We live in an instagram generation. A generation in which things are being shared at the same instant it is happening. We are so well connected. We have cameras sitting in pocket to capture every moment. We are surrounded by millions of possibilities like never before. Yet we feel miserable at times. Like something is missing. Wondered why? Let’s try to explore together.
Have you ever noticed that how time moves faster as we grow old; since the time we are born, we are experiencing life differently in accordance with different stages we go through. Time passes at a different pace every year. A summer vacation could stretch on for an eternity, but then as we grow old something changes and suddenly it seems running faster the next time. With each birthday we circle back, and cross the same point around the sun. But soon we realize that the circle is getting tightened. As if our birthday arrives one day earlier every year; because each year is little less worth than the last. Even when we aren’t doing anything, life seems running. With increasing pace of life, it seems the quality of experienced life is reduced. And we reach a point where everything looks miserable. We have eyes which see not, ears that hear not, and heart that neither feels nor understand. And we start losing moments in life.
As children we used to experience life so differently. Everything was so bright and colorful but then with time it started fading. It became dull and colorless. But what is the reason behind? Why do we feel more miserable as time passes? Why almost everyone had a great childhood, but as they grow old things start changing? To understand that let us try to see what we lose as we grow old and thus end up in a dull and colorless life – So have you ever noticed a child (1-2 years old) trying to look to this alienated world with wide open eyes? To him everything is new and unique. Every experience to him is intense and powerful. But eventually this novelty will turn into routine as he will start building up memory, words and expectations. The world will no longer be new. Everything will seem to be the same old routine. Hauling his body on the same stretch of the road every day, no closer than he was the day before; breathing in and out while things around will be at same mess for him to clean every day. We as children are wondering, seeking and learning something new every day. That circle of sun which we revolve around seems close to infinite. But as we grow old and bound ourselves into routines that circle gets shorten every year. And what it indicates is that we lose novelty with time in our experienced life.
One can argue that even after doing novel things, my life is miserable. But to make it clear that novelty is not in uploading a new selfie every moment; because the self is lost in the #selfie. No, I am not against taking selfies or the whole idea of using social media to share. But the point is that, although we maintain a great digital life; we aren’t experiencing things well enough. The whole purpose for us in doing all the novel things is to take that perfect selfie which can get more likes/views. But are these experiences as powerful and intense as our younger self. The answer I guess is no, because we have forgotten to respect the new. Although we have a social media profile filled with new pictures. But the intent behind has again became a routine of social reward; getting accepted by people and thus forgetting to experience the new.
So to conclude I can say that, if we want to bring that eternal summer vacation back or to stretch that circle close to infinity and experience as fresh as we felt in our younger age; then we need to bring back novelty. We need to bring back the self, the one who will experience before sharing it out in the world; because it is not the novelty which is lost but the self. Happiness lives in the new and it is true only when we are experiencing it.
Illustration Credits: Saurabh Mehta (India Fellow, 2010 Cohort)
Source Credits: Shots of awe, Dictionary of obscure sorrow