Life is a ‘Many – Splintered’ Thing

     This article has nothing to do with the Oscar-winning movie directed by Henry King in 1955, starring William Holden and Jennifer Jones. The title fascinated me and enticed me into writing about not the most talked about, written about or the alluring subject of ‘love’, but the routine, prosaic issue of ‘life’. As most of us have been exhaustively and illustriously exposed to life, I felt an enigmatic perspective from an innocuous tangent might instill some curiosity.
     Life is a nebulous concept in which every individual is alone and lonely; it is an isolated journey offered to us without asking and with options beyond choosing. We may hold our parents responsible for making it happen; treat them with gratitude or with aversion as we make a judgment about their roles in our lives.
     The physical body is an organic amalgam, meticulously assembled and diligently perfected through creative evolution supervised by some masterly craftsman with a penchant for adventure and appetite for novelty. The pulsating power that rhythmically programs and operates the mood of life may be termed the mind and the spark that motivates the mind, be designated as a soul if you so choose. The mind is the miraculous manager of our being and is the ultimate endowment bestowed on the tenure of living. It is our silently eloquent, impelling, intimate companion and hopefully one that nobody can dominate over. The soul is the facility that reigns above the mind and appears to dictate its deeds and confer the distinctive persona to a human being. The whole conglomerate remains a puzzle, beyond the scrutiny of scientific analysis, evading philosophical comprehension and refuting logical conclusions. That much of basic realization should lead one to accept the role of a supreme power inducing existence and persuade them to respect that power dwelling within everything that exists.
     Life is like a cue ball on a pool table, the intent of interacting with others but never merging with any. Each life has an independent path, a distinct course, constantly influenced by engagement with others and by events that assimilate it. The assigned roles guide us to perform the designated duties required of us in a familial, social or professional framework. The relationships evolve depending on our attitude, efficiency, and sincerity on one hand and the environment we are sucked into, on the other. We may have some influence in the outcome if we adapt our approach to a situation or an individual, or perhaps it is already predetermined.
     To be a good human is to make others feel comfortable in your company, confidence in your assurance, pleasure in your presence and consolation in your compassion. Essentially an attitude of genial adoption beyond mere tolerance amount to benevolence and adds to the comfort of the giver than the taker. Happiness is the reward when you seek it for others. In fact, the essence of nobility is acceptance of others without critical judgment, yet out of realization with reverence to the glory of the creator within them. Our traditional Indian greeting of ‘Namaste’ is a graceful acknowledgment of that acceptance.
      Purity in a relationship is built on mutual admiration and respect, the ultimate rapport being sublime beyond stipulations. Esoteric affinity at the most pristine dimension shall be a total alliance of the wavelengths of the minds. The feeling is without expectations or compensation; it just exists. If a soul meets an exact match to reciprocate and complement every nuance and vibration, the illusion of an empyrean relationship may become a reality. Perhaps such affiliations remain elusive by lack of opportunities or acts of fate, the reciprocating souls never uniting or consummating in their lifetime. The conviction of a ‘next life’ may offer hope to such disgruntled souls.
     More often, commitments happen out of similarity of convictions and sociocultural attitudes along with physical attraction, developing into desirable coexistence, adjusting to the differences and accentuating the affinity. Survival in such relationships depends on the revelation of accommodating the unpleasant and tolerating the undesirable. As pure as the intent is, as unconditional as the claim remains, the legitimate subconscious goal is the satiation of the tender emotional elements meshed into our innate needs. The finer the goals explored, the deeper the feelings run. There is hardly any pure yet unconditional relationship except perhaps of a parent to a child, where the strands of love remain strong and almost beyond damage from the strain.
      Longing to love is the legitimate, fundamental requisite of the human mind, perhaps next only to the desire of being loved. The two passions often originate from an egotistic need of imposing ourselves on others and usually there is mutual contentment with reciprocal involvement. Platonic love is an exciting topic for poetic imagination but seldom fits in with the mundane realities of everyday life.
     Nevertheless, mutual trust and respect become the essential fabric for a peaceful, symbiotic existence. It will be desirable if we cultivate a habit to appreciate whatever little we have and not to ruminate over deficiencies. Also, undue expectations from excessive dependence on others can land us in an emotionally bankrupt territory. Clinging on to mystical illusions without waking up to realities, unwilling to compromise or to adjust our needs, is often the beginning of failed relationships.
     If one could think spiritually, which is a rather healthy, philosophic attitude, the highest form of worship is with sublime love towards the divine. In different faiths, such love has been praised as the exalted acceptance of the Almighty as a friend, a parent or lover. The glory of God has been sung to elevate self through spiritual strata and gain self-realization, which according to many beliefs, is the ultimate form of happiness. The motive, no doubt, is to gain favors in no uncertain terms. Granted the objective being creatively self-serving and exclusively rewarding to the performer, it is still the noblest exercise a human mind is capable of.
     An honest attempt to condition our habit to deliver all our emotional transactions with a smile on our face, compassion in our attitude and kindness in our heart, could help the history of human culture start a new chapter. As much as being banal and totally absurd a conspiracy it may be, we could still reach out and attempt to incorporate the thesis into practice in our own lives. There is hardly anything to lose, but the gain may be a life worth savoring. (February 1, 2004)

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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