All Writings Blog

Thinking in the shade of a tree

Just this afternoon, while a mild sunshine came through what appeared to be a layer of smoke in the New Delhi sky, there were some thoughts in my mind.  There were thoughts of the nature that disturb, and also some make requests for peace.  I was, while sitting under the tree in our yard, thinking of the future.  Thinking not just about my future and how it is inextricably linked to the past, but also thinking of the future of the man who was sweeping the street; the two men who walked by and seemed to be in some conversation of worth; some children coming back from school; and an old man passing by with a limp in his walk.  All these and I are experiencing an existence on this earth, in some unique place in the entirety of the cosmos.

Life, it seems, is not the plans we make, but the journey we make, with or without our choice.

We want to believe that we are free.  We want to believe that we are in control.  Yes, we are.  We are free and we are in control, but we cannot walk other than on the ground under our feet.  We cannot control the leaf that falls from the tree.  We are free and in control within the limitations of our existence.  Much freer than our bodies are our minds and our spirits.  The body is so limited.  No matter how strong it may get, it is the ultimate confinement of what man truly is.  While the body rests, the mind can travel to the end of the unknown and unknowable universe – known only as it is permitted by our imagination – and within moments it can be back to the sensation of the fly that landed on the back of my hand.

Man reading under a tree

How we underestimate the value of a human, and there are so many on earth now.  Some say, we are past the seven-and-half billion.  No one can count so many, and can never be exact.  In the vastness of the numbers, an individual is as easily lost as a grain of sand on the seashore.  Some grain stands up to be a prophet, another to be a president, another a king, and yet another a beggar.  Which grain of sand will rise to be what, no one knows!  It just is, neither do we have any way of knowing.

We get involved in the business of judging.  So, someone ends up defined by a label – prophet, king, beggar – while each one of those could have been so much more than we were willing to admit.  People get defined by the task they perform, and get a celebrated name if they are proficient at it.  We admire them, enrich them with money or accolades, and then…one day, a grain of sand is nothing more than another grain of sand.  Our judgments change, as the reasons for our judgments also change.

My great dissatisfaction with this world is, how we seek security in building more detailed and lengthy rules.  We make rules for a sense of security, for a sense of certainty.  In so doing, we stifle human freedom through an excess of control.  What a human being can be is lost under an abundance of external pressure.  If it is not lost, the originality is surely concealed.  Time goes by, and one day, we struggle to recognize ourselves.  We wonder: What have I become?  Is this what I wanted to be?  Is there yet hope?  Perhaps, the world is only an introduction to life.  Perhaps, a human in his physical body is only finding a preparation for the real life.

Never can a man be what the mind of a man thinks he can be.

If we are building a future, and man is not free, the future has no appeal.  And yet, if we are free but oblivious to our responsibilities, or capabilities, or a greater purpose than a few years spent guessing why we exist, then we have only tasted existence and not known life.  Still, I believe, a life of goodness and virtue and contribution is always better than a life of never-ending selfish pursuits of greed.  After all the pursuits and what feels like fulfillment, there is always something left to try.  There is some elusive happiness, and when one has it, it is not as one hoped.  Human life is incomplete in this physical body.

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