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Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Objective of Life - I

This is one question the answer for which everybody wants but very few, if any, have it. What is few, if any, have it. Waybody wants but very few, if any, have it. What is the end purpose of life? Let me try and address this question from my view point – which in no way claims to be ‘the end purpose of life? Let me try and answer this question from my perspective. I must admit however that I do not claim my view to be complete or final in any way. It has evolved and will continue to evolve. Indeed it has undergone dramatic change over the past few years.

Firstly, let me say that there is no objective or end purpose of life. Life just exists because it exists. People who look towards some divine or supernatural reasons for existence of life are likely to be shocked by this – but that’s what it is, life did not appear on this planet with any specific purpose. Indeed when living beings procreate and give birth, the new born does not appear on this planet with any purpose.

However, human beings need some purpose to live. They need some goal in mind with which to carry on ‘living’. What is it that I want to achieve in life? – That’s a question I often ask myself. My answers to this question have been changing.

Initially I wanted respect in life. I wanted my name to appear in newspapers, magazines etc. I wanted to be interviewed on television. That to me was respect. Then my answer changed. I wanted to be rich. Until then I considered the thought of wanting to make money as perverse (I did have some communist inclinations few early on - no more!).

However off-late I find myself increasingly being sold by the randomness theory. Increasingly I believe that a lot (a hell of a lot) that happens to us is governed by pure chance (note the use of words – I say chance not fate or destiny). I distinctly remember a conversation that I had with one of my cousin a few years back where I had argued that there is no such thing as luck/chance. A man makes his own luck. If you are not successful in life (success defined in terms of respect/money as in above) then you have failed and that is because you are simply not good enough. How far I have come from that - seriously at times I laugh at the statements/views I had held a few years back. Indeed I today believe that it is to a large extent meaningless to look at the life of a given single person – it is largely a function of chance.

In the last few years I have seen lots of random shocks being subjected to people I knew which has pushed them back from achieving success in conventional terms or has taken them close to achieving it. I myself have benefited from such randomness in a positive sense. And a few of my friends have unfortunately been at the receiving end of chance.

It is but natural for many to think that I hold this view because I have myself failed in life (failed in conventional sense) – far from it. As mentioned above, I consider myself incredibly lucky. Today in a country of a billion people, I am on most parameters in top 5%. I cannot thank luck enough for that. But I equally know that this day shall pass and some day luck will not go my way – that’s OK.

So what do I think objective of life is? Well, my current view does not come from within me. I read it in ‘Fooled by Randomness’ and I immediately liked it. It said that given life’s nature – it being governed by chance, the objective should be to face that without losing dignity.

It is essential that irrespective of what chance delivers us, we keep our dignity. So if do not go bonkers if all of a sudden we are faced with grave incurable disease or you lose your fortune or you win a fortune.

I have seen my friend lose both his parents in a span of a year, having to leave his higher studies incomplete – but yet not lose his composure, not appear helpless (when in fact to a large extent he was). This to me is not losing dignity of life.

I have seen a someone coming from a not well to do financial background, not very highly educated, brought up not in city getting married into a financially well-off family - but maintain that humility that she had. that to me is not losing dignity of life.

I have seen a lady being bed-ridden for better part of 2 decades and that to in her late 30s early 40s – but always greet me with a smile, always enquiring about others, wishing them well, giving children sweets when they came. Was she helpless, yes she was, did fate deal a cruel blow to her, of course it did - but she maintained her dignity.

It was so easy for all of them to give up and lose dignity - but its to their credit that they did not. They are successful people.

Another important thing – maintaining dignity also earns you respect. Respect not in the sense that you are interviewed or you are covered in newspaper or magazine. But respect in a much deeper sense. Your word counts, your presence counts and is cherished. People listen to you; they want you to talk to them. That to me is real respect.

Well, I don’t know if I will be able to maintain dignity when chance deals a blow to me (sooner or later it surely will!) – but I will try

That’s it for now…

P.S - Part II to follow

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