The hassle of finding happiness
In my mid-sixties now, I can claim to have seen the four generations starting with that of my parents, born before independence. Few would make it to college and living simply and frugally was the order of the day. Saving was seen as a virtue and Jo bachaya so kamaya (whatever is saved is indeed earned) was the wisdom that ruled mindsets. Living within one’s means was appreciated as a sign of efficiency and control. Most people took life as a matter of fate and showed great sense of humor even in the oddest of situations. They also had a high poetic sensitivity to life and nature.
Then came people born after independence and till the start of the Green Revolution, or the end of the famine years, whatever we chose to call it. My siblings and I belong to that generation. Most of my friends from my university days and later, my colleagues belong to this generation. They, I included, carried a streak of idealism. A lot of dreams got added into the reality-rooted mindset of my parents’ generation. Elders perceived the dreams of the young generation as heartache and worried themselves with the fanaticism in the air of those days. My father once told me, “It is important that a man dreams, but it is perhaps more important that he can laugh at his own dreams.”
Then came our children’s generation – born in the 1990s. They retrieved humor from their grandparents and created their own fantasies out of the dreams of our generation. They used their common sense to dilute all traditions and reduced them into a common problem of the pursuit of a happy human life. They characteristically refused to think too hard or to believe in any single idea or faith or school of philosophy wholeheartedly. The arrival of the Internet further fueled their fantasies and whatever little faith in the old we were trying to pass on to them was shrugged off. My son told me once, “I call no man wise until he has made progress from the wisdom of knowledge to the wisdom of foolishness.”
Finally, the millennials, people born in the 21st century, most of whom are in college, abandoned their villages and are struggling in the cities, trying hands-on neo-professions like delivery of products purchased online. They are biting reality better than their earlier three generations. They are not sandwiched between heaven and earth, idealism and realism, and lofty thoughts and the baser passions. They take life with all that it brings. They have no wish to start families and build homes. They are the New Age nomads. They do not know when to laugh, or what to laugh at. For them, the thirst for knowledge and the thirst for water are same. They eat Chinese food, drink beer and survive on credit cards.
Since 2014, we are talking about New India. I even wrote a blog recently on what is new about New India, leaving out an important feature – the growing up of millennials. Man is made of flesh and spirit both, and it should be civilization’s business to see that the mind and the body live harmoniously together, that there be a reconciliation between the two. Development is not an online product. Life is not like a shooting duel or a boxing match but a track and field competition. The days of a table d’hôte, called thali meal in India are over. Now is the time of à la carte where not only does one choose what to eat but also worries about the next person ordering something better than one has.
Our parents gave birth to us and we gave birth to our children. What else have we done? Somehow survived, managed, adjusted our lives, realized some dreams, and passed on the unfinished ones to our children in the hope that they shall achieve what we couldn’t, thus contributing their bit to our happiness, largely as a repayment for all that we have done for them. Great expectation, isn’t it?
The best that we can hope for in this life is that we shall not have children and grandchildren of whom we need be ashamed of. Only the development of our life to bring it into harmony with our instincts can save us. Happiness is largely a matter of finding one’s life work, the work that one loves, and doing it to the best of one’s ability without the expectation of appreciation or the sorrow of criticism. However, this in itself is the biggest challenge in the quest for the elusive treasure of happiness.
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