September 12, 2012

Be a participant in life!

It is said that true joy in life is derived from being a participant rather than being just a spectator. We were created for participating in the process of life. Working for our living, creating the progress we are charting, growing our food crops, searching out the bounties in our hunting to keep us alive or keep us safe all require creativity that keeps our brain cells bristling. This was what nature intended. We were meant to be participants in the process of life. That which would keep us imbued with the desire to know and search for the meaning and purpose of our lives.

But with modernization, we are losing this inherent creative strength given by Providence and becoming mere spectators. What I mean here is that we are just onlookers without us being involved in the life we create. For example, the expanding proportion of time we spend watching television at home and movies in cinemas, chat on the phone or internet, or drive around in our cars or motor cycles for pleasure, and also including many others we can recount, is time used not in participating in life but in being mere spectators in life. No doubt, given our definition of development in our present moment of civilization, this is what makes sense to us, and the pleasure we derive from these experiences adds to our defined value quotient of our lives. This paradigm of modernization says that it is all about increasing the pleasures in our comfort and ease of living.

However, it’s good to be aware that such pleasure is only short-lived. We soon get tired of each new gadget and yearn for something different – that is the nature of pleasure. While we look forward each season for new gadgets or variations of the gadgets of the last season to sustain our pleasures (without which life would seem flat to us – and the television reminds us so in each of its commercials), the true beneficiaries of sustained joy would be the creators of these devices because they chose to be participants in life and not just spectators. Their engagement in the process of creativity gave them the discovery that was their joy, not the thought of dividends from a patent or royalties from the marketplace.  That is just what I want to convey. Creators don’t have selfishness in their minds, for insightfulness comes to minds that have space for it – those devoid of selfish thoughts. But spectatorship is driven by selfishness, because the objective here is always to derive pleasure from what is served to us – in what we may call a passive process. If we choose to be creators of our destiny, then we too will begin to see the silver linings of joy in our lives.

How can we change again to be creators? Our ancestors were creators because they had no idle time. They had to be vigilant every moment just to survive the dangers of our elements. Thus, their creativity was kept alive. Today, the story is totally different. While we do not want the primitive life of uncertainty, the certainly of our life cannot be taken for granted either – who knows when a “tsunami” in our lives may strike! We can, while enjoying the pleasures of our modernization, continue to engage the resources of our natural gift to be creative. And move from being indulgent – living for pleasure alone – to do something that will give us a more cogent connection with our being, through doing things that are creative. Learning a new language or attempt learning to play a musical instrument, write stories and poetry, make films, learn to cook local or international cuisine, experiment with trying out the skills of other professions, or begin painting are some of the things, not jut limited to these, we can begin to try. How much richer our society will then be! Even at the spiritual level, we can move to being participants rather than mere spectators. Our prayer, meditation, good thoughts or deeds is the vehicle, but being just a passenger may not be that useful as being the driver who is the true participant who will benefit from the true windfall. We need to move from the ritualizing to realizing. 

These are ways of participating in life. If you care to begin this process of engagement, you may find joy from these that you never thought was possible. Each of us in our childhood must have heard our parents say, “don’t waste your time, do something useful!” This is the calling of Providence for us all to be engaged in being a participant in life. That is where true joy resides. Indulging in just the pleasures will leave you feeling empty, and a fateful day will inevitably dawn on each one of us when we look back and say, what have I done with my life?

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