Sunday, February 15, 2015

Have to know, my Lord

"If I die what will be my reward?  
If I die what will be my reward? 
Have to know, I'd have to know my Lord
Have to know, have to know my Lord"
- Jesus Christ Superstar, Gethsemane

Sometimes there’s nothing that we wish more than someone with answers. Even Jesus Christ (Superstar) seemed to need God to answer his mother of all dilemmas- is it worth dying for? You wish there were a Geeta or a Bible that told you what to do. A blog, perhaps, in the age of information. A statistic pointing toward a probability. A wise man (rarely a woman in popular imagination, eh?) who will resolve it for you. It explains the timeless appeal of an authority with simple answers - from the Ten Commandments to Ten-Steps-To best sellers.

I remember reading somewhere that we believe that someone out there knows the answer to our problems- an expert, a veteran, a celebrity, a philosopher, a prime minister.. And we think it is only a matter of finding them. In fact we choose our leaders with the very belief that they know how to fix our problems. It is almost a theological belief - someone out there is a god of the problem that we are facing right now.

So it is almost an existential crisis when doubt strikes and you realise that there may be no such god. Not even a superhuman who can answer your questions with complete authority. At best you may find people who have had similar experiences. Even there, it is you who has to decide where similarities end and differences start to make all the difference. The particularities of your situation, your personality may well mean that whatever answers someone else is giving you will at best be directions, not destinations.

It is an overwhelming feeling to know that your fate is indeed in your own fallible hands. In your future, you see their laughing faces. You hear the “I told you so”s. But the worst is the whisper of your own self, reproaching the part of your self that made what can only in hindsight be seen as a bad decision. And it is hardest to live with a self-loathing self.

So you go into endless consultations with family, friends, colleagues. It is meant to be an exercise to benefit from collective experience. But somewhere amidst the main text lies the fine print that reads, “If I think and say and act as you do, I become one of you. So if I fail, you do too."

“The frightened individual seeks for somebody or something to tie his selfto; he cannot bear to be his own individual self any longer, and he tries frantically to get rid of it and to feel security again by the elimination of this burden: the self.”  
- Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom

I do not know what is the answer to this question of finding answers. I only know that at some point you jump off the cliff, hoping you would fly, knowing fully well that you may land flat on your face. It is the point where loops of thinking and rethinking seem more excruciating than taking the leap. Speaking of ‘excruciating’, if it is any solace, even Jesus Christ (Superstar) did not receive any answers from above, finally taking the veritable leap of faith, singing 

“..take me now, before I change my mind"

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