Another Drop In The Ocean
Inspired by True Events
Last night I met some friends, and they told me about an intriguing turn of events.
A couple days ago, they bumped into someone from our extended social circle and he says,
“Is Sid ok? Is he depressed? Check on him, please, make sure everything is all good”, in a very holier-than-thou attitude.
Understandably, I was a little confused.
After a few back and forths, it turns out, this concern for me stemmed from a series of text messages I sent a few months ago, to a whole bunch of my old friends — about 30 — with the intent of catching up; sending especially thoughtful messages to a few friends who I was close to back in the day but hadn’t spoken to since.
That was it. A string of generic, ephemeral, messages.
This got me thinking. Got me thinking of the great wall that is age-old wisdom.
The first brick we will discuss is this: Relationships.
Many millennia of human thought have culminated in, more or less, one conclusion: The path to the most profound fulfillment, or, lasting happiness, is via relationships.
You may choose to disagree with this claim (like I did), which is fine. No harm done.
But the early discovery of beliefs and values that usually manifest through what is referred to as “maturity” — AKA. being philosophically precocious — is, in my opinion, one of the most prudent courses of action one may undertake.
Not because our forefathers have figured out everything, but because they figured out a lot.
You see, individually we are still pretty useless, incapable of achieving feats that are usually associated with human ingenuity. However, as a collective, the rules of the game change for the better.
We let other people think about what they are good at, we do the same, and then we exchange. Idea trade has led us to this world, and it would be unwise to reinvent the wheel after many millennia of stress testing.
Now, one may wonder if this school of thought regarding the correlation between lasting happiness & relationships, is a nature thing or nurture thing. Is it by design, fundamental to our biology, or is it by exposure to cultural norms?
Luckily, there is a plethora of scientific literature on the matter, and as it turns out, it is, indeed, a product of evolution by natural selection.
Humans do experience the chemicals of fulfillment via healthy, meaningful, and robust relationships. After all, we are social animals. That's how we survived for millions of years; The greater relationships you have, the greater chance of survival.
So, going back to the event that transpired. Once I had my underlying assumption of ‘fulfillment derived from relationships’, like any thinking person, I was quick to the conclusion that the probability of having a meaningful relationship with people you’ve known since childhood is very favorable.
You see, building a meaningful relationship is no easy task, it takes time and energy. And childhood friends are where you have already spent those precious resources. It’s not a coincidence that it is common to find many people’s closest friends being school friends. You've just happened to spend more time with them. And time is very hard to replicate.
(This is not to make the experience of friendship cold and mechanistic, but just present a rational point of view for the same.)
Naturally, I did not wish to lose the many people I was friends with back in the day.
And, think about it, only a century ago, to connect with someone was so much more of a task. Going back further, you had to write a letter, have it delivered physically by horseback, pray it didn’t get lost, if it didn’t the recipient had to write a reply, and then hopefully it didn't get lost on the way back.
Before that, you couldn’t. Simple as that. It was impossible.
Now, with a few taps, we can send a message worldwide, and it is instantaneously received. Recipients can reply within seconds (should they choose to). Everything is so easy. Why would you not use such amazing powers?
I guess I am a minority in holding this point of view, otherwise, my actions would not have been perceived in an inaccurate manner, followed by some of my close friends telling me, I shouldn't do such things because people talk, et cetera, et cetera.
This leads us to another brick on the wall of age age-old wisdom: The judgment of others is redundant.
If you base your actions on the perceptions of others, you will lead a miserable life. You will not do anything you actually want to do, but only what you think other people think is “correct”.
Which, as my little story shows, could lead to decades of time savings. Should the identical sequence of events have transpired when we were all, say, ten years senior, my actions would have been perceived in an entirely new light, true to my intentions (At least, I hope so).
“When you’re 20, you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60, you realize no one was ever thinking about you in the first place,” said a wise human of yesteryears.
Critically, the path to becoming philosophically precocious can only be achieved alone… in independent, persistent, solitude. It is impossible if the judgment of others floods your mind.
This is so because when you are philosophically precocious, initially, it is only your thoughts that change. But, slowly and surely, your actions follow suit. Now, thoughts can’t be judged, but actions can. And that’s what makes the leap so incredibly difficult.
To be honest, it is in times like these, when you question yourself. However, simultaneously, if you got here, you quickly dismiss them, because, simply put, they are childish.
Full disclosure, I have nothing against children or being childish. In fact, I quite enjoy it. I find it to be quite relaxing, and a good break from the stressful vagaries of life. But, important to understand is this: The pleasure of a childish life is derived from ignorance. You dont want that to be the main source of your happiness, as it is very unsustainable. It is very likely, in today's information-saturated world, to come across information you would rather not hear.
A better source of lasting happiness, in my opinion, is derived from the knowledge and thought processes that accompany the opposite of ignorance — the pursuit of truth. You appreciate life for what it is. As opposed to live in a self-made delusion of reality, destined to be shattered.
As alluded to before, there have been days where I, too, wish to go back to the days of ignorance because of the simplicity it offers. On other days, however, ignorance seems like the absolute worst option. The following quote (I came across somewhere on the internet), perfectly encapsulates why:
“Life is like a piano; the white keys represent hapiness, and black, sadness. But as you go through life’s journey, remember that the black keys also create music.”
- Relationships are important as they are a great source of lasting hapiness.
- The discovery of such facts is important.
- Acting on them is important.
- The undesirable consequences of such actions are to be ignored. And, if possible, embraced.
To reiterate, none of what you have read are “original” thoughts. This has been present in the bank of human knowledge for ages. They are the same conclusions much wiser people have come to after devoting significant time and energy.
In many cases, they have expressed it better than I have today. Still, I hope this rendition may inspire, at least, one fellow human to dive headfirst into the ocean of timeless truths.