Sometimes, when a compelling thought suddenly invades my head, I tend to scribble it on random pieces of paper and then chuck them aside.
This morning, I pulled out a brown leather bucket bag which has been lying unused for quite some time and carried it to work. While on the train, I rummaged through one of its zipped compartments, and found a note I scribbled a few months ago – at the back of an old e-ticket to Bali.
It was funny, almost a bit silly. But I felt like I was reading it for the first time, and somehow felt like a hand from the past was sending me a timely reminder.
Each person has a genetically determined happiness “set point” that accounts for 50% of his or her overall happiness. Which is to say that some people are born as a Grinch and this Grinch-like tendency which therefore makes them constantly dissatisfied and lacking contentment, cannot be helped. It’s fate.
What then, is the solution? One must vehemently fight back this inner Grinch. Obviously we constantly seek that elusive greener grass/pasture. But wait, this knowledge is actually quite comforting, because now I know that tomorrow I can win a 10 million dollar lottery and most likely still find life to be as normal as before. Happiness, and everything else in fact, is relative isn’t it? Of course if I win a lottery, my happiness level is higher relative to before I won said lottery. But I possess the awareness that there exists a possibility that this happiness can be relatively lower than if I win a lottery AND dating Brad Pitt (for example). This knowledge thus creates a subconscious discontent that can only be filled when that ideal is realised. Thus begins the vicious cycle.
Why then, do we complicate things? We make life complicated when we expect too much. So the solution. I said that this knowledge is comforting. Why? Because then maybe I can stop being so hard on myself. Stop seeking too much and overturning all the rocks. Just LIVE IN THE MOMENT.
The other day, a good friend and I were just reminiscing the past and lamenting how life has changed. How come we don’t write about our days anymore? Once upon a time our younger selves were so carefree and stupidly optimistic. And being happy & contented didn’t use to take as much effort.
Growing up is a strange thing. When we were younger we couldn’t wait to break away from the little safe bubble which contained us (school, dorm, exams to sit for & school fees to pay). It seemed imperative that as soon as we were out, like little turtle hatchlings venturing out to the sea, we would switch to “acquisition mode”. A good job, money, a house, a stable relationship/marriage.
So a force bigger than ourselves set things in motion and off we went. The world was ours for taking, and wider and wider we spread our arms. It seemed a given that as these things come, security and happiness would follow.
But as it turned out, we are still none the wiser.
You grow up and then you have a different set of problems.
We discover that we are actually capable people, the world is our oyster. We travel the world, we meet even more capable people (and also discover that stupidity is underrated). We see the world in a different light now. Ten different dimensions we didn’t fathom before, certainly not when we were innocent college kids trying to get by. And then everything become complex. The more we know, the more amplified our inadequacies become.
The world demands from us, and we demand right back.
This post has no conclusion. So where do we go from here?
I am homesick for a place that i’m not sure even exists. A place where the heart is full and I am understood.
I’m mentally drained. I feel like a computer running on 256 MB RAM trying to open 20 Safari tabs & 5 Powerpoint files, edit an Excel table, while loading several YouTube videos. And browsing Pinterest.
This must be how the older generation had felt towards the then-young people some years back during the dot com bubble. I remember first trying to teach my mum how to use a computer about 10 years back. She couldn’t even wrap her head around the existence of a cursor. Now, I myself am feeling a growing sense of detachment from all this social media and internet hullabaloo going on. A teenager who makes enough money on YouTube that she does not need a real job, a 12-year-old who started a bow-tie startup company now worth $150,000, etc… It’s all crazy. Marvelous and unbelievable, but crazy.
I can tell you now that today my mum has progressed to playing Candy Crush on iPad and searching for cupcake recipes on Pinterest. So she had conquered IT and won. She was progressive and stayed relevant to civilisation to the extent that mattered. And i’m finding that now I’m having the same problem keeping up (or rather, staying interested) with the world today. Fuck, i’m not even thirty yet!
In the morning while taking the train to work, sometimes I can’t help but feel like i’m walking in the midst of a strange, alien tribe. All conjoined with a device in their hands and looking downwards as they walk. It is so strange. This sense of displacement kept growing and growing.
What if 256 MB RAM is in fact ALL you need, and instead of opening 20 Safari tabs at one time, you could actually do with just reading stuff one tab at a time? Consider…
And it came to me then. That we were wonderful traveling companions but in the end no more than lonely lumps of metal in their own separate orbits. From far off they look like beautiful shooting stars, but in reality they’re nothing more than prisons, where each of us is locked up alone, going nowhere. When the orbits of these two satellites of ours happened to cross paths, we could be together. Maybe even open our hearts to each other. But that was only for the briefest moment. In the next instant we’d be in absolute solitude. Until we burned up and became nothing.
– Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
So the year is trundling by and we have rolled into August!
There has been plenty of new-ness in my life this year. New job, new apartment, new this and that. Peeling off layer after layer, I have put myself through a series of overhaul, both actual and mental. Yet at the end of it all I still don’t quite know what else to expect. I’m starting to entertain the possibility that maybe we just don’t get better at this. There’s no cause-and-effect to speak of, no way to anticipate how and when the stars align. Will it ever?
You can only stay true to yourself and just do it. And always, always, do a reality check.