Always the summers slipped away
A recluse’s take on the ephemeral wonder that is happiness.
One of the questions that has always been lingering around me and is a topic of much contention is the question of happiness. How real is this idea of happiness, or does it exist at all? Well you probably have a hundred self- help books that tell you how to be happy, some of you might have found it in a lover’s arms, some at the piano keys and some at the bottom of a bottle. Well as a recluse, I obviously do not find it amongst a sea of people and as a teetotaller I do not find it any of the vices. As someone who knows a little bit about the way the brain functions, I would say that happiness is nothing but a neurological state . It is the way our brain reacts to certain situations that we humans conveniently call happy or pleasant ones. Well pick up any biochemistry textbook and you will see a hundreds of reactions about essential bodily functions. Now why is it that the chemicals that make us happy ( dopamine , serotonin etc.) are so glorified and not the others that are as essential if not more essential than these. More so if someone is in misery , as to why his reaction to given situations cannot be accepted as just another chemical reaction and nothing more. As to why it has to be treated with sympathy or any other such thing beats me.
As a medical student who sees patients at the hospital , I cannot help but feel bad at the plight of patients. Pain and suffering is ultimately pain and suffering. Somehow , it equalizes all of us . And as another college kid , I see so many other witnesses to this pain and suffering spending their days blissfully partying and indulging in every vice possible . The funny part is the doctor who spends all day dealing with his patients is then called cold and unemotional. Anywho , these are the two absolute opposite ends of humanity that I have seen. And maybe here lies the eternal curse that has been cast on us. Humans are all equalized by their pain , and segregated by their happiness. Every party or every group or every society has that one outcast , that one misunderstood person, that one labelled person. But in a hospital ward for example , everyone is in pain and gets equal treatment. It would be such a sacrament to consider one patient’s pain ( physical and psychological greater or lesser than another patient’s.) The point that I want to make is that somehow pain, no matter how painful seems to be much more equalizing than happiness.
Now let me come down to the topic of delusion. Well , as an absolute rationalist I would have to say that many ideas that people find happiness in have absolutely no rational basis whatsoever. Cite things such as religion, superstition or your favourite good luck charm as an example. Fact of the matter is we all have had those blissful summers of childhood when the entire world seemed so beautiful , before rationality entered our lives and taught us what was true and what was false. Alas those summers slipped away , and you no longer are amused by those stories that your parents read out to you to put you to sleep. And we are desperate to find those summers in the winter of this life. ‘Always the summers are slipping away…… find me a way to make it stay ‘Humans are very desperate to find happiness. And the mind sees what it chooses to see. And that is why so many claim to have found that elusive diamond that is happiness. And if you are rational enough , you will see one delusion after the other falling . And you will be miserable without delusion , yet you will be truthful . Delusion is the key to happiness and it is well also diagnostic of many psychiatric conditions.
So you see, we humans are very imperfect creatures. And happiness seems to be this wondrous perfect state. So where can we possibly find happiness? Well I think you can find it in those things that are a product of nature and not of humans themselves. Products of nature such as the way the human body works or how the physical world works , or how strings vibrate to produce music. These wonders of the world seems so beautiful and devoid of human corruption. And you know what the best part about these ? They will never betray you or go back on their words. Your science and your art will always be there for you. They will still be beautiful and interesting no matter what . And that I think is something no human being could do for another.
But we are but imperfect humans, thrown into this world of other imperfect humans. Even if you are reclusive, you still will have your own imperfections by virtue of being a human as you try to appreciate the wonders of nature. So you probably will not be able to find true happiness because as much as you try , you will not be absolutely at one with nature and its beauty no matter how close you get to it. So how do you reconcile this predicament? Well the way I do it is by accepting the fact that we are all human , all too human. These imperfections are inherent to us. For every patient that dies , there is some kid getting wasted. That hypocrisy or duality (if you like Indian philosophy) is a part and parcel of the human condition . Someone is going to be miserable sometimes , and denying it is pure repression. Fact is most people are not brave enough to believe in an inconvenient truth. And the truth is almost always inconvenient .To them it all boils down to what is convenient to them. Too many thoughts on your mind, let’s chemically suppress the nervous system! Does that make our basic imperfect truths go away? Does it bring those summers back? No it does not. So the only way to deal with this predicament it to accept that misery is but a part of the human condition that does not need to be hated . So while accepting this basic truth , looking for those moments of completeness in science or art ( or anything else of that nature) makes much more sense to me.
Ultimately all I can do is quote porcupine tree ,
“Always the summers are slipping away ,
find me a way to make it stay,
When the evening reaches in and you’re tying me up.I’m dying of love………. it’s okay.”
And as I have said earlier on this blog,
' For some reason I don't know why,
We are all born with a hole in our hearts,
Some cry about it some die,
But I know if I run against the wind,
At the right angle, it makes the sweetest song.'