Everything passes. It has to. That's the beauty and tragedy of it.
I have recently had an epiphany of sorts. Well not really an “epiphany”, but more like a thought that has found its niche and refuses to be shaken off easily. I believe that everything in this universe revolves around human emotions. This has been the primary driving force for human beings to be the way they are, do what they do, shaping their personality and sensibilities since time immemorial.
Think about it – Why are there so many movies themed around say “romantic love” or “comic relief” or “thrills and chills” or whatever gets us human beings going? Why do so many books exist? What role does music play in our existence or subsistence? Why do we resort to partying and celebrating, marking occasions through festivities, following age old traditions, even those we do not fully comprehend or agree with? What is the need for sports and recreation in our lives? For that matter why are there wars and crime, even? Let me tell you. At the very base of all these things that mark our lives, is the very compulsion to feel good. To be happy, feel wanted or needed, attended to. Every activity we undertake from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep at night is driven by the need for self-gratification. Our emotions are the engines that drive our lives and our actions, merely the fuel.
We watch movies to escape reality for however brief a moment or get in touch with our feelings and understand ourselves better. The books we read or the kind of music we listen to resonates with our emotions and define us as people. While curling up on the couch with our favourite drink to watch a game helps us unwind, cheering for our favourite sports team gives an adrenaline rush akin to being on the field in person. We meet other people to find like-minded souls, bond with them, make friends who understand our feelings. The hunt for true love, to mate and marry is all about feeling needed, desired, escaping loneliness rather than just fulfilling a social obligation or for mere procreation. We maintain a social structure such as a family or a community to adhere to our basic sense of belonging. We steadfastly invest in relationships because we do not want to be left alone in this journey called life. All this and more, because we feel. And our feelings matter the most.
In fact, many of our basic bodily functions are also driven by feelings and emotions. Eating and drinking are more to do with feeling satiated than just addressing immediate hunger pangs or thirst. Even a hungry person can bear his hunger if he is successfully diverted with a compelling story. May be not for long, but possible, nonetheless. Same goes for sex. Sex is more to do with a need to satisfy one’s desire, to feel needed and loved than to do with procreation or extending one’s lineage. In some base cases such as rape or sex related crimes, it is more a means to cater to the perpetrator’s sense of power over the victim which is again the fuel for gratification. Sleep is the body’s demand for rest and tranquility and a lack of sleep can invariably make a person cranky. While all of these are basic needs for sustenance, human beings are more than ready to feel good at the end of the day, rather than merely exist just for existence’s sake.
War, crime, and all the negative aspects of human nature are also testimony to human being’s hunger for power – to feel supreme, to be prioritized, feared and looked up to by their fellow human beings. When some individual or entity decides to cater to their own sense of entitlement, selfishly prioritizing their needs and feelings over those of others, such emotions are bound to drive them to pillage and plunder and rape and kill and cause all kinds of havoc. Time and again we have seen how kings, dictators, political honchos, CEOs of business institutions and conglomerates and all those in a position to lead have been instrumental in shaping history, positively or negatively – all because of their presumed or validated sense of self-worth.
So what is the point to being a slave to our emotions at all times? I will not debate the good and bad of what is clearly a universal truth, and here to stay. But what I want to understand is am I just a sum total of my feelings? Is that all that I am meant to be – a mere house of emotions? May be there is more to life than just pandering to our emotions all the time.
If we are happy or ecstatic for some reason, even at the end of a hard, grueling, nerve-wracking day, it is possible to find the energy to do more. That’s the way we human beings are wired. The mind calls the shots and the body is just a tool that complies with its demands. A person, even a physical weak or diminutive person, when driven to uncontrollable fury or when pushed against the wall can delve into himself to find an inner strength or will-power to fight back and take on an outmatched opponent. When we are sad and have lost control of our emotional state of being, everything can appear bleak. When we are happy or when we are in a state of balance and harmony with our feelings, the world is beautiful, our purpose in life clearer and life is worth living. They key is to be contented. But how? Contentment is more like a myth, or a child’s fairy tale.
The mind is without a doubt, the master here. When we learn to tame our mind, think objectively and fairly, our emotions can be controlled rather than we being controlled by them. Easier said than done, I know. But the very realization that we can is the first step towards self-control. Worth a try, isn’t it?