Existential Crisis

I came across Suresh Chandrasekaran’s blog just over a year ago.

The first post I read was a saga of self- deprecation- his signature style. If I remember correctly, he took his readers into his kitchen and shared the delight he experienced when reigning supreme in that hallowed place traditionally dominated by women. His post had a note of glee in it. One got the impression that he was cocking a snook at the many generations of women who had chased their men away from their exclusive kingdom armed with the mandatory rolling pin. Forbidden fruits… ah, the joy!

From that first foray into his blog Life is Like This, I was hooked good and propah. His posts are not only funny and humorous, they are also filled with deep insights. It is easy to get lost in the brilliant turn of his phrases which take you to a land of sunshine and laughter and miss the sombre thought which holds all of it together with an invisible cohesion.

Without further ado then, let me allow Suresh to tell you how he deals with Existential Crisis- or rather how he doesn’t need to deal with it all because he has snipped the weed off at the bud. Don’t let his humor distract you from the fact that he is royally pulling your leg.

Thank you immensely for this typically ‘SURESH’ post Suresh. You delight and instruct with your usual elan!

 “Cogito ergo sum”, said Descartes, thereby ending the doubt for all thinking people about whether they really existed or not. To be sure, he is guilty of showing off by using Latin tags but the poor fellow may be forgiven this lapse since he was French and, therefore, probably did not know enough simple English to just say, “I think, therefore I exist”. What I find difficult to forgive, though, is the fact that he has left me in limbo. Along with all the other unthinking people, I am sunk in doubt about whether I really exist or not.

He, probably, had a lot to say, too, about the purpose of existence but, I must shamefacedly admit, I did not read any of it because I was so vexed with him for leaving me uncertain about my own existence. Besides, if one did not exist where is the need to delve into the purpose of existence? It is thus that I need to delve into the meaning of ‘existential crisis’ all by myself – always assuming that I truly exist and am not merely a figment of my own imagination.

By existential crisis, I do not mean the status of people for whom mere continued existence is, of itself, a crisis. Nor do I talk of those whose continued existence is THE crisis for the survival of others – the example that springs to the mind immediately is a certain Austrian painter who, except for saying that he had a peculiar moustache and was the cause of World War II (and, I do not claim that the former caused the latter), I shall leave nameless. I would speak of those who look upon their own existence and cannot see why it should exist.

Back at school, the most interesting part were the intervals when we boys used to hold our pissing contests – he who pissed the highest was the acclaimed hero. (Something that the poor girls had never any chance of enjoying though, no doubt, they consoled themselves with their own pursuits). The Champion of this tournament was the least likely to be bothered about existential issues. He knew that the purpose of his life was to piss the highest and, indeed, had Descartes been the champion in his days, he probably would have said, “I piss, therefore I am”. Even those who managed to form the lesser peaks, knew why they existed – to become the champs one day. It is those who only formed the body of the mountain who were left bemoaning the reason for their existence.

There is scarcely any passion without struggle.

~Albert Camus

As we grew up, we realized that life offered a variety of pissing contests. So, we each departed to try our hand at different ones. The problem, though, was that not all pissing contests are the same. Even within pissing contests, there are the peaks – like, say, investment banking and IT – and there are those that merely vanish into the body of the mountain – like, say, shop-keeping. So, even when you are a champ in your selected area, you still start feeling the futility of existence when the lesser lights of other areas steal the limelight – much like a national hockey player feels when the drinks-carrier of IPL Cricket gets mobbed for autographs. What, then, can be said of the plight of those who have lost all hope of becoming champs in their area – no matter how humble their areas may be? So, there we have a set of people who are likely to bemoan the futility of existence.

Then there are those who have decided that all pissing contests are futile – the end-product is only a stink and not worth all the excitement. They venture out into areas that do not involve such juvenile exercises of standing on tippy-toe to prove that you are better than the next guy. The problem, though, is that measuring yourself against the next guy is so hardwired into humans that a lot of them lapse into trying to establish the superiority of not being involved in pissing contests vis-à-vis those who continue to water the walls as high as they can. Thus, they create a new urinary contest between the two options.

The bottom-line is that existence seems worthwhile only when we get the applause of an audience. There is a Sanskrit saying – Para Adinam Prana Sankatam i.e dependence on others is distressing to the soul. In career, friendships or relationships we look around to see if those around us are applauding our achievements and, the inevitable fact is, that we catch them looking around to see if you are applauding theirs. Dependence on others dooms you to disappointment. You start feeling no-one cares about you and that your presence or absence in the world is of supreme indifference to the Universe. (It IS but why should you be bothered about it? I mean, you can also return indifference for indifference).

Ergo – thinking about what others think about you is a certain path to existential crisis. In other words – Cogito ergo existential crisis! If you just stopped thinking about it and did your own thing others may even surprise you with applause. Unexpected applause is always more of a pleasure than disappointment.

As for people like me – since we do not ‘cogito’ in the first place, we are safe from existential crisis. If envy for us eats at your soul, console yourself by thinking about the fact that you can be certain about your own existence whereas our existence lies shrouded in doubt.

After all, people do say, “People like this really exist? I do not believe it!”

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27 thoughts on “Existential Crisis”

  1. Thanks Dagny for inviting me to your blog and that lovely introduction – on second thoughts, I should not be thanking you for telling people that I am pulling their legs 🙂 Don’t trust Dagny, guys, it is only my leg I pull 😛 Cross my…err..ok let it lie 🙂

    1. I should probably add that you not only pull other people’s leg and your own but also let them do unto you as you do unto them. This, is a rare trait indeed. Thank you VERY much for writing such a wonderful post Suresh. It delights me!

  2. I usually read very fast , sometimes editing out lines just to reach the end and get the idea of the post or even books for that matter..but this one I had to read, stop and think..and then again read… A post to think about!

  3. Was waiting for this post, Suresh. Was worth the wait. Though I must say I was hoping for something more slapstick. Guess you tend to get a bit more serious and philosophical when on someone else’s blog, especially someone who accuses you of pulling readers’ legs and all.

    1. YOU are to blame TF 🙂 You gave me the topic, so what do you expect? 🙂 I get slapstick when I am mainly poking fun at myself 🙂

      But, yes, the other person’s blog thing is always there. They have their readership and I cannot totally lower the tone of their blog 🙂

  4. I second TF. You did the same for my blog too, Suresh :).But the pissing contest analogy made me laugh out loud and yet marvel at how correct your observations are. Good to have you on Dagny’s blog.

    1. Like I told TF – would not want to lower the tone of your blogs Rachna! 🙂 Besides, enough of my posts on my own blog are like this – a humorous overlay on a serious underlying topic. It is also the luck of the draw sometimes – what strikes me at the time I am asked 🙂 My posts on Akanksha’s and Purba’s blogs are not laden with any heavy messages 🙂

  5. Suresh, trust me when I say this, you do have a signature style and for lack of a better term WHATAY STYLE….

    Lovely post, loved how you easily mixed piss with thinking and served quite the ‘heady stinky cocktail’ of a post ….:)

    1. But for that ‘lovely post’ art I would have thought you were sayng, “You do have a signature style – you stink’ 🙂

    1. Actually, I do that most of the time 🙂 ONLY – most of the time the serious stuff is so totally camouflaged that it becomes invisible to the readers 🙂

  6. I have never read a more philosophical post about Pissing Contests than this! No wonder at all that it came from Suresh. And no surprise that I am reading it on Dagny’s blog!

    Great piece of writing, Suresh!

  7. Pingback: Sunday Brunch #9 | Serenely Rapt

  8. Gosh I read the whole thing and now I have slipped onto the dreaded slippery slope of bemoaning about what the hell am I doing with my life? Why there are 20 drafts in my blogger endlessly staring at me for ?Why have I not done anything useful in ages?
    Sometimes I wonder why is it hard for people to learn basic lesson and stop comparing. I was also suppose to write a blog about it but I didn’t, due to laziness and my general attitude of not caring enough to make snide personal remarks.
    Anyway a good read as always with bits of witty banter and I am sucker for banter. As always loves and kisses.

    1. Stop with your love and kisses and go post some of the stuff that’s vegetating in your drafts folder! You’ve really become awfully decadent! Is this what we raised you for? Sucker for banter indeed! Ha.

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