Life is about these intense bodily pleasures and unbearable pain, sense of exhilaration and dejection, agonizing endlessly, suffering anxiety and feeling ecstatic and thankful, being merciless and showing infinite forbearance. It is about a creeping hint of futility amidst the growing mounds of what the insatiable acquisitiveness of mankind is geared to accumulate days in and days out.
Life consists of these quicksilver moments of brilliance and joyous exuberance strewn insouciantly on a seemingly endless landscape of unrelieved inertia of the drab and the mundane. It is about impermanence, random discontinuities, break with a foil what one had assumed one could not live without. It is of surprises, heartbreaks and also of unremitting hopes and nagging hopelessness.
Life is nothing without the tools and techniques one has acquired and learnt over the years by practising them almost daily to help make survival easier. It is about maximising one’s advantages, looking for opportunities for favourable outcome of an action. This does not imply opportunism as a value intrinsic to life.
Life is built on our perceptions, right or wrong, about the objective reality that lie outside and irrespective of us, including the inanimate objects one comes to acquire and other human beings one is associated with. It is about being conscious of the significance of their presence in the larger environment around us. And, at least occasionally, aspiring to be conscientious in relating to, interacting with and using them.
In the ancient Indian philosophical literature, five key elements (‘Pancha Bhuta’) in our surroundings have been held to be critical to our being – ‘Khsiti (earth/soil)’, ‘Ap (water)’, ‘Tej (fire/energy)’, ‘Marut (air)’ and ‘Byom (sky/atmospheric envelop of the earth)’. One can only be amazed at the perspicacity of those early thinkers in identifying exactly the same elements in our immediate universe that are acknowledged to be severely strained, if not endangered, which many reckon, if unmitigated, may lead to eventual extinction of our species.
Sustenance of life (and the growth of its prosperity in terms of metrics which are at least debatable) as an end does not justify any means, blind, brutal, self-seeking, opportunistic despoiling of those five elements. Because this will, surely, lead us to the opposite end.
And of course life derives its form and meaning in the reflection and the record on a shared pool of memory of our thoughts and actions as individuals and community and as the humanity over time. Any attempt to monitor, manipulate or mould the memory according to a pre-defined plan or a paradigm, in bouts of super-human overreach, invariably denudes life of its meaning till it sprouts once again like the frayed and yellowed grass from around and under the heavy designer templates and acquire its natural vitality and colour.