Gertrude Stein once said and I quote, “Nature is commonplace. Imitation is more interesting.” Is that why we’re more attracted to things that are unreal, and that couldn’t possibly happen to us in real life? To think of it, as children our notion of an ideal life was one that was straight out of a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings novel, with us being wizards/witches/hobbits/elves, zooming on broomsticks or hanging out with Gandalf. We imagined that one day we’d be in their shoes, doing all that cool stuff, but that really never happened. Cut to, we grew a bit older, a bit more mature (but still mad about Harry), and began reading crime, mystery and spy novels, and started watching crime shows, and yet again, like those childhood days, all we wanted was a life that was as exciting and mysterious as the characters in those shows/novels/movies. We craved for that adrenaline high, and we got it from imagining ourselves as Sherlock Holmes or James Bond or Miss Marple. All this could indicate an escapist tendency in us, whereby we actually wanted to escape this mundane life of ours and live the glitzy high-octane life, or it could simply be a case of wishful thinking as a child.
Now a bit more grown up, we still don’t seem to be really at peace with all that we have, and there always seems to be something that nags us at the back of our mind. It could be that deadline that we’re supposed to meet or the state of affairs of our nation- anything that really hinders us from reaching that point of satisfaction in our life. All we wish for is to have our life proceed smoothly, and many a times some of us resort to having an escapist’s attitude in order to lure ourselves into a false sense of security. We purposely try to ignore the realities of life.
Maintaining an objective attitude could perhaps help us deal with the situation in a better manner. The theory of Objectivism, which was put forth by Ayn Rand in her books, propounds that moral truth is independent of human knowledge and perceptions of it, and that one a person who works for his/her self- interest in an objective and logical manner, achieves true happiness. Perhaps if we realize that, it is we, who have to take charge of our life and that running away from our problems, or looking at the world through rose tinted glasses, is not going to restore order to the universe, we might actually achieve the happiness that we desire. If we are ready to accept that we are the ones who define our happiness, we can actually take steps to put things in order, stop worrying that the universe is conspiring against us, and be at peace with our conscience because all the steps that we take to achieve happiness are backed by logic, and hence are the best possible, keeping in mind the situation.
Even, books written by Indian authors, in present times aren’t exactly based on Objectivism, but many a times we come across situations in these books, where the protagonist puts all emotions aside and looks at the best alternative to restore balance and happiness in his/her lives, as well as the lives of others. For example in Samit Basu’s Turbulence, the superheroes decide to part ways, as it was the best alternative for them as well as, for the future of mankind. Their decision was objective.
That said, it doesn’t really hurt us to daydream and imagine ourselves as something extraordinary, once in a while. After all a feel good factor doesn’t simply come from altruistic attitudes and logical approaches to life.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.