When we reflect back on our life, it’s fair to say the most fulfiling times are those where we are fully engaged in the enterprise of living. Even when life caused us pain, the pain stems from a longing for more from existence. The most ideal combination is when we are able to balance between pain, pleasure, gratitude and hope. The most dissatisfying phase is when we are going through the motions but are no longer responding to life.
It’s a stereotype to say that approaching middle-age is a time when you are at the highest risk of apathy. Some life ‘badges’ have been met, the time for some events to have occurred have passed and whether we have achieved it or not, our concept of what it offers us has plateaued. If we have achieved some of society’s obligatory dreams, we wrestle with our achievements with a hunger for more or with an inquiry of its true meaning. If we haven’t, we wonder even if we care anymore. In a world where youth is aggrandised, there is little to keep the allure of what could transcend and transform us in the far future unless we have long checked out from our connection to society.
Sometimes apathy grows year by year. It starts off with some placid disgruntlement which isn’t forceful enough to elicit a reaction out of you. You aren’t in a debilitating condition where fighting back is the only tool at your disposal. As the years go by, you realise that different methods of resolution on various repetitive shortcomings aren’t the antidote desired. Eventually, a desire for change ebbs away. You chug along, adding day to day, muffling away vital pieces of your youthful aspirations, wondering if all is lost inside.
It’s not a great phase to be in and in my experience, any flirtation with these unsettling sentiments triggers an interest in artistic expressions whether a good book or a movie. As morbid as it may be, sometimes a profound tale of human tragedy, especially if true, can also push me out of my apathy. A perfectly melancholic song. Or a beautifully made film that titillates your understanding of the human condition. If empathy lies in the other end of the spectrum to apathy, then may we keep ourselves close to its perimeters, in search for pain, pleasure, hope and gratitude again.