The Best Worst Things

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This article has been submitted by Anahita Pathak for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think it’s a good read, ‘Like’ the article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘Comments’ section below. 

I used to believe that everything existed in contradictory pairs. If there is good, there is bad. If there is right, there is wrong. If there are delicious beautiful Momos, there exists awful bitter karela too.

I wasn’t all wrong, but I was looking at the whole thing at a very superficial level. I always thought that the purpose of unpleasant things in life was to keep happiness in check. Because if left unbridled, joy would grow exponentially, and possibly mutate into something which our world wasn’t ready for.

I felt the times when a perfect day was ruined by that stubbed toe which left me limping, or when I lost marks on my perfect paper due to stupid spelling errors, or when that absolute perfection of a poached egg was made less enjoyable due to the three extra grains of salt I added at the last second-were all ways to keep me grounded. The Universe’s way of regulating my intake of euphoria, so that I wouldn’t OD on it.

But then I would see people far less-fortunate than me who were infinitely more content in life and at the same time people with so much, and yet so little peace. And the math just did not add up. Because if the Universe did regulate the flow of happiness through hardships and rewards, then peace and joy would be very widely distributed.

The reality of things is, as is obvious, very far from this theory.

I find joy in the strangest of quarters- in the sparkle of the eyes of the urchins playing with spare tires, in the quiet camaraderie of the construction workers sitting down together for their afternoon bidi, in the smile of the pan shop owner as he watches the stray dog next to his rickety stool chase its own tail.

Then I realized that the seemingly bad things in life aren’t the links of a chain that I thought the Universe uses to leash us. They are in fact, glorification of every last second of time when we did feel that the world is just right. They, with their unpleasantness, teach us the value of the good times. We, unwittingly learn Beauty from the ugliest experiences of our life. The pomp and pageantry, the hope and love, happiness and peace- all of it would have existed, but the presence of loss, despair, grief is what gives them their meaning. We can fully internalize the exhilarating sensation of flying high only if we have known the painful crunch of hitting rock bottom.

So it is no coincidence that people who have been through rough times are also some of the people who seem to be the happiest in life. They have seen and lived the worst, so they understand the value of absence of the same. And likewise, people who have not known difficulties find themselves with a dissatisfied feeling of emptiness. They may have everything in life, but they cannot internalize the worth of all that they possess, because they have no knowledge of how it would be to live outside the lap of luxury. Their existences are painted in shades of drab pastels as compared to the rich hues of life, that people who have witnessed ups and downs, get to experience.

It is only when you deprive your lungs of air that you feel the relief of having your breath gush into it. It is only when your heart gets broken that you truly appreciate the divine feeling of someone treating that same heart as precious. It is only when you know intense grief, that you may know the buoyant feeling of joy.

So whenever you feel like nothing is working out and there is darkness at every turn, have faith, for it is nothing but the Universe setting the stage for the glorious light it is about to fill your life with.

– Anahita Pathak

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