“From “see you soon” to “stay safe”.
Finding permanence in pandemic.
Why world needs a physician philosopher now?
Trepidations and time!
Every quarantined person has an opinion on public health and may be rightly so, but world needs opinion of a career physician who is on other side on philosophy of life, death and more aptly our times.
In times like this, anxiety is more about loss of our present than insecurities of future. We all are grieving, and feel like have lost something, our freedom, future and identity as a society. We never think of life as an ending endeavor. But life is ending every moment we live. We are mortal at birth. In east we believe death is an ultimate truth. We always think and have been taught we should find solace in future and believe it to be infinite. ‘Time will heal all wounds’. They said. That is cognitively perplexing. How can you be so sure and naive to hope and therefore plan for unknowns? Times like this teach us value of being mundane. Holding hands and looking in eyes have always been there, but never so fulfilling. Joy of now is only beginning to supersede hope of future. One of metaphysical question at core of human identity is what is meaning of life ? But I think meaning of life is nothing but living itself. Let’s say you are cutting onion and thinking about meaning of life. It is totally absurd, if you are not finding meaning in cutting onions than you will never get meaning of life. Meaning is life is cutting an onion. And layers of it and be aware of it. Permanence is an illusion in which we have taken solace without realizing universe is born fluid.
Time is also story of our life, our beliefs and our gods. It is our presumption, hope and our odds. If not than we suddenly have everything stacked against us. Without time we have to reinvent our social contexts. We were never wired to expect longevity of our times. We were supposed to die falling of cliff in our 30s while hunting for a beast in African Savanah. Now we are thinking of raising our retirement age and 75th birthday. It is always about promise of future without realizing enigma of it. Our Relationships are always cluttered as we play it like game theory. We even fondle give and take with our kids, a psychological warfare. We are constantly trying to trade our life for time and than fooled that time is not for sale. We think that we have indefinite time to reflect on our grievances. May be that is why humble gratitude is foundation to any happiness.
Our life, our insurances and our insecurities are always based on premise of permanence as if we own time.
Until we don’t. Than our instances evaporates. Our story looses meaning. We never used to live life like that. We suppose to live and die. And find meaning in between. Now we imply that on unknown forever future. We are burdening our future with esoteric hope. Future which never exists. Zen belief richly and rightly is about living life without future. That is awareness, that is meditation!! Soul has no past or future. Only permanence.
One of most fortunate part of my work is talk to dying patients. I am a critical care physician. Life becomes most humble when it is futile. At death we always complain about time we never had. When you have last look in person’s eyes it unravels time. Unraveling time is nothing short of superpower. It is past looking into future. Kind of time travel. Controlling time is our eugenics. Humanity always had fought with time. Was time meant to be a dimension we imagined to hide our own insecurities about present? We never could live life without time even though in reality time could be just hypothetical idea. We are quarantined by our own story. Was time merely a feeling we created to justify our own longing?
Buddhists always believe you can live a life in a moment. Life always meant to be only a moment long. We stretched those moments out of our emotional incompetencies. Thinned moments coupled with humanities perennial hope can recreate that magic, and our belief in ‘see you soon’. At end of time it is hope, as we have been told.
‘See you soon’ always have implied our incompleteness. It is our inadequacy to accept unfinished story as a reality. We always thought we will have time to see everyone soon and again. Until COVID-19 we had infinite time and future. There was time to see everyone and everything again and soon. And death now is so real and proximate. Death is story of new wonder. COVID-19 made us realised reality of life. ‘See you soon’ made us realize we need to stay alive far enough to see them soon.! Irony of our impermanence.
Frailty or our own irrelevancy should make us realize time and more so of an idea we created as a time can not be subordinated.
So we live on, we wish to see loved one soon. And now we realize our safety, is an idea bigger than dimension of time we created. Events can not happen in future without observer. So staying safe matters. Matters in wars and pandemics. As we live through twenty first century, we will sure to witness more of life’s insecurities, artificial and environmental. That is meaning of life. Unplanned predictability. Life’s impermanence is what we have to realize as our undeniable truth. Idea is just to realize that in presence is our destiny. Hope COVID-19 gives us strength to acknowledge our own frailty. We are more realistic when we are frail. We should wish what we meant by staying safe does not imply our own inability to live in presence. We hope we all realize we live once and death is something we will never be able to deny. There is no life after. We all should hope we “stay safe”. !! We need to prioritize our moment. I am still looking for a dying man who wished he had more money. Time can not be bought at expense of hypothetical future which never exists. With every finitude of our perceptions we should hope to justify our own premise of permanence which is just now.