Disclaimer: This is an incoherent rant. Expectations have been set.
I refuse to believe that art or literature is an adequate, all-encompassing expression for human life. It’s an excellent outlet and representative, of course, but it’s not comprehensive. Sometimes, words are inadequate to explain how we feel. Additionally despite our “open conversations” these days, I’ve observed that any individual expression that comes from a deeply personal place is not given its due respect unless it lends to a social commentary. You might think talking about mental health, stress, and the seven layers of societal pressure induced by social media would be easy, but no. There is still so much inherent stigma and hesitation about expressing sadness. I’m not even navigating mental health territory here. I’m talking about plain sadness or unhappiness. We’re existential-cool, we’re not sad. We’re consumers of the products of post-modern society, we’re not burdened and overwhelmed. We’re using humour an effective tool to represent our world, we’re not shrouding our fears and dilemmas in coloured pictures while still dismayed about the state of affairs.
Sure, one can depict in a meme how many times I have written and rewritten this blog post. Sure, it will be funny. But I promise you it won’t come within an inch of how trying to write this has gnawed on my soul these four days. Not because I want to put something out here, but because I have found it so hard to make coherent expression of the thoughts inside my head. I don’t know where they start and I don’t know where they begin. These days, I don’t want time off from work, I want time off from my own mind. I want it to stop its incessant worrying and just give me a break. I want to lie down for 30 mins and not have to think about the food on the cooking range, the calls from the workplace, the unedited stories, the abominable android update on my pretty phone, the number of acceptable suryanamaskars, the collective tiredness of my friend circle, or even how time is ticking by and I have to get something done to make use of my life.
When I was younger, I had mapped my life until 30 because I was unable to see beyond it. For some reason I thought I would never make it to the other side. However, now it seems like I will have to live longer, but I don’t have a plan. I know all the well-meaning advice – learn ballet and perform on Saturn’s rings, hibernate with the polar bears, become a statue in Heidelberg, find the cure to pineapple pizza – I get it, but, all I want is quiet and the disappearance of collective suffering. Is that too much to ask? Have you been on Facebook lately? Try it. It’s the worst place to be right now and this despite the fact that there are Rohingyas in Myanmar right now. (I’m being hyperbolic here, I’m not a cold-hearted bitch. Jesus, why do I have to even call that out?)
You know what has bothered me all this while? The obvious existence of the decorum of pain in the world we live in. The dire need to keep up appearances. The absolute impossibility of dropping the ball. You just can’t drop the ball anymore. You have to be a high-performing, highly-motivated individual. How can you be anything else? We want our lives to sound nonchalant, cool, in a wispy sort of way. Positioning ourselves as if playing from behind a diaphanous curtain between the world and ourselves. As if the words mean nothing, our eyes twinkling, pasted with a smile that doesn’t fade, we hold the door and say, “Dear pain, come right in.” (When one writes it down, it sounds weird, doesn’t it?)
I know I said literature cannot encompass all of human feeling and expression. But I know that three words from James Joyce can summarise pretty much all of me right now. Kurt Vonnegut called this his most favourite line in all of literature. I’ve kept it at the back of my head for a while and now I know why.
“She was tired.”