A couple of weeks ago I was at the lakehouse of the Karolinska Institute’s student union, Solvik. The ice had only just melted and the overbearing, gloomy grey skies had been dispersed by the ever increasing daylight. Thanks to the initiative of my lovely friends, we organised an overnight gala, wine flowed as we gathered around the fire. Juicy, flavorful meats sizzled on the barbecue.
I was pretty languid after the intense experience of the sauna (my very first), alternated with jumps into the freezing ice water but as my sobriety receded, I had my share of fun on the dance floor and then sneaked off to the sauna again, though the alcohol dulled the bight of the late night chill. All in all, a very pleasant, relaxing experience.
The next day, I sat alone on the floating jetty(?) and was feeling really content letting the sun warm my skin and the breeze ruffle my hair. I am very averse to discomfort yet the freshness that I felt compelled me to jump headlong into the lake. Again and again I plunged into the depths of the fjord, each time seeking to jump farther and dive deeper. The interval was just enough to let me feel my limbs. I will forever be grateful that this moment got captured for posterity,
I had a ecstatic feeling of cleansing, of solace and life. After tiring myself out, I did what I do best, I pondered. Unlike my phases of existential agony, this time, the splendor around me would not let me slide into the melancholy I am so well versed with. I don’t really remember what I was thinking but I know I was content, the very best kind of happiness there is.
Yesterday, I was considering where my ideas about life and such come from. I readily identified the obvious sources and re-discovered some obscure ones. The earlier I looked back, the more fragmented these influences were, partial understandings of concepts way beyond my age at the time,. Yet it was these half understood ideas that had the most profound impact.
One of earliest ones, was Swami Vivekananda, the famous Indian ascetic. In my school, students were sorted into colored houses, each representing an acknowledged sage with a profound influence on the Indian society. I was assigned to the saffron colored, Vivekananda house. Buddha famously rejected extreme asceticism alongside materialism and then promulgated the middle path. Vivekananda had a similar realisation, though in contrast to the passivity of Buddhist philosophy, his was one of activity. The strength of spirituality, manifested as energy to live life to the fullest. And by that he meant a drive to excel in every aspect of life.
I always imagined this to be akin to having an inexorable force, propelling me to my self determined destiny. The belief that, I could throw myself headlong into challenges, with a constant, unrelenting persistence and I would surmount anything. This was the ideal to live by. As I grew, several other ideas, thoughts and goals blended in. The bedrock of what I want to do is the certainty that I can do anything.
This also begs, the question then, can I stop? Could I imagine being content or would I always be stuck in the pursuit of a ever distant goal? It doesn’t help that not everyone shares this compulsion. Going against the herd sounds glamorous but this is hardly ever the case. Most often that not, everyone is choosing their own unique path, and mine seems to be getting harder by my own doing. Unlike people who cannot escape their burdens, I was lucky enough to have a chance at an easier life. Is constant wanting or waiting or struggling, a sure way of making my life hell? I feel so at times yet I reject the notion of stopping, of being satisfied with what I have.
That being said, it is really easy to find happiness along the way and it can look something like this,