Finitude

Finitude

As we go through the greatest humanitarian crisis of modern times, it is hard to maintain a semblance of sanity. So much suffering, so much pain all around. What can words do to those who have lost the ones they love? All the pent-up anger and pain, where will it unleash?

It feels like I am in some sort of waking sleep. So many people, including my relatives have passed away. At some point we become numb, unable to process and feel any sort of grief. This naked death anxiety is buried under the daily, mundane existence; willingly or as a coping mechanism. We become an automaton. Some jolting experiences, like the ones we are having now, unleash the anxiety of our finitude. But we quickly repair the broken delusion. These jolting experiences, as Karl Jaspers called them, the "border" or "boundary" situations, are unalterable. There is nothing we can do in the face of death. And we cannot exist in such paralysed destitution. So weave together a faux reality and cocoon inside it.

While the frail stilts that hold our fragile home fall and crack, one learns to keep doing the banal, the mundane. And so it is with me. There are many who have lost; and many who have found courage along with disillusionment. I am too jaded to be shaken. I am chronically bitter.

And I come to a Heideggerian choice: to be in a state of forgetfulness of being or to be in a state of mindfulness of being. The first is inauthentic; one rescinds the authorship of one's life, one flees, carried along by the nobody. And the other is hard, perhaps confusing. We have heard much about 'being mindful'. 'Mindfulness of being' involves being subjected to "urgent experiences", "jolting experiences" and amongst all these "limit" situations, death is nonpareil.

So I must continue, thinking, working and sharing about work, about life and its tragic beauty. But all this while trying to remain mindful about being. Peeping out of the cocoon. Keeping the dread at bay while it attacks us from all sides at once. And reclaiming the authorship of my own life. In Kabir's words:

Mala japu na kar japu
Na mukh se kahu main ram
Ram hamara hume jape
Aur hum payo visram
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