Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thoughts on living wakefully

I just finished reading Diaz's book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and one sentence hit me with the force of a hard packed snowball: Nothing more exhilarating (he wrote) than saving yourself by the simple act of waking- Junot Diaz

Which reminded me of a song I once listened to on repeat replete with existential angst: If I die before I learn to speak Can money pay for all the days I lived awake but half asleep?

Which prompted me to click on a link I bookmarked months ago about pursuing our dreams: ...we put our heads down and race from spot A to spot B. As a consequence, we give ourselves little or no time to think about whether we are doing the kind of work we should be doing... we guide our career based on an assumption rather than on a conscious decision. And, with at least one study finding that over half of all Americans now daydream at work about doing something else, it's clear that those assumptions are often horribly wrong.

Someone dear to me said not too long ago, I am a robot. To which I laughed. To which they responded, a grim expression, No really, I am a robot. I go to work. I go to school. I come home, I eat. I work out, I sleep. I am a robot on auto-pilot. He wasnt complaining. Just making a statement of fact.

Poor kid, I thought, except when I considered it: between the two of us, who is more aware? Sure his self-awareness is a sad one, but isn't it better to be aware of the truth, even if harsh, rather than living with false rosy fantasies?

I've been considering the trajectory of my life but in considering where I want to be I must understand where I am. Essentially, understanding who I am. Unfortunately I'm not of age to backpack the fields of Europe as I find myself. But perhaps, through blogging some light, however dim or bright, will be shed.

“To understand the heart and mind of a person, look not at what he has already achieved, but at what he aspires to.” - Khalil Gibran

12 comments:

shaz said...

i felt like a robot for a long time - somehow i feel like it takes the one event that totally rocks our entire being to help us really find the path we need to be on, to help us really "live" and not just "autopilot". and if you can find that out without the whole being-rocked part, then even better. altho, i know tests are always ever-present.

Anonymous said...

"I am a robot. I go to work. I go to school. I come home, I eat. I work out, I sleep. I am a robot on auto-pilot."

I do get this kind of feeling lately. The only thing which convinces me otherwise is "Adabi Mehfi" or "Punjabi Bethak". I never thought about this when you were young. I kind of attribute it to the materialism. A strong belief probably would help.

Aisha said...

Shaz- that's true, sometimes it takes a shock to the system to "wake up". Personally I feel awake, just trying to figure it out after I am awake :)

Abu Ji- thanks for the comment :) I don't know if materialism is the sole reason for the daze, or if its just the lure of routine which can sometimes lull us into a daze as well.

Tee said...

I didn't get to do the backpack through Europe or the peace corp thing that I wanted to do, but I'm not counting myself out yet. Maybe when we're retired. LOL. It won't matter that we're old and brittle. By then we'll have jet packs. We can form a little group and go together to get a discount, okay? ;)

Seriously, really touching post. I love the quotes.

Aisha said...

Thanks Tee, I'm psyched about these jet packs!

sadeya said...

Hey, that's a wonderful blog - on one hand standing back objectively I can say that once you have some experience and specialization in your career, your options are just so numerous. you can travel the world even in your pro bono time doing all sorts of stuff. you can be a comedian like azhar usman. you can teach or start a non-profit. For me its not quite as simple but maybe in a few years it will be similar if I could see it objectively.

On the other hand, we are robots aren't we??? It is so sad!

pilgrimchick said...

I think we all feel like this at times. In fact, sometimes we feel like this when we are working towards a greater goal. There are times in our lives when the steps we have to take to get to where we may consciously be heading aren't short-term or quick-fire decisions. They may take months or years. The challenge there is not to get lost in the resulting monotony--to remind oneself that this is a step, and to be ready to make the next one when the time comes.

Aisha said...

Sadeya, thanks and well said though its difficult in ones own shoes to see things objectively and I speak of myself before anyone else!

Pilgrimchick- there was a beautiful line by walt whitman that says "some people kill time during the day not realizing they are injuring their eternity." (or something like that). I think that is the danger of roboticncess, but at the same time, yes, to some degree we all fall into this, the key I believe is to recognize it and try to strive to rise above its dull lull that lures us into a wakeful slumber.

Bee Amma said...

i just bought the book yesterday, is it any good?

Aisha said...

Oscar Wao? It's okay. It's really harsh and gritty and written in a very unconventional way.... I gave it a 3/5.

raniyas said...

Thought-provoking post, really great. And is that really your dad? He comes to your blog? I think this is incredibly cute and I can just say you are very, very lucky to have a dad who takes so much interest in your life, it brings tears to my eyes thinking about how it is with me, that my dad and me never got along and still don't and he takes zilch interest in my life. So, consider yourself blessed!

Aisha said...

Raniyas, yes my dad reads my blog from time to time, when I started blogging nearly five years back he was my only reader :) I'm sorry to hear that your father is not close with you, I pray that insh'allah some day you can be brought closer together.

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