It was in the first Term here that we were made to write an essay on "Who am I?" My very first sentiment when I heard the topic was one of amusement, to be honest, for this is the eternal question that every philosopher worth his salt - and many millions of common men like me besides - have thought of and endeavoured to answer and the common thread that binds all these seekers is their combined and continued failure to get any closer to the answer than the world was before their efforts.
Well, at any rate, I wrote that piece with more than just a bit of detachment as I was quite aware that when the combined effects of introspection and reading down the years had yielded nothing, a few hours of effort, and that too for an essay that is part of class work, was hardly likely to bring me anything much by way of enlightenment. I devoted myself therefore to finishing the thing as fast as possible and making it grammatically and syntactically correct, which was, I believed, a far more practical target.
It was when the sheets were handed out that I chanced once again upon a classmate with whom I had, just a few days earlier, been working on a project. We had been quite at ease with each other (abnormal when you are me) and had worked in near-perfect harmony to finish the project. We spoke but little in the hours that we worked together and once the work was done (we only took one sitting of 5 hours or so) we had not really spoken to each other again. Not by choice or anything like that. It was the simple matter of our paths not really meeting at any point during that time. Now, as I held his essay in my hand, my mind suddenly went back to our conversation…..
It was still a few months later though that we really got to know each other. ‘Got to know’ is perhaps a vague term, but it is still the only one that I can, with my limited vocabulary come up with to explain what had transpired. He left my room that day with a whimsical smile on his face and uttered a line that was loaded in meaning, “Surprising really, how no one sees the similarities.” Truly, it is something that I too have spent a lot of time thinking about. And each time I stop at the same point…..no one does and no one probably ever will see the similarities. Because the very nature of these causes the confusion and the veils that cover them, are perhaps too heavy to be torn off and too thick to be penetrated.
It came up again a few days ago, when someone else mentioned a total contrast in a situation where the objects or persons mentioned, were seen by me as almost identical. Identical to the point of disbelief almost. So, who’s wrong? No one in the one sense, both in another. After all, it all boils down to where you are standing and how you wish to read and define words, because in the end analysis all these are just words and the meanings we give them are our own. Our interpretations will always differ and very often even two interpretations of our own will be in stark contrast to each other. So, just how is one to pronounce judgment on these issues?
And yet one does, and does it very often at that. “Opinions are like arseholes. Everybody has one”, said a famous person, and in truth there have been very few truer statements made down the years. Is there any topic in the world on which everyone agrees? Not that I know of. From burning issues like the way that a certain foodstuff should be cooked to the mundane ones like terrorism and global warming everyone has an opinion and each person is firmly convinced that his opinion is the correct one and that if people would only see reason (the way they see it), the world would be a better place.
OK, I’m digressing and beginning to ramble, but that’s just the way thoughts go. (Another interesting thought: Ever tried tracing how your thoughts move from one topic to another until finally you realise that while you had started off discussing the mess food, you’re now discussing whether or not NASA faked the moon landing? If not, do so some time. It can be good fun.) Coming back to where I was though, everyone seems to have an opinion and as standpoints are always different as are situations, most of these opinions are based on superficialities.
I have often had interesting and long-drawn arguments on the topic of whether or not people change with time. My contention is that while superficialities change and the masks and overt reactions of a person change, not just with time but circumstances, the core of the person remains exactly the same. So, while you may instil in a person a feeling of wanting to be calm and methodical, you will never be able to remove that inner urge in him to be impetuous and impulsive. The difference being that while on the surface the person will have changed, the inner person remains very much the same. I am open to arguments on this line of thought and am willing to admit that I may very well be wrong, but inasmuch as I have seen and experienced, this holds true.
This would tend to explain to a great extent why two very similar persons are perceived as being totally different in nature by the world. What continues to astound me though, is that people have so much faith in their own judgment when it comes to people that they will not for a moment consider their fallibility even if it were pointed out to them in reasonably clear words. What doubles my amazement is that in fields where such faith would be warranted, these people exhibit more fear and self-doubt than can be removed by anything less than hypnotics or cocaine.
Ultimately therefore, the meaning and interpretation that two people impart to the same words will always result in differing results in their analyses and were these to be considered in conjunction, they are more likely to result in chaos than getting any closer to the truth. Then again, it is through chaos alone that any real truth and calm can emerge, so perhaps there again, I am mistaken in my beliefs. Until the two are married to each other or until we reach the stage of realization, they remain a lonesome twosome.....lonely in the togetherness that binds them.....a contrast in their similarities....and oblivious to the chaos that their their very oblivion causes.