Once upon a time, there was a tavern
Where we used to raise a glass or two,
Remember how we spent away the hours,
Thinking of the great things we would do,
Those were the days my friend.
We thought they’d never end,
We’d sing and dance forever and a day,
We’d lead the life we choose,
We’d fight and never lose;
For we were young and sure to have our way!!
Mary Hopkin’s song “Those Were the Days” clearly reminds us of so many memories, doesn’t it?
As we all become a part of a never ending rat race, we tend to forget our loved ones. We are swept by the invisible tide of time, motivated to achieve our aims and aspirations. We start leading a monotonous existence, often missing out on what we call the simple pleasures of life. We forget those precious moments that often brought an effervescent smile on our faces. Memories—of listening to our favourite lullaby while lying in our mother’s lap or playing carom or chess with our close friends—just zoom past our minds.
In these intimidating times, when there are few friends and many acquaintances, our lives are surrounded by cobwebs. We are leading a dual existence. Just as every coin has two sides, our lives too have two diametrically opposite sides. In Chinese astrology, it is called yin and yan. Psychologists like Sigmund Freud called it the Id- Ego- Superego conflict. The id is selfish and does not care about society and values it works on the pleasure principle, whereas the ego, that grows out of id, pleads with the id to work in accordance with reality. The superego, or the moral branch of mental functioning, focuses our attention to our ethics. Each and every decision that an individual makes in their life is affected by this internal mental conflict!
Our lives are becoming opaque and we are losing that innate transparency that existed before. The eastern societies having a collectivistic orientation are drifting apart due to changing ideas, beliefs, concepts, and fundamentally opposing interests. Development and progress in this era is only about following the West! The West has followed an ‘individualistic orientation’ since time immemorial and we are now doing the same thing!
A casual discussion with my sister prompted me to pen down my thoughts with clarity. In my entire life, this was the first time, that I happened to talk to her through a social networking site. The warmth of our face-to-face discussions was clearly missing. Moreover, we did not share the same comfort level that we used to share once upon a time. There was definitely a gap, a lacuna that was present. I wondered what the reason was. Was I rude or disrespectful or did I misbehave with her at any point? Negative thoughts constantly pervaded my already overburdened mind.
One day, during a chance encounter, we talked about the pleasant memories of our childhood. Life seemed perfect all over again. My face brightened as we revisited the world of our memories as we spoke about photographs. Pictures that we used to click without any hesitation as children. Pictures that formed the pages of the book called ‘childhood’, when posing for a picture never seemed to be a problem and we were popularly known as ‘ever ready batteries’. We never felt that we were scrutinized or watched, and our faces projected what we now sheepishly call ‘childlike innocence’. Those were the days we had the box or Polaroid cameras and pictures were clicked in a single take and were reflections of perfection! And now, in the world of digicams and the inevitable smartphone, we are unable to click that ‘perfect picture’ even after several attempts! Ironical, isn’t it?
I guess this is the cost that man has had to pay for development in the contemporary world. Years ago, a popular saying was, ‘men earn to live’. But, now it is quite the opposite. From the smallest kid to the middle-aged man, success is what drives our lives. Instead of excellence, man is running after success and has forgotten all principles and ethics! This has led to the creation of a moribund, nucleated lifestyle where selfishness has vanquished selflessness.
From a very young age, we are told that we have to stand on our feet, for we live in an immensely competitive world. As a result, an 18-year-old has to sacrifice all pleasures to clear entrance examinations. The ‘examination result’ has now become a benchmark in our life.
Spare a thought and search within yourself for those momentary pleasures which are a significant part of our lives. We have misplaced these pleasures but haven’t lost them.
Recently, while cleaning my closet, I experienced this ‘simple pleasure’ by looking at old pictures—pictures that told me the story of my life. I was sitting on the floor and playing with my doll—a candid shot. I hadn’t faked that smile. Looking back at your old pictures and renewing your memories, you will understand the value of life.
For that day the pictures will talk and remind you that the cold drink was actually divided equally between you and your brother, but one of you thought that the other got a little more and that fight for the cold drink escalated into greater conflicts and both of you drifted apart.
You will remember that effortless laughter you once shared with your brother and there will be a desire to restart again. Don’t hesitate now; turn over a new leaf, for life is short and opportunities to make up are few.
Call up that old friend!