During my summer vacations, my banker parents would often take me along on half-day working Saturdays, and leave me in these rustic, nostalgic wonderlands called the public libraries (God bless the Chandigarh administration). Of course I made myriad friends there, but off late, the funny way that our brains work, I was reminded out-of-the-blue of these peculiar gems by Mr. R.L. Stine, called ‘Goosebumps’. And more so, the specific category called ‘Give yourself Goosebumps’. This series of books was designed and written in the form of a sinister, adventurous horror game. As the grim story unfolded, there were milestones at the bottom of certain pages, where the reader was asked to participate and make a decision, ‘what would you choose at this stage?’ Accordingly, you were asked to jump to a certain page and the story unfolded similarly, urging you to keep making decisions and seeing the consequences of these. Hence, there were almost 10-20 alternate storylines and endings a reader could possibly witness.
The epiphany this absolutely ingenious storytelling and writing format brought forth was multi-fold. Initially, I was awe-struck by the parallel this draws with much of our life. All of our lives essentially boil down to a series of unending decisions we make. And in doing so, no matter how well-informed or ably supported these decisions are, they end up steering the course of lives.
But the good or bad news is, we all will end up leading seemingly analogous lives. Much like the books, irrespective of the tree you end up following, it will be a spooky ride through and through. What’s the good news in this, you ask? The good news is you will enjoy it nevertheless. The point of the multiple detailed, intricate storylines was to give the reader a thrilling journey, with jumps, scares and nervous laughter and maybe even relief or the sweet victory of having defeated the monsters, who knows! Essentially, the focus was to make the ‘journey’ the focal point, instead of the ‘ending’ and taking the burden off the ‘decisions’.
In the times we are currently living in, of ‘goosebumps galore’, it is only wise to remember this very fact, to take some stress off our already exerted minds. Over a ‘life philosophy’ kinda discussion with a friend, one day, I ended up discussing the matter a little differently too. Of how we often catch ourselves ruminating over ‘what ifs’ of the past. How your life could be different, if you had done so and so. And the futility of it all, and the entrapment of it all aggravated by constant comparisons through social media. I was yet again nudged towards the ‘Goosebumps’ analogy. How ‘ridiculously similar’ lives we all lead, in a very broad, philosophical sense.
I don’t know if this literature reference eases things you may be going through. But, I sure hope just remembering the moot point, helps you overcome the baggage of the past, I know I carry oh-so-dearly. And a decision-analayis-paralysis that frequently accompanies it. But, most importantly, you learn to enjoy this haunted, spooky roller-coaster ride for what it is worth (bad bosses, diseases, education, money woes et al inclusive). Because we are all traversing conspicuously similar paths differently.
“After all, we are all just walking each other home.”