Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – these are our unalienable rights. These words cast a spell, they urge some of us to believe that this is what we get when we pledge allegiance to this very young nation in the northwestern hemisphere.

These words are powerful, solid and dependable as only nouns can be. Take them individually or string them together the way the founding fathers did, either way you are left misty eyed and revved up.

Nouns are static things. They don’t move, they don’t act, they are embedded, they are permanent and unalienable. Even the part of the sentence that could have suggested movement and action in a verb form is frozen in its tracks as a noun: pursuit.

The pursuit of happiness is thus rendered static; a ceiling, or a cap on your possibilities. Finding happiness or achieving happiness is not what those wise men had in mind. They had faith in the quest; not restricted to finding happiness but trying to define it along the way as well.

It is our right to spend our lives tied up in the shackles of expectation and tantalizing images of some shimmering illusion on the horizon while our choices slither around, invertebrate, trying to grow a backbone and rise but often finding the span of a lifetime too short for this quest. This is perhaps what was intended: the accumulation of choices, spanning generations, until one grew a spine long enough to stand and reach even further.

Was some form of Darwinism reflected in their thinking? One wonders.

By my fourth decade on this planet my personal, individual quests (yes, plural) are fast becoming a distant memory, the stuff of nostalgia and retrospective introspection. My earliest quest had me living on a funny little roller coaster of contentment at home and an implosive sadness, loneliness and longing for friends, fame and recognition at school.

This quest then changed its form to a desire to show them that I was very different and they would better take note. I earned higher educational degrees while simultaneously climbing the corporate latter. All that hard work just to shed my own Cellophane Woman like insecurities, it seems.

My seeking always lacked spine. I barreled my way forward, all engines firing, only to take a seemingly endless swan dive down to complete inaction. All successes have always borne the taint of self sabotage.

I did however manage to take two steps forward and only one step back through my stumbles to achieve a somewhat upward gradient.

I now live in a world where keeping myself gainfully employed is the only quest. I learn how to play the violin, or teach myself a programming language because it feels rewarding, it releases some endorphins, perhaps. I don’t strive to climb the corporate ladder, to become the “tycoon” I once wanted to be. I simply laugh at that memory. I laugh at the arrogance of my early career, the clawing ambition, the hatred for moneyed people who told the young me that money wasn’t everything or that “money would come”. I hate them even more in retrospect! Money facilitates things and keeps the wheels oiled even if “it isn’t everything” and it never really “comes” (it’s more in the business of going) but it doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore. It is off the quest list.

Becoming a singer, a painter or a writer were important at some point in the past as well, the memory is indistinct.

Now I seek or, rather, envision a happy world – present and future – for my kid. My quest has ceased to be a personal one and has transformed itself with an inter- generational leap, just as the Declaration of Independence intended, in my opinion.

1 Comment

  1. You speak of life,liberty and happiness-the three fundamentals give of human nature,imbedded at birth but forgotten in the path of Evolution-It is ironic that we seek that we own,and satisfaction is now ,in comparison to those around us
    Priorities change in the Growth ladders-I personally feel we grow in stature,its only the tempo thats the focus-And this is an area of concern-It translates,into what I call a lethargy,brought about by the old age wisdom-As you sow so you reap-This is a grassroots philosophy,which to prove untrue,man has to rise far ahead of his thoughts,in essence uncage his #Essential Being,in order to fit into the Complete puzzle-And this entails as you correctly envision a collective surge of consciousness,that in itself,acts as a catalyst,for individual Awareness-Money,family these focus shifts,not with pain,but giving way to a larger perception-That of Vasudeva Kutumbakam-Or a Divine Family of oneness-This mind you is not a religious explanation,but a logical conclusion,cause we are inalienably connected to one another,man and nature,animal and fauna-And the faster we recognize this,the better for the Cosmos-
    Sincere Regards
    vijay nair

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