The Life

(This is part of a series of posts written in a story format. I will update this over time to include links to other related posts)

Life is a sequence of choices and coincidences. The choices, though, depends on the preparedness. Coincidences, as it says, are just coincidences which the person has no control over. Some of these choices and coincidences represent opportunity and recognizing an opportunity and making the right choice requires a lot of wisdom and experience. Knowing that everybody gets a chance and maybe even second or third chance requires a lot of missed opportunities and patience. After twenty-five years of searching for an answer to the question – ‘What is a big person?’ – He finally realized that there is no unversal answer. No one was universally a big person. Everyone was big or small relative to one’s vantage point both in space and time. A person might be a big person at some point in time, who later might become insignificant. Similarly, a person might be a big person in one place and he might be nobody in another.

There were even more important questions in his mind. What is life? A long slow march to death? What is the purpose of life? A powerful person’s life. A rich person’s life. A poor person’s life. King’s life. Queen’s life. Does it make any difference? Ultimately everyone dies and how a person plans to die greatly affects the way he lives. Though not many people even think about dying let alone think about how to die. He had a plan on how he wanted to die.

Little guy

(This is part of a series of posts written in a story format. I will update this over time to include links to other related posts)

This is the story of a little guy who wanted to be big when he grew up. He was very little and didn’t know what it meant to be big. But he reckoned someone must know because his father always told him to be a big person when he grew up and he just needed to find that guy. First he asked his friends. He actually wanted to ask his father. Unfortunately, his father was out to work that day and ended up asking his own friends. They didn’t know what ‘to be a big person’ meant. Then he asked his big sister and big brothers. His sister said, ‘when you are a big person, you can do whatever you want.’ That sounded good! His brother said, ‘big person has a lot of money’. Now, he was certain he wanted to be big. Right at that moment mom came in. ‘Mom might know?’ he thought. He ran over to her and asked, ‘Mom, what is a big person?’ She had just come back after working the whole day at the field. It took a while for her to figure out what he was asking. ‘A big person is one who knows a lot of things, who is not afraid, who works hard, studies hard.’ Now, he was completely confounded. He had thought he knew what a big person was and just wanted to confirm, but she gave a completely new definition. ‘I will wait till father comes back. He must know the definitive answer. He is the one who always talks about being a big person.’ he thought.

He went outside. The sun was more than half way down. There were vegetable patches close by and a small fruit garden little farther down the field. They had about two acres of land. He didn’t like playing in the field. There was still some time left before it got dark. He went to find his friends. Three of his friends were playing football on the school playground. By the time he came back home, it was dark already. Dinner was ready. After dinner, he went to ask his father. ‘Father, what is a big person?’ Mom heard and smiled. ‘What?’ his father asked. ‘What is a big person?’ he asked again.

Good book

Tyrion pisses off the edge of the world in George RR Martin’s mind. Daenerys walks into the fire to bring forth the dragons in George RR Martin’s mind. Frodo perseveres to take the ring to the Mount Doom in JRR Tolkein’s mind. Krishna convinces Arjun to fight in the battle in the Kurukshetra in Vyasa’s mind.

Great books are those that let the reader peek into the mind of the author and the author speaks to the reader through the characters like in a dream. There are many characters in a dream with their own rationales, emotions and abilities albeit they are all being inside the mind of the dreamer. A good book is like a dream. Each character lives its own life while being inside the author’s mind. They are all very different from each other while still being the same by virtue of being brought forth from the mind of the author.

Each character arrives at the moment in the story with its own history that defines its ethics, rationales and ambitions. At the same time, it also retains the capacity to change itself while living its life. More the author disappears and lets the characters speak for themselves, more the story becomes great. Any hint of the author imposing its will on these characters, and readers start shunning the book over time. A rule, which I first found in Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s book, that I use to choose a book worth reading is: older the book, worthier it is. The book that the readers over the years have kept on reading must have something worthy to offer. If a book has been read for thousands of years, that books is definitely worth reading. This means, all the scriptures and the original books of the major religions are definitely worth reading. They offer something eternal that have been proven useful in life centuries after centuries.

Just like in real life, there must not be any intrinsically good act or intrinsically bad act in a story. Every action should have a potential to be a good one or a bad one. When Frodo lets Gollum live, it is never obvious whether that is a good action or a bad one. Or when Arya frees Jaqen H’ghar, it is not obvious whether that is a good action or a bad one. And when Yudhishthir loses everything including Draupadi, it is also not obvious whether that was a bad action or a good. Only thing all these actions have in common are that they all have potential to be bad, good or both. It all depends on what section of life we look at. Life unfolds over a long stretch of space and time. And results of an action continue to reverberate throughout space and time and even after the death. All these characters act just like in real life rather than seeming to be guided by the author’s whims.

Growing and ageing

One of the questions that many people are trying to find an answer to is: What causes a living being to grow old? Can it be slowed, stopped or even reversed? This is a fascinating question and has occupied many for eons. Ageing has recently become an active field of research. We are spending so much time and energy studying such matters shows that we are afraid of dying since natural progression from growing-old is death. We are trying to slow or stop ageing means we are trying to delay or stop death. The answer to this question is being sought inside the body of the living organism. But I think it is not the internal mechanism that causes a living organism to age but rather the external environment as a whole. Just like a stone over time gets eroded until it longer exists, if growing happens as a result of the interaction with the environment, there cannot be a way to stop it without stopping the whole world which is obviously impossible. Anything that we ‘DO’ will just cause the world to keep going. The world is the totality of such interactions.

Good news though is that just like the stone, once it erodes, goes on to form another structure somewhere else; all of our constituent parts will also go on to form something else. Some combination of such structure will be conscious like animals. Some structures will be like a stone devoid of any feelings. And some structures will be the plants.

Each object has its own time. It grows in its own time. It dies in its own time. Human beings die in human time. Planets and galaxies die in their own time. Stones die in their own time. They are born in their own time as well. How are they born? Human beings are born out of their mother’s womb. Galaxies are born out of galactic womb. Stones and mountains and soil and water are all born out of the nature’s womb. Knowledge of creation is encoded in the nature which gets executed with its own rhythm.

Water flows downhill. It seeks ocean no matter what. Along the way, it fills holes, cuts through the stones and the earth, and keeps flowing until it reaches the ocean where it loses its own identity and becomes one. Along the way, it transforms the fields, provides nourishments to uncountable lives, and performs numerous other things. Similarly, stone is created out of minerals deep in the bowels of the earth and changes its forms throughout. Along the way, it provides habitat for numerous other living organisms, helps bring sparks, and affects many other changes. But here, if we look carefully, we can see that water and rock are also very similar to what the living organisms. They are created (born), go through a life and eventually die. But death here does not mean an end. It just means that one cycle ended. Water, minerals, and chemicals will continue through to the next cycle which may or may not be the same as the previous one. When such cycles continue ad infinitum, at some point it will come back to the original state whence it started from.

If you look carefully, water or stone or living organisms do not have any control over how their life cycle continues. Water flows downhill because it is in its nature. Stone disintegrates over time because it is in its nature. And any living organism will eventually die because it is in its nature. Any attempt to do otherwise will be like trying to stop the time itself.