Only the Hopeless Have Hope
Darwin’s Arch was a famous rock structure that stood in Ecuador’s Galápagos Archipelago. At 43 metres high and 70 metres long, it was a spectacle to behold. Shaped like a lowercase “n”, it magesterially loomed over the ocean beneath it.
On 17 May 2021, it collapsed due to natural erosion.
Man is no rock. Nature may have once ruled man, but modern life will show you its leash has slackened. With artificial lighting, man can simulate day at night. With harvest machines and transport, he can defeat hunger almost anywhere.
Nature no longer domineers the life of man. So, would anyone blame man for standing with pride? For standing the way Darwin’s Arch did?
The natural erosion that broke Darwin’s Arch will not break man. Nonetheless, man spends his existence being battered by some other force.
His life is a torrent of anxiety. The social media scroll. The feeling he is wasting time. The incessant email checks. The social interactions he plans in his mind. The social interactions he replays after they happen.
He spends the day asking: How do I look? What do others think of me? What could be different? How can I be happier?
Picture a runner going around a track. Panting. Sweating. His eyes squinting in pain as he heaves his body through each stride. But, every few laps, he gets a break. His legs, wobbling with fatigue, muster just enough strength to drag himself to a seat aside the track. Eventually, his breath softens. He hydrates. He wipes off the sweat.
The affection of a loved one. The company of a friend. The job promotion. The feeling that his life is going somewhere, that he is achieving something. These are the breaks the runner gets. The respite to keep going. To keep suffering.
Is this living?
When asked, many will claim they’re ‘happy’ or ‘content.’ Why, then, is nothing ever enough? Why does the longing for more never cease? Why does the anxiety for the next chase ensue, after one has just concluded?
There is a truth — one you know deep down. You wrap it up and hide it under your floorboards. It must remain unseen. Your family, your friends, society: No one can know.
You are not happy. You are not happy because you have never lived. All you have known is the laps around the track. The endless crawl through the desert. Suffering.
One day, you may say: Enough is enough. I have run this track too many times.
Almost certainly, nothing will come of this. Because, soon enough, life hands you a break. Perhaps you meet someone. Perhaps you move somewhere. Perhaps you reconnect with lost relations. Whatever it is, you get your break from the track.
And then you go back to running.
Let life batter a man till he breaks. Let every unmet desire plague him with grief. Let every met desire end in disillusionment.
Eventually, man arrives at a fork in the road. Either he can bring an end to his life, or, soldier on in the hopes that a break from the track will soon again arrive.
Let a man frequent this fork in the road. If he is of the requisite ilk, a third path starts to reveal itself. An option that rejects hope, but also rejects suicide. An existence suspended between two worlds. Immune from hope, immune from pain.
Does nature need hope to live?
Let such a man discover such an existence. For him, life becomes play. You will watch him stop running, and, finally, start living.