As It Was

“You know it’s not the same as it was”, croons Harry Styles plaintively in his recent song. And metamorphosing into a comforting earworm, the song, layered with vintage shades of nostalgia and what seems like a tribute to the bygone times, literally and figuratively, quite unprepared, teleports me into a labyrinth, brown and purple, of my ponderings. Vestiges of events half of what they were, the never-trodden-upon paths, the never-opened-doors, and flashes of where would life have led me to had they been confidently pursued, questioningly peek at me. A raft of ‘what-ifs’ rocks upon the choppy rushing waters through a redolent ravine that the labyrinth leads to. And staring upon the vastness confined inside my head, I faintly discern the distant shadow of another being staring at me. The image takes shape and there, across the ravine, across the gorge, stands my very own reflection, my present self perhaps telling me that I am precisely where I ought to be, that the what-ifs would undoubtedly lead me to where I am at this very moment! I gasp, smile, wave at own reflection and he follows suit, nodding, and little by little vanishes. The song ends and fades the vision.

I have often heard, read, and even tried to believe that life would always bring you ‘back’ to where you are. Were you to take the other, what may seem now, a much more enticing bend on the road, were you to open the other door, or were you to take the red pill over the blue one, you would magically, mysteriously, surreptitiously find yourself where you belong now, in the present!

An article published in The New Yorker, “What If You Could Do It All Over Again”, which I read recently, dwells on the unled lives, the unled dreams, and our actual present lives. The author, citing several philosophers, informs why the unled lives may be even necessary and required and allows the reader to determine that invisible boundary between dreaming of what-ifs and joyously embrace the what-is.

I, for one, keep imagining, silly as it may sound to many, on what if I had studied harder, gotten into a different university, pursued a doctorate? My partner, solemnly, declares that I would be in a similar situation, perhaps dreaming, inherently, of other what ifs! A friend and I were discussing our innate desire to compare our lives with that of others, of lives that we think we could have had, and pitying our present stance, miss out, we declare, momentarily the happiness and joys that we are surrounded with. The human mind, we conclude, sighing and leaving that thread of emotion hanging: labyrinths that we keep stepping onto, knowing, refusing, that we are just where we are.

At the same point of time, I find it rather arduous to separate wishful thinking and dreaming from the reality that I have lived, the actuality that has made me who I am this very day. And just as I find myself, yet again, slipping through the mossy walls of my labyrinth of thoughts, Wisdom, quietly whispers, “Dream on. Dream on about what you can do but do not dwell on what you could have done. Time cannot be turned around, but time ought to be a compatriot whom you walk along with.”

Acquiescing I hit the repeat button, promising to be a perpetual dreamer of what is to come, a proponent of my what-is; I tap my feet to the drumbeats, float with the melody, breathe in the positive, piney earthy smell of dreams, and solemnly remind myself that everything that led up to this very moment, every unpursued dream, every unled life is just perfect and that it ought to be joyously allowed to be as it was.  

Picture Credit: Mikey Dabro from Pexels

18 thoughts on “As It Was

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  1. Gorgeous as always, Parikhith. I have a tendency to do this too, always wonder about the what-ifs. In sixth grade, I wanted to be an author, but around tenth, I started telling myself it’s just not possible, and gave up on that dream before I even started. Today, I catch myself wondering about that what-if all the time. What-if I’d been an English literature major? What-if I’d majored in French? What-if I’d taken biology and maybe become a climate scientist? It’s like life’s barely started for me, but I’m already wondering all the time about what else I could’ve done. I find your philosophy of “you would’ve ended up here anyway” so comforting. It’s a nice thing to tell yourself, to sort of calm your brain down. Loved the article! Gonna check out the New Yorker one ASAP, I’m sure that’ll be crazy good too!

    1. You already know that we are two peas in the same pod and I knew that you’ll resonate. The mind is magical, isn’t it for rather than dwelling in the now we are always in the past or the future. To think of it, even when we are trying to convey our thoughts the mind has already imagined them and well the present is a representation of the past. A catch 22 but at the same time a pretty one-we are a celebration of our past and where we stand is where the past pushed us into, cajoled us into. So changing it would change us 🙂 As mundane as it may read, it is good to dwell but not drown in that thought well.

  2. Very well written and interesting. I often think about parallel worlds and unfollowed choices. I think that in all of them, there’s a balance between the good and the bad. And true, that dwelling too much might keep you from enjoying the present! But I am a dreamer, so this post resonated.

    1. We are all dreamers and that’s what keeps us sane. You are right when you mention a balance, and that’s what I seek. Thank you so much. 🙂

  3. Cdh, tu tapes en plein dans la mille. Such an excellent pièce d’ecriture.

    I am going through a similar phase of what if’s: what if I had taken Engineering or what if I had listened to amma and learned French earlier on or what if I had never returned….you know them all.

    En même temps, we tend or choose to forget that the unled life has brought in the precious moments that has led us here….to the person we are.

    I tend to focus on the negativity and the what if moments mais j’ai besoin de focaliser on the what if not moments même si ce n’est pas facile.

    Like you wrote, easy to slip back into the maze, but we need to snap out it else the maze will close in.

    Glad to blogged..

    Love, the other side.

    1. You are right Uma! We dwell and we dwell more and then it morphs into an addiction. Try as much as I can, I find myself falling down that rabbit hole of wishful thinking, of imagining. Yes, the other path that life led us to has brought about so many pleasant things and well what if we chose the different path we wouldn’t have them.

  4. “As it was” has been playing in my head like a broken record. I love it too.
    I love how it celebrates all that was and where I am right now.

    Good to see you back in the radar, dear Parikhit.
    Welcome to blogosphere my friend.
    Cheers and have a marvy week ahead!

    1. Thank you Natasha and my apologies for replying to you so late. It was one hell of a year and I hope it gets better. To more writing! I hope you have been well.

      1. I bet this year will be better. So I heard from the stars.

        Sending you hugs and many enriching writing days.

  5. Welcome back Parikhit!

    Yes, it’s a very interesting train of thought isn’t it? I often wonder what my life would have turned out like if I had gone to University in Winchester rather than Ripon. But I totally agree with your partner when you wrote:

    “My partner, solemnly, declares that I would be in a similar situation, perhaps dreaming, inherently, of other what ifs!”

    It is human nature to want what we don’t have. And even if we did go do down those other avenues and life, we most probably would still be left wondering “what if”…..

    1. You are right and point on. I believe it is human and a human tendency to dwell on the what ifs. And hasn’t that in ways more than one led to création of so many wonderful things. I believe it is good to ponder but not lead the mind to wonder.

  6. living in the now but with ambitions and dreams is positive … wondering about what if’s a waste of time in my books!

    Good to read you again but getting here was a marathon

    1. I agree. It took me a long time to het there myself, a marathon indeed to live in the moment.

      And thank you for pointing out the change. I have learnt better to never change the blog name

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