What stops you?

1Chasing my freedom

My eyes open, I see a world in a hazy vision.
The world seems to spin around me…
My head hurts…
It’s a dark cage.
It’s full of filth!
It smells of rotting flesh…
No way to escape. None!
Closed in all directions.
And, there is, this lingering sense of pain through my body.
And an expectation that yet again, pain may strike anytime.
Sure, and it will!
But I have learned to accept the pain.
For I cannot escape.
I have learned to be helpless.

Back in 1976 psychological warfare experiments were being conducted for world war 2.
The test subject was repeatedly exposed to an aversive stimulus which it cannot escape.
Stimulus such as electricity and other means of torture were applied.

Eventually, the subject stops trying to avoid the stimulus and behaves as if it is helpless to change the situation.
When opportunities to escape become available, the subject just stays there…un-moving.
It had “learned” helplessness.

One word: Horrifying!

And sure enough, this might be just “THE THING” that may be binding you to travel or doing anything you ACTUALLY WANT TO DO!

But, before we get all alarmed and humpty dumpty…
What is the point of this?
Are we afflicted?
Does it have any relevance to our comfortable lives?

Is it that you want to hear a YES to the questions?
And if you were thinking NO, are you already in a vicious doubt as you ponder over the possibility?
Yes, indeed, most of us may just be the victim.

But wait, we were not lab rats tested in world war 2!
How the hell is that even possible!

It is usually learned from the institutions around us.
Just look at the following sequence of our lives.
Right from being under parentage where we need guidance, through schooling, then college and finally becoming an employee in a firm…
Look right through this chain and you will see one aspect in common: RESTRAINT.
Ok, OK!
Before you judge me, I implore you to read through to end.
We go through the processing steps to become a socially acceptable human.
Discipline at home.
Regulation at school
Control at college.
And suddenly, finally, we are presented with a free world!
And we are told:

Lol, damage already done.
That freedom which you once craved no longer seems appealing as you inherently try to find a governing authority.
An authority that will tell you what you will do.
So that you don’t have to be clueless.
Being clueless seems suffocating!
We, even though we absolutely hate it, want to be governed.
To be controlled.
We need authority.
Yup, begins the life of an employee.
This time, personality of learned helplessness- THE MANAGER!

The freedom that we always chased as the light at the end of the tunnel is gone once the tunnel was crossed.
What a helpless feeling…

By now, many of you must be thinking I am nothing sort of anti-society.
No, not really.
I do love my parents.
I indeed loved ( a few 😛 ) of my teachers.
I have no animosity towards my college as well.
Absolutely not. Trust me!:D

What I have tried conveyed is this feeling of trained captivity.
To become aware of the helplessness that we brag about.
The helplessness over which we all put blame on for being unsuccessful.
Indeed, we have been trained to search for an order in life from the very beginning.
And sure, once we taste that elusive freedom, it tastes horribly… too much free.
We get clueless what to do with it!

If I think in retrospect, apart from imparting education ( again which is VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT ),
Schools have also played quite a role in taking control out of our lives.
How many of you have had good talent to do things apart from bringing good marks?
And how many of you were shunned from doing things you liked?
We you admonished as well?
How many of you were promised a good life awaits after all this trouble of school and college gets over?
Have you finally found a peace of mind?
Or have you come to accept that a human can never be happy?

There are few career options that clearly lay the path as to how to lead your lives.
Engineers, Doctors, Academic are a few of them.
But a vast number of career opportunities are there in which you get to decide the path you want to progress.
It can be starting a business, or becoming an artist, or a geologist or archaeologist…list is endless…
For me, it was being a traveler, an explorer.
I just could not justify my life doing what I did not want to.

Sure, money will be less but sufficient.

I faced this typical scenario when I decided that I will ride a bike and tell my experiences to you people.
Most people thought I had burst a neuron up in my skull.
To general consensus, the guy riding a bike, collecting experiences, living life in constant uncertainty and danger is a fool.
But, to being with, is life certain?

Yes, and indeed, the idea of breaking free of structure and norms, not following a generic career to settle in life feels very unsettling.
But maybe it also explains why we have so few leaders and such a bulk of mindless employees waiting for orders.

Indeed many will fail and few will rise,
But should that even deter us to try?
At least, lets honor life by freeing ourselves of our minds and try what we always wanted to.

Chase the light at the end of tunnel that you always chased!
It’s still there.

There is this awesome youtube video by Derek Muller (of Veritasium channel) on the topic of learned helplessness.
Just listen to him:

And yea, to the guy who still thinks of minting money till 40 and enjoying life later, are you sure you won’t die tomorrow?
(Ok! just joking :P)


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