Three quotes have become my constant companions, two of which are apt here and I will go ahead and tell you about them.
The first from Dante’s inferno: The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who in time of moral crisis preserve their neutrality.
When I encountered it for the first time, it struck a chord but I didn’t get its entire purport. But the beauty of this thought is that once it has tuned to one’s inherent resonance frequency, once it has revealed itself to one, then it can never be unseen.
And so, as I continued trekking through the barren disquieting wastelands of modern life and adult existence, it gave me moments of solace, the will to perform, and the courage to remain ‘irreverent’. This is because it is life’s Occam Razor enabling one to quickly gravitate towards a side rather than continue in the agony of ambiguity and amorphousness of the middle. The intrinsic problem of the middle is that it requires constant reinforcement. Check any of the political debate anywhere on the planet and you will see this panning out. The centrists are the people who are most discomforted and constantly provide explanations for every damn thing under the sun.
In reality, if all superfluous logic is stripped away, we will realize that we don’t enjoy that middle place of comfort but we find it safe because the herd is there. And we only call it messy because it gives us some kind of self-respect and self-justification, just like sophisticated ideas on why drinking is bad are doled out plentifully but alcoholism continues to be the biggest pastime of mankind.
I would like to bring to your serious contemplation the idea that what if the real journey is not the messy middle-path but the extremes, the polarities? What if the idea that you have begun thinking about “so many things are journeys instead of polarities, or of thinking of the messy middle as a place of comfort” is the first sign of losing the spark, becoming reverent, and adopting institutionalization as the convenient way to the grave. And what happens if you do continue on this path and end up being Alex of The Clockwork Orange?
I have constantly prided myself on my extremal erratic nature and spontaneity. I was drawn to the idea – of living on polarities – at a very young age. And I have tried very hard to continue living my life in this binary. Truth be told, I have paid more than I have received though. But for me this binary has allowed me to cut through the noise and focus on the signal allowing my mind to work out the other serious things that one encounters on lazy rainy afternoons. When enjoying, then do so to the hilt. When loving, then surrender. When angry, the let it consume.
Yet I do have ‘messy middles’, but I am happy to report that they are not of my making. I refused to be drawn into that comfort zone but I have accepted that others may not be like me. So, I allow them to project their messy middle on my life. And adhering to my own principle of living on extremes, I accept that messy middle of others in totality. Safe in the knowledge that only God can be the witness of my actions and only she can give me justice. Which brings me to my second favourite quote:
Meri zindigi, meri manzilen, mujhe koorb me nahin door de;
(Let my life, destiny be not near but far away and difficult to attain)
Mujhe tu dikha wo rasta jo safar ke baad guroor de;
(Show me that arduous path, which I when complete fills me pride)
Wohi jazba de jo shahid ho; ho Khushi to jaise ki eid ho;
(Give me the passion of that soldier who is willing to die relinquishing everything; and give me that happiness of Eid (feasting) which comes after 30 days of hunger)
Agar gham mile to bala ka ho; mujhe wo bhi tu ek suroor de.
(And if you want to give me unhappiness, then do that and fill me with that painful ecstasy as well)