Modern troubles of saving time
One of our society’s favourite pastimes is labelling others. It’s worth wondering what labels indeed mean. Yes, those words we attach ourselves to—mostly out of fear for losing out—and don’t even try to understand why. As much as we owe it to nature, aren’t most of these labels transitional? You are stubborn? So what? Maybe your ego will dissolve with time. You are an introvert? Everybody is as long as the external conditions suit them. You are conservative? Find me a progressive who is thoroughly progressive. Orthodox? Unorthodox? Ambitious? Lazy? Genius? Dumbo? The list of labels supersede our vocabulary. The trouble with labels is they stick. Applies to living as well as non-living entities. A person, once judged, is judged forever. Even the court of law can’t really exonerate if the society adheres to labelling.
Very little is said, let alone sung, about a man’s lack of direction in finding himself. He wanders far and wide, with grease in his hair and mud on his face, hoping to find his destination. In essence, he wants to find himself but since that is an uphill task, he seeks what others expect of him. He is supposed to be strong and courageous and resourceful. So, he attempts to give it a try. In practice, he attempts to give himself a try. Deep down, he knows there is no respite and more importantly, there is no greater calling in life. Yet, he keeps going ahead, facing countless blows and storms, without losing focus. In the end, he finds for himself a little place that he calls home. And in this sanctuary, he finds himself. After all, what else can a man do apart from becoming a man?
I am not a math prodigy but I am very aware of my existence as well as mortality. Although I am three months away from 37, the sweet deluding fragrance of youth is not lost on me. Every time I meet young folks, especially colleagues, I become acutely aware of the changing motions of time. They utter words and phrases I didn’t even know existed, and their sense of humour is twice removed from mine. Granted that they are entertaining to watch, there is a deep sense of detachment in their attitude towards the world they inherited. Maybe every generation feels that they are doing everything to salvage the situation at hand, but in practice, very little is done. For instance, the youngsters I encounter talk about solving problems but their MO is inclined towards creating new problems to solve old problems. At the end of this equation, what we are left with is a thick layer of problems to wrap ourselves with.
My brother is the busiest person I know. He teaches at Jai Hind (Mumbai) and is so occupied with his classes and students and their parents and college events and festivals and whatnot that I don’t bother giving him a call. There is no point because he’d never pick up anyway. And to make matters worse, he would reply at night informing that he was busy during the day, instead of giving a call back. It’s safe to assume that he understands that I wouldn’t have anything important—relative to whatever keeps him busy—to relay via a phone call. Fair enough. So, there is a silent understanding of messaging each other, and wholeheartedly accepting each other’s (lack of) significance. I believe the two of us are not alone in this voiceless communication in a rather fast-paced setting.
Come to think of it, we are all slaves to the changing dictum of our Age. From Stone Age to Machine Age to Privilege, we’ve come a long way. Whatever our era demands of us, we comply. It’s not that we don’t want to drive those beautiful American cars from the 1960s and ’70s but they don’t fit in with the traffic anymore. And neither do the clothes that the previous generations flaunted. Being out of fashion is passé. We accept certain unwritten norms and adhere to ensure that we don’t stick out like adult acne. We do so much to not rattle the cart that we often forget why we are the way we are. The clothes we wear aren’t chosen by me, the expressions we use to communicate aren’t composed by us, the laws we follow blindly aren’t our creation either. You know what’s the lowest of lows? Even our definition of individuality is defined by others.
Do you ever think about the amount of time you’ve spent so far? The number of seconds/minutes/hours/days you’ve had at your disposal. Once you get that data, you are bound to think about the amount of moments that you are left with. You see, when we think about the past, we calculate in terms of the time we’ve spent/wasted/invested but when we think about the future, we are calculating in terms of the moments we’ll manage to create. Our past is a done story whereas our future is supposed to be better, more charming and filled with hope. Unfortunately, modern life is all about saving time so that we can spend more time on our existential crisis.