Saturday, February 6, 2010

Why do you care what other people think?

In this post I intend to lament or ramble, for I have no answer, about two specific problems of the affluent or well to do class. My definition of well to do is rather broad in scope; it includes anyone who doesn’t have to think where his next meal is coming from, in a sense the middle class and above. Now the problem that I wish to discuss is what one may call the “malady of self imposed restrictions” and “chasing other peoples dream”. Both very common and so overwhelmingly common, that often they pass of as good trait. In a sense some degree of self restriction is good and there are certain goals which are to be universally pursued or rather are worthwhile pursuing. However I believe both have reached an endemic proportion and have far outlived their usefulness. I write this not from a position of a doctor, oh no sir, I write this from a position a patient and probably a dying one at that, with neither a doctor nor a cure in sight.

I suffer from these afflictions to such a degree that it is quite impossible for me to be cured, I am too far out gone, my brain, soul has suffered far too long and so there is no hope for me. This is probably a desperate attempt because most likely the reader of this post also unbeknownst to him or her suffers from the same problem or worse knows that he or she suffers from the same disease and like me unable to cure himself/herself. I think Russell once said that one of the worse mental afflictions is when you are unable to shake away some mental prejudice simply because of the way you were bought up even when you know that what you believe is logically inconsistent or worse harmful or pointless.

That is precisely my case, I know very well that much of the restrictions that I face are self imposed and probably after all the hooplas, I am running after very traditional 21st century goals, success, glory and fame, how tragic and sad. What is worse, I am logically stuck and cannot get out. If I were to change my objectives and run after something else, I become a reactionary which is again a very stereotypical goal. The fact that I am searching for a way out and trying to be different squarely puts me in the reactionary camp. But it might also be that in sensing imminent failure in achieving the “desired universal goal of success”, I am trying to soften up the blow by deluding myself or by changing the goalpost. If that is so then this reactionary move of mine is nothing but a desperate attempt to save my ego and self esteem, which again is a very sacred thing to do in this century. In sense I am stuck in the 21st century mindset with no exit in sight.

Oh now my reader if you think this rambling about “Affliction” is slightly blown out of proportion then I can assure you that probably you and I are in the same ward, with me having far fewer days left than you but make no mistake you are in there too. It is true there are those who live their entire life without thinking about this and go about enjoying their job, car, success, promotion etc. Well that is like dying without ever being diagnosed with the disease, ignorance might be bliss but it is certainly not a yardstick for truth or falsehood. I think someone once said that with Knowledge comes melancholy but unfortunately the solution doesn’t lie in ignorance but in gaining more knowledge, I think that was Earl Russell. Unfortunately, so far, I haven’t been successful and my “melancholy meter” keeps on rising.

Why am I fussing over these two problems you might ask, because they are the root cause of much of our misery, so much of our avoidable, useless, lifelong sufferings. The problem is accentuated by the fact that we have but a single life to live. Why do we impose so much misery on ourselves, when all we need is a new set of beliefs, when the solution lies in our head, when all that we need is to see that the shackles around us are but our mental creation which can disappear in the blink of an eye if only we knew how to free our mind. We are far used to resigning ourselves to our mental restriction then to some outside constraint. On the contrary, constraints from outside challenges us, motivates us to move forward, success in a sense is all about breaking these constraints. Whereas when it comes to our self imposed boundaries, we resign ourselves like pacifist, they seem so insurmountable so impossible.

It is funny because these self imposed restrictions look ridiculous and apparent when you look at other people’s problem; it is obvious to you at once that what they say as impossible is nothing but their own restriction on themselves. You can also laugh at your own constraints from a time in the past when you were different. For instance now that I look at myself of 3-4 years ago, I can’t help but smile at the kind of restrictions I used to impose on myself. No traveling, no night out with friends, no going to movies, no blogging ( everyone does that, so why should I), these are but few. But I am sure there are many now and some I am aware of and some I am not but all the same, I am bound by them.

I am sure there are those among us, who are sure that we are taking a path that will lead us to misery, a path of sadness and sorrow and yet find ourselves impossible to deviate; maybe too many people know about it, maybe family knows about the decision, maybe your friends are aware of it, maybe you have already devoted far too much of your time and money in to it to back out, maybe there aren’t any option now, maybe it’s just too late. It’s like those Brando movies where you are on a car without a steering wheel, your goal set, your road straight ahead, you can’t back out now. The best you can do is hope things will work out somehow, knowing well there is no way that can happen, but hey you are entitle to some wishful thinking.

It is a very lonely ride I must say and you are certain to think oh well nobody gets it, nobody understands my problem, nobody understands the “@#$%” I am in. Well the fact is you are right, and that’s because YOU made them. Just like only in movies do you end up in a car with no steering wheel, only in you’re mind you see these iron bars around you. People forget, nobody remembers anything in the long run, just like you are busy thinking about yourself other people are just as self centered, amen to that, and are busy thinking about themselves. But if you choose the path of certain misery, you will live your life, you will go through all the pain and if you end up having a sad unhappy life then unfortunately nobody is going to cry for you, neither your family nor your friends and frankly rightly so because they have their own life to worry about. True some decision will be hard to make and may cause momentary hardship and public obloquy but it is certainly better than lifelong of sorrow. Life is far too much fun to be lost because of what other people may say or think. How many people have we met in this world, far too few and yet when it comes to taking a life changing decision we based them squarely upon those 500-600 people we know or have met.

I have spent almost 6 years of my life and large sum of money over a goal of running after economics, but it seems to me either I am too lazy or simply inept for the subject but the crux is I am simply no good in it. Now I can fret, cry, try hard and get it going or simply move on. In this case I intend to move on, I mean yeah people are going to say a lot of things about this or may be not but I can’t waste my time thinking about what other people think. Life is simply too much fun to be wasted like this and world is far too beautiful to be left unobserved by my prodding eyes. Buy hey that’s how I think, I might regret it one day but as of now, I say Who Cares. Now that I come to think of it, I think running after success fame and glory is probably a manifestation of the self imposed restriction. It is we who impose on ourselves those goals, it is we who define our success and failure, it is we who give importance to other peoples opinion and thereby make ourselves vulnerable to what they have to say. In a sense it is “we” who are in control of what happens to us. We are indeed condemned to be free, to choose slavery or freedom.


  1. You are outdoing yourself with every post, man! THIS IS SO DAMN GOOD… I just want to savor the feeling and stop typing… period! 

    And by the way, these conflicts are the salt of the earth. ENJOY IT!

  2. Are time paile likho abt ur idea.....and once again thaaaaanx for the thumbs up.....afterall just like everybody i am not impervious to accolade especially from like minded peers.....although this post was a product of my frustration but as u rightly pointed out Salt of the earth ...once again happy to know that u liked it

  3. OK, let me start with the reply. I will sometimes be a devil’s advocate, but mostly I will be rambling on about my feelings.

    I think most people are to some extent aware that they don’t want to be on the rat race. I think they do it for fun. Somewhere deep inside you… there is great fun in being a busybody and impressing other people about being a busybody. Plus, you also know that you can throw it all away at a moment’s notice.

    Unfortunately, people being people, they never throw it all away unless happenstance causes them to – at least in the very vast majority of cases. A lot of them also tend to get greatly caught up in their vocations and make it the very objective of their lives. Hence, once they get away from it… also suffer from withdrawal symptoms!

    I’d rather say - enjoy the whole package. Constancy of purpose is a great effort in itself, and if you can not sustain it, just enjoy the ‘not-being-able-to-sustain’ part. Why is it not the salt of the earth? :)

    Also, I think looking for a solution to such problems might be a misguided effort. It means you are again taking things way too seriously. I am not sure if I am engaging in high sophistry at this point… ;) … but just let go. Just enjoy the whole package. What kind of fool only wants the ‘happy’ part of life?! ;)

  4. I guess you are right. May be I should take it as it comes and enjoy the salt of the earth lol. I guess we are a product of our time and in a way cannot supersede it totally. As for enjoying the whole package.......hehehe it’s like trying to sooth a labourers mind, who has lost his job to the economic dip, by stating that Recession and boom are all part of the business cycle....u might be might be logical....but somehow the grey cells have tough time digesting bitter truths lol

  5. In the micro level, EVERYTHING matter. In the macro level, NOTHING does. ;)