Despondency

25

30/10/2013 by Siddiqui Fayesal

I think this is the first time I’m using this word. It’s a word that hit me when I read a fellow blogger’s post (you should know who you are). My spirits were low since morning and just before I fall asleep I read that.

It didn’t help.

I could try and pour my emotions into words and try hard to sound real intense (no matter how nonchalant) but I will not succeed. I’m not downplaying my ability, mind you, I’m just not in the right mind frame. Melancholy is seeping in through my pores. It’s like a well formed strategy. They attack and then run away. I can’t feel the pulse of my inactivity. I can’t manage to pinpoint the whys and the hows. The sadness congregates in my heart and decides it has no more reason for being there than pure self loath.

I usually start my day with a jog. Ok, not every day, but at least 3 times in a 6 day week (Sundays aren’t counted, right?) and set my alarm for 0545 hrs every night. Last night was a similar rendition like the night before. I set the alarm and tried falling asleep. Sleep was a little difficult. I had zoomed out of the world and looking at myself from light years away. I saw my insignificant life taking the chartered path since when I was born. Like, my fellow blogger, I, too, saw no reason for my existence. For that matter, I didn’t even see why SHOULDN’T I be existing. After all, if I simply “be” then I simply “am”. Right?

Apparently not.

They say that there are different universes existing side by side. They say that “time” by itself is not something that changes. It is us that move from one universe to another. So, as I float above myself and see me doing exactly those things that I wasn’t supposed to do and delving deeper into things that have nothing to do with my life I feel despondent. I feel a burning question in me asking, rather desperately, why am I stable? Static. Stoic. Why am I not moving in the right direction? Where is MY universe that was chartered for me? Why can’t I get up and go for that darn jog every morning?

Laziness? Lethargy? or, just sheer lack of conviction. I know it is the latter and I if I catch myself telling any different then I obviously am lying. The art of lying to ones own corporeal self is something that humans mastered long ago. They know exactly when to do that and have connived through ages and eons to collaborate with like humans and that is how words like Laziness and Lethargy emanated. These sorry excuses are nothing short of a regurgitation of the worse form of corroborativeness amongst the basest and vilest of us.

And see how well we do it.

I watch myself dress up with agony. I’m not fresh. I tell myself that it’s because I didn’t get my coffee. I’m lying again. I grit my teeth when mom tells me that breakfast is muesli. I tell myself that it’s because I don’t like it. Truth is that I’ve never even tasted the thing! I live through the day pretending to work while doing nothing. Even when I know that if, and when, I DO work, the day passes by and I don’t even realise when the 11 hours are over.

In spite of this I don’t work.

The day is wasted and the worst part was that I was aware of the waste every single minute. I knew exactly what I was doing to my detriment. Yet, I did it.

A day in the life of Siddiqui; just wasted like it was worth nothing.

Perhaps, I will live it tomorrow. Perhaps, I will get another chance tomorrow.

Siddiqui F.
(30.10.2013)

25 thoughts on “Despondency

  1. This post reminds me of Viktor Frankl’s theory of existential void. Man is in constant search for meaning. Finding meaning to our everyday existence. When that search is frustrated, he experiences existential void. A sense of desperation. That is where, sometimes, creativity comes from. Maybe, this is your cue?

    • A sense of desperation?
      Perhaps, you’re right. God alone knows what is to happen with this void.

    • Rajiv says:

      Haven’t heard of Viktor and his theory – so thanks for feeding an already philosophical mind with more rich fodder for more abstract metaphysical explorations! Will check it out! ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ™‚

      Nonetheless, from what I know of the universe and through certain intuitive processes, IMO – there’s no universal objective “meaning”, there’s only individual subjective “meaning” – i.e. “meaning” is derived solely on an individual level by each person, based on a diverse range of factors – personal beliefs, social trends/attitudes, environment of upbringing and of course empirical life experiences.

      And so the trouble is when one is *aware* that “meaning” is being internally constructed by one’s own mind, and that this “meaning” has no universal objective basis, but only applicable to one’s own self, then this awareness can sometimes be somber and depressing, even leading to despondency. One’s perception of the world, one’s outlook of the world – becomes one’s reality. A placebo only works when you are unconscious of it being a placebo – that’s the problem. That in some sense, people who are *aware* of certain somber facts of human existence – need to somehow trick themselves to be less *aware*, decrease their inquisitive inquiry and blindly submit themselves more, like most people who just go through the motions of the day, and gossip and chit-chat about this or that.

  2. Rajiv says:

    At the end of the day, everything is a passage of time – be it utterly useless time-passing around (alone or with friends) or some productive endeavor you are setting your mind to. People engaging in either category of activity are ultimately creatures inhabiting a blip in a macro-snapshot of space-time continuum as it presently is. In simple terms, we are all floating on, some more than others, and some unfortunately are consciously and cognitively aware of this “despondent” fact. Inquisitiveness kills the spirit, submission seems to paradoxically sustain it.

    • True.

      But that thing about inquisitiveness killing the spirit is true in only a narrow sense. Perhaps you meant it in light of the essay.

      In almost every other case it is more of a liberating factor. But, yes, I agree, it does kill it when there is no meaning to be found!

      • Rajiv says:

        Yep I meant it in context of this post and in context of broader existential inquiry. In that sense, inquisitiveness proves to be futile and soul-killing – not that humans can help it. A direct consequence of higher cognitive consciousness is the need, desire and urgent imperative to keep asking the “WHY” question. But eventually, like I said, submission to life’s mundane routines and resigning oneself from finding unknowable questions and answers, thus killing the inquisitive nature – somehow paradoxically sustains the soul. Ignorance is indeed bliss. Don’t worry, I have yet to master this art of suppressing my own “WHY”, “WHAT’s the point” kind of questioning ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ™‚

        Obviously technical or mathematical or artistic or creative inquisitiveness is never a bad thing, leading one to breakthroughs in those respective domains. And so yes, in these domains, it is indeed a liberating experience, leading one to greater realms of knowledge and creativity.

    • Aamil says:

      //Inquisitiveness kills the spirit, submission seems to paradoxically sustain it.//

      Absolutely!

  3. Aamil says:

    ‘chartered path’

    Was that an intended pun? Or was it the result of your fat fingers? ๐Ÿ˜›

    Nevertheless, existential crisis is far too familiar to me. I keep getting in and out of it and I think that it is a good sign. It shows that you think about things that you. At least you are aware that something is wrong and want to change it. That is half the battle right there.

    • I hope you’re right. Some might say that we (the ones who do) “waste” our times and that we should “chill”!

      ๐Ÿ˜

    • Rajiv says:

      Existentialism also a product of higher cognitive functioning to be inquisitive, to constantly question and ponder all manner of things, including the most fundamental question – the WHY?! And of course the other – the WHO?! (as in who am I?)

      There’s also a quote by Epicurus which says:
      “The flesh endures the storms of the present. The mind on the other hand, endures those of the past and the future”

      Animals don’t do this. They might feel some primitive level of physical or even some basal level of emotional pain, but they do that purely in *this* moment. Only humans have the ability to perceive layers of nuanced pleasure, pain and sensation – as a function of not only the present moment, but also significantly of their past experiences and their projection of what future experiences might have in store for them.

      Animals also aren’t capable of complex personal identity, or complex nuanced emotions, or higher cognitive functioning – thus of course being denied the anxieties, and restless inquisitiveness that comes along with such higher levels of consciousness.

      Finally there’s also a sociological and uniquely human element to it – only humans have the capacity to feel “worthlessness” or “existentialism” because they understand that subtracting themselves from the equation of the world’s current state will not in any jeopardize the existence of the species as a collective whole, neither would it affect the world in any tangible way, save for perhaps a few grieving loved ones. Add to this the fact that, unlike humans, humans also cognitively understand our place in the scheme of things, and are able to comprehend in awe and wonder the scale, complexity and scope of the Universe/World. Meaning humans are acutely aware of not only their own individual dispensable nature, but perhaps also recognize the dispensable nature of their own species as a collective whole. Animals benefit from the lack of such humbling awareness.

      Apologies for the long comment – I think I accidentally seeded an idea for a potential blog post here! ๐Ÿ˜› … Watch my blog for more elaboration on these points in the future! ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Aamil says:

        //I think I accidentally seeded an idea for a potential blog post here!//

        I was going to suggest exactly that ๐Ÿ™‚

        I agree with what you have said. However, I am not sure if animal don’t have the capacity to experience and ponder. As per my understanding, I think that any being that has any memory must be able to retrieve and think about it and that must affect it. It is difficult to imagine how animals might experience their past and how they feel about their place in the scheme of the universe, but I don’t think that it is entirely impossible for them to do that.

        Often pets have expressed emotions of joy on being acknowledged and sorrow on being neglected. I feel that they must have a sense of worth that makes them to act that way.

        What do you say?

        • I’m inclined to accept Aamil’s POV. Makes me feel better about them…

        • Rajiv says:

          Which is what I said – that they definitely feel a great amount of physical sensation (pleasure, pain), and probably feel a certain primitive level of emotional and psychological sensation (pleasure, pain) – especially perhaps being profoundly aware of the loss of a loved one or a son or an elder member of the herd or whatever.

          But (and obviously no one can have definite proof on crow or sparrow consciousness, but it’s a good intuitive guess), they are not sentient and cognizant of their own dispensable nature at the individual level, as well as the dispensable nature of their species as a collective whole. They aren’t sentient or cognizant of the scale, complexity and scope of the world, or do not have the humbling knowledge of their own insignificance or littleness in the scheme of things. And that they in all likelihood, aren’t able of the complex nuanced layers of sensation that humans are capable of – when we read a melancholic poem or an inspirational speech, or cringe at goof-ups, or get goosebumps at bizarre paranormal tales, or tear-up at tales of heroism, or be livid at tales of injustice. In fact in all likelihood, morality, justice and associated complex ontological notions aren’t in the realm of animal understanding at all.

          And about memory, well again that’s a blind spot – but assuming they do have some capacity for memory, perhaps they are vaguely aware of their past, but struggle to make any conscious sense of it. The ability to retain events in memory is different from the ability to pore over them, analyze them and make sense of them – through emotions such as nostalgia, and/or regret. And of course, humans not only dwell in the past, but often are consumed by anxieties or yearning for the future. This aspect too I doubt is present in animals, but obviously all of this is subject to speculation or a best-intuitive-guess.

          I guess I need to become a crow in order to write about crow consciousness! ๐Ÿ˜› … But to me as a human, they do little more than kaaw kaaw

          • Aamil says:

            I agree with you 100%. There is a difference in the way humans and other animals experience the world around them.

            Slightly off-topic now.

            “You will never be able to experience it unless you believe in it.”

            This is the classic reply that I have received from believers of mumbo-jumbo when I have confronted them about it. When cornered by logically sound and well constructed argument, this is where they take refuge, and it really makes me cringe.

            Seeing how you have expressed an inability to go further into the psyche of animals because you aren’t one, it makes me wonder if we will ever be able to understand and explain ‘experiences’ as we can never experience the same thing as another. However close our joys and sorrows may be, they are underlined with a trace of our own individuality.

            It only takes a naysayer to use the aforementioned argument and being the humble scientific skeptics that we are, we have to submit to their claim. However sound our theories or hypotheses may be, we have to relegate them to the status of mere conjectures because of this ontological impossibility.

            That which we are, we will always be. That which we aren’t, we can’t. Will this be the undoing of metaphysics? Is this why philosophy has been such an equivocal subject?

            • Rajiv says:

              Indeed. Many of the questions philosophy and metaphysics raises and seeks to answer are probably unanswerable!

              Anyways I read this pretty interesting article on a new dimension of brain and consciousness research (which incidentally also ties in with all our musings on human vs animal consciousness) … http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/11/christof-koch-panpsychism-consciousness/

              While the research is in its nascent stages and while any theory on consciousness cant escape the fact that the term is hard to define to begin with, I still think its a pretty neat hypothesis.

              Siddiqui, I am sure you will also find it a fascinating read.

        • Rajiv says:

          Also the sense of worth point you made – that’s an interesting point, one which is tougher to argue! So well played sir. But I will try nonetheless ๐Ÿ˜›

          Except to say that let’s say they have a sense of self-worth. But the question is, are they conscious of the abstract ideas of “self-worth” and “possession” of something – and are they then able to put 2 & 2 together, linking two independent abstract ideas and state what it means to “possess” this “self-worth”. It seems to me questions such as this eludes most humans, most of the times. And the wisest of philosophers have only found partial theories to explain some of these metaphysical ontological problems. But with whatever partial answers we do have, we are firstly aware of such higher abstract notions, and secondly possess a battery of logical, rational and intuitive reasoning far superior to animals, to work our way through answering a great deal of it. So if animals do possess “self-worth” (which might very well be the case in some primitive form at least), they do so without being “conscious” of it, and without understanding its abstract roots.

          Or perhaps maybe just maybe – they have all these abilities and much more. But what they lack is the ergonomics of human hands, and the harmonic richness and acoustic design of the human voice-box to produce speech and writing, to commmunicate all their existential ruminations and thoughts on epistemology to us all! ๐Ÿ˜› … Meaning a variation of Locked-In syndrome (full higher cognitive functioning with full consciousness, including receiving and decoding sensations, perceiving the outside world, etc. – but absolute lack of any communication or any way to *respond* to the outside world) … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locked-in_syndrome

          PS: Apologies Siddiqui – this thread has now been hijacked from Despondency to Abstract Metaphysics, and if you became even more Despondent, then I am sorry! ๐Ÿ˜›

  4. Tame SheWolf says:

    I made you sad. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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