The Curse Of Indifference
The passage of time might have inserted a rose-tinted layer between me and my past. But even when I look past that layer, the memories of my childhood are littered with colorful firsts, tiny sips of fun, and moments of immeasurable happiness.
In grade 4, I switched from a pencil to a fountain pen for writing, because our class teacher gave us students the go-ahead to do so.
In grade 5, I read my first proper book, an abridged version of David Copperfield.
In grade 8, my Dad bought me my first watch.
In grade 10, I wrote my first poem and it won the first prize in an interschool competition.
We ate at a restaurant usually four times a year - on my Mum’s birthday, my Dad’s, my sister’s, and mine.
Sundays meant solving every puzzle in the newspaper, after a lot of arguments about who gets to solve which puzzle.
The summer vacation was the time to gorge on mangoes and watch cartoons non-stop on the single channel that was broadcast in the pre-Cable TV days. It also meant visiting aunts and uncles and cousins, going on our annual trip to my grandmother’s, and returning home in time to shop for a new uniform, books, and shoes for the upcoming school year.
I was happy with all of these moments—some of novelty, some of tradition, and some of celebration. This was because they were something I could build daydreams around and look forward to. When they eventually became reality, they gave me a bone-deep satisfaction.
The monetary value of these times held little interest for me. What mattered was that they were spent in the cocoon of simple pleasures and family warmth.
That is not to say that there weren’t happy times (or sad times) in between these memorable ones. But there’s no denying that these particular occasions were really special and that’s the main reason I remember them so vividly even today. Although, I must admit that I probably did not appreciate their value back then as much as I do now.
You too have memories of such distinct occasions from your past. They might be radically different from mine, nevertheless you have them, because they’re full of much loved traditions and rites of passage, imbued with a significance that is all yours.
Fast-forwarding to the future, now I don’t see myself appreciating or celebrating much, because everything that once seemed special and sacred is just a part of daily life.
These days you eat out so often that there’s no difference left between a regular dinner and a celebratory one. You’re connected to friends and relatives 24/7 and have no opportunity to miss them. You get instant access to anything you want, and that’s why your wishlists have nothing unusual about them.
You fill your bucket lists with things you want to accomplish, not because you’re guided by a sense of wonder or curiosity, but because you want a fancy list to check things off.
We seem to have experienced it all. We appear to have become so smart compared to our old selves that nothing can surprise us anymore. Even kids as young as two appear more blase than adults.
We have it all figured out, except what to do when there’s nothing more left to see, learn, or experience.
My response to the unknown these days is, “It’s there somewhere on the Web, so I’ll see how that turns out, when I go online later."
There’s no more bittersweet anticipation about anything because it’s all right here.
This probably explains the ennui I have been plagued by in recent years. At a subconscious level, I always feel on the verge of something important, but that something never comes to pass. Maybe it does, but I just fail to recognize it because it does not feel like a new experience. It does not feel like a first, because I have already experienced it secondhand on the Web.
I have come to a point where I feel sort of indifferent about my life, and that scares me a lot. After all, if you’re not interested in your own life, how can you find the motivation to move forward?
I miss my insanely curious old self, because at least she was alive enough to be moved by the ordinary and to be awestruck by the unusual. She knew how to have simple fun and she knew how to live life. I am doing my best to get her back.
In the meantime, her glaring absence has taught me one important thing:
It’s much better to be dumb enough to be awed than smart enough to be indifferent.
- November 25th, 2013