There is a very famous movie in Tamil, called ‘Iru Kodugal’. For some reason, this sad saga is a favorite movie of mine despite my aversion to the philosophy / drama genre. It is an out and out drama movie with stellar (read: sometimes slightly overboard) performances that once captured the imagination of the movie-going audience with such intensity, if I were to believe all the stories I hear about it.
I have watched it fully, from the title to end credits, about five times. It is a personal record, something that takes me by surprise when I think about it. But each time I watch the movie, I learn something new about it. I notice something different, I understand something from a different perspective. The movie is a lesson on so many levels. Though I don’t relate to the story, the underlying concept behind the title is something I often think about.
Life has always been a series of distractions that come one after another. Things that seemed very significant barely a year ago might lose that shine and fade into the background. People who seem very important, so much so that they were the rock that held the foundation of our lives solid, would slowly lose that prime spot and be replaced by someone who we barely know, drifting apart without a particular trigger or even a major reminder.
Not many people have the time or space to sit and ruminate on every little aspect of life. Before a solution is obtained for some problem, another bigger, better one crops up, making the former seem irrelevant and definitely lesser in magnitude. The human mind is a complex organ that wishes for the things it has lost, things it will never have and ignore the same things once in possession.
A problem that seemed all consuming barely a week ago would lose relevance and the prime spot of importance if a bigger problem comes. There may even come a point when people would wish for the lesser problem because it was kinder and in some way at least manageable. I have practically seen people claim that they almost had ‘that one sorted out’ before something else came and claimed their attention.
This is exactly the philosophy discussed in the movie. The only way to reduce the size of a line without erasing it is to draw a longer line beside it. The first line automatically seems smaller. This is merely a matter of perception, an illusion. But that is what most problems in life are. We have all participated in quizzes and puzzles that asked us how we would change the size of a line without erasing it. Almost all of us have drawn a bigger or smaller line beside it and answered the question in a matter of perception.
There are two ways to explain sunrises and sunsets. The logical one involving the rotation of a planet and the impractical explanation created based on directions. Nothing else defines perceptions as much as this does. Though all of us know the truth behind the phenomenon, children are still trained, like we were once, to learn that ‘the sun rises in the east and sets in the west’ – a theory that the same education system is going to alter within a few short years.
No single problem is all consuming. Nor are the lines interminably long. Drawing a longer line to make an existing line look shorter has not changed the length of the first line but has clearly made our perception about it much different. In the end, that is all that matters. Life has its series of distractions and paradigm shifts because being stagnated is not an option. It never was. Understanding the theory of two lines keeps us grounded, our heads clear and our thoughts in the right direction.
The longer line looks long only until another longer line comes!