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Roller coaster of a life

In life, we have chosen our roller coasters and the roles we wish to play at home, work, and play. 

In life, we have chosen our roller coasters and the roles we wish to play at home, work, and play.  | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The dilemma of choosing between the outer and inner or the otherworldly and the material is the most crushing. In choosing one over the other, we often forgo the journey within and opt for the more practical and popular path, the road that everyone frequents.

The door leading within, being shut for years, weathers and frays at the edges and starts creaking. The hinges become weak and rusty. This decay can be interpreted in two ways — either the call of the forgotten path to remind us of the plethora of possibilities beyond it or an assertion of its claim on the remaining part of our life.

Past many years and many decisions, I have only been able to gather a vague but assuring idea that life is a roller coaster and the world is an amusement park. The choices we made started with the purchase of tickets. Tickets that are expensive and time-bound. Yet I bought them. Pulled in by the glamour, gilt, and gold, and the cacophony of wild noises, I stood beholding the majesty of the material and, in a blind stupor, followed the crowd to fix my place in the queue.

Like all queues, this one too moved slowly and painfully. I had the time and opportunity to turn back and run, but my feet were tied to the ground. Such is the training of the world school! Like the rest of the crowd, I assured myself that this was the norm and this is how it should be. Once the ticket purchase was made, my itinerary for the day was set. I had been waiting to get inside the amusement park all my life, saved for this adventure, and now I have the permit! What else is there to think of? I must find my spot in the queue, ready to be led into the park's sanctum sanctorum.

Once inside the enormous gates of the promised land, like all my brethren, I moved towards the most alluring and adventurous ride. It was also the most advertised one. Reassuring myself and relaxing my strained nerves that the roller coaster was tested and safe, I walked inside. I plead not guilty, sir! In my journey of life, I was trained to follow the herd.

The strangest part was that once people came out of the ride, they were jolted out of their cult and pushed into individual cells. All start blabbering about their unique experiences. From being the masses, we are transformed into several ‘I’s and ‘me’s.

In life, we have chosen our roller coasters and the roles we wish to play at home, work, and play. I, too, belong to that litter of educators with degrees and impractical dreams — those who tug along the baggage of worn-out unfashionable “morals” not knowing where to ditch them. The rest are swarms of doctors, broods of scientists, a bunch of engineers, throngs of entrepreneurs, and so on. The roller coasters we pile up in are the ones that promise thrill and value for money. All roller coasters are meant to give us a hell of an experience: the ups and downs, the twists and turns. But while we enter as mobs, we exit as individuals. Each of us has a unique story to narrate of our ride experience.

But then, again, the owners of the park and roller coasters wish to keep us away from the lure of the “self” and suppress all internal dialogues. A lot had been invested in designing this ride that is destined to dominate. So, we move on to the promising roller-coaster.

The ticket came at a great price, so I exhausted it. At the end of the day, I am spent, and so is the pass. But, the park cannot be subdued. It stands in full glory, readies itself for the long and winding queue the following day, and gives me a quick side glance. I turn away, gathering my sweat-ridden soul, and search for a dark and cool place to rest after a long day.

In my dream, I saw the other door — weathered, creaking, frayed at the edges. I went closer, looked around and stepped inside. The stillness calmed me. Nothing changed. The rides this time came free.

As F. Scott Fitzgerald says, "I was within and without. Simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life." The baggage, I finally ditched.

alka28jain@gmail.com


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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 12:21:14 am | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/roller-coaster-of-a-life/article65746815.ece