Man is condemned to be free, says Jean-Paul Sartre. And sometimes, I cannot help but wonder if that’s true. After all, we are all liberals forever defending free will. But sometimes, my conservative side takes over and I wonder if free will is not overrated. After all, if we were completely free to choose, we would also have to bear the burden of that choice. Perhaps burden is not the right word. Perhaps it is responsibility. But, that responsibility is absolutely massive. Maybe this is why Sartre and other existential philosophers were all atheist. I myself have never tended towards atheism. Perhaps it is because my faith is too strong to be shaken. Or maybe, just maybe,  as many atheists claim, I just do not have the courage to deny the existence of God.

Sometimes, it is easier to leave everything to destiny. Sometimes, it is easier to allow yourself to be taken care of. I realize as I grow older that I do not need to be in control of everything all the time. I realize now that some things are just meant to be. While I have always believed that everything that happens in life, good or bad, happens for a reason, I have found myself questioning the rationale behind my suffering during the worst times of my life. Looking back on those times, I realize that those experiences, however painful, have only strengthened character. Yesterday, reading an extract from Arun Shourie’s new book, “Does he know a mother’s heart?” I wondered how someone who had gone through so much suffering could stay a believer. Then, I realized that it was probably that suffering that had strengthened both his belief and his character.

I am at probably the same state now. I am living some of the happiest moments of my life right now. But, it was not so long ago that I felt like I would never be happy again. What got me past that stage and onto this one…I don’t know. I probably never will. But I am willing to bet that religion had something to do with it. Maybe it was the deep-seated belief that everything is transient, including this sorrow. Maybe it was Nandini’s words, repeated ad nauseum, all those years ago, that “This too will pass.” I really can’t say. In hindsight, I probably needed to go through that phase to be able to appreciate all that I have today. Maybe I would have taken all this for granted had it come to me five years ago. And maybe, just maybe, I would have been too immature to hold on to this happiness.

In any case, I am no atheist. And I don’t think any amount of suffering will ever make me one. After all, everything that happens is for the better. The pain, the heartbreak, the frustrations, and the failures have only made me a better person, a better daughter, and a better human being. May all things to come be this good. I can only hope.

Condemned to be free…

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