use the black holes?”, everyone turned their heads towards Mortem as these words finally got out of him.
“Nobody ever goes near them because we want to let our elders rest in peace. But what if the real reason is that they suck in anything that comes near them. We could somehow direct the band towards the holes. This way, we wouldn’t even have to risk any lives.” he explained.
Before any of the elders could react to what Mortem had to say, Vita burst out, “How could you be so insensitive towards the dead? Have you no respect!??”.
“We have a great danger lurking just outside. It is no time for being emotional. We won’t have to risk so many lives if my theory is correct.”
“Your theory!?? You want to put all our lives at risk because you have a theory?”
Mortem knew it wasn’t the best place or time to share his theory, but Vita was taking it to another level. She was making him look like a fool.
“It’s not just a theory, alright. I have seen meteoroids disappearing when they get too close to any of the black holes while delivering the messages.”
“Are you sure you weren’t just dreaming about all of this?” said Vita with a smirk on her face now. Full of ego and pride from being everyone’s favourite, she didn’t just want to thwart his theory but to embarrass him in front of the entire community. “You have been roaming around telling the children stories of universe expansion, of how we came into existence. But that’s all they are. Stories. You think you can solve a problem with one of these stories. Do you think you can win these fights using your crazy imagination? There is no place for your lunacy here in the assembly. Get out of here! We don’t need any of your concoctions to win this fight. “
Now in shock with the humiliation, Mortem threatened, his eyes overflowing with anger, “Vita!! You mock my ways today; they would be your undoing one day.”
“Let’s not waste any more time on his childish theories or empty threats, we have more pressing issues,” said Vita now addressing to everyone else.
Mortem was enraged. He knew, like always, Vita had screwed up his chance to convince the elders. But this was enough. She had gone overboard tonight. He would teach Vita a lesson and make her regret this day. With this thought, he left the meeting.
The elders knew too that Vita had gone too far this time. Consumed by pride and ego, she had crossed a line. But like Vita aptly said, there were more pressing issues at the moment. They strategized their defence against the enemies and defeated them but at the cost of many lives.
Nobody knew what Mortem was planning, but they never even once doubted his rage to destroy Vita. Reason had left him, so there was no point in talking sense into him. Blessed with the power of intelligence and imagination, he would create something so bizarre that even the eldest stars wouldn’t have heard of it. Madness, anger and the desire to avenge his humiliation took over him, and for centuries he planned his ultimate revenge.
If his plan were to work, he thought, it must be infused with his own elements. From his rivers deluged with the crimson elixir, he took a handful to mould his vengeance and put the soul of his valleys, Kardia, a bright red reverberating flower, at the centre of his creation. But these wouldn’t have sufficed for what Mortem had in mind. It wasn’t complete without the seed of Braegen, the fruit that sourced his quintessence. He knew taking this seed out would render him weak, but his animosity towards Vita was more in magnitude than his willingness to survive. Unwavering, he plucked the seed from his very core and planted it into what would be the annihilation of Vita.
He was finally done with all the work. Moribund by literally putting his heart and soul into his vendetta, he was ready to call the final shots. Once it gets to Vita, he would have all the time to rest. He summoned Eden, one of his most faithful meteoroids to deliver Vita’s destruction to her doorsteps.
“But it’s so small and not at all scary, how would this inflict any harm to Vita?”, exclaimed Eden.
“In this world of celestial beings, what could another enormous giant have done? Vita would have seen it coming and could have easily crushed it like a shooting star. But nobody would suspect this gentle, petite being.”
“I see. But I still don’t understand being so tiny, how would it hurt Vita?”.
“Ohh that’s the fun part. Vita will never suspect the malice with which it was brewed. It will procreate itself and multiply in number like a virus. Slowly and agonizingly, it will eat Vita out. Crippling her bit by bit, poisoning the very air she breathes, burning her lush locks which she is so proud of, drying its icy blue courses, leaving her alive but lifeless. This will be the end of her.”
“That would be brutal but perfect. The very creativity that she mocked would be the death of her. Just one last question. What is your ingenious creation called?”
Meanwhile, my 25-old self brimming with self doubt unable to handle praise:
Did I just hear the word “genius”? Maybe she meant something else. She can’t be serious; surely, she must just be kidding. Or is she serious? Does she need something from me? She is known for her sarcasm. Is she mocking me? Maybe she is just mistaken. I am no genius. She doesn’t know I have got this far all because of my luck. It got me through my school and college and earned me so many accolades. What if she comes to know I am just an impostor just lucky enough to fool everyone? Will she still think I am a genius? Oh my god, I still need to reply. What do I do? Think of something. Just say something. Let’s go with something funny. Quick! Think of a witty joke; after all, I am supposed to be a genius!
“Sure, if genius meant an idiot,” I finally blurted out.
Jane woke up at midnight, screeching at the top of her voice. She didn’t just have the most terrifying dream of her life, but in fact, she felt as if she had actually lived it. Drenched in sweat, she got up from her bed to get some water. She gulped it all down in one go, and as she turned to return to her bed, chills ran down her spine. She couldn’t believe her eyes that her long-dead father was standing right in front of her. Her worst nightmare literally came true when her father said, “Oh my poor Janey! I didn’t intend to meet you so soon. I’ll come to pick you up 24 hours from now. Be ready then!”
Jane was in shock and was sure that she must be hallucinating because what just transpired in front of her was unfathomable. She tried to reason with herself. After a long hectic day at work, she had come back directly to her house, despite it being a Friday, only to be greeted by silence and aloofness. She had poured a glass of wine and had started contemplating the monotony of her life and all the events that had led her to this moment. Jane had always been a headstrong girl. When all her classmates were busy making foolish teen mistakes, she had already started treading on the path to her dream life. With no surprise, Jane got into the college she had always wanted and graduated at the top of her class. She moved halfway across the globe away from her mother and younger brother in the pursuit of a successful career. There was no doubt about her success. At 29, she was the youngest partner at Davis & Stones, a renowned law firm in the Chicago city. While her life panned out exactly how she had wanted, it was the prudence of her plan that now made her crave excitement in her life. Until now.
In a loop, she recalled the events of the past hour, but it just made her more anxious. She tried to convince herself that it was just wine working on her mind, but the more she thought about it, the less confident she felt. Against the best of her rationale, she decided that it’s no harm to get her things in order. And that she did. She called her family and ensured that she had enough savings to provide them for. She quickly sorted out the paperwork. But that was that. She didn’t know what she could do further. For the first time in her life, Jane didn’t have a plan.
So she did what she knew best and took out a piece of paper to start with a list of things she could do. But she couldn’t come up with anything. How can anyone be prepared for this moment?What would you do if you were told you had just 24 hours to live? She had always known that death was certain, but she used to run away from the thought. A tear trickled down her cheek as she thought of the time she used to spend with her father. How much fun they used to have together. But his untimely death had sucked out all mischief and innocence from the 13-year-old Jane. Now, when her own time seemed so near to her, she realized how much she had missed out on her life. Well, now there were less than 24 hours to make up for the lost time.
Jane had always wanted a pet, but with her high-paying time-sucking job she could never afford the time a pet needs. So as in her routine, she went jogging in the morning, but today she stopped to go inside the park and play with cute little dogs. She talked to their owners, met so many new people, and even convinced an owner to walk her dog for some time. In her childhood, Jane was very fond of cheese hamburger. She used to make it with her father but stopped eating it after his demise. The events of today’s morning, however, sparked in her a desire to tend to her limited culinary skills again. She messily ate the burger as any human could. Oh! The fun of it.
Jane’s love life was next to nothing. She hadn’t dated a single guy in the last five years. That could only be attributed to her planned life, of which a relationship was never to be a part until she makes it in life. Fortunately, her plan was out the window this morning. Eric, an engineer from the IT department, had held Jane’s interest for a long time, but she never dared to say anything to him. From the way her day was unfolding, it could be safely assumed that today was the day. Booming with confidence, she picked up her phone and set up a date with Eric. They both had a lovely time together and parted only to meet a day later. Jane left with a heavy heart, for she knew she might not see the next morning.
Jane called one of her best friends from her college, who was always begging to meet her. She realized that there could be no better time. They planned to meet in a club in the evening. Jane didn’t have a social life, so it should be noted that she had trouble finding the perfect outfit for the evening. But perfect didn’t matter today, so she put on a cool outfit paired with shoes for she just wanted to dance. And that day, she danced without any fear of judgment. After all these years of sculpting a reputed image in society, today she couldn’t care less of what people thought of her. She was finally free.
Exhausted, she came back to her apartment, and it was almost midnight. Though a bit frightened of what might lay ahead, she was content as she just got to live the best day of her life. As the clock struck 12, her father appeared again in front of her and asked, “Are you ready, Janey?”.
“I am”, she replied.
“I am so proud of you, my little angel! Don’t be scared, come.”, her father said and extended his hand.
Jane very slowly moved towards him, and as she held his hand, everything turned into a bright white light. It flashed right into her face. She tried to see what was happening but couldn’t open her eyes. When she finally succeeded, everything made much more sense.
It was a bright new morning, and it was the sunlight from the window across that woke her up. It was just a dream. Nothing had changed, and yet everything felt otherwise to Jane. She woke up a different person. She was grateful to get a second chance at life. Even from beyond the grave, his father managed to teach her an important lesson of life.
Live in the moment because death is certain. Don’t just know it, realize it. Let it sink in. When you do, you will appreciate how important each moment of your life is.
The pandemic upheaval has left the world into a topsy-turvy state and it would be months, maybe even years, before things settle down. The unseen villain has consumed thousands of people, touched millions of families, and threatened the sanity of everyone worldwide. In these stressful times when the end might just be lurking around the corner, we find solace in reminiscing the stolen moments in our life.
In our race to achieve something great in life we rush ourselves towards the end and forget to stop for the little moments that make the life worth living. Now when everything is at a standstill we crave nothing but those ordinary day-to-day moments stolen from our busy lifestyle. Nothing would give us more pleasure right now than having the opportunity of living a pre-pandemic-normal routine day. It makes us re-think the importance of the ordinary. It might not be the reason behind our greatest achievements but it is the only thing holding us together till the end.
One thing the pandemic has taught us all is that life is short and we should cherish each and every moment that we have got. Take leave from your busy schedule and spend time with your loved ones. Tell your partners how much you love them, be a partner in crime with your kids, listen to your parents’ past stories, connect with your friends, have a laugh about a thing or two. Because it’s not the ordinary what you seek, but it’s in the ordinary what you need.
Simple they may seem but these two words hold a power that lies at the very core of the functioning of this world. The power of the unknown. So strong that if harnessed correctly it can take you to great heights and wisdom, but if misused it may become the end of you. A power from which stems out our strongest emotions – guilt, sadness, remorse, happiness, gratitude, fear.
Time and time again we think of our past, the choices we made, the events that led us to those choices, and the path they carved out for us. We dream of the life that could have been had the things rolled out differently. What if I had not been on a call while I was driving? What if I hadn’t miscalculated my answers during the exam? What if I hadn’t had a headache during my interview? You can’t help but think about the impact such events have had on your life. While it’s always good to learn from your mistakes, dwelling on your past is never a good idea. It could leave you with nothing but guilt and remorse. But just like a coin, the power of the unknown also has two sides to it. Instead of being unhappy thinking about how much better life could have been, think of your present life and be grateful for all the things that could have gone wrong but they didn’t. Derive happiness from the unknowns of the past and be grateful for your blessed present.
For centuries we have run after the power of the unknown and in our quest to find it we have innovated the world we currently live in. This wouldn’t have been possible if not for curiosity – one of the strongest tools forged from the power of the unknown. People go after the things they are curious about, making curiosity the very backbone of our society. It’s the reason why we are exploring new places in the universe, why we can go around the world in no matter of time, why we can enjoy the different delicacies. But curiosity is also a cause of violence and hatred spread across the world. Before you start chasing it, be aware of the perils that lie in the path to curiosity. There is no rose without the thorns attached.
Good or bad, there is no denying the fact of how powerful the unknowns in our life can be. Think about it the next time you say the two simple words, what if..
For years I have struggled with perfectionism carrying it around as a halo above my head. Little did I know that it would plunge me into the darkest times of my life. I fell hard, broke myself and it took me a long time to piece myself together again. But in the process, I learnt what is more important than perfection. And that’s Trying. Failing. Learning. Progressing.
If I ask you to stand up and take a step forward you would find it pretty easy and would be able to do it without much effort (of course if you are not at the edge of a boat). But if I ask you to get ready to climb a mountain you’d probably call me crazy. That’s what happens when we aim for perfection. Even if you think it may be possible it is still going to be an immensely difficult task. Then why climb a mountain when you can enjoy the comfort of your cozy bed, right? Absolutely. I’m right there with you. The problem is not with trying, it is with desiring perfection. You miss out on so much you could be good at just because you think you can’t be perfect at it. That’s how harmful perfection is for you. I learnt this the hard way. But there might still be time for you.
I know this article is far from perfect but still it’s one step forward from a blank page. That’s progress for me. And I choose progress today, not perfection. Progress towards being as imperfect as I want to be.