What’s so real?

Over the past few months, I have been investing some of my time trying to dissect the philosophy of my life. The sole aim of this investment has been to figure out the good and the bad, the fake and the real, and the fair and the unfair, and rejuvenate my views towards life to some extent. The complexity lies in the fact that all of these terms are relative to one another. The answers aren’t easy, and I’ll probably never get answers to all of these but this journey of exploration has led me to some interesting realizations.

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Talking about fairness, I liked the view that one of my friend’s husband had presented in his blog a while ago:

“So is the world a fair place? Of course not. Not even that, sometimes we cannot determine whether a situation is fair or not for the people subject to that situation. But more often than not, we can see through the blatant violations of fairness that are taking place.
So what can we take away from this?
We should not presume that we know the plight of the people facing a bad situation, for one. We hardly have the right to judge them for we do seldom see the complete picture. Also, do not let the little fairness we enjoy in this world fade away. If you would let it, you would come to regret it, much sooner than you could even dream.”

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I happened to watch some of the videos about “Romanticism” in one of my favorite youtube channels – School of Life. This pushed me further into my journey to distinguish between the real and the nominal, or say what’s natural and what’s man-made.

So what’s natural? What’s man-made? Well, you may go back to the basics of grade one and say everything that humans did not create is natural. No doubt, this meaning is very true. Trees, soil, sun, mountains, water, air – all of these are natural. And, the ones that humans created, beginning from the tiny staple pins to the large Egyptian pyramids, are artificial/man-made. But let’s dive into the humans and look for what came naturally (real) to us and what came through our learnings and experiences? This question fairly sounds easy but is not. Give it a thought – did we learn to eat or were we taught? Well, hunger is an emotion that comes naturally, but eating is taught. We are taught to cook, and our taste buds crave for stuffs based on what we eat or have eaten. Some of us learn to eat with hands, some with fork and knives, and some with spoon. This example probably made the answer easy- the only natural thing that is within us is “emotion”.

Let’s get back to the video about “Romanticism”, where Alain De Botton, the presenter, talks about how the concept of romanticism has defined love and relationship. He talks about the fact that romanticism is fairly a new concept to this world that originated towards the end of the eightieth century in Europe. So what does romanticism say? Romanticism has defined over almost everything and every context of the human mind. It defines the good, the bad, the humble, and the cruel.

Amongst a few of which I have explored through, the most interesting thing that Alain talks about is how romanticism has defined love and relationship that is in practice in today’s world. It has defined the way one feels when falling in love or the way couples behave with each other in their relationship. All the feelings, including the “butterflies in the stomach” or the “blush blush” moments you had in high-school when the person on the other side of the “one-sided love” complimented you, are all that romanticism has defined for us. We all learned to love people the way we have been taught to, or the way we’ve seen or experienced it at some point of our life.

kuch toh hua hai

Moreover, we have been fueled with the romantic ideas of love through movies, their stories, and their songs. Remember the song “Kuch to hua hai” from the movie Kal Ho Na Ho? Well, that “Kuch to hua hai” feeling we get while falling in love is all romanticism which did not exist before the 17th or 18th century. Did you ever think that love, its feelings and its expressions were learned and not natural? I didn’t! Love as an emotion at its base might be real but at its feeling, as well as everything we do for love and in love has just been made up over the past couple of centuries.

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So what is natural within us?  Our feelings are not natural because feelings are emotions that have been interpreted by our mind, and our mind makes those interpretations based on our learnings and experiences. Thus, probably only our generic emotions are real. I could only think of two generic emotions- happiness and sadness. No matter how neutral we might feel about something, it is tilted to either of the sides – the happy or the sad side. You are either happy or sad at every point of time. It seems to me that even when one calls himself or herself to be “unsure” about how he or she is feeling, it is sadness that the emotion is leaned towards.

In terms of expressions, the only real expressions a person can have is “laughter” and “cry”. That’s because a baby who is born begins his expression with a cry, no one has to teach a person to do that. Also, the same baby is never taught to laugh or smile, he or she just does it on his or her own. We might fake a laugh or cry but when we truly laugh or cry, it is a true expression that we present without any added toppings to it.