There was a time when hardly anything could keep me quiet. I just loved to talk, whether chatting with my friends or dishing out a sweet yet sarcastic remark to someone who dared fling a taunt my way in a verbal battle. The very same ability to articulate without any hesitation or deliberation helped me win a great many debate and declamation contests in school. but then, that was school. Thereafter, life happened!
As of today, I sit and listen to discussions but do not want to opine even when my heart is vehemently opposing the thought being discussed. The rising intolerance and self-centrism make us think that what we believe in is correct and anyone who sees things in a different light sounds hostile. If I speak, the other person might not take criticism well or worse still, what if the ideology I want to defend is actually the incorrect one?
Social media, especially Twitter, is bursting with strong opinions and judgments. The moment a news is out, it is dissected, (over)analysed and verdicts are passed with each fervid group of like-minded ‘virtual’ people defending their own. So many tweets make me squirm but I do not reply to them. I have stopped frequenting the site and when I do visit it, I never go to the ‘trending’ section. On initial thought, it appears as if people have, in general, become more aware and open about their views but on careful deliberation, you realise that the only reason venom is being spat on TLs is because it is so easy to fight a ‘virtual’ battle when you don’t have to really stand face to face. Pent-up frustrations and adrenaline surges are being channelised towards mudslinging and blame shifting and what better place to do it than the social media! I know I run the risk of being labelled as detached, diffident or wishy-washy but this faceless and meaningless battle, I don’t want to fight!
I don’t know why but my friends and family have somehow always confided in me their troubles, frustrations and thoughts and I even used to respond and suggest solutions or simply calmed them down. Not that I don’t listen anymore, I do. Rather I listen better now ‘coz I hardly speak but that is what it is. I listen to troubles and console sorrowful hearts but I don’t validate seemingly petty concerns, I don’t empathise with someone when he/she speaks ill of a common relative, I don’t want to lash out at someone who speaks ill of me, nor do I want to set things right with her; I just don’t care! Cold, you say? Maybe, I don’t know but it is not that I do not understand or feel the pain and anguish and many a times have just the right words hovering in my mind but I don’t want to say them. Something in me has changed. That something in me no longer wants to look at troubles the way I did before, it prefers to look at the larger scheme of things wherein all these issues seem petty. Life, I believe, is way too short….so short that it seems unfair to waste it on regrets, on expectations and hatred. It may sound like fancy talk but it isn’t.
It didn’t happen overnight. A lot many experiences taught me this. A very close encounter with death made me understand morality and the futility of the stress and expectations we harbour. A decade of being married to a guy whose life is always on the line taught me that life might be uncertain but that is no reason to not rejoice it everyday. My daughter’s birth made me understand the life’s continuum and a better acceptance of the inevitability of my own death. Life is so short and we human beings, our lives are extremely fragile but we act as if we will live forever. We harbour ill will, plot and plan, bear grudges, create boundaries…seldom realising that none of it will matter in the end and the end is not really as far as we think.
I don’t want to waste my time cribbing about those who have misconceptions about me; I’d rather spend time with the ones who truly cherish me and love me. I don’t expect much from others save a very few and that actually makes me more content. Instead of lashing abuses (on social media) at people who do not agree with me on social issues, I would rather bring up my own child with a healthy ideology. Instead of pointing fingers, I want to do my own bit. I have not given up or surrendered but I now prefer to choose my battle instead of lashing out indiscriminately and the fights I choose usually involve fighting my own demons instead of the world.
I don’t know whether the attitude is right or wrong but this has given me something priceless- inner peace and I don’t plan on parting with it!!