A little about me: There was this time we went on a school trip to a salt mine. The tour guide suddenly stopped us in front of two narrow walls and shared a myth about their powers. It was said that people who licked the right wall got their life extended by ten years, and people who licked the left wall got to have more love in their lives. He was joking of course but within the next few seconds, more than 20 students out of our class of 30 had licked the right wall while others stayed away making weird faces. I also kept standing there for a few seconds, thinking of the gross saliva on both of the walls from all the folks who would have licked them before. Ewwww. But I finally gave in to my curiosity, went ahead, and licked the left wall. I was the only one who licked the ‘left’ wall. And in case you are making weird faces about a bunch of kids licking a wall especially when we battle our way through COVID-19, I got to discover later that since it was pure salt, it was germ free because of its antiseptic properties.
A bad question?
I have been a super curious and imaginative child ever since I can remember. There are times when I have had to face repercussions because of that (e.g. being curious about religious confusions and then being told how that is forbidden). I have rarely tried to limit my brain’s power to imagine and in that process, one of my most vivid curiosities has been about an alternative lifestyle. What if we lived a carefree, uncivilized life? A lifestyle that humans used to have in prehistoric times.
If you think about it, we have advanced tremendously as a race. Our civilization has gotten more and more complex with all the new inventions, economic reforms, and whatnots. But how does it affect our most basic needs and emotions? How does it affect our hunger, our bodies, our happiness, our sadness, our love, our relationships, our sense of belonging?
At least based on my own observations, I feel many of these advancements have deteriorated some of the very basic aspects of human life. In old times, almost all humans needed to work hard in the form of manual labor in order to survive, and in this process, they probably had strong physical attributes and much better fat/muscle ratios. Humans needed to hunt and find their food daily. They needed to walk and run a lot. Their goals revolved around gathering enough food, having a family, and living from one day to another. Their happiness was simple. Their sadness was simple. Life was simple. Work/hunt, eat, sleep, protect, and probably connect with other humans, and keep on doing that.
When I see the life around me, it seems way too complicated. But is all of that complication necessary? Maybe a lot of that has made things easier. But has everything improved? Is it easier for us to be happy now? Or is it more difficult? Is it easier for us to be healthy now? Or is it more difficult?
YouTube recommendations FTW!
In the midst of this curiosity, YouTube’s magical recommendations hit me with this short documentary called ‘Cobra Gypsies’ (also attached at the end of this blog). Watching that documentary, initially, I thought how I can never live such a life without my phone, internet, laptop, conditioned air, friends, and everything else. How can these people live so simple? But as I watched further, my biggest observation was their happiness. Their emotion. Their contentment. They lived simple. Extremely simple. Yet they were happy. Their smiles did not seem forced. You could literally see happiness in their eyes. It was so difficult to digest. Is happiness that easy? Is happiness that cheap?
I’ve kind of believed that different people find their (perceived) happiness/contentment from different sources. Some find it from clothes, some from technology, some from humans, and some from money. And I have always respected all of this individuality. But watching this documentary, it made me realize how a group of people can be happy (at least relatively) without all of these conventional sources being there.
Keeping it simple
My reflections might not be that clear perhaps, but they are honest. This experience has slightly reaffirmed my belief that happiness and many other beautiful aspects of human life, do not need to be complicated. It might seem too basic/simple/sad to someone else, but what matters is our own perspective and contentment. If we are happy, I guess it’s enough and we don’t need someone’s validation to experience that happiness to its fullest.
If we are happy with simple, let’s try and find the courage to own that. Let’s be our own happy.
You have all my encouragement to explore this documentary (Cobra Gypsies). I’ve never heard of the guy who made it (Raphael Treza) but I feel immensely grateful to him for providing me with a reflection of a lifetime!