The Moment

I wrote this piece a long time ago. The timestamp on the MS-Word file says 31/08/2000. I don’t believe it has ever been published anywhere, I’m not sure whether I understood it when I wrote it. I’m not sure I understand it now. Interestingly, 31/08 is Parul’s birthday. I didn’t know her in 2000.

Has Nature ever spoken to you? Laid bare all its secrets for you to see? Touched you in a way so deep that in a moment, it seems you’ve gained a new perspective, that you can somehow comprehend more than the superficial? No, I’m not talking about how the extraordinary beauty of the snow-capped Himalayas or a sunset on the banks of the Ganges leaves one speechless. I’m referring to a daily, somewhat mundane occurrence that somehow seems to reveal all that is hidden. It can be anything… the sweet smell of the first monsoon rain, the rustling of leaves as a light breeze flows through, even a cat sleeping on the couch. But in that one moment, as the feeling hits you, you can see through the superficiality, feel a deeper sense of order. You can hear the music, see the art in every single thing…

But why am I telling you all this? Because it happened to me…

The day had gotten off to a rotten start. I was already late, my car had a very visible dent on it thanks to my haste, and now the light simply refused to turn green. I sat cursing everyone from the beggar next to my car to that idiot who had decided to put such a long delay loop on the traffic signal. Perhaps the beggars paid a commission to the traffic authorities, I thought. The time limit seemed just enough for them to ask for alms and move on! And then there was this chap behind me who was bent on proving that his horn was the loudest in town. The light’s red, damn it! Was he colour blind or something? I turned around to shout out what I thought of madmen like him… and that was when it happened.

My eyes had fallen on a group of sparrows, tiny little creatures oblivious to the anger in the surroundings, playing in a puddle of water. There was nothing unusual about the sight, I had probably seen it umpteen number of times. But at that moment, it struck a chord somewhere inside me. Drinking the water, splashing it with their wings, the birds seemed to wash away the dirt engulfing my senses. I suddenly saw the beauty on this canvas of Nature. The music in their chirping revealed to me an all-encompassing force, a continuous cycle that pervaded one and all. Something that bonded me to the sparrows and all other creation, including the beggars I detested. Even the honker behind me. We were all a part of the same wonder. A wonder that defied all imagination. Every leaf that breathed life into the stem, every miniscule grain of sand, how was it any different to the cells in my body? I realized that all universe was one and I was no longer the mighty human, greater than every other life form. At that moment, I lost all my feelings of superiority. I began to see how tiny, how inconsequential I was in the scheme of things. Whatever I did, saw or thought, my very existence seemed beyond my control. What was I compared to the vastness of all that existed? Just one of the trillions of life forms on this third rock from the sun in the never-ending expanse of the universe. Just a bunch of atoms bonded together and given some kind of consciousness, perhaps even by coincidence. I couldn’t help but marvel at the whole system. Religion takes solace in the meta-physical and accepts it as the unexplainable. Science tries to explain it and will accept it when it does. But this does not deny the fact that the system does exist. It has been there for millions of years governing all that happens. And in spite of all our efforts, we can’t even comprehend its complexity yet. Or it’s simplicity. How the tiniest of cells come together to form the most complex of organs. How the physical world is defined in so orderly a fashion. Scientific laws or spiritual commandments, whatever name you might give them, they control each step we take. Was there a creator? I don’t know. But I do know that the creation does exist. And its greatness is revealed in all that we see. These laws, they are the only unchanging in this dynamic world. Isn’t that how God is defined? Perhaps it’s time we stopped thinking about the creator and worshipped the creation instead. Not because we are afraid of the unexplained but because we are in awe of the understandable. And also, I…

HONK!!!

Yes, that is how it ended. The moment subsided as quickly as it had come. I had perhaps been at the doorstep of a revelation… but I’ll never know. At least not till Nature comes to my rescue again. I desperately looked at the sparrows again but consciousness had returned to the mundane. Superficiality engulfed me once again as I returned to the angry horns, waving fists and the traffic light that had finally turned green. The traffic moved on, polluting the breeze, splashing the puddles, disturbing the sparrows. The music went unheard, the art was destroyed, and I watched on as the world passed by, ruining the order, spreading complete chaos… just living my life, waiting for the next moment.

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