Jus?Talking: It?s another day, another year

There?s a saying that life is what happens while you?re busy making other plans Every year, as December draws to a close, and newspapers and TV channels brim over with New Year stories, a great sense of disquiet comes over me.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2006 16:32 IST

There’s a saying that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans
Every year, as December draws to a close, and newspapers and TV channels brim over with New Year stories, a great sense of disquiet comes over me.

In between thinking about the many places where it is possible to get drunk stone cold on December 31st, I find myself wondering, “Where did the year go?” Usually, I can find no satisfactory answer to that question. I have tried asking other people what they did with their lives all year. One girl said she got married.
A guy said he got a job. Someone else said she moved house. I didn’t do any of those things, and am left to contemplate where my time went. The truth is, a lot of it went in drinking coffee and having inane conversations.

Another significant chunk went in drinking beer and having even more inane conversations. The rest would have been spent at work, or sleeping, or both. None of it adds up to anything significant. Such is life. And it sure didn’t feel like a significant chunk of my life when it was going by.

It was just minutes and hours that spun into days … and years. It is now the better part of a lifetime. There is reason for disquiet here. Yet, I realise that I have not been unhappy. I quite enjoyed myself doing all the unimportant things I did. I don’t know if it should really count as time wasted.

There’s a saying that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. It’s the sum of all those little things the laughter, the glance, the gentle touch, moments of celebration, hours in the winter sun. The big things, often, are things you have no control over. Take for example the two biggest events of anyone’s life, birth and death. They are not in your hands to change.

I don’t know how much control one has over marriage, or getting a job; my guess is that those things are a mix of chance and effort. Who’s to say you won’t meet Prince Charming or Lady Luck tomorrow? The best way to spend one’s time of life, therefore, is probably with a bow to both chance and effort. A few New Year resolutions do help give one a sense of direction, but too earnest living, in my opinion, is not to be recommended. Do carry a compass for life, though.

The West is full of people who spend 30 or 40 years trying to figure out what they want to do in life. If they were happy and reconciled to bumming around that would be fine, but the sense of disquiet that afflicts me on birthdays and Decembers seems to afflict them on an everyday basis.

The human tendency is to feel satisfied with achievement. The greatest satisfaction seems to come from achievement of one’s full potential in any field of endeavour. That doesn’t come in a day or a month. It comes in a year or some years. And it comes quietly, and goes quietly; even fame and glory and love are so impermanent.

To quote the poet Derek Walcott on Endings: Things do not explode, they fail, they fade, as sunlight fades from the flesh, as the foam drains quick in the sand, even love’s lightning flash has no thunderous end. it dies with the sound of flowers fading like the flesh…

First Published: Jan 07, 2006 16:25 IST