Do you know what it feels like to jump off a cliff? No? Let me tell you.
But let’s start from the beginning shall we, and the beginning, in this case, as in all cases, must always start from the base, from the ordinary, and the commonplace. Because doesn’t every story worth being told begin there?
Now you’re at the base, going about your daily business, when once in a while, like everyone else, you look up in the distance to see the cliff, towering, powerful, solitary, and wonder what it would feel like standing there on top. How far would you be able to see and what would your field of vision contain? When you looked down at where you are now what would you see? Would you want to share that view, the beauty and the splendor of it all, with everyone you knew? But these thoughts enter only an idle brain, and your busy life scarcely allows you the luxury to let a thought linger too long before you banish it hastily in favor of action.
Except that for some, it is not that easy to banish such thoughts. For them, a thought once thought is impossible to shake away. Like a silent ember, the more they wish to blow it out with a whiff of logic, or a puff of reason, the brighter it burns. All the reasons it can't be done only serve to fan the flames of desire. I am one of those unlucky few.
Over time, the idea of the cliff started growing in my mind, threatening to usurp all the territory that had been hitherto governed by logic. I began having dreams in which I was on the cliff, and imagined a multitude of worlds that could only be seen from that vantage point. It had become my very own stairway to heaven.
Only if you’ve been consumed by such a desire yourself will you understand what I’m trying to convey. Ambition is the brother of love, both the children of desire. Both the siblings are impossible to express, yet irrepressible when felt.
So, there was only one thing left for me to do. Drop everything and against the well-intentioned advice of everyone, set upon the long arduous journey to the top. Any journey is marked by struggles, obstacles and its difficult moments. I had prepared myself to face all of those. What I hadn’t prepared for, and hence what hit me the hardest, is the loneliness. I never thought I was the sort that needed company to feel comfortable, nor did I ever seek validation from others to judge if what I was doing was right. In fact, having been used to a life of fighting my surroundings to retain my independence, it was slightly unnerving to have freedom, absolute and complete, thrust upon me. This lack of a constant struggle to preserve my freedom was, in some perverse way, hindering that freedom. I learnt that it is sometimes better to have people who oppose you, than have no one care at all.
Persist I did, and I reached the top, as if there was any other possible outcome. Achieving what I had long desired and struggled for was a strange experience. The euphoria, the pleasure, perhaps even joy, all mixed into an indistinguishable surge of emotion. Then the tidal wave that threatened to drown me with its intensity passed over and I found myself washed up, alone, on the shores of purposelessness. ‘Now what?’ the voice inside me screamed. Except to run towards the edge and jump.
P.S. 1: The cliff is metaphorical. The jump signifies renunciation.
P.S. 2: Apparently, the theme of the piece has a well-known name. Existential Angst.