One of the many quotes that has refused to fade from my memory is Thomas Gray’s couplet in his classical poem, Elegy written in a country churchyard, which I studied decades ago.
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
When the lines dug their roots into the limbic system of my being even before I had thought about my career, little did I realise that it was going to be an oracle in my life.
I believe each one of us is a centre of power. Our individuality, our uniqueness, our very identity is that power. Given the appropriate ambience, that power will unfold and spread a beautiful fragrance. Deprived of the ambience, it may droop and drop into dust having achieved little more than existing vacuously.
Is the existence of the flower in the desert, “unseen”, a mere “waste”? That’s an interesting question which touches the realms of metaphysics. Does anything even exist unless perceived by someone? Unless fondled by someone? The flower in the desert is born, lives a day or two or even more, and then withers and dies. It just disappears. Has it existed? How do you know that it has?
The flower has left no mark on anyone’s psyche. That’s how most people vanish from the planet, having left nothing to be remembered by. Like the simple country folk in Gray’s churchyard.
Yet each one of us is a unique creature that has the potential to leave memorable imprints somewhere. Most of us are debilitated by our own environment, mostly the people that populate the environment.
When I realised like Jean-Paul Sartre that “hell is other people” I woke up to an epiphany, to a special self-discovery. I saw the real faces behind masks. Suddenly godmen metamorphosed into gadflies. Many religious people who tried to reform or redeem my soul shed their masks and revealed blood-dripping grins.
There are the innocuous people drifting on dusty lanes outside paradises reserved for the shrewd and the privileged. I always belonged to those lanes. The moment of that realisation was my deliverance.
PS. Written for Indispire Edition 148: #SelfDiscovery