“One mustn’t look at the abyss, because there is at the bottom an inexpressible charm which attracts us.”
Gustave Flaubert
In 1856, when these lines appeared in the novel ‘Madame Bovary’, France was just waking up to reality after the initial awe of that historical moment known as The French Revolution. The author was accused of presenting obscenity in this novel for which he had to undergo a trial but the main reason for that feeling of resentment, according to some critics, was that this book took a true and original, yet a beautiful stand on reality which many found hard to consume, especially at that time period. Now when I think about it, I can’t not wonder “Aren’t we in that same awe even now, just like the one born out of that revolution?”.
In the 80’s, the 21st century was visioned as the atomic age but it turned out to be hijacked by the Digital Movement. World Wide Web, smartphones, cheap availability of internet; all this has created that explosion of information and opportunities which formed the basis for the motto of modern-day optimists, “Anything Is Possible”. However it may be, I thought we all are part of this wave as this is the only explanation I could find when I reflect upon why I left a good job, friends, family and their support, to join India Fellow, which essentially was like stepping into an unknown area without any plan.
The calm pace of the life I used to live had its own charm as well as a nagging concern that I will eventually become another brick in the wall. That constant struggle led me to choose this fellowship. Everything was hard in the beginning which fueled my suspicion that whether I was also lured into an abyss. This reflection had an ascending evolution which started from the ground level in which I work towards a spiritual self.
For instance, the ultimate purpose of the fellowship is to learn from experience and mold actions to return as a socially conscious citizen. But what I saw in my field area, in rural Odisha, was calling for a much darker side within oneself. Tribal population in this region has been exploited for centuries in various social and economic ways. There were intrinsic and extrinsic webs of reasons behind it.
We may consider the base of this so-called problem to be lack of basic education which led to a blindness towards ones rights and ignorance to exercise them properly. If we look deeper then things becomes much more interesting as now, we may find corruption at political and bureaucratic level propelled by a rich class of contractors and businessmen, part of some of the few educated people in that area, who feed on a large amount of government schemes and budget allocations to make a fortune.
This analysis may be continued forever but if we stop here and reflect upon what this means for us, then it can be either a social cause to fight upon or an ocean of opportunities to make good money. To be honest, the latter has more appeal especially when you see that the one who plays the cards to his benefits is always the winner. From the point of view of a native, this is where the mind games begins; the one between complex ethics, the struggle to survive and the desire to thrive. And if we are reasonable in judging this, then it’s fair to say that this individual cannot be blamed for whatever choice he makes. At least philosophically, everyone is a victim of their circumstances. Now such a complexity starts to appear in every situation I look, especially while trying to not end up with a single story.
Having to go through such situations starts influencing how we see ourselves and our thought process. Life was much simpler when I knew less about the social cob in which I existed. The more I know, the more I try to solve it and it becomes even more confusing and frustrating. This is the part where our ancestors will get the chance to say “I told you so…”, which is pretty much visible in that old saying, “Ignorance is bliss!”.
Applying an analysis similar to the one above, will take us to a conclusion that life won’t be as magical as that of characters in movies or books that we have envied. Naturally, some of us will try to change it and many attempts may end futile, which ultimately may force us to find contempt in everyday life. This becomes hard when this digital age and its proprietors will constantly tell you that if you don’t achieve your dreams, it’s because you haven’t tried enough and boom – a feeling that we are a failure, is born here.
Ultimately, we either become a mediocre or a devdas while facing the realities of life. It’s a blessing to find true satisfaction while having a full realization of the chaos that surrounds us. Many of us search for it indefinitely, while some resort to the doctrine of leaving everything behind after a long time, and go to meditate in any holy place, and a few choose to be happily ignorant.
I can’t claim any experience or qualifications to comment on this topic but, I can confidently say that I have always found life to be interesting, especially the moment when I decided to step into the unknown. Many a times, to live on edge was the only reason I had, to stretch monotonous routines and survive false promises of many doctrines which were imposed upon me. I had to make my share of sacrifices to take such leaps but at the end, when I look back, it was these leaps that broke me down and plastered all those pieces together to create a new entity.
It has now become addictive and whenever life takes a hard turn, I’ll take a deep breath and will look Into The Abyss.
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