Look at the life of a Paranoid Humanoid (PH). Her day begins with an alarm going off. What a way to begin your day—being ALARMED. Sleep hasn’t gently given way to movement. She gets up because she has to, with a start. And among the 2000-odd reasons why she didn’t sleep as much as she really wanted, these are just a few—she had to attend that social do, she had to complete that report, she had to watch that movie and she had to help her daughter complete her science project.
He gets up with a bad hangover and picks up his newspaper, a daily source of negativity—with its front page full of the latest on deaths, devastations, corruption and scandals. He lights his cigarette to ensure bowel movement. There is scarcely time for a quick shower and the gobbling down of breakfast.
Could the PH be seeking to obviate the negativity by filling his dissatisfied being with more and more?
There is nothing wrong with having more—more varieties of food, more clothes of the latest fashion, more choices in books, films, television programmes and travel destinations. Yet, the dissipation of energy through greed brings about a life of consumption.
Before you have savoured your appetizer completely, you fill your mouth with your drink. Before your senses enjoy the feel of a new dress on your body, you throw it away, lest someone finds you wearing the same outfit twice. Before the message has seeped in, you have already turned the page, tossed the book aside, or changed the channel. The funny thing is that after experiencing all this you are astonished as to why you are not feeling fulfilled. The astonishing thing is that you are astonished by this!
Whether you are an executive or unemployed, a stay-at-home person, a senior citizen or a youngster, this is the DNA of your life. While eating a sandwich, you have important conversations to complete, reminders to be set and mails to be sent out. If it’s not any of these, you have to think about the next call to be made, what direction your conversation could take and what your counterarguments could be. Did you also brood over what your boss said yesterday and the heartache caused by your secret rival’s latest success?
Now imagine, if eating a simple sandwich involves so much work, how much of those seven minutes is spent purely eating the sandwich? That’s the PH existence. Incomplete. Broken. Partial. Disintegrated. Unfulfilled.
At some level, the PH also recognizes this but thinks that there is only one tool that can compensate for it or fix it—MORE. We are filled with paranoia every time we have felt this anxiety and sense of incompleteness. Paranoia feeds on its own fuel and perpetuates it. We work harder, we work longer and we try to earn more money, recognition, degrees, and what have you.
Have you ever seen any car being stopped by stepping on the gas? And yet, haven’t you seen panicky drivers pressing the accelerator instead of the brake? Don’t you press the accelerator of paranoia when you want to manage the car of your life?
Yes, it is a moment of bewilderment. I can see the PH looking at me with his mouth open. Bewildered, because he has never known any other way to exist. When you have less, you put in more. When you get fewer marks in one exam, you put in more hours of study for the next. When you have less sweetness in your life, you add more sugar in your coffee. The one formula we have come to live by is MORE, MORE, MORE.