To be, or not to be: that is the question.

To be, or not to be: that is the question.

When I was in India, I always thought that if I moved, a lot of my problems would go away. If I didn’t live there anymore, my life would be sorted. Now that I’ve moved to another country, I realize I was mistaken. This seems like a “me problem”, and I dragged them with me. It’s less “I don’t want to live there” and more “I don’t want to live.” Maybe I am having an existential crisis because sometimes I think about never having existed at all. If I were given an option, knowing what I know about my life, would I even want to be born? It’s a tricky question. Wouldn’t it be a kindness to myself if I could not experience the pain and suffering I went through? These questions go round and round in my head. I know it’s too soon to decide if all my efforts are worth it, yet I can’t help but wonder.

I was never scared of being lonely when I was in India. As I moved to Germany, that fear has somehow crept in. It feels like I will never know the warmth of friendships, of comfort, of the hugs I got from family in India. It feels like I will always be a stranger in a strange land. It feels like I will spend my time here shopping alone, cooking alone, and eating alone. Back in India, I couldn’t wait to be left alone (by my mother mostly, but still). But here I am scared of being alone. 

I wish my mind would decide what it wants instead of torturing me like this. I tell myself, even if I am lonely, I can still live a meaningful life. What makes life meaningful? Maybe I could write a book, paint, create art that will comfort or show people they are not alone. Like all those books I read when I was at my worst. Like they comforted me. And if one person is helped by my words, then my efforts won’t be in vain. How do we measure a life well lived? Perhaps we measure the wealth? Perhaps the number of joys one added and the sorrows subtracted. Yet others argue it is about success or a happy family.

To me, it was always simple. A well-lived life is full of love. To be loved and to love others. Maybe that’s my answer because love was never freely given to me. It had to be earned. If I got good marks, if I did as I was told, if I didn’t talk back, I was loved. As long as I followed the rules. But it was never love, just control. Just as a starving person would tell you food is the most important thing, I would tell myself love was the only thing I needed. After decades of starving and yearning, when love and affection were finally bestowed upon me, I couldn’t quite enjoy the taste, how delightful it was. I did not have a tablecloth ready, I was never prepared. I thought it was a cup of tea, but it was a whole feast. I didn’t have time to savor the taste, to enjoy the love; I had to leave.

It felt like eating something I was never meant to taste. I ate it too fast. It was over before I could realize. A meaningful life will always be a life full of love in my eyes. The taste of it lingers on the tip of my tongue yet I can’t quite get the taste right. And what if my life is not going to be like that from now on? What if it is never again full of love? Would it mean my life is meaningless? Is a meaningless life even worth living? If I never find love or friendship or companionship the way I did before, then is life still worth living?

Truth is, I don’t know. On some days, the burden of existence seems bearable. On other days, I want to close my eyes and never open them again. But then I think of going on long walks, waking up and making a cup of piping hot tea. I try to find joy in the little things because I don’t have any big things in my life. I am trying to be content with what I have. I really am. It feels like I am being thankless for how far I have come. Perhaps it is because I measure success differently and don’t think money, job, education, or degree is success. Success is being happy with your loved ones. Success is having people in your life that would jump out of joy when good things happen to you. Success is having someone who will make you tea when you are sad. Success is your friend tearing up seeing you cry. So it seems to me like I’ve thrown away my success.

It is a little sad that in my eyes my life is not particularly meaningful right now, and I threw away the success that I had. I don’t know what will happen now. I don’t know if I will be happy. I can only hope. I can only hope the lessons I learned will serve me well. After all, I have a long voyage ahead. Looking out into the ocean, I see a tempest, but I am no stranger to stormy seas. Now I think I know my answer to the question: Would I want to be born knowing what I know about my life if I were given an option?

If I am having a bad day, I would request you to ask me again. If I’ve had my tea in the morning and a walk in the evening, I will tell you that I do want to be born. But I have a message for myself. I want to tell myself the next time I am redoing my whole life, to go to Neverland a little earlier, stay there a little longer. Because the rest of my life looks like a blur, but the time spent at Neverland is a vivid memory. And maybe I will never find love like that ever again. Love without any agenda, love that knows it will get nothing in return. But that’s okay. I know it exists. I was lucky enough to experience it. Like a small candle lighting up a dark room, the love I experienced lit up my whole life.

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