Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Letter to a Friend

Dear friend,

Continuing our discussion yesterday, the mail I sent you drained me.

Unlike your observations, I am very happy about this life. It is short, it is absurd and yet is a capricious blend of enjoyable moments and emotional let downs. But no situation, in my opinion, needs to be over emoted with, as I have realised that these are all impermanent; transient moments.

"This too will pass" were the wise words my father gave me when my chips were down. Now, I believe that as my life's defining statement.

I have divided carefully my connections and experiences with the external world into two strata; life as I see it and experience, mostly internal and dictated by my senses, my knowledge and tastes, is the first stratum. The second is, experiences with people - who are external to me, uncontrollable factors, all fired by different passions, mired in different expectations and entangled in different connections with me. This has no exceptions with close or distant connections - wife, parents, siblings, children etc.

They all expect certain things from you and failure of or only a partial accomplishment leads to varying degrees of friction. And the reverse is also true. You expect your wife to love you and be committed to you; you expect your children to be affectionate, respectful and be successful; you expect your siblings to be of help when in you are in trouble; you expect your friends to listen,console and comfort you.

How many times do we satisfy each other? How often and how vainly do we attempt to be reciprocative to these external elements? What vanity?

Contrarily, my connection to the world - known and experienced only through my senses, gives me immense pleasure. New places, unknown people, new circumstances, new food, new music and new knowledge... all excite me endless. I feel I am blessed to have so much to learn and rejoice and cherish. Every passing new experience makes me move one step toward greater happiness and self realisation. A realisation which will consummate with my death which I know is not very far, which makes rejoicing and cherishing more special.

Are there any strings attached? Are we asked to pay and reciprocate with material things and an equivalent emotional currency to be a part of this? None.

I have no regrets of this wonderful life and if I am to die this minute after this mail, I would die a contented man having enjoyed finer moments in both the strata I mentioned. My parents loved me. My wife loved me. My daughter loves me. My friends love and respect me. My God had never let me down. My knowledge has never failed me.

As you could see, my observations are neither philosophical nor pessimistic. My continual longing for love will not diminish the respect and value I have for this life.

What I may regret though is the unbelievably painful middle path that I am treading currently on - between neither being a pure existentialist (stating Sartre's words - Life is absurd and Existence precedes essence) deploring senseless human equations and assuming complete responsibility to one's life; nor with the familial values which we have been fed on for centuries.

That is the dilemma. A painful one. Yet, decisive and cherished.


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Jing'an Temple, Shanghai

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