In Retrospect: The Irony of Life


2014, for me, has been extraordinary. It has been extraordinary for reasons spread across every single minute, of every single day. Reasons, it is humanly impossible and logically undesirable to reproduce in words. It would require another lifetime – sitting down writing out what every moment feels like, instead of living it. And what does one have to write out when one hasn’t lived anything?

It takes an insightful eye to see everyday events – good and bad – for what they really are, to identify the reason for their existence (for, no event is a coincidence), and to place them in the wider jigsaw of life. In the very opening of this year, while this blog was still in its infancy, I wrote an article on how I wouldn’t be looking for reasons to appreciate people. This, I then wrote, would be my purpose this year. As I look back now, I haven’t entirely failed. Though I haven’t entirely succeeded either, I have been triumphant on a different, but related, front. I have learned to appreciate life.

Good times come with memories, bad times come with lessons.

Good times come with memories, bad times come with lessons. Never has this been as true for me, as it is today. When I say extraordinary, I don’t mean extraordinarily good or extraordinarily happy. I mean just that – extraordinary. I didn’t know, or perhaps didn’t appreciate before, how the bad times are capable of so much more than we think them to be. Good times are but celebrations of temporal joys. The party is over the moment the last person walks out of your front door. You stop celebrating.

But bad times, they stay. They begin the moment the last person walks out of the front door. They are what lasts long after the party is over. It is in these times that we seek the greater meaning of life. We look beyond the misery that has befallen us, to why it has befallen us. In the process, we reconnect with our self, and what the millennia old holy scriptures, prophets, and the preachers of faith, love and humanity call God – Jesus Christ, Dharmakaya, Brahman, Yahweh, Allah…

Bad times, then, take us closer to the reality of life. They teach us humility and perseverance. They make us wiser, stronger. They equip us. They empower us. And they are our best shot at becoming the person we are meant to be, or better, are capable of being.

A smile that spreads across our face as we realize all this, even as tears roll down our cheeks, is better, far better, than the laughter that makes our stomach ache.

But here’s where the irony comes in: extraordinary as it is, life isn’t meant to be. Emphasis on ‘be’. It is meant to end. Life is a magnificent illusion. It has a way with exaggerating things. We tend to see ourselves as the centre of time and the universe. When, in fact, as we learned with the Copernican Revolution six centuries ago, we are anything but that.

Carl Sagan puts this eloquently and movingly in his book, Pale Blue Dot. He says,

“Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

Our existence, is worthless. So is every single worldly possession we adhere to, and the people and the places we associate our life and death with. The universe is capable of faring very well without us, just like every single worldly possession, and the people and the places we associate our life and death with, are. We, or anything that we can empirically conceive for that part, needs to be separated from the word ‘essential’. There is no essential. The conceivable is unimportant, unnecessary. And the inconceivable – independent. Divine.

I would highly recommend the beautiful 5-minute video, Sources: Socrates in Plato’s Words by Michael Griffin of The University of British Columbia, to anyone who wants to understand this better. I came across it as I was working on a final project.

So, good luck everyone! Good luck with trying to figure out how this year was for you. Which of the times – good or bad – did you the greater service. For me, it was definitely the bad ones, but I am also thankful for the good ones. Because they too, were that – extraordinary.


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