By Amith Kumar
“Why?” I asked him just to keep the conversation alive. Up until then, I was considering all this to be a joke. Another drunken rant of his, which I often heard, or overheard, when with our friends. If I had seen it coming, I would have recorded and forwarded it to the ones who were not there. I asked why, not because I was curious to know, but because it was rather funny to hear such profound thoughts from him, without having to provoke him.
“Because we all want to do what we wish, don’t we? You and I, and all these other guys. Remember, we all wanted to do a few things in life, call it a bucket list, or whatever, and not bother when we really wanted to do it. We were raised around the promise that we could accomplish all of it once we graduate, get employed and settle in life. What happened after that?”
I knew his situation. Three years ago, he fell in love. One year ago, he got a steady job with a decent salary. Six months ago, he got engaged. While all this happened, his lifelong dream of backpacking solo around Europe, and learning the guitar, was resigned to an impractical, childish whim.
He was at the point of tears. I could relate to the truth coming out of him, and I found it intimidating. The impact, of everything that was said, was growing inside me with each passing moment of silence. I eventually broke it. I coughed, as if the thoughts stuck in my throat, unable to find a voice. I was sure that the intensity of what was said could only be countered by something more intense.
To answer with such intensity was out of my scope back then. We were in a bar and, like in all bars, we got distracted. The whole monologue of his lost its lustre as soon as this slutty waitress came along. A weird aftertaste remained within me, it was not something that I wanted to get rid of, however.
It may even be frightening for some of us to know what savages we really are. To know that would, at least, free us from our vanity. That is, however, something we would have to be content with.
The remains made me think about freedom in general. Not the freedom to do whatever crosses our minds, but that tiny fragment of personal freedom which intersects with a harmonious society. A society which we live in and are a part of. According to people, everyone is free to choose, but the choices should be made within the limits of the mutual space. Anything off limits angers them. The anger comes out in a facade of concerned questions and sympathetic advice. Freedom becomes less significant compared to the collective happiness of society. You can stray away, but you cannot explore of your own accord. An image of happiness, both in real life and social media, is enough to maintain a farce, and conceal the many shackles with which society fastens us.
You can drive fast, travel afar, lick your lips in excitement and be aroused by her curves. In that temporary excitement, you can find a glimpse of yourself, which is instinctive, impulsive and even anarchic. It may even be frightening for some of us to know what savages we really are. To know that would, at least, free us from our vanity. That is, however, something we would have to be content with.
To grant a man absolute freedom would be a grave mistake. If we do whatever we like, a few of our actions would be mischievous, or even criminal. Our ideals do not have roots deep enough to impede our instincts or impulses. I could kill someone out of spite, and so could anyone else. It is social conditioning, however, which prevents us from doing something reckless. So hampering our personal freedom, and limiting it is, in fact, a much-needed respite from the animal within us. It is tragic to be in the control of the society which we are so fond of blaming for every unfulfilled dream and missed opportunity. It is even more tragic to agree with how essential that society is.
Does that solve the situation of our dear drunk friend? I think it may not, but it may just offer him peace of mind to know that he is not alone. He could connect with like-minded guys and find some relief. He could indulge in a few escapades of excitement to ease away from the grasp of society. With some humbling experiences, he could come to know that he is not just this ‘highly regarded, well-paid, dignified, respectable’ member of society, but a human being, as lost and confused as the rest of us. I hope he has the courage to do it and by doing it he might, he just might, inspire someone else. After all, we are society and society is us.
About Amith Kumar
Amir is 27 years old. He dropped out of college. He Has done odd jobs here and there. He is currently living in Bahrain. And he is writer. Currently killing time by killing bed bugs!
You can connect with him
This post was originally posted on Good Men Project