Monday Musings 210 – The wheel of fortune
Indian world view is essentially cyclical – whether it is notion of time or life. Time has four yugs – Satyug, Dwapar, Treta and Kalyug, which is inconsequential in itself – of greater significance is the fact at the end of each cycle spanning all four, time is expected to begin again. Life too is cyclical, swinging between life and death only to reappear as life again. Compare this to the western worldview of linearity where time moves in only one direction and so does life. Time and life once gone never comes back.
This Indian worldview of cyclicality shapes our reaction to things generally. I have been at cross roads to my own reaction to this subject. The western notion of rationality which has been accumulated through years of education and reading, fights for space with the essentially Indian ethos which has been a part of growing up years, upbringing and social values.
I see the swinging wheel of fortune around and I notice its patterns. May be I am noticing it more now with my heightened consciousness about it. I see individual fortunes swinging from one extreme to another, sometime waxing and waning owing to omissions and commissions of individual brilliance or stupidity and sometimes for no reason at all, euphemistically called as destiny. Sometimes I see abject poverty and failure accompanied with proverbially silver linings and sometimes fortunes hide much grief, unhappiness and poor health. Small towners are more philosophical about it and I get this strange feeling that they are also better at dealing with it. My bias also is that the corporate-wallahs take their fortunes more for granted and with a misplaced sense of permanence, for reasons only known to them.
Every time I see great fortunes, havens of prosperity and abundance being marooned into deprivation, I wonder about the fickleness of it – and I also ask how much is my Indian-ness responsible to my reaction to it. Rationality would have demanded that I analyze reasons thereof so that I find a source of the decay, while the notions of cycles make me conclude that this is the essential nature of things – what shined, will corrode. It begs, nay demand that I treat my own fortunes and good times with humility and with heightened sense of impermanence. Success must rest lightly on the shoulders for it is like a butterfly.
I also see green shoots emerging in families which have spent decades in deprivation and darkness. Rationality would have demanded that I analyze reasons thereof and that I find a source of that resurrection, while the notion of cycles make me conclude that this is the essential nature of things – what has been corroded will reclaim it shine. It begs, nay demand that I treat my own struggles with hopefulness and with a heightened sense of impermanence. The journey must rest lightly on the shoulders for it too is like a butterfly.
I see the above two lines cross in many ways. Sometimes I see success hiding so much and of failures revealing much more. Amongst friends, families and colleagues, I see the beginning of the end of good times crossing concurrently over the beginning of the end of bad times – and the recognition of the cycle makes me deeply thoughtful.
I guess this is a sign of getting old – very old.