Every civilization tries to preserve what defines it but alas the culture and values each possesses decays over time as new one takes over it.
Every civilization has a soul but the current one in which we all live in lacks what you can call ‘essence’.
Things can never touch the soul. That’s what Marcus Aurelius said but well right now we all feel that things can fill the void within us. The present civilization doesn’t know the difference between needs and wants. Wanting merely for the sake of wanting is what has led to greed.
Rosseau believed that civilization ruins mankind and takes him away from natural virtues such as compassion and empathy. The natural state of man is benevolence but the moment he becomes civilised, he turns brutal and savage.
Man is born virtuous but well civilization makes him endowed with vices. It drags him away from idyllic happiness to misery.
The more materialistic man becomes, he forgets his innate virtues.
Rosseau goes to the extent of claiming that civilization condemns man to a life in chains.
Man is born free but is brainwashed into being civilised and hence comes across bondage.
He loses the essence of what it means to be free.
He feels owning property is what makes him powerful and free.
Civilization doesn’t really make man advanced, it makes actually greedy and destroy the harmony of nature.
Civilization is its own anti-thesis.
Mark Twain believed that civilization is the multiplication of unnecessary necessities. It’s so true as we just on accumulating things in our life without thinking what purpose they serve.
Our collective consciousness thrives on collecting things for mere sake of collection.
Civilization was meant to ease the life of mankind while he took the essentials from nature without forgetting to also tend to it whenever and whichever way he can. But man developed a sense of authority over nature. He started feeling that nature owes him.
He moulds nature as he pleases.
So the focus went from inventing things to make life easier to plundering nature just to satiate his greed.
Land ownership has changed the dynamics. Man wants to own property by deforestation. He doesn’t care about greenery but would love to have high-rise buildings.
“The skylines lit up at dead of night, the air-conditioning systems cooling empty hotels in the desert and artificial light in the middle of the day all have something both demented and admirable about them. The mindless luxury of a rich civilization, and yet of a civilization perhaps as scared to see the lights go out as was the hunter in his primitive night.”
You have an uncle you never knew about who flies a single-engine plane onto a grassy landing strip. That uncle is Happiness. He hitchhikes into town and inquires at every door. But when he knocks at your doorstep, you are asleep and usually at the unmerciful hours of your despair moments. You don’t notice his presence.
Happiness isn’t elusive. It’s the way you describe happiness that makes it appear out of your grasp.
Happiness is usually equated with getting whatever you want.
But of you’re happy only when you get what you desire, is that even happiness ?
Isn’t happiness independent of your desires ?
It isn’t like instant gratification definitely.
Jane Kenyon in her poem ‘Happiness’ mentions that there is no accounting for happiness. It’s like a prodigal that comes back to the dust at your feet after having squandered a fortune away.
When you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands… when you’re happy and you know it and you really wanna show it, clap your hands…
But these days many people fake happiness. They want to show that they are happy when actually they aren’t. They wanna hide the fact that they can never be happy no matter what.
What is the stuff that happiness is made of ? Bubbles, laughter, giggles, genuine mirth ?
Well these days happiness is made of forcible smiles, people gritting their teeth from within yet trying to purse their lips and smile at their colleagues. You hate someone still gotta smile at them. Is that happiness ?
Isn’t happiness about the freedom to be yourself at certain occasions ?
The boulder ensconced in the perpetual shade of pine barrens comes across happiness too. So well, hold on, happiness is near you. Don’t chase it.
Happiness is that delicacy that can be found in the most mundane of circumstances. Imagine it comes even to the clerk stacking cans of carrots and the woman sweeping the street with a birch broom.
A wineglass that became weary of holding wine has a rendezvous with happiness too.
Happiness often saves its most extreme form for you alone and remember you are never abandoned. Make a feast in the honor of whatever you lose in life as you should be ready to take the finest garment that you saved for an unimaginable occasion when unexpected happiness finds you.
Rene Descartes saw two worlds. The world of mind and the world of matter.
Descartes said that it’s possible to imagine ourselves as thinking beings yet doubt the existence of the external world including our bodies.
But how can you see yourself separate from the world when circumstances rule your life ?
Ortega y Gasset believed that ‘reason’ isn’t something that is passive but active. Something that allows us to get to grips with the circumstances in which we find ourselves and helps us change our lives for the better.
If you think seriously about yourself, you always find yourself immersed in some circumstance that could be oppressing and limiting. Those limitations aren’t only your environment or physical surrounding but your thoughts, that contain prejudices and behaviour shaped by habit.
One of my favourite scenes in the movie ‘Lion King’ is when Rafiki, the wise old monkey shows Simba the Lion who he really is and how he has forgotten his real self by asking him to peruse his reflection in a pond. Sometimes a mirror isn’t just a way of admiring yourself or knowing how you look or see whether you look alright for an occasion.
Rafiki asks Simba to look at his reflection a pond, Simba of course sees his own image. When Rafiki says ‘looook haaard’,
Simba sees his late father’s image being formed in the pools of water. Rafiki tells him that his father lives in him, just that he never observed hard enough ever. It delves into the inner recesses of your soul.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, you don’t usually see how you have evolved over the years as a person. It’s only the reflection at that moment that catches your eye.
In Arvind Mehrotra’s poem ‘ Approaching Fifty’, the narrator looks at himself in the mirror and sees three faces. One is his own. The other a grey haired man’s whose life insurance policy has matured. The third image is that of a mocking youth’s who paid first premium of the life policy.
There is a feeling of disorientation when it comes to a mirror image. When you reminisce the nostalgic version of yourself or the futuristic oldie in you, you feel spaced out.
Don’t we do a cursory check often to confirm that we continue to exist in the way we did yesterday or last year ?
You might have embarked on a new direction in life such as changing a job, reducing family budget due to inflation, yet the peremptory nature of looking at yourself in the mirror everyday doesn’t cease, does it ?
The mirror isn’t always an object of taking pride in yourself. Sometimes it’s about accepting your current state of mind and how that affects the projected image. Whom are you fooling ? You can fake a smile to the mirror. But can you feign a smile to your soul ? Why don’t you look at the mirror to see your true self ? It doesn’t matter whether it’s frustrated or ugly or feeling disenchanted with everything in life.
Why don’t you be atleast your real selves to the mirror ? You don’t have to be your prim and proper self always in the mirror. It holds no preconceptions and it’s silver and exact when it comes to reflecting back your true self.
Maybe you are hiding a lot of pain in your eyes by giving it the appearance of twinkling with joy to the mirror.