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Grappling with boredom

Julayi (telugu movie) released last year had an interesting premise and fantastic dialogues (trademark Trivikram style), though its retains all the commercial elements that are a norm in mass-entertainers.

As the plot unfolds we find that our intelligent hero doesn’t believe in hard work and in an effort to make a quick buck falls prey to a series of events eventually culminating in his sister’s kidnap and his father getting seriously injured. In the only emotional scene of the movie, the father recovering from his injuries in hospital explains the value of steady growth and hard work to his son. Few routine action sequences later “all ends well” and our hero, now wiser, is on the way to attend an interview for a salary he once considered a pittance.

Many of us, thanks to success-stories bombarded on us by media, think that our achieving our goals is simply a matter of charting a strategy and executing it. If only it were that easy – events as they say has its own way of unsettling calculations. Until we actually start the journey, we don’t realize the difficulties that are laid throughout the entire travel. What’s more frustrating is that some problems just don’t have solutions, they’re best endured.

But our problems aren’t confined to difficulties alone; in fact the greater challenge lies in taming the unbearable boredom during the journey. Problems are difficult to handle; but going through the mundane experiences of everyday life like commuting to and fro the office in endless traffic, swallowing pride for expediency, inability to go beyond one’s limited means and to fuel the frustration, finding with threatening frequency your acquaintances, lesser-gifted, ahead of you – these experiences are equally if not more taxing. The situation is exacerbated if it’s one’s sense of deservingness doesn’t square up with reality. (A universal feeling with varying degrees of intensity!)

Failures in life are seldom cinematic; they’re like weeds and dewdrops that barely unnerve us when we first see them but are potent enough to wreck the building over time.  We need to struggle more with everyday boredom that forms the reality across a long period than the result whose emotional impact barely stays longer than a week.

Ramgopal Varma, the filmmaker, observes that what he finds fascinating in criminals’ mindset is their refusal to let go a self-centric perspective of world. Most of us, by the time we approach 30 or so, are resigned to the fact that we matter little to the world and that we would by and large live a very mundane life far removed from our wonderland we dreamt in youth. Curiously, criminals are never reconciled to this ordinariness of life and still live and make tremendous efforts to live in their dreamland.

To an extent, the observation holds true for achievers in all fields. It takes an insane enthusiasm unmoved by constraints imposed by life, to become great achievers. But while we’re urged to “learn” from a handful of successful people, we reject the testimony of many more people whose efforts were identical to that of winners & yet never gained limelight. Bitterness then, happens to be the norm than exception.

The problem with movies is that it can highlight only the extreme situations well – how about a life drowned in mediocrity that has nothing remarkable (even negatively) to speak of? It’s the ordinariness of life that we experience most of the times, rather than extremes of either joy or sadness. Literature although more nuanced, still has its limitations. 

Time moves on showing little respect or even contempt for your sensibilities and aspirations. But as Will Durant points out even in the drudgery of life, there is space for pure pleasure – in knowing men both good and great, in discharging one’s duties responsibly, and in discovering the meaning of your life. And for this one must live with the fact that success usually takes time, sometimes long. And the reward– as the father’s character explains in Julayi – is small moments of joy in the very mundane life earned rightfully through hard work and choosing not to mortgage them for quick, unreliable and unstable growth.

After years of wandering and bewilderment, enduring many failed attempts to achieve success in material terms and in understanding life – I see both in a different light these days. Perhaps my age has something to do with it – for it’s a time when youth has lost its self-consciousness & has become a little sobered by experience.

It’s a time when dreams are no longer a figment of one’s imaginations but a calculated long term plan grounded in reality. But it’s also a time, when cynicism although injected in our blood, hasn’t poisoned the entire body yet.

Accept, nay love your destiny as Nietzsche says. ”My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.”


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