Thursday, December 31, 2015

Calculus of Life

As I sit on the eve of 31st Dec 2015, looking back on how the year went by, counting the moments of happiness, sadness and missed opportunities, comes a growing realization that life so clear in the hindsight. Now that I have gone past those moments I am able to recount and relive them and interpret them accurately. . Some moments were moments I would cherish for lifetime, there were some moments that gave me instantaneous joy  but they don’t mean much now. And then there were those heart warming moments, where the details are hazy but just thinking about them brings a smile.

2015 was certainly a happy year for me personally. I published my first book, bonded well with my family, I took some time off when my parents needed me the most and I also strengthened the relationship with my friends. By any yardstick, I should be a very happy person. Yet I feel there was something amiss. Wisdom coming from hindsight tells me I could have been even more happy and peaceful if I did a few things differently.

I probably didn’t live some moments right. There were many moments where I should have been happier but I wasted those moments either worrying, brooding, being overburdened, being pessimistic, being bothered or simply being anxious. “Happy moments don’t last forever”, I thought to myself as I lived through them. Had I shut my divergent thinking just for that moment I would have been able to live that moment much better and would have emerged much happier, much more upbeat and most importantly much more peaceful.

There were sad moments too. I had lived most of them pretending to be unaffected or trying to smile or trying my best to negate my feelings. Today when I look back at  those moments, I realize that it wasn’t just me but everyone around me was sad and all of us held back our tears. I shouldn’t have held back mine. I should have expressed my sadness to everyone around. I now realize that there is no shame in crying when you are sad, it actually fills your heart with a lot of peace when tears empty out the sadness. Being sad together is also a great bonding experience.

As I was thinking about the complexities of life, I was reminded of the concept of calculus. I distinctly remember the introduction to Calculus class. Our professor drew a random curve on the board and asked us calculate area under the curve. Obviously, we struggled and could not come up with any sensible approach. Then he introduced the concept of Integration. In this approach, the curve is divided into infinitesimally small slices, each of which could be considered as a rectangle. Then we could calculate area of each rectangle by using a very simple formula. We then added back area of each rectangle to get the area under the curve. He ended the lecture saying,”if you calculate area of each rectangle correctly, your final answer can’t go wrong”.

An apparently insurmountable problem could be solved by dividing it in infinite slices each of which was very easy to solve. I think this applies to our life too. Life is curve with unknown equation. If we try to live under the curve by trying to solve its equation it seems quite hard. But if you make a infinitesimally small thin slice of the life called moment, living through it could be easier than calculating area of a rectangle. Living the moment right means expressing the joy when you are happy and letting the tears roll when you are sad. Like my professor said, if I live every moment correctly how can my final answer go wrong?

My only resolution in 2016 is to master Calculus of life by living every moment right!!