Absurdism, Road Trips, Parenting Blogs

Whenever I reread what I’ve written, I notice the writing patterns I adopt. The tone ranges from neutral to introspective, the themes range from the didactic ideological to self-reflection. Sometimes I mildly rant and rile but come back to a point of stability.

I like the tone.

I also cannot say that I do not like what I write. I write so that I can be decoded in a way that I want to be decoded by passersby. In a crowded world, this digital space, along with the circular and repetitive posts, is a reassuring reminder of my conscious meaning-making.

That when I let go of my identity and wants, the simpler life becomes has been apparent to me for a long time now. That is a recurring theme in my writing – that of deconstructing feelings, meanings and relations. Two decades back, when I started writing, I was unsure if deconstruction was a fruitful exercise. Sometime later I started reconstructing those that I had dismantled. I started putting everything back together with the only tenet that what I construct should be understandable to me. I ended up reconstructing only a tiny portion of the components.

This exercise gave me peace and clarity.

Maybe it is this constant micro-rearranging and rationalization of my time and actions that invalidates a comprehensive and dramatic recap of my experiences. The closest approximation of my outlook towards life is how Camus describes Absurdism. Since I do not believe in higher powers, lower powers, or pre-destinies, every experience is collected and undergone for its own sake. I do not kid myself that they can all be herded into a story that is not of my making.

In this vastly liberating world bounded only by my memory of how I thought and acted in situations, there are only consequences. There are no judgments nor morals. I am good on a whim, or fearful on an equal whim. Motivational talks, curated excursions, and other such assembled experiences, have lost their effect and meaning, freeing up time and energy and allowing me to breathe to gaze peacefully at what I can only imagine as a mental equivalent of an African Savanna sunset.

This admission of clarity I hesitate to call detachment because detachment seems to be hypocritically ascetic in its supercilious existence where there seems to be nothing to live for and yet one continues to live without ending their lives. I live to collect the experiences that my absurd existence allows me to.

Every single walk, every single breath, every action, and thought is a coupon code that I exhaust as I move towards non-existence.

Isn’t context what imputes meaning to actions, sights, life?

Last week I visited the Chidambaram temple. After driving through lush green rice fields in Kanchipuram in the early morning fog, we arrived at the temple. There were groups of pilgrims piously praying to Shiva. There was a temple Shastri selling prasadam and offerings – a lamp, a laddoo, an adhirasam. There were intricate myths carved onto the stones, probably matched only by the web of intrigues of human lives intertwined in the lands over which the temple’s overseers ruled.

A visit to the seashore temple at Mahabalipuram had the same muted effect on me. The passion, the strategies of the builders, all moved me, but those were borrowed emotions. Did I drive so far for this? The motorized drive on tarred roads somehow struck me as incongruous to the state of mind that I was trying to get into when admiring these historic structures. Or should I be viewing this as a time capsule, memories of our time together, where Neha and I traveled together, relying on each other’s linguistics to cross state boundaries created recently, to go see distant sights that have witnessed many bitterly fought and forgotten previous boundaries? Surely we will always have this journey to come back to in times of repose later. Maybe we shall fondly remember foggy state highways lined with tamarind trees, or the blurry rhesus macaques squatting by the side of the road waiting for titbits from passing vehicles. Is this love? Or maybe, it will have transformed into love then, at that age?

For now I can only extract meaning from these trips when viewed from my reconstructed views. The destination left me dissatisfyingly unmoved.

Today we took Mira to a nearby playschool. We wanted to see how she would react to being with other kids. Mira is 18 months and though she does not speak we decided she was ready to be introduced to the world. She was curiously wandering the halls of the school, peeping into classrooms, sliding down dusty slides, and talking gibberish in her excitement of a new surrounding.

I had passed by this noisy establishment a hundred times. What was it that then made this visit more meaningful than the one that I made to the centuries-old temple? Why did scouring the drab building for exciting things to point to Mira make me feel alive? In this absurd life, my personal context dictates my relationship to the world. With the two-locus points of wife and kid, I touch the outside.

I am convinced that a million other adults and children experience life this way. Parenting blogs prove that many adults view life through their children’s eyes.

I recently read through a slew of blogs by Indian parents. They nauseated me. They made me fear, once again, that I would also turn into an asexual, cognitively dissonant adult whose fears and admonitions of the real world will make me blind to my life and faults. Is it propriety that shepherds parents’ self-expression into this blandness? Why do they seek consensus and status quo? Do they not ever write about how much they arch their backs when taken from behind or what they think of about going down on strangers?

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