The Art of Making

The best thing in life is... Oh heck. I'd probably risk tumbling down in a heap of cliches. How does one pinpoint what the best thing in life is? Very broadly though, among the best things that life yields through your daily comings-and-goings, are quite simply, things you make. This could be a great, glowing memory that you can invoke when nothing else seems worth hanging on to. It could be places you have been to, or the people you meet, or even the relationships you have with the people you meet. It could be a little garden patch, much like my mother's little potted plants, that you raise with your labour. Often, the best things there ever is, are the things you find, nourish, and create. Its a deceptively simple realisation that puts you in the controls of your own spaceship.

Most people with a thinking head are known to crave agency. Like it or not, you want to be centre-stage in the whirling, transient, and often mundane, drama of your everyday reality. Even as a shy child of 10, or 12, it doesn't really matter, I would daydream for hours, travelling the cosmos in my head, and, fashioning myself as a mad professor of sorts, mix coloured water in test-tubes pilfered from my mother's old biology box. At other time I would most likely be found sketching rather average pictures using three grades of pencil (HB for outlines, 2B for shading, and 4B for deeper shades). While the idea of making friends horrified me to no end, I've wanted to make friends with people from imaginary worlds, all my life. The idea to make things, and perhaps even more, to make sense of things, never quite died out.

But back to the idea of making things. It's a fairly basic impulse, if you think about it. Way back in the Genesis, Adam was said to have been granted the power of naming. He named creatures, and the names stuck through time, constantly classifying, organising, charting the natural world – in the process laying claim to the whole of existence, and making it his own. You could say that that spark has survived, fueling our instinct for discovery, classification, and creativity.

A cousin of mine, when he was a wee boy of four, constantly pounded me with questions, as children often do. While that would often become a source of irritation, especially on hot summer afternoons in a sleepy suburb in southern Bengal, I've come to realise, much later, that he's simply following his genetic destiny – curiosity. This cousin of mine (he's still in school) is quite a sharp lad, a good student who sings like a little star, plays cricket and football, and takes part in debates and such in school.

Contrast that to my nondescript school days, and all I ever managed to do was sit in one corner and read the odd comicbook (often snuggled neatly within textbooks). I seemed to loath making friends, hated sports, and had stage fright – so I adhered to my postage stamp collection after school. Through the stamps, I often travelled in my head to distant Soviet Bloc nations (not sure why, but East Europe behind the Iron Curtain unfailingly captured my hyperactive imagination). And I read encyclopedias, voraciously, gobbled up volumes like a hungry puppy. Seeing this, my parents once tried to convince me to participate in the school quiz team. All forms of organised events and competitions always got me jittery. I might have lasted four minutes on stage, swiftly bringing in the end of my short-lived career as quiz champ in that year of our lord, 1995.

Flash forward to now, and a man of 28 with a rather mediocre life looks back in the mirror every morning. But I've never stopped being curious, and have tried to attain wanton curiosity, often without purpose, existing simply for it's own sake. Friends often snigger at my bizarre Wikipedia habit. Yet I'm constantly hounded by a need to know. Perhaps it's a way of penance, of trying to reclaim lost childhood ground, perhaps it's a side effect of my long-drawn combat with an agonisingly weak memory, I can never tell. But the hunger remains, a disquieting need to try and understand the world, its patterns, and try and make it your own, In this average, average life, this has quite possibly been the best gift I've ever given myself.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

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