When a child grows up, he or she needs to be cared for and loved unconditionally. Those who get their needs fulfilled, those who are lovingly nurtured, seem to grow up to be nice and caring humans. Those, who don’t, can perhaps never rationalise their life and feel satisfied with anything.

As we are all very different in the core, everyone has a different level of need for love and care and then, again, everyone is equipped with vastly different ability for providing those to others.

Some people do not even deem it necessary that love needs to be expressed in the form of gestures and/or actions. They may only consider it necessary to show care, when someone is ill or dying, or in a dire need of it. Most possibly, it’s a very cultural thing. In the western cultures, the abundance of this expression of love and care is very much in start contrast to the society where I grew up in. The difference felt like a culture-shock when I went abroad. It makes me wonder how come after thousands of years of our evolution as humans, it’s still quite a personal issue for every individual: the question of how do we live and how do we love.

Yet, in all cultures, we find the same standard life milestones of life: birth, education, career, spouse, children, and so on. Whether we’re truly alive during this journey or not, whether we are content and thriving within our living conditions or not, is perhaps a question for the privileged ones – for those, who don’t need to climb the stairs of these milestones any more! This is the impression I am getting from my generation and my ancestors. I truly hope that the future generations will learn from our past mistakes and will live and not just survive, given that the quality of life and technology to assist in our living is getting enhanced by leaps and bounds with every passing decade.

The definition of love and ways to show love is already vague, let alone finding and synchronising with like-minded people.

In good old days, an individual or their parents did something like a local search procedure in their workplaces, places of worship, clubs and gatherings for births, marriages and deaths. Especially, the communal festivities were a breeding ground to make and establish such connections. If successful in finding someone, they pursued a relationship without too much ado and just didn’t do too many brainstorming sessions, simply got their fates sealed with the opportunity at hand and got on with their lives: usually not happily ever after, but dying alone seems to be a fearful thought to the most people apparently. So, it’s more or less like anyone is better than no-one!

These days, we are cleverer, though. Search engines have truly expanded our horizons and empowered us to search globally, in fact. We now have social media, too. I am writing on one of those!

In this digital world, our personal lives can become like open books if we want it to be that way and can be made available to search-engines like Google, etc. Google is now our friend-maker, match-maker and what not! Sometimes, it feels like our lives, our feelings, our opinions are becoming commodities, available for comparison, and selected from a very wide pool of possible alternatives. Is it good or bad? I don’t know. Time will tell. On the other hand, wasn’t it always like that: digitally or face-to-face, we can’t resist comparison, we have an urge to check our present status and future opportunities – that’s the criteria for the survival of the fittest.

A platform (digital or otherwise) is never good or bad. The users of the platform make use of it, in a good or bad way. It is often seen that a section of the users are using these platforms to satisfy their ungodly urges, exploiting innocent people in myriads of ways. So, should there be moderators to stop unwanted illegal activities, spread of chaos, misinformation? That’s a question of ethics for these providers and the governments, and a topic for another day, perhaps. Something to think about for os.me? Do the members’ posts and Q&A’s get moderated?

Whether it is deemed right or not, our ability to search from a very large pool through various digital platforms is giving rise to abundantly many virtual relationships these days and then in lots of cases, those are blooming into real ones. So, how can I call the digital platforms a totally bad influence? It is bringing solace to many, temporarily or beyond.

Not so long ago, life used to be simpler. While writing this, I can’t help recalling snippets from the book Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse, published in 1930. It starts as a story of two teens, Narcissus and Goldmund. Narcissus realised that love will never be reciprocated equally, never be realised equally, and so, you treat love almost like a sin, and hide it away, in the furthest corner of your heart, and try to completely forget that you have a need, a quivering flame somewhere in that cave of a chest, that you’ve carefully closed with the stricture of discipline and knowledge and other ambitions that you create for yourself as a necessity to correctly invest your time on things that matter. Thus, Narcissus chooses the deterministic pursuit for knowledge as his freedom over a non-deterministic, random quest for love. he even did not let his friend Goldmund, fathom how deeply he cared about him.

On the other hand, Goldmund chose to pursue the desire for finding love over the freedom of controlling your destiny or pursuits. He embraced every opportunity that life offered to him for love, whether it’s real or not, he hardly cared. He got his satisfaction of momentary rise in burning desires in his physique and never cared about the longevity of those moments. Then, his youth passed away and the game of love was over for him! Was that even love? Where was love in that lust? No one lingered on, when the youth vanished for him. Ultimately, he got rescued by Narcissus, who sheltered him in a monastery, before his short-lived life ended in a pensive perplexity.

May be, there is even a third way, that is embraced by most people in many long-term relationships. First, they try for sometime like Goldmund did. Then, both parties in a relationship, make a calculated decision of whether there will be any guarantee in the relationship and either they carry on or they move out of that relationship.

Most of the times, successful relationships are held by those where people know that nothing will ever be perfect and so help each other in a perfectly civil manner. Taking care of people in your life, then becomes a duty, an obligation and sometimes a token of love. For some, the desire for the warmth of love and closeness, becomes a thing of past as we grow older. They become cynical and get over the whole idea of romanticism. Others realise that everyone has some good traits of character that we find ourselves in tune with and yet, there are other traits that we will not align with so well. The harmony lies in appreciating and enjoying similarities while withholding criticism and intolerance over the differences.

Through the passage of time, we all tend to become wiser and accept reality that we are all passengers in this train of life. We will get on and off, when the time comes. So, let’s at least, be nice and kind to each other. Let us experience the light of acceptance from the darkness of ignoraance!

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Pritha

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