Doldrums, or Why the Little Sad Moments Matter in Life

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It’s a fascinating phenomenon – luck. Just about everyone, from astronauts to international football players and librarians to pilots, believe in some form of luck. And this time, I’m not talking about superstition or horoscopes, or wearing your lucky pair of socks. I’m talking about that streak of sympathetic undertones throughout life that continues for many days on end, idly fidgeting about like a patient in a waiting room; the uncomfortable twists and turns of the outcomes of our decisions and the intricate unfolding of the pages in the various chapters of our life. I’m talking about the streak of continuous letdowns and shallow losses undergone from day to day and time to time that subtly influences our psyche and consciousness.

Doldrums Why Little Sad Moments Matter in Life Upamanyu Acharya

It’s always the little things. It’s not the university or job application rejection or the death of a family member. It’s not the skidding of your car into a tree or the identity theft that leaves your credit report in shambles (that happens to everyone, right?); it’s not the denial of a holiday visa into Israel or the loss of your wedding ring in the beach sands of Thailand; it’s not the falling off your bike or the failure of an exam. These are the sort of things that we are bound to rationalise over. You, your friends and family and acquaintances all know that these are the sort of things that we are meant to feel bad over – and we’re okay with it. We tell ourselves that it’s going to be alright because we acknowledge that these were moderately large events in our tiny little lives that’s going to influence atleast a little bit of it, and that it’s alright to feel bad and cry under the patchy canopy of half dead winter trees in some forgotten back yard.

Half Dead Winter Trees Road Upamanyu Acharya

But we forget the little things. The time that person did not acknowledge your ‘hello’, or the time when that friend you made a week ago doesn’t look you in the eye when walking past you in the corridor. When the taxi driver doesn’t stop when you attempt to hail a cab; when your teacher hasn’t heard your correct answer and attributes it to someone else who said exactly what you just said; the conversation that moved on after you wanted to say something; a paper-cut off a book; the untied shoelace that almost led you to trip; the crushing, devastating, calamitous defeat when she moves away her cheek when you lean in for a kiss. These are not the kind of things that we sit on the sofa thinking about with half a tub of ice cream. They’re the ephemeral moments, the doldrums, those fleeting glimpses of despondency and despair that are too short to attribute any significant time to think about. And yet, like interest from a bank of melancholy, they add up over time. They start to influence us little by little, till an action that we would have done yesterday, we don’t do it now for fear of another little bout with luck.

Then we chance upon an event of victory, a fight of David and Goliath where we triumph over our little misfortunes with a big win – it could be anything; praise from a superior, your work in the newspaper, even a little hello can magnify over time to become a tumultuous waterfall of courage and self defiance that sets the balance right. And the cycle continues forever till we learn to not be governed by the intricacies of life. And in the end, that’s all that confidence is about. To take everything that life has to offer by the neck and make it your slave till every event you’re part of, big or small, bows down to you.

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IIM Ahmedabad MBA 2021. My hobbies include being vague, bending rules, time-travel, and embellishment of words. This is my personal blog where I write on topics ranging from blockchain, to leadership skills and the consistency of jam.

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