I came across Suresh Chandrasekaran’s blog just over a year ago.
The first post I read was a saga of self- deprecation- his signature style. If I remember correctly, he took his readers into his kitchen and shared the delight he experienced when reigning supreme in that hallowed place traditionally dominated by women. His post had a note of glee in it. One got the impression that he was cocking a snook at the many generations of women who had chased their men away from their exclusive kingdom armed with the mandatory rolling pin. Forbidden fruits… ah, the joy!
From that first foray into his blog Life is Like This, I was hooked good and propah. His posts are not only funny and humorous, they are also filled with deep insights. It is easy to get lost in the brilliant turn of his phrases which take you to a land of sunshine and laughter and miss the sombre thought which holds all of it together with an invisible cohesion.
Without further ado then, let me allow Suresh to tell you how he deals with Existential Crisis- or rather how he doesn’t need to deal with it all because he has snipped the weed off at the bud. Don’t let his humor distract you from the fact that he is royally pulling your leg.
Thank you immensely for this typically ‘SURESH’ post Suresh. You delight and instruct with your usual elan!
“Cogito ergo sum”, said Descartes, thereby ending the doubt for all thinking people about whether they really existed or not. To be sure, he is guilty of showing off by using Latin tags but the poor fellow may be forgiven this lapse since he was French and, therefore, probably did not know enough simple English to just say, “I think, therefore I exist”. What I find difficult to forgive, though, is the fact that he has left me in limbo. Along with all the other unthinking people, I am sunk in doubt about whether I really exist or not.
He, probably, had a lot to say, too, about the purpose of existence but, I must shamefacedly admit, I did not read any of it because I was so vexed with him for leaving me uncertain about my own existence. Besides, if one did not exist where is the need to delve into the purpose of existence? It is thus that I need to delve into the meaning of ‘existential crisis’ all by myself – always assuming that I truly exist and am not merely a figment of my own imagination.
By existential crisis, I do not mean the status of people for whom mere continued existence is, of itself, a crisis. Nor do I talk of those whose continued existence is THE crisis for the survival of others – the example that springs to the mind immediately is a certain Austrian painter who, except for saying that he had a peculiar moustache and was the cause of World War II (and, I do not claim that the former caused the latter), I shall leave nameless. I would speak of those who look upon their own existence and cannot see why it should exist.
Back at school, the most interesting part were the intervals when we boys used to hold our pissing contests – he who pissed the highest was the acclaimed hero. (Something that the poor girls had never any chance of enjoying though, no doubt, they consoled themselves with their own pursuits). The Champion of this tournament was the least likely to be bothered about existential issues. He knew that the purpose of his life was to piss the highest and, indeed, had Descartes been the champion in his days, he probably would have said, “I piss, therefore I am”. Even those who managed to form the lesser peaks, knew why they existed – to become the champs one day. It is those who only formed the body of the mountain who were left bemoaning the reason for their existence.
There is scarcely any passion without struggle.
As we grew up, we realized that life offered a variety of pissing contests. So, we each departed to try our hand at different ones. The problem, though, was that not all pissing contests are the same. Even within pissing contests, there are the peaks – like, say, investment banking and IT – and there are those that merely vanish into the body of the mountain – like, say, shop-keeping. So, even when you are a champ in your selected area, you still start feeling the futility of existence when the lesser lights of other areas steal the limelight – much like a national hockey player feels when the drinks-carrier of IPL Cricket gets mobbed for autographs. What, then, can be said of the plight of those who have lost all hope of becoming champs in their area – no matter how humble their areas may be? So, there we have a set of people who are likely to bemoan the futility of existence.
Then there are those who have decided that all pissing contests are futile – the end-product is only a stink and not worth all the excitement. They venture out into areas that do not involve such juvenile exercises of standing on tippy-toe to prove that you are better than the next guy. The problem, though, is that measuring yourself against the next guy is so hardwired into humans that a lot of them lapse into trying to establish the superiority of not being involved in pissing contests vis-à-vis those who continue to water the walls as high as they can. Thus, they create a new urinary contest between the two options.
The bottom-line is that existence seems worthwhile only when we get the applause of an audience. There is a Sanskrit saying – Para Adinam Prana Sankatam i.e dependence on others is distressing to the soul. In career, friendships or relationships we look around to see if those around us are applauding our achievements and, the inevitable fact is, that we catch them looking around to see if you are applauding theirs. Dependence on others dooms you to disappointment. You start feeling no-one cares about you and that your presence or absence in the world is of supreme indifference to the Universe. (It IS but why should you be bothered about it? I mean, you can also return indifference for indifference).
Ergo – thinking about what others think about you is a certain path to existential crisis. In other words – Cogito ergo existential crisis! If you just stopped thinking about it and did your own thing others may even surprise you with applause. Unexpected applause is always more of a pleasure than disappointment.
As for people like me – since we do not ‘cogito’ in the first place, we are safe from existential crisis. If envy for us eats at your soul, console yourself by thinking about the fact that you can be certain about your own existence whereas our existence lies shrouded in doubt.
After all, people do say, “People like this really exist? I do not believe it!”