Written by Issa Dioume.
Laughing, crying and living. As I hear the silent gliding of existence – the unstoppable and uncontrollable gradual advancement – from childhood to adulthood to elderhood and finally to the ground. Humans are merely actor waiting for their cue, all having their exits and entrances. Once lights go out and the curtains close, the crowd either boos or applauds you. People either attend your brief burial or “are too busy” doing something else.
Life is like a matryoshka Russian doll, stories within stories. A different main character in every plot a different narrator in every paragraph. Twists and turns to open every new chapters. The mercurial nature innate in all, makes us different every time we open our eyes to the light of a new day. Never monotonous, always new. In the crevices of the mind the shifts of our capricious bodies and brain seem imperceptible and perhaps wholly absent. But, they are there.
At 30 years of age, I was living life to its fullest, or, at least what I believed to be living life to its fullest. I tested all limits which could be pushed to discover and understand myself – to find my formula to happiness. In pleasures – of the flesh, of possessions and of the mind – and in my career. However one day whilst atop a balcony sipping champagne with some fellow lost souls and revelling in my own self it hit me like a cold shower under a desert sun. What I was doing was, to say the least, like a pencil without a tip: absolutely pointless. The absurdity of that world I lived in came in waves crashing into the shores of my reality. I changed. Suddenly, as I looked around at the people I surrounded myself with, I realized they were bad for me – or should I say for the new me. So, I grabbed my pencil, flipped it around and erased them out of sight and out of my life. My family worried, my friends – those that were still left -thought I was having a meltdown.I was finally seeing clearly for the first time.
Constantly searching for quantity I lost sight of the quality of experiences. I began erasing parts of myself I did not like, those preventing me from going where I had to go, and, left on a journey of self discovery in the mountains of my consciousness and the jungles of India. In the recesses of my mind atop mountain peaks I found liberation. A sense of freedom and accomplishment trumping any previous achievements and rendering them trivial in comparison.
Calm and confident, I returned to society and its ways. I found it easy at first, my experience had made me stronger and more tolerant to communal life. The loneliness had oftentimes eaten at me while away. With time, I understood that the experiences I had undergone in my younger days were of equal importance because everything helps to form us and morph us into what the future ‘us’ is. I blended into everyday life with ease and made new friends and new family. I had children and a beautiful wife whom I admired very much and respected with all my heart just as she did me.
But the times they are a-changin’ and time sliced off my metaphorical legs. The bubble popped. I lost my stable little life, my wonderful wife left me, my cherished children grew and turned into smart admirable young adults. With time, they left too. Once more I was left to fend for myself with no scaffoldings . I quit my job at 40 and went travelling for a year abroad. The travels expanded my mind and vision of the world but more than anything else I found a sense of completion as a being. I understood that I did not have to have to simply be. I learned to be present in the now, not be thinking of tomorrow when I am with people today. This understanding came as courtesy from a Buddhist retreat in Thailand. In meditation I discovered an equilibrium that I lacked before. I became mindful in everything I did. I discovered that all my expeditions into the self had the very same purpose behind them.
A rose by any other name is just as beautiful. The core of my examinations were the same. Finding the purpose of my existence.
I had a job that gave me financial freedom, a family and children. They were purpose, but now what? I have to live out with myself to the bitter end now, don’t I? And so I went into a jungle for two years coming out only for the bodily needs: food and water. Losing contact with the world, I spent my days in deep meditation trying to discover some truth. Once, I lost myself in the ridges of my mind and just sat there, legs crossed for nearly 2 months. Steady as a rock.
During that time, a vision came to me. I saw myself as a drop of water falling in rain accompanied by a million of other glistening droplets all falling to ultimately crash into the ground, completely confused and disoriented at their own purpose. Perhaps in the bible god didn’t just throw humans out of heaven, he doomed them to an eternal fall. Landing means death. But as I smashed into a the ground , a little while later than some and quicker than some, I understood.
The water returned to the ground, and gave way to new life. There is dignity in offering your life to the world. I found my purpose. From then on I worked as much as possible on that single goal. Helping to heal the world. Helping people get in touch with the nature around them. The thing they call miraculously beautiful behind screens in big cities, while observing other people who are out there. Some call it a proof of a divine designer. Some call it inspiration for their works or the only breathable space. Yet half sit, and watch as the sick cannibalistic side of humanity destroys it. The lost half still searching for quantity. I fought to prevent that, tooth and nails. In the end, I believe that I did have an impact, no matter how small: a single droplet can help grow a flower.
Today, I am old. Time has treated me well. I live my days out in a small windmill atop a hill. Squeezing every drop out of every day. Seeing my family, helping them as much as I can, and sharing my story to the world. I am for all one knows nothing other than a fragment of imagination from the mind of a writer but at least, I am.
And when I am no longer. The water that I have left behind will serve its purpose and return to the ground.