Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Musings from Autumn Shadows

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"We want every action of ours to have a meaning and purpose. We want the universe to be meaningful to us.  But the unmitigated truth is that there is no such meaning, no purpose in the universe." 
- Tomichan Matheikal, Autumn Shadows: Memoir

Dreaming about what purpose I hold in this universe used to be a favourite pastime for me. I would imagine myself out there in action, doing my bit of duty to this world I was born into. Except that I didn't know what that duty was. I always assumed I'd know it when I grew up. But as years went by and thoughts were recycled, it only seemed clearer that everything around me was unclear. There weren't any 'signs' directing me to my roads of meant-to-be. Because there was no such thing.

When Autumn Shadows presented those words to me, I fell in love with them. Wouldn't it seem like the world would lose its lustre once we know the truth? Once we know that it has no meaning? But wait, look at the beauty we create out of a meaningless existence. Look at the songs of love, the feelings of joy, the words of magic that make it all worth it. There is beauty in curiosity and the endless quest for the ultimate answer. There is beauty in mystery.

And maybe there is no such thing as destiny. It could be "nothing more than a human invention to justify personal weaknesses and failures", as the book said at a point. But don't we still like to romanticize our lives with it? Maybe deep down we all believe it's a sham. But it doesn't matter. What good will our lives be if we treat it with the insignificance it really stands for?    

Walking through the author's life, I was eager to learn his life lessons. Feeling lost among the people in his reality, he often found himself in characters of books. For years, he'd lived on in a seminary without feeling connected to it. It took quite a while for him to realize that he couldn't bond with the almighty.

I think it draws a parallel with many of our lives today - of the race we're always running without a second thought. How many of us can connect to the things we do? How many of us blindly follow our duties without completely indulging in them? Not putting our heart and soul into it, like they say? 

In his own career as a teacher, he had transitioned from being a listless professor to a favourite among the students with time. They were different environments to speak of, but I believe he found that connection eventually. 

But of all the things that Autumn Shadows speaks of, what I could connect with the most was his outlook on God. I have often shied away from professing my lack of belief, for fear of not being accepted. But it is not the fact about being a non-believer that I related with. It is the urge to let others know that this fact does not change who we are.

He narrates his struggle with the family once he decides to part with the church. He puts his foot down on it, to not associate with matters of the divine. I admire that resolve. As the story progresses, you realize how he is much like any other person trying to reform themselves, but just not in the name of god.

If you're a believer and I am not, it doesn't make me arrogant or narrow-sighted. It doesn't mean that I have no conscience or no ability to be kind or forgiving or any of the good traits you can think of. You and I are not that different. We think the same thoughts, have the same hopes of a better world, and wish the same thing about fate being kind to us. What is prayer but an intense thought channelled towards a point? It's just that you believe that a supreme power may listen to your thoughts while we don't believe so.

If these thoughts seem shallow, that view is what I'm trying to change. Because it is possible to be spiritual without having a relationship with God or a religion. But then again, spirituality is not in question here. It is just to convey that God plays no role in our lives, and that doesn't make us a bad person. 

As the story comes to a close, the author talks about his conversations with Jesus. This is where he admits to knowing that his 'Jesus' is nothing but his own self. It is interesting how he narrates it, sort of in a way that makes sense to anybody in the spectrum of belief. It is here where I saw that no matter where our beliefs stand, we're one and the same. It is all but a matter of perspective.

This has been one of those books that made me pause and ponder, as is the case with most of Tomichan Matheikal sir's writings. Any book we read reflects on us differently as we associate with it personally. And so, this is what Autumn Shadows has been to me. A thought-provoking read. 

You can get the ebook here.

P.S: My own E-Book 'An Ode to the Self' is available for free download at Blogchatter's website here.  

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