Childhood is a time in life that we all adore. A period when everything appears to be for and because of us. When we are surrounded by people who genuinely care about what we feel and what we do.
We look back on our early years and may find smiling faces. People rush to us when they see us crying, perhaps our parents gently stroking the soft hair on our delicate scalps. They term it “supernatural” when we give out the first smile and applause for days for our first step. Or perhaps in school, the best teacher encourages us when we find something difficult. They may see we are shy or afraid and are keen to encourage us at our early, tender age.
And then we grow up. And we have been inducted into the reality of the situation that no one cares. We exist in a world of vast indifference to almost everything we think, say or do.
We might be travelling on a train or stuck in traffic when a horrifying thought strikes our minds. That no one knows about us and our welfare is of no concern to them.
We are just a minute part of this universe, and equally minute in front of the tower and brightly flashing advertising hoardings. We may die and no one will even notice.
The experiences we had in our childhood are vastly different from the ones we are currently having. A part of our mind hesitates to accept the indifference of others at all, though we know how much the thought of “what others might think of us” affects us.
We think about how our voice cracked while singing in front of an audience or how unfit or out of shape our stomach is and that it will be an easy eye-catcher for people and a topic of embarrassment for us. At work, maybe our colleagues still think about the one silly thing we said last month.
We don’t have hard evidence of what people think about us or if they think of us at all, yet it seems like an emotional certainty.
It feels as if our foolish side is being observed all the time. We regard ourselves as departing from everything the world considers to be normal or acceptable.
The roots of this cause dive deep into ourself. If we really want to know what others may think of us, we really need to contemplate what we think about others.
As social beings, we see others just as others see us. Maybe they have a broken tooth, their hair looks slightly different, perhaps wrongly set, or they might talk funny because of their high-pitched voice. Observe how often we pay attention to the foolishness of other people.
Moreover, if we take our own minds as a guide in understanding how much others think of us, the answer is quite surprising and part saddening that what is going on in others’ minds is, in the politest way, not very much.
On the one hand, no one would notice when we die, and it’s also sure they might not have noticed your hair that is wrongly set or a broken tooth.
It is not inhuman not to notice. We do notice a friend in grief or a person who twisted his leg and fell down and we rush to help them.
It’s just as we grow up, there is a filter that is developed that is very essential for human growth as an individual. We need to spend most of our waking energy on navigating and doing justice to our own life.
If you take life as a whole in its full bloom into perspective, there is not much time left to notice the high-pitched voice or a foolish behaviour of a friend.
There is a liberation in the fact itself that we are being ignored and that no one really cares about what we do and what we do not. Life always comes with a touch of foolishness.
We may fail but we can say with utmost certainty that no one really gives a damn.