“and what if, this is as good as it gets?” — Melvin from AGAIG.
It’s ironic that I should receive a “brilliant weblog award” in the middle of the driest season of my blog history. Not that it would have made sense in other times, still the irony is hard to ignore. Yes it has been a little hectic lately, too many things crowding up my leisure. But I know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that that is not what’s responsible for this dry streak. My good friend, who happens to be a professional psychiatrist, has already handed me the diagnosis (not a psycho-pathological one, do not worry) — without charging me a dime. And like everything that comes without a price-tag, I have chosen to ignore it. Sure, I mulled over it. But however much I trust his diagnostic abilities, and his professional (and otherwise) competency, I trust myself a tad more. Or rather, I trust my inner gaze. And yet doubts do surface.
The human obsession with the past, and its ritualistic glorification, probably are just another testament to the healing power of time. If it can heal gravest of hurts and disappointments, dilute shame, and blunt guilt; is it really surprising that it can make the most dull moments from past feel like the greatest of triumphs, and sterile myths look like heroic tales? Is it surprising that we look into past when present disappoints? Or get bogged down by unreasonable demands on oneself – of living up to?
I glance at the past (albeit just at my writings in the past), trying to keep my objective glasses on, trying to be ruthlessly detached… I have done that quite a few times recently. What am I looking for? A validation? A confirmation? A reinforcement? And if I do find it, whatever that it is, and if I get past the doubts that make me not trust entirely my evaluation of the past, will I feel better? Less anxious, maybe? For isn’t past a precursor to the future? Isn’t past a crystal ball, to peek into what’s awaiting us? Isn’t past a prettydamngood yardstick to base forecasts and speculations on?
What if this is as good as it gets …
That’s where comes the dreaded question. I can see myself sitting in that waiting room, where Melvin will walk out anytime now, look at me straight in the eyes, and ask me: what if this is as good as it gets?
For however promising the past looks, even after scraping away the gold plating time puts on it, we know that everything plateaus, or nosedives. Most writers, artists, sportsmen, will have at one point looked at the past, and walked away with a brimming confidence, never suspecting the beginning of an impending fall, never hearing the footsteps, and the deathly pause before the knock …
This, is not a conceit. I am not putting myself in the league of any extraordinary gentlemen. Quite the opposite. If it can happen to the best of us, where does that leave those like me — the ordinary, the commonplace? Is that point reached even before we realize, and what we consider sunlight is just the reflected twilight, that lulls us into believing that night is far away?
Of course I know the futility of this exercise. Then why engage in it? Surely, it cannot be even a tad therapeutic. Surely, one cannot find answers in such public showcasing of fears, the web equivalent of the good old introspection. Surely, there is no substitute for self-belief, dedication, hope, and a genuine talent. Still there is some strange respite, in standing naked with one’s fears. It’s an antidote to the “what if” fear — an equally unfounded belief that surely, it cannot get worse than this. For such fragile, even faked, equilibrium is what keeps us sane.
PS: The actual award acceptance speech (lol!), and the forward part of the tag will have to wait a brighter day. Especially after Scarlett stole most of my nominees, the task isn’t easy.