Me 2.0: A 2019 sequel

Statutory warning: What follows is subject to moral personal accountability & lawful public decorum.

The end of the year and the advent of a new year is just another sunset and sunrise. But somehow this routine celestial movement heralds in the human mind a great shift in time and tide. Ruminations over the past and resolutions for the future are inevitable. Only that it is within us to shed any gloom and look for bloom.

I have set my goal for 2019: freedom, liberation. I have used these terms interchangeably though they are not the same. Liberation represents a loftier ideal but compressing it to my convenience comes under, well, press freedom. Yes, I just want to be free.

From what? Freedom from disease and debt first. I have no qualms in declaring this, because, the twin epidemics are endemic of the tough economic milieu presently. It afflicts particularly quixotic small-timers like me tilting at gigantic windmills. A release from D & D, a kind of immortality within this mortal life, would be my real D-Day – Deliverance Day.

At a very personal level, the yearning for liberation is gnawing at my core. Maybe temporary problems create this superficial longing. It may pass once those itches are scratched. After all, it is a character of the hypocritical and self-obsessed human mind to give a philosophical coat to what are essentially physical urges, feelings and disappointments.

But, clearly, one freedom that everybody who is used to carrying responsibilities, to the point of thinking they are
Mahavishnu preserving world order, is liberation from guilt and grief when there is a failure to deliver. Solace? As the Gita says, one can only do the best. We have to leave it to Him the rest. Aah! Am I now surrendering my freedom? Well, God knows. But I know for sure that I will feel immensely relieved. Indeed, if I can achieve that maturity of mind, to surrender and still slog, without worrying about the result, that would be liberating.

We are all tethered to family, friends and several relationships all of which come attached with unwritten bonds. Freedom from all kinds of bondage is the highest spiritual calling, but this is well nigh impossible in the temporal life wherein several duties and obligations frequently come calling. So, with unfettered freedom out of bounds, some compromises are warranted.

My minimum shopping list would include: Freedom from being judged and hung up on the clothes-line to dry whenever something goes wrong, because something always will: Freedom to close my eyes and brood and dream even in a crowd, unmindful of being called a crank. Freedom to be silent even when pestered to talk and freedom to interrupt when the ‘shut up’ sign shines like a neon sign; Freedom to be alone and lost and return home without having to keep your eyes down: Freedom to face the mirror without the masks of false pride and farcical self-image; Freedom to my quota of mischief, mistakes and madness; And most, most importantly, freedom to watch WhatsApp, YouTube or whatever without anyone watching over your shoulder and, yes, freedom to keep your phone pass code a million dollar secret. The ‘free’ offer, of course, is for the party or parties of the other part too! See, I am not not only free, but fair.

I am born into a particular social and religious stream. Naturally, these give me identity and recognition but also impose taboos and shackles. Though owing to education and my chosen profession, I do raise my eyebrows against some of the practices, at the end, I have kowtowed more because the so-called other side strictly stick to their mores. This tendency of comparative and competitive thinking can be replaced by a stand alone study of my own faith system to address the three fingers pointing inward. This ancient civilisation of ours encourages inquisitive seeking, not blind belief. Questioning anything and everything is the quintessence of our culture. The Upanishads, for instance, are not tomes of treatises but compendiums of Q&A. Experimenting, experiencing, exploring and engaging are essential elements of our existence on this earth. Time, indeed, for us to claim this entitlement and excavate this freedom.

And so it is back to basics for me in 2019, sans even an iota of outsourcing of thinking to hand-outs or what was handed out generations down. In any case, absolute conformity is not in my half-baked nature, so why not find out for myself how stupid (or smart) I am. Also. external factors like super-fast social changes, activist-provoked unrest, judicial pronouncements and a boiling political cauldron in the very recent years have completely overhauled the national discourse. My thought process cannot remain immune and insulated from this, particularly in a critical poll year. By taking the plunge into the dangerous unknown I run the risk of eroding my core. But then what if I am able to defend my earlier positions with greater conviction than before? Ironically, only by cutting loose and being free can I find my bearings.

As a writer, I have stuck to some very basic positions and postures on several issues. I have been reading my own writings over the past 25 years. Many events have recurred. But now I am doubtful if I would react the way I did. Somewhere down the line, the points of view have shifted and I would ideally like to revisit quite a few ‘strong’ opinions. Some of my earlier stands I would reject outright. Some I would express in fresh idioms and some others, I would go with double the vigour. But whatever, I would not like to be a prisoner of the past, particularly my own past.

And so, there it is. The ultimate freedom: Freedom from ourselves. Ceasing from being what I used to be and just be. After all, we are our worst enemy. Why not make us our best friend by freeing ourselves from and transcending the narrow constructs of our brain, hardwired in familiar patterns? Most of these chains are self-imposed, owing to courtesy, unwillingness to hurt or lack of guts. Breaking free from many mental blocks does not need much courage, but a carefree, casual moment of contemplation.

So, in 2019 I want it to be a new, free me. How about you?

Happy New Year

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Jawahar T R