Zoning in on Happiness

It’s the 17th of March. Always a special date for me. Much more than the date that follows. Some increasingly large number of years back, this date marks the point of my not being existent. Am not sure the last sentence even means anything. How do you contemplate your own lack of existence? The lack of your own consciousness? A time when you were not there, even now say  a place where you were not there. Coming to think of it, it probably means nothing. You don’t really remember or are conscious about every waking moment of your life. They just happen while you are doing other things – like working, driving or eating or just getting entertained or most likely – sleeping.

A few weeks back I finished Tim Kreider’s ‘We Learn Nothing’ and a review of that can be found here. The last essay is a simple 3 page one which he titles ‘Averted Vision’ where he talks about our quest for happiness. He makes a strong case for happiness being something that is also retrospective in nature. That is, we tend to look back on memories and some time spent doing certain things and note them as times when we were ‘happy’. Somehow the conclusion to jump to is that we can never be happy in the present, in the *now*. But, as he explains, if you are happy at this moment, you rarely are having an epiphany, looking at yourself from outside and saying ‘Hey, I am happy at this moment’. I guess, put simply, most moments when you are happy, you are too busy being happy to sit back and notice that you are happy. So, I guess, it is a state of mind where you are in the moment, not having any other worries or any other thoughts, just inside that moment, soaking in every experience and don’t want to be anywhere else.

One of the things this struck me was that it is so freakishly similar to the ‘Zone’, where you are in an activity and your body and mind are in some form of autopilot. Like when playing cricket and batting, you just know that you won’t get out, and no matter what the bowler dishes out, you seem to have an answer without thinking about it. Closer home, it is that feeling I sometimes experience when debugging a bug, zoning in, one step at a time, blindly following its path, not worrying what it could be, how it could be fixed, without thinking along lines that am blindly following it. That, in a way, is the crucial part. When you are in the zone, you never get the idea that you are in the zone. It is gone then. You are just in it and you realize it only in retrospect. In a way it is like instinct. You can’t trust your instincts consciously as the conscious mind is clearly not letting the ‘instinct’ do its thing.

Have also felt the line ‘Living every moment as if it’s your last’ a bit hollow. You just can’t. I guess in a way, if you are ‘living it’ you probably are not aware of it, and what’s the point if you don’t sit back later and savour those moments?

As I turn yet another year and feel pushed further and further from the age I actually feel like, maybe this should be my ideal – to worry less of consequences and try to have more moments of being in the moment, to try to do more of the simpler things that I enjoy more. Somewhere along the line, they were lost and seeking them out desperately might only be making things worse. I guess I can trust myself not to do anything I wouldn’t do.

Anyway, here’s to another number. I love Primes, but it’ll be a while before one comes along, and am really sure I don’t want it that soon either. Maybe that’s another thing, trying to look forward to something and then feeling disappointed about it not yielding what we expected it to. Oh well…

P.S: This blog also turns 8! Can you believe it?!

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