Hindsight has me consumed, lately. Life hits me by surprise on lousy days with memories of a past less jaded, and more vulnerable and receptive. It flashes memories of versions of me that thrived on intrigue, sensitivity, acknowledgment, and curiosity. Most of it made life unbearable, but made for valuable lessons for the future. But then, when you win some, you lose some too. Growing up has its consequences. It may help one see beyond the trivial, for the best or for the worst, acting like guillotine when it comes to guilt and misery. Sometimes getting old entails sacrificing every raging voice in and outside one’s head at the altar of collateral damage. Sadly, not all those voices are destructive. But it is fine, I guess.
“There is more of everything post thirty,” a wise 38-year-old told my 26-year-old whiny ass, a few years back. And with each passing day since I crossed over to the other side, more than a year ago, those words seem to ring clearer. The context of her statement is subjective, of course. It is different for different people, depending on what they invite and ignore in their life, based on their respective lessons and choices. But one thing that stands uncontested, at least in my observation, is the fact the ‘more’ here is not limited to happiness and liberation alone. It also extends to rehearsed (and perfected) numbness, discipline, doggedness, ignorance, and (wait for it!!!!) predictability. All of which takes ‘more’ effort to break, when we choose to – mostly during long weekends, planned vacations, and an existential crisis.
Shopping, drugs, alcohol, spirituality, exercise and expedition aside, one such monotony breaker happens to be art. Sometimes it is inspired by the above mentioned concoction. And sometimes it is an umbrella term that includes all the above mentioned afflictions. But largely, by its creation and inception, it goes beyond definition. It is usually explored by hands-on participation or by being a part of the audience. It is appreciated and dissed based on what it invokes in us – whether it makes us smile, helps us cope, acts as a cathartic crutch, disgusts us with its vapid and trite nature, or shows us the mirror helping us salvage and condone ourselves. Summing it up, art is a perfectly imperfect healer – a sage who is forgiven, until forbidden, its fluidity and ever-changing method, mode, form, and consistency.
It oozes from parts of our soul we didn’t know existed. It alters and awakens perspectives we didn’t know we had, it makes naysayers out of those who were once friends, it challenges beliefs and ideologies which are thought to be absolute. And sometimes, on harrowing days, when all seems sullen and the rain ruins our parade, a mysterious stranger with a guitar and a song strums some chords which, in spite of our numbness and sorrow, brings a smile to our face and pushes us to sing and swing along. Perhaps reassuring us that magic still exists, it goes beyond sense, words, explanation, inhibitions, reluctance, history, and geography. All it takes is gentle yes, a moment of selfless surrender, blinkers and muddy shoes removed outside.