Our Lives aren’t Ours Alone…
It was one of those breezy Pondicherry winter nights yesterday, as I drove back home from the beach. Another of those evenings, when me and the group of idiots I call my friends sat around, laughed at stupid jokes, ate a lot of junk and basically just wasted a lot of potentially productive time. It’s still astounding to think that just a few years ago, we met each other and today these guys know more about me than anyone, even my parents. Our lives are now intertwined, locked together by memories and the friendship we have forged in the time we spent together. Each decision, each choice of mine has some impact on the others. The day I left for Coimbatore for my masters, my friends came home and waved me on, to the next step in a journey, a journey in which they will remain at the heart of my happiest days.
One of my favourite lines is the one about when a butterfly flaps its wings in one corner of the world; something in the other part of the world is affected. How true this is! If Mahatma Gandhi had not taken that fateful train from which he was thrown out in South Africa, the history of the country in which I live would have been different. Our own lives are dictated by that incident. If Crown Prince Ferdinand of Austria had not been assassinated that fateful day, World War One would have been delayed. And what impact that would have had on this planet? My otherwise fertile imagination fails me when we think of these things. If the person who killed the prince had missed, or aborted, or maybe his wife had locked him in his house that day, the entire known history of the world would have been different.
Let alone such broad things, what about our own decisions, our choices? The smallest things you do and choose to do will have tremendous impact, not just on your life, but on several others. Last year, I made a decision, a choice, whatever I may call it. And it took my world apart. I lost something which could’ve been the most beautiful thing which ever happened to me. It brought me a pain so intense and a shame so profound, I have still to recover from it. But what struck me most of all is that my transgression had affected so many people. There were people whose life would be transformed because of what I did. And some were not even in contact with me. Life is weird I know, but in my pain, I saw good things happen to other people because of bad things happening to me. I’d like to think it’ll all turn out to be good, that I’ll get a second chance, like in the movies, but then, they are movies, right?
Life’s workings are shrouded in mystery and we will probably never ever know the full consequence of our actions. But the very thought of trying to predict what might transpire because of a specific deed might change the consequences of it. In Physics, this is called the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which states that the very act of trying to measure a particle’s speed or position will alter the same particle’s speed and position, hence rendering it impossible to calculate them accurately. No wonder Physics is called the Fundamental Science!
My Mother once told me on one of those long freezing winter nights in Shillong, that there will always be two paths in life – the right one and the wrong one. The right one will be a hard choice, you will have to pass through hurdles and probably face your worst fears. The wrong one will be very easy, a tempting shortcut filled with vice and pleasure. She stopped there, telling me that when I had to choose, I would know the difference. When I made that choice, I probably did know which one was right. But I chose wrong. Maybe if we take the right one every time, our life and the lives of those around us, would be happier and productive. Every choice is important, every path is important, because, as I said, our lives are not ours alone.