21, The black jack.
I turned 22 last month. Life as a 21 year old was something I will cherish forever. Out of the 12 months I had in the calendar, I spent two months travelling.
It wasn’t an early wisdom to me that one could travel to time, places and people. I had to learn it the hard way and this is one lesson I will carry to my grave.
But what is the single most biggest lesson I learnt from life when I was 21?
I gave a lot of thought and arrived at the obvious answer, but it wasn’t a bit easy, 21 was a seminal year and in my ego centric Universe. For me, Universe began at Hashin 0 and would probably end at Hashin n. (I am not superstitious, but I expect n to be a somewhat small number).
But what is that big lesson?
To enjoy the journey more than the destination.
Destinations can be immensely beautiful and extremely rewarding. Something so so esteemed that you could dedicate your life for that.
Every day in my life, I meet a lot of people with a purpose for their lives. These purposes should be defining their destinations for them.
I am extremely poor in defining proper destinations. I have had times when I would set a wrong target and slog on and on for a really long time to no avail. Going behind few years, that’s what I have done pretty much all my life - Work hard for an aim.
21 made me realise that life isn’t about destinations. It isn’t about our long cherished dreams, but it is about the journey we undertake to reach the them. Life is a continuos journey with no guarantee whatsoever about the end points.
Endpoints doesn’t matter, but the paths do.
Secret to being happy is to enjoy the journey to the fullest. “Living in the moment” is one highly abused word. Everyone asks you to live in the moment. But is enjoying the journey all about living in the moment?
I beg to differ. Sometimes life is about taking the hell of a risk in a journey with no guaranteed outcome.
If you have a more than fair chance of missing the flight if you go through the highway, but there is still a small chance of making it through the pocket road, you would choose the pocket road. It is common sense, but we fail to apply it in real life.
Sunken costs is one concept that lives comfortably in the text books and economics worksheets, but seldom make their way out to our real life decisions. Reason being that we cling on to an unfulfilling journey with the expectation that it would be fruitful someday, SOMEDAY!
21 taught me to move past failures. 21 taught me that I do genuinely enjoy learning a lot of subjects and doesn’t care about leaving them mid way. 21 taught me that I probably will never be an expert in anything.
21 taught me to ditch subjects when they aren’t interesting anymore. 21 taught me to not pursue people who are not interested in the way I work. It is okay to be extremely interesting to a handful of people and of no particular interest to a large majority.
21 taught me that I will probably go farming at some point in my life. 21 taught me that I could love without expecting anything in return.
21 taught me that people will come and go, but there is no point in loving someone more than they love you. Life is not about chasing people or places. It is more about travelling to them and coming back to you.
Only to find that the interesting ones will take the trouble of travelling back to you.
There is no point in putting constant effort into relationships. The ones to stay will stay anyway. You don’t lose people, you gain experience on top of experience.
And it is all for the good. Looking back, I have grown, I can make myself happy, I could read, write and travel. I could eat and breathe, what more should I ask for?
I read Rohit Vemula’s suicide note when I was 21. I knew I could write something similar. Not because life is of no value to me, but because I own my life. I know why Sylvia Plath would put her head in an oven or Vincent van Gogh would shoot himself in the chest. We own our lives, we don’t owe an explanation to anyone.
Last paragraph was not written on a melancholy note, but to emphasise on how the ones who took their lives doesn’t need our sympathies and how the destinations didn’t mattered to them.
If the journey doesn’t get good enough, your either make it better or pull the lever. I choose the former, but I don’t reserve my right to hold prejudices against the ones who chose the latter. They own their lives as much as I own mine.
21 taught me to travel, find people who stay and to cultivate habits that define me. 21 taught me to enjoy life as a journey and assign meanings to it with respect to what I experience on a daily basis.
This motivates me to live an intense life, feel alive and do whatever that helps me keep alive. To teach me the same, I went for a trip again, just for the journey. I reached the sought after destination, did nothing and came back.
More than what I accomplished, I taught myself one valuable life lesson. Destinations are nothing. You reach them or fail them, It doesn’t matter. If you have had a fulfilling journey, you own it.
If not, destinations shift again, you are thrown to another long long journey and when you meet the destination again you know what happens next.
Of course this is something that works for me. I don’t know if anyone will be able to even remotely resonate with what I write. But it doesn’t matter.
Writing is the best catharsis, I will keep writing anyway.