An insightful conversation with my ungrateful self



On my way to work, just south the memory lane I bumped into a girl coming from the opposite direction. We both looked startled by this unexpected collision, ‘I’m sorry, I wasn’t looking straight’ she apologized sheepishly. Feeling a bit awkward, I apologized on my part and explained how I was more focused on reading a text on my cell phone. Intrigued by the title of the book she was holding in her hands, I asked if she was a student. ‘Yes, yes I am… I’m in the process of completing my masters in Philosophy.’  Impressive, I thought.

I started walking towards the coffee shop just across the road and she followed. Hmm, I guess she likes the coffee from the same cafe. We both ordered mocha latte and settled ourselves on a small round table with two chairs. Maybe she wants to stick around a bit with me, I thought to myself sipping the hot coffee. ‘I love their coffee and the cosy atmosphere of this place.’  What a coincidence, I murmured.

‘So what do you do?’ she asked looking interested in my life. It took few seconds to analyse my life and ‘things I do’ before replying, ‘you know, I once studied philosophy too.’ ‘She seemed more interested and started asking questions related to the future of this subject in terms of career and has it helped me in anyway at all. I explained her how I never pursued this subject professionally and can’t seem to think of any classmates too. A hint of disappointment flashed in her eyes, ‘so it’s not worth the effort then, is it? Well, truth be told, I only opted for this subject as I have always been fascinated by philosophical inquiries and debates.’

Somehow, her words sounded familiar. She seemed five or six years younger than me, full of energy and determination to make things work in her life. Interrupting my chain of thoughts, she asked, ‘so… tell me more, what have you done after completing the degree?’ This time she sounded more of a friend than a stranger. ‘Well, nothing much. I have been working in some media organisations, got married settled down in another country and still struggling in my own way.’ ‘That sounds great; looks like you did get what you aimed for’. ‘I am not so sure about it’, I muttered. She interrupted, ‘If you see it through my eyes, I think you have accomplished what I or anybody in my age would wish for. Aren’t you happy with your life? 

Is it true that I am not happy with my life? I looked at her and a sense of familiarity hit me just then. She was the five years younger version of me. Remembering now, I was in her position once, sitting in that exact same spot sipping my coffee I once jotted the things I would want to have in next couple of years. I titled it as my ‘grand five years plan’. So … I actually should be happy having accomplished what I had set five years ago but too engaged in writing another list of things to achieve in coming years. How very ungrateful of me!


The pursuit of happiness

The meaning of happiness, pain or beauty are subjective and vary according to the person undergoing such emotions. When Socrates questioned Atreus about the reality of beauty, the surprised Atreus replied that the meaning of beauty is known even to a child for it is what we find physically attractive, things that are pretty, things that look good, and pleasant to look at’. Still unconvinced Socrates asked ‘what are we to say that they are mistaken in their thinking and that only that which is physically appealing is beautiful?’

The notion of happiness or peace is no different to beauty as these carry similar emotional characteristics. While spending life in a settled place with vast resources to enjoy the luxuries of life is happiness and peaceful for one might not be the same for other. There might be an exception where someone wants to build his life with moments spent in hard work, where blood and sweat has been shed to achieve the aims of his life. Although, the urge to ‘have it all’ can be found in both characters but the nature of ‘how to have it’, however, will beg to differ.

In today’s world, one’s reason for happiness is predicted by the number of materialistic items one possesses. No doubt these very things make life easier to live, but no way can they be the heartbeat of happiness. Life is made up of moments, moments when you are happy and moments when you are not. But to draw a comparison between a rich man’s happiness with a hobo’s is foolishness because it is hard to understand who derived more satisfaction and happiness from his moment.

 The pursuit of happiness is never ending, the process may vary in length and consume years. But the reason to move on and zeal to achieve the goals and necessities of life should be revered.