Ravi Kunjwal believes Physics is Art. And Conference talks are performances. And poems are meant to be danced with. Ravi Kunjwal loves to talk. While not talking, he writes beautiful memoirs, travelogues and poetry in his blog.
I think words are the bane of human relationships. They let us pretend. They are instruments of deception. What is felt can only be understood by feeling, not by words. Words mislead. Sometimes they obscure the very thing they are trying to convey. The writer’s task, then, is to get to the feeling, albeit using words, in a way that departs minimally from the feeling itself. I feel a certain way about something that’s been bothering me, and I do not know if I can share this feeling with you, but in my ever-so-inadequate way I will try, and possibly deceive you no more than I can’t avoid.
The word is ‘belonging’. I fear I do not belong. What is more, I fear I am losing that longing to belong that underpins much of the human condition. I fear because I do not know what remains in the equation of life if belonging is taken out of it. I would like to think something still remains, albeit I can’t pin it down. Hence, my worry.
To belong, I think, is to have a context — a person, a place, or an identity — of which you feel a part, as opposed to everything else that you feel not so much a part of. To not belong, on the other hand, is to not have a special context unique to you, but rather to live within a multiplicity of contexts, none of which you feel you especially belong to more than the others. Is it even humanly possible to not belong, and not even feel the need for it? Is it meaningful? I do not know.
What I fear, perhaps, is the freedom and contextlessness of a life that does not belong. What can one do with a life like that? Yes, I think I am worried I will waste away if I do not belong. I am wasting away anyway, everyone is. To belong, or maybe just the longing to belong, keeps us from wasting away without hope. Perhaps I fear I will lose hope if I do not belong. Hope is what keeps us going after all, isn’t it?
There is, nonetheless, this other part of me that yearns for a life that does not long to belong. A life that is like the dance of a falling leaf that no longer belongs to the tree it came from, and which dances to the music of the winds and the call of gravity, and makes its final landing quietly.
One part of me fears not belonging, and the other yearns for it. I do not know which one is pretending.
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