Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The College Reunion

So the three friends of old times found themselves together in a college reunion after many busy years of indifferent silence. Abhinav did not appear much different from how he looked during his student days. He did seem calmer and more contented with life. He lived in a small city with his wife and children. Wilson was balder, plumper and livelier than ever. He never stayed in the same place for a very long time. He said his eyes needed to see different places and people after a while. As the silence no longer was comfortable, a conversation began...

Wilson : Life has been a colorful collage of places and people so far and its always interesting to meet different people with such diverse ideas and beliefs.

Abhinav : It surely is. But somewhere down the line you do wish to settle down, have a family, raise children and watch them grow. After all that is the purpose nature has defined for us.

Wilson : Just because humans like all other species seem to follow a certain pattern and just because instincts for survival and procreation come naturally to all, does not ascertain that it is the highest goal set by nature. And even if such is the case, why should one be bothered about what nature wants from us? Why should we not go by our own instincts and do what we want to do? Although even that is ultimately a work of nature. I do what I want to do, for as long as it interests me. And then move on as soon as boredom casts its spell on me.

Abhinav : Boredom comes effortlessly to people. It will follow you whatever you do, wherever you try to hide. Does it not make sense to confront it and fight it back? I believe it makes a difference to give time to oneself, try and analyze one's own nature and try to eradicate whatever it is that causes boredom at the first place.

Wilson : What makes you think that natural instincts that man possesses and their outcome can be eradicated by man himself? Why should a software program that produces certain outputs have the capability of eradicating itself or change its algorithm?

Abhinav : What if the algorithm is written in such a way to shift to a different algorithm based on its input? I haven't been able to achieve this fully but I do believe it is possible.

Wilson : And my convictions drive me to choose different inputs whenever I want a new output.

All this while the software engineer sat quietly with a glass of full of whiskey and ice. He was more confused than ever. Time had ruthlessly destroyed all his beliefs one by one. He envied Wilson for being able to change his life whenever he wanted to. His own days were filled with monotony and boredom. And yet he knew that the fear of unknown and the grip of the known would never let him change his ways of life. He agreed with Abhinav that it is boredom that needs to be worked on....He was not sure how? "Both my friends appear so contented and seem to know exactly what they want out of life. And here I am not able to take a step forward in any direction", he thought. "But how can I believe in the outputs of some vague software program when I have no clues about its algorithm? How do I know what inputs to choose?". "A wise person had once said that it is wiser to know that one doesn't know than to be under the illusion of knowing what can not be known" he said to himself. He may not be the happiest person but he surely appeared to be the wisest going by the words of wisdom uttered many thousand years ago. Pleased with himself, he got himself another drink. Is it wise to continue being “wise” or is it wiser to seek happiness instead?- Unfortunately the wise man had said nothing about that.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Burden of Freedom

Once a young boy lived in a small island. It was a beautiful place with trees, a pond and a small hut. Every morning he would be awakened by the chirping of birds on the trees. He would feed the ducks in the pond and watch them swim for hours. He watered the trees everyday to keep them green. He was happy with his island until one day he saw another island far away with beautiful roses. He did not have any roses in his island. He looked ahead further and found another one with a long river and swans. He soon realized that there were many other islands far away, each having something unique about it that his island did not possess. He no longer enjoyed watering the trees and watching the ducks. He yearned for the distant lands. One night tired of watching the ducks in the pond he felt utterly depressed. He cursed god for having kept him confined to such a tiny island when there were so many other places to go. Thinking of the red roses, the river and the swans and so many other beautiful things in the other islands, he fell asleep.

The next morning when he woke up, he saw a ship parked at the shore. He was elated. He was no longer bound to his own tiny island. He was free to explore the distant lands. Before he could get to the boat, God appeared. Filled with gratitude, he thanked God for sending him the boat and giving him the freedom to choose where he wanted to go. "I have granted you your freedom all right, but your freedom has its own limits" replied the God. "The boat that you find here travels only in the forward direction. You can never bring this back to this place again".

He looked back at the blue pond and the trees. He would never get to drink the sweet water from the pond....nor would he get to climb the trees. He would not hear the chirping of the birds or watch the ducks swim ever. He wanted to stay a bit longer in his island before starting his journey. He urged God that he should be allowed to spend some more time in his island before commencing on his new journey since he was not ready yet. "The boat remains parked here. The choice is yours now" said the God and disappeared.

Every morning he would wake up to see the boat parked on the shore. He was reminded of the choice he had. He wanted to explore other places but at the same time was not willing to leave his island forever. The freedom that he yearned for once started tormenting him. He was unable to get rid of the constant stream of conflicting thoughts in his mind.

After years of indecisiveness he finally urged God to take the boat away. The next morning he woke up to find that the boat had disappeared. He sighed in relief. With new enthusiasm he watered the trees and fed the ducks. After a long time he again sat near the pond and watched the ducks swim for a long time.