Notes to myself

Life is not a liability, it is a gift

I have watched many movies but a few of them leave a lasting after taste. They make me dig deep into my idea of what it means to be alive and part of the human experience. I watched not one but 2 such movies recently – Karappudurai (K.D.) and C/o Kancherapalam

Movies like these make me appreciate the mundane and uneventful part of this human experience, the little moments, the passing of days, regular sights and sounds. Whereas movies always try to be larger than life, cherry picking dramatic moments from character’s lives and colouring them with cinematic flourish, these movies always make the opposite choices in a defying manner to take away that grandeur, showing us the slow burning and underwhelming moments that inhabit most of our days. They might not be shot in such a way (imagine a movie going on for years just because the director didn’t want it to be any different from real life, I’m sure some art house movies might be present in this category) but something magical happens, especially when directors make choices like casting non-actors and working with nondescript villages which are usually hidden away from reaching our big screens.

I feel there is an abundance of innocence and honesty in the moments captured in these spaces and that’s what breaks these movies in for me. I realise that a part of what induces existentialism in my life is the tension of wanting my life to be a certain way and then have to live it in ways that may never lead to those ideals. And a steady diet of social media and these larger than life movies make that ideal far less achievable given the “cards” I’ve been dealt in this life. I can live that life only in imagination and once I’ve achieved that satisfaction I stop seeing the point in wanting to live in my real life.

But movies like these (along with decisions like choosing to quit social media and generally slowing down) are making me feel grounded. I don’t have to live life but I get to. And if I think of the compounding effect of my effort in anything – whether it is in my work or relationships I suddenly start feeling so grateful for every thing I have and even more so, how much I can keep doing in this fragile and temporary time and space and continue to keep feeling such moments of satisfaction. Unpredictability can be undesirable but can also be turned on it’s head with a certain gentle curiosity – what will happen next?

So when I wake up I don’t have to do things, no matter how rich or poor. On most days, when I have a supporting body and mind, I get to do things. What that means is that on some days I get to take a break, to enjoy a vacation, to write a book. But in a string of difficult days I get to find a job, or keep working to support my family, or nurse a loved one in need or help a colleague with their mental health. So many opportunities to explore this vast spectrum of feelings and meanings in one lifetime. So if I can think of life as an opportunity rather than a liability then even on my worst day, just feeling the breath in my body and a fire in my belly is enough motivation to get through the day. It is humbling reminder that I will only die once but every other day I will have lived.