A matter of indifference

Yesterday, I heard a friend speak of her growing indifference towards almost everything, and at once I found myself reflected in her. It is not that we do not care anymore for the people around us or the endeavors in which we find purpose, but that life has simply become too boring. There appears on the foreseeable horizon nothing that might inspire our dormant hearts; nothing that we feel is worthy enough of a wholehearted devotion; nothing that can revive the enthusiasm we had in our youth. This however is not to say that we are constantly trammeled in a state of unhappiness – no, in fact we are quite happy (comfortable might be a more appropriate term). It is only that our happiness hardly ever touches the roof; but rather suspends itself like the tip of a weak fountain jet at a lower level. There are times of course when a sudden exuberance sends it soaring to euphoric heights, and in that instant we feel as if we have finally regained ourselves, been freed from the fetters that kept our emotions bound and our true selves captive. But so quickly, so quickly, does it fall back down to that insipid height. We thus heave a sigh of disappointment and our mind returns to that state of blank.

Not so long ago, we were full of life, of humanity. To every victory we ceded a prancing delight and every failure an unendurable despair. To every laugh we gave our heart and every cry all our tears. To every prospect we afforded passion and every worry a sense of dread. We were sensitive to the movements of the world and vacillated, as do all sensitive souls, between emotions. We were human. But now we seem hardened against everything, quite as if the layer of paint that before spared us the sight of a barren still had been peeled off reality.

What happened?

I suppose there is one glaring similarity in our experiences that might account for this descent into indifference – our failed relationships.

Perhaps it is because we had invested so much ourselves in those affairs of affection, had expected so much from them, but in the end received only disappointment, that our hearts are now wary of such bold ventures. We had looked far ahead into the future and conceived a bliss that paid no due to the vagaries of time, and in that conception alone nestled our entire being. That was our mistake. And from that mistake we learnt. Yet in so doing, we had inadvertently cloaked the future in distrust. There was no point in looking forward to anything anymore since we knew that nothing was certain. We thus lent little thought to the prospects that emerged from the daily humdrum. It was too dangerous. Or maybe we just didn’t dare face disappointment again; we wouldn’t have the strength to hold up against another debilitating defeat. Slowly, we began to cloister ourselves in the present, never letting a thought drift to beyond its confines, for there it would only risk devastation. Perhaps it is from this wariness that all our indifference stem.

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