During my recent cleaning of the bookshelf, Dr. Viktor Frankl’s classic book Man’s search for meaning fell off the shelf as if to grab my attention. I thumbed through it in a hurry to get back to the task but the following lines would not let me look away till I sat down and thought them through.
|“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now,” Dr. Viktor Frankl.
One thought led to another and with a little nudge from Oban this blog came to be. But, I digress.
Why is it so hard to break free? To live the life you were meant to live, the way you want to live. Why do we strive for the flat line? Shit scared of the ups and downs of life? I am painting with a very broad stroke and generalizing but you get my gist. Then it struck me.
The social constructs create prisons of the mind. When a mother tells her daughter to get married because the biological clock is ticking; or father telling his son to be strong as he is the protector and bread earner; when your peers tell you to suck up and be quiet; when a married woman proudly proclaims that her husband has ‘permitted’ her to do whatever she wants because it’s her birthday today; we start to create an invisible prison that we cannot escape. Just like a caged bird that cannot fly away even if it was left open.
These prisons of the mind force us to explain everything in the social context. Every relationship has to have a name, every thought and action has to be categorized as normal or abnormal, every gesture has to have a meaning, and so on… These social constructs create prisons of our mind. We become too structured in our actions, too rigid in our thinking, too myopic in our outlook. We end up becoming our own echo chamber! Our lives become so monotonous that one year or a decade cannot be separated from another; forget about days and months.
The roots of this monotony grow deeper and stronger; making us fearful of change and of letting go. I try to capture the thought in my poem.
वोह वृक्ष हो,
जो बहती नदी के बीच,
इस बहाव में
डूब न जाए कहीं !
— राजीव नंदा
are that tree,
standing midst of a raging river,
clutching the earth,
in morbid fear,
in the flow !
— Rajeev Nanda