Rendezvous over insanity!

There is a fantastic article and video on the experience of a 22 year old Ben Page, who cycled to arctic circle and his near death experience… Its fascinating, realistic, inspiring, philosophical… Simply brilliant…

I was telling a couple friend we have in Singapore over a dinner on a Saturday night. They are highly read, intellectually simulating, well travelled and have a liking for things which are quite common between me and my wife, Jainee. So it’s always a nice time with them. But more importantly for this write up, you need to know that on this matter, their opinion was going to be a good perspective.

I don’t know for how long we spoke on this subject… But we discussed many many people in our lives who were pursuing things out of the ordinary… Something different…

And as it happens when you talk (even though all 4 of us are non-alcholics)… We shared a lot of our own personal beliefs on this subject.

I geniunely believe and shared that whether we believe in rebirth or not… We have this one life right now which we should treasure in a way to ensure that we gather experiences that enrich and satisfy us… Need not essentially have to be forced by norms of society… That following laid norms and stereotyped roles gives us certainty to some extent in life… Especially financially… But as long as I am providing for my family financially, I would really wish for my children and wife to pursue their dreams… For if everyone of us got into finding safe financial and cultural havens, we would all have lost our dreams…

And don’t get me wrong, I do realize the reason why my parents wanted to ensure that their children succeed in an education system that was heavy on rote learning and focused on grooming children for standard jobs… For it gave a financial security that they did not have… And I am reaping the benefits of it… But it deprived me the opportunities of pursuing something I wanted to… And I want to give that to my kids and wife… Maybe we all wish to provide to our loved ones what we do not or did not have… And revel in their achievement of that thing… Live our dreams in their pursuits…

My wife, Jainee had a point – that there are these kinds of things that go viral which people remember… But then there are many failures in such endeavours that no one knows or hears about… So then again its not always victory… Not just struggles, but the futility at the end of it is very real for a lot of such things… And that there is a very fine line between courage and insanity in all of this…

One of our friend there had an interesting point that for most of this dreams and chase of eccentricities is all possible because someone stable is sponsoring it… Someone is financially secure to be the backup of anything fails… Nothing of this sorts is followed if there is no one else fuelling it… and that you shouldn’t have any relationship attachment to worry about…

Its obvious as a hindsight that in order to make the leap into the unknown either you need to be in a position of no choice – between a rock and a hard place and hence you jump… Or you have a nice spring board that can propel you from a solid foundation and more importantly there is a harness that you can rely on to save you… You dont bungee jump other wise…

My feeling however is that in the pursuit of safety… Most of us have become so distant from our dreams that now we have none left… That in the chase of the safety net we have forgotten what it was – a safety net, not a hammock to rest upon… That it was supposed to be a fuel that drives our vehicle… Not the goal in itself…

Our other friend however put a very simple one line… He said, ya there is Ben Page… “And then there’s also Christopher Mccandless“….

I read about him… Into the wild… And then at the end it left me with a doubt and a tinge of sadness… not because of the struggles… Not because of the eventual death and failure… Or the lack of any message… But that at the end of his pursuit he was looking for a lifeline to save him… To escape the ordeal he had put himself into… That his goals finally turned out to be his tormentor…. And that to me was the real failure…

A Bhagat Singh and his gang embracing a known death is not tragic… For whilst dying they died believing in their objectives… They died satisfied… Content that they achieved what was required…

But Chris Mccandless died wanting to be rescued… Basically stating that his whole exercise of life was a folly…

Why then do I still like Ben Page’s pursuit and wish my children follow their dreams even if unconventional? Why do I still feel that there are pleasures of insanity that sanity has no idea of…

My father in law comes from a well to do family who were the richest in our village and he himself has made decent economic fortune… Yet in a recent discussion with him, he told me that money is the root of everything for a human and no matter what, one can never leave its pursuit for anything… Everything else is secondary… This coming from a man who might have seen poverty in others but never experienced it himself…

But then I also have a close couple friend in Mumbai, who were scholars in their academics, were on their way in a good corporate job… And both of them left it to become teachers in an alternative education system… They both too had never seen poverty as such and had the financial security to some extent… But they have been able to let go of the money chase and go after their dreams…

Who is more appropriate… My father in law or them? Not for me… But what ideals do I show my kids?

Somehow I still find myself veering towards telling my kids to make the jump than sitting on the edge… And have that life enriching experience through out and in the end… For what is life if not a collection of experiences… And find a learning of life by themselves.. like Ben Page who enjoyed solitude discovered as follows – “I thought about the lessons this journey had taught me. Maybe I’d proved something to myself, by going to the edge of my map… But, I also realized that perhaps finish lines are better shared.”

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Deb says:

    Excellent write-up Vaibhav!
    When confronted with the luxury of reading about other people’s insane experiences of the seemingly impossible, a thought that comes to mind is: could I do it or even something similarly crazy? And then that extends to: what am I really doing and should I not be pursuing my own dreams?
    Problem is that as you say, some of us have forgotten our dreams altogether! What hope then is there for such folks?
    For the kids…I don’t think I can tell them ever to follow their dreams always because what happens if they ask: “did you?” But I guess we can all bastardize Ralph Waldo Emerson’s and Kipling’s words and say: whatever you do, leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a well tended garden patch, laughing often and much, meeting with Triumph and Disaster and treating those two imposters just the same!

    Liked by 1 person

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