I Was Wrong About The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

A truth that has now become an illusion.

Lots of truths aren’t exactly truths on an external scale. We can’t quantify or validate them in reality. They’re mere reflections of who we are; intimate and unique in each individual and volatile as time itself — amplifying our feelings from speck to stone.

Out of such truths, I’ve had to let go of the truth of the tunnel. You know the saying “look for the light at the end of the tunnel,” where the goal is worth the effort. The plan is worth the pain. The dreams are worth the nightmares.

The awareness of this truth and its contradiction was placed well in my mind. And out of it came the realization of why it no longer fits with my discovering self. The capacity to see the good in bad defeats the manifestation of bad into something (anything) that is certainly good.

Because I know that one’s becoming and discovering in and of life isn’t simple. Nor is it short-lived and certain. It’s the ability to look at things objectively, even more so after reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (for the second time), that I chose to dissolve this truth.

(You can read my thoughts on the book here)

It isn’t enough to expect a reaction out of an action. Not negating the fact that every movement, in reality, is an echo or a whisper through time and space. While this may be true, I have lost my expectations for a subjective reality in which only “I” exist. Hence, I choose to re-consider my defense for and against my objective reality.

Imagine a moment where you see the light at the end of the tunnel but you no longer where you were, in the tunnel. You’re everywhere — at the beginning and at the end. So what you’re seeing is not light, but only a part of you; a flicker of you.

The negative (darkness of the tunnel) holds the key to perspective. To broad-mindedness that only a bad outcome carries. And if we were to acknowledge it as “a part of the process” or as something that has a “higher cause,” we’re wrecking its ability to help us grow.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
— Anais Nin

Pain is a negative ability externalized as being the antidote to maturity. None of us were wiser before than when we stood the storm. We fought our battles; we broke the ice. In that course, the parable is not which is the least painful to endure. It is whether something is painful, if at all.

There are many things, like this, that brings us to the beginning of pain. Things that are very likely to frighten us; that we go ahead and do anyway. Is the denial of the pain (or the endurance of it) for a higher cause — a moment of satisfaction greater than a lifetime of melancholy? I beg to differ.

My pain — which is, after all, what I feel and internalize — isn’t a validation of my joy. They’re two separate qualities (beings perhaps) co-existing inside me. And I choose to externalize them the way I want to.

“We suffer more often in imagination than in reality.”
– Seneca

Keeping an eye on how pain needs to be felt to be let go. This refined truth of anticipating the good and (not versus) the bad; and our habit of reimagining our pain as an experience meaningful in itself, without having any effect, is the way of embracing our true selves. And it’s the way I separate my imagination from my reality.

On Understanding Our Subjective And Objective Reality

In Arthur Schopenhauer’s The Wisdom of Life. The sense of self as the most distinctive and defining aspect of human life.

Do you believe that we are always constant with a specific pattern in life? We change rhythmically but our roots cling to the same soil? The same source of life — water?

To meditate on such an existential and personal thought forms the basis of one of the most influential and philosophical essays of Arthur Schopenhauer. Today, I contemplate on The Wisdom of Life’s subject of a person’s objective and subjective reality.

The following passages, which can be found at the beginning of The Wisdom of Life, are confounding and comforting to the mind. It brings to light the fact that no changes in any circumstances can align one’s internal perception, emotions, and thoughts to another. And no change in one’s internal world can influence that of another. Assuming that we are fellow passengers on the same train.

…all of which rests upon the fact that every event, in order to be realized and appreciated, requires the co-operation of two factors, namely, a subject and an object, although these are as closely and necessarily connected as oxygen and hydrogen in water. When therefore the objective or external factor in an experience is actually the same, but the subjective or personal appreciation of it varies, the event is just as much a different one in the eyes of different persons as if the objective factors had not been alike.”

We revise our internal world to fit the scale of the external. And in doing so, or trying to, we irrevocably develop our individual and original identities. This is what makes any two persons different in their own ways.

Can you imagine two people, cooped up in the same room from childhood to maturity, being unanimously at odds with each other?

Arthur Schopenhauer has. He has, so eloquently, explained this fact in what constitutes to the ultimate distinction of human life. And this exactly what he wishes to enlighten us with. Consider the following passage:

In plain language, every man is pent up within the limits of his own consciousness, and cannot directly get beyond those limits any more than he can get beyond his own skin; so external aid is not of much use to him.”

We hope to transcend major life lessons such as pain, heartbreak, guilt, and loss. We hope to understand them, mold them, and nurture them. Not for the world that constitutes them. But in order to understand ourselves.

To solidify our nature as the only way to react to what happens outside of us. Throughout this journey, we cling to what guides us forward and we cut loose those strings that hold us back.

Is this, Schopenhauer suggests, the basis of our imagination? Or does this have an actual and objective groundwork in reality? Something that everybody can see and feel together?

The answer to this empirical question lies below:

“Since everything which exists or happens for a man exists only in his consciousness and happens for it alone, the most essential thing for a man is the constitution of this consciousness, which is in most cases far more important than the circumstances which go to form its contents.”

This concludes that self-expression makes the self the deepest layer of our reality. And what happens outside of it forms our circumstances; merely cards that in a game are meant to be dealt with.

The thing that makes life rich to one and dull to another is the realization of the identity surpassing the contents of the world. And to win against this fight we have to learn to connect our mind of today to our mind of yesterday and of tomorrow.

When Does Wisdom End?

Self-awareness is life-changing. It’s when something translates into everything. But what most people don’t tell us is that it demands a lot of our brain power. Self-awareness is not just about crossing legs on freshly-cut grass and meditating in a park during sunset. What it does come close to is waking up for sunrise and walking that extra mile to locate a better spot for the perfect adventure.

It’s all about putting in the effort with no ifs or ands or buts. Now you might say that this is the wisest, yet commonest thing you’ve repeatedly heard or read about. So, what’s the big deal about this article?

This, perhaps, is me breaking down the lesson in fragments and inspecting each fragment under a metaphorical microscope to see what intersects between wisdom and ambiguity. Wisdom and ambiguity are abstract concepts derived for the clarity and obscurity of life. Both are essential when nothing else is. Sometimes, we are not the outcome of our own wisdom. And in those times, we are the outcome of what we don’t know. That’s where everything lies. And that’s when we are able to gain control over some aspects of our own lives.

Now you might think that absolutely nothing is in our control. But conviction isn’t the tool of uncertainties. Imagine all your life’s uncertainties as your playground and conviction is what gets your hands and feet dirty. Such a courageous act exists beyond what’s out there already. And the hardest thing about this playground is that it needs to be constructed by you, from dust and rock. This is the only place where wisdom doesn’t break the silence.

What is said and done within those boundaries is simply causation within itself. It’s expressing and reflecting the workings of the mind as well as its unfathomable limitations. It’s where you push ahead – past the good and bad – and respond to deeper instincts. Wisdom ends when you draw a blank right up to the point of indulgence and obsession.

I strongly believe that self-awareness is not complete without stimulating the mind and body in myriad ways. But I also believe that with letting go one can possess a better and clearer understanding of life and throw light on the kind of choices one makes.

We Can’t Keep Things Simple, So We Complicate

And yes, in most cases, keeping it complicated is a choice. Other times it’s just consequence.

I’m afraid of a kind of attachment that won’t ever be simple. And I don’t mean with romantic relationships exclusively. This can be translated to my work, friendship, personal life, family relationships, and more importantly, to myself. Clinging on to patterns that add fuel to the fire is the only skill I know. This is because I am an exposed crop of my past; and so am I an unsteady nine-to-fiver of this chaotic world. Aren’t we all some kind of nine-to-fivers? If not for work, then for our emotions. We don’t have to belong to a company to have to cluelessly follow a sort of routine that is often explained away in less than a second — in brief excuses and hesitation and subconscious condemning of a much larger entity. Be it religion, constitution, government, society, or flawed human nature itself.

Hence, we can’t keep things simple. It’s a thought process we’ve been tweaked and monitored into habituating. And in doing so, we’ve lost meaning from thought itself. Giving importance to thoughts has defeated our ability of thinking without us even realizing it. Where is the “why” of living, of doing, and of being? This can only come from stopping thoughts. Better, in silencing them for a while. This won’t be a switch like you would TV channels. This silencing of thought and being in the present moment has to be the evolution of logic, judgement, and perspective. And if you go far enough, it could become your only reason to become a better human than you were yesterday. To grow from your silence, your pain, your experiences, and shortcomings.

This is simple. It’s taking what you already know and directing it to what’s real and right here. Sometimes not giving importance to certain thoughts is one of the best decisions you can make. For yourself. For others. For everyone. This lacuna is from where you grow to become original and thoughtful. And on days you get caught up with too many things to do, this little trick will do wonders to how you feel while doing them. This is a kind of freedom you create for yourself so you when you’re in the middle of chaos and confusion, you start to feel more like yourself and not the opinions and projections of those around you.

There’s No Such Thing As The Secret To Happy Living

As if happiness is a destination and “the secret” is the journey to it.

It’s a complicated feeling: happiness. And it’s hard to define it to myself or somebody else. If you haven’t felt it, it becomes sort of like a wavering dream you haven’t seen yet. But I often ask myself why my mind always aims to contract my understanding of happiness. Is it in freedom? Is it in traveling? Or is it in writing this article? Where is it? Seeking or aiming for happiness in moments when I most need it makes me skip a few steps. It’s all a thought process.

We’re always trying to skip ahead a few chapters to get to the good part. The part when feeling good feels good. The part when we don’t have to cut short on happiness just because the moment is over and it’s time to face reality again. The part when we don’t need or have to feel guilty about not wanting to feel the rest of it. And time is as it always does. It moves on just as effortlessly in the storm as it does in the calm. Just the perceptive and emotive sensation of it is unique for each of us. And that’s what matters.

So, coming up with the definition of happiness and its secret that we often want to know more about in self-help books and articles is a waste of time for me. It’s just a small part of what deception looks like. You can choose to remain cloaked in your delusions about achieving happiness as one does nirvana. But happiness is not real enough to feel as if you deserve it. Being grateful, at peace, and honest are much more important in life. It isn’t a singular feeling which is what your individual self makes up as varied facets of happiness.

With that in mind, I learned to respond to happiness by being the better version of myself in negativity and positivity. I learned to focus and re-focus what it takes to know myself even though its trajectory afflicts me with feelings of loneliness. But I will not fall prey to separating my personal experience — breaking it apart — and labeling it as happiness. This does not mean I’m giving up on the good things in life. It just means I’m refraining to bridge experience to emotion because I’m so struck by the logic and uncertainty of it.