I remember myself as this weak-minded, vulnerable and sensitive girl who was almost terrified of pain as an emotion. When I see little Swathi shielding her eyes from the TV screen because she cannot bear to watch the scene where a little child is being kidnapped, I am reminded of my own self.
I feared pain. I feared having to feel pain. Perhaps I believed that I would eventually learn to build a fence around me- a fence that would not let pain in.
For most of us who are brought up in a protected world, the first contact with pain comes in our adolescent years. Somehow, this predator that we have been hiding from, deceives us by disguising itself in a cloak of love. Vulnerable that we are, we let ourselves be lured and we wander astray. When we have wandered far enough from the safety and security of our protected worlds, the predator suddenly removes its cloak, and there we are- face to face with pain!
This time, there is no escape from it. We run, but we have traveled too far to even know the way back to the safety and security of our homes. However hard we run, pain manages to eventually catch up with us. There comes a point when we can run no more, for we are exhausted and we have lost the fight in us. So we give up and confront pain. At first, we cry. We wonder why it happened to us. We protest at the unfairness of life. As pain gnaws at us, many of us even think of giving up on life; we lose hope and optimism.
We do not realize that this is the true beginning of the journey of our lives.
Until that point in my life, I had always seen things, perceived them, absorbed them and even stored them. But I hadn’t processed and internalized most of what I had imbibed. They all lay hidden in my mind, an invisible ‘barrier’ existing between ‘me’ and ‘them’.
That barrier constitutes ego.
Pain was painful. It was like a little fire that threatened to slowly burn all of me. It succeeded in burning a little of that barrier (ego). I remember feeling like a ‘nobody’. I remember the ‘nothingness’ that replaced months of sorrow. I was neither happy nor sad.
In that emptiness, I could feel something rising within me- an uprising from that quiet corner where I had tucked away all that I had stored from the world outside. In that emptiness and silence, ‘they’ made noise.
They knocked at my molten barrier and I let them come in. They spoke and I heard. They said beautiful things to me. Hidden in all that I had stored, lay deep messages- the deep philosophy of life. My mind had suddenly learnt the art of decoding these messages.
It was a moment of supreme elation. I suddenly felt that I contained within me a person I did not know. A person who had absorbed so many things from the external world without my awareness. A person who had been dormant all these years. That person had woken up and was wanting to be heard. And when I turned around, it was to find my predator- pain, laughing at me. I smiled back. We have been companions ever since. Whenever he comes up to me, I know that he brings with him something beautiful. Just that it needs to be decoded. And thus, I have lost my fear of him. I have grown enough to carry his burden until I can make sense of it.
With new eyes, I see the world around. I realize that the purpose of life lies in internalizing as much of the external world as we can.It lies in creating from this internalization and therefore, enhance and sustain creation. We imbibe, process and give back. This is the only right we are entitled to. When we are born, we are only ‘self’. Our motives and drives are selfish for they only cater to the needs of the self. As we grow, we slowly learn to fit into the larger scheme of things.
For the creator, his creation is supreme. There is more value to the overall masterpiece than to the individual elements of his masterpiece. The invisible thread between the individual elements is what sustains the masterpiece, breathes life into it and makes it beautiful. At each level, creation is not an independent assortment of elements; it is a profound and delicate interplay of elements. Take for instance, the human body. No doubt the individual organs go into the making of the whole individual, but only their mutual interplay can sustain the life of the human being. If we extrapolate this to the universe, we would understand that our identities lie in being a part of this universe.
Each day is in reality a process of internalization of the external world- be it places, people or experiences. Internalization generates emotions. Emotions are in reality, coded messages. If we were to listen closely to our emotions, we would understand that they are trying to speak to us- trying to unveil something hidden in them. Our mind decodes these emotions into thoughts; here lies our potential. Thoughts give us a direction in life. When we take that direction, we burn a little more of our ‘ego’ and integrate a little more into the larger scheme of things. Our goal in life then is to find our proper place in this universe- that place where we fit best so that we are able to use all our potential to sustain creation without creating conflicts with the self.
In this regard, an artist (be it any field of art) has the greatest potential to internalize the external world and thereby to ‘recreate’. An artist imbibes infinity. His emotional spectrum is wide and each shade of emotion is deep. An artist has the power to see the invisible- to see that delicate, invisible thread that operates between all the elements of this universe and to bring to visibility this invisible aspect denied to most ordinary people. An artist’s medium may differ, but his art will always contain this invisible element. An artist has the ability to get into the crux of things and to decipher the hidden inner meaning in every phenomenon that surrounds us, for he is able to see the universe as a whole.
Love is not a destination or a goal. It is only an inspiration that rejuvenates us and renews our drive and motivation when we are exhausted or depleted in this journey of life.
It is the banyan tree beneath which you can rest when weary…
The spring from which you can drink when thirsty…
The fire that keeps you warm on a cold night.