The Bus Ride

I often wonder where all of us, working to pay our bills & trying to live up to the expectations of our major relationships in life, fit in, in the larger scheme of the world. I see all of us are planted at birth in a specific community of the society, growing up in an environment of our root culture. That defines our conduct, values and ethics. We are ingrained in our growing years with the scheme of events to follow in our future years to define the success of our lives. I am not challenging the defined route of life events. Obviously it’s made by some intelligent person who wanted to structure life and have better control over things by setting milestone and has done a good job. I am sure this must have worked out really well for him. The theory he made for himself however has been generalized over the years and has been applied to every individual. It is a road map for all now, irrespective of the difference between the individuals, their circumstances and personalities. The set of expectations at each milestone is pre-defined by a generic metric based on what most of the people have been able to do at that point of time and everyone else is supposed to evaluate their success in life based on how much more or less they have been able to achieve at that particular milestone.

To illustrate my point, one of my close male friend recently confessed to me that at 32, he feels unhappy and unsuccessful because compared to his contemporaries he is still in lot of debt, does not own a house or some property and does not make a secure constant/yearly increasing inflow of cash from his job. This brings forth another generalization placed on unique individuals. Their success is defined based on their ability to accomplish very gender specific role. What is being ignored is the uniqueness of each individual and his place in the world. For example, the fact that the same friend is an accomplished cook, better than a million is not a source of pride and happiness for him as it’s not even a parameter in the list which defines his success at the milestone age of 32. The generalized gender specific framework is the prime reason of unhappiness and dissatisfaction for most individuals.

Then, how to make sense of life? How figure out what to do or say or feel in response to things happening around you? How to decide if you are leading a successful life? Well, the answer is difficult and I don’t know the answer. I am myself figuring it out. In an attempt to do so, in my naivety, I would say our life is a bus journey. Pretty clique, huh but it makes sense.

This bus journey starts at the birth stop and ends at the death stop. There are millions of routes you can take to reach the last stop. I don’t imagine myself as the driver of the bus. In fact I am one of the passengers. The driver can take any route — the one full of traffic, the one which is full of empty roads and quiet, the long route or the short route, the one through the country side or the one through the skyscrapers. Each of the milestones that we have defined in our head is the stops where the bus halts to take more people in. Some of the co-passengers also leave. These milestones are dependent on the route taken by the driver. It’s not that we are helpless and at the mercy of the driver. We can make a decision to take a specific route because we think it’s the best way to reach our next stop but sometimes we just need to sit back, relax and not try to control the driver. Not knowing the future or the route you are headed on is scary but you don’t know what’s beyond the horizon.

Everyone’s milestone or stops in this bus journey is supposed to be different and based on the kind of person he is. Someone might not feel ready to reach the marriage stop even at 40. I think it’s ok because that works for him. Every body’s life is not supposed to be following a general framework for all. Frameworks are just for guidance. Say if there was a general framework for making a multi-million dollar company and a genius was generous enough to publish it; does it mean just by exactly following his framework, will everyone else make a multi-million dollar company? While the genius can publish the framework he cannot publish the exact execution. That’s the secret ingredient. Even if he did, does his execution applies to all equally? No, you have to make your own execution and find your own stops, independent of other people’s timelines and journeys.

This bus journey is not alone. You have co-passengers. Your family are the first people with whom you share the ride and are the longest companions. Though, one thing we have to mentally accept in our heads is that no one including your family or close friends is going to travel beside you forever. They will exit at some point in time as their stop as individuals have come. They may come back too, you never know. That’s the beauty of this bus ride. You don’t know what to expect next and its stupid trying to predict it. All the pandits, tarot readers, numerologist and psychics who are trying to predict your future have no idea of their future too and are just playing on your insecurity to predict a problem in your future life and then upsell their remedies at a price to make a career out of it. They are just good businessmen. The beauty of future lies in not knowing it. This is what makes the journey fun.

I have seen most people suffer when someone close to them decides to get out at a stop. They blame it on themselves and find it difficult to deal with. Every individual has its own set of stops he wants to reach before the final one. That’s why what everyone wants differs slightly. Even if you manage to ensure that the person stays with you and does not exit, you are forcing him in a journey he is not ready to take. Do you think it will be a good journey for both eventually? When someone decides to leave the bus at a stop, it’s just that his part in your journey is over. You shared good memories and happy times but you can’t control the exit, no matter how hard you try.

The seat next to us in the bus is the one which is closest to our heart, for a relationship which is really intimate and special. The person on this seat actually gets to witness our journey as a companion. If you are lucky, he may want the same things out of his journey and stay around for the longest time too. Everyone is looking for this person. Some people have even found them. We look for them when someone gets on the bus at a stop or among those who have being around in the nearby seat for some time. We want them to come and sit on our special seat. There can be a situation where he may not feel that way and would pass on the seat and politely say ‘No. Thank you’. That’s ok because it’s his freewill. You cannot control anyone’s free will. That’s the beauty of free will. All you can do is look ahead as there is no other way to look at and probably hope for the best. In a passage of time, if you keep patience, someone new will enter the bus.

At any juncture, cross road or stop, I am still not sure what I am supposed to do. I have no answer to the question where do our individual journeys fit in the larger scheme of things. I am still trying to figure out which framework works best for me, what are my stops, who I have to let go, who I have to welcome in life and if my life is successful. I guess we will find the answer along the way as we continue our journey, reaching more stops, welcoming the people getting on the bus, discovering what’s beyond the horizon.

If you find the answer about your bus ride before me, do let me know.

Originally published at on January 10, 2016.

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