And then the pillars moved
It doesn't happen with the suddenness of a flashlight but it does anyway - silently, surreptitiously and almost like a cat sneaking from behind and leaping at some crumbs on our trousers.
We feel that we got it all sorted out and dismiss the cat as inconsequential but the damage has been done, the crumbs are no longer there, and yet we move on without realising that something substantial is missing.
And then after many months or even years, we begin to recognise the changes, and begin noticing the subtle shifts in our physical and mental geography. We wonder if it's the same person we know or wonder if we've been transformed into something else: someone disagreeable, someone strange, someone unrecognizably alien.
And then it dawns upon us... it was that moment when it happened, that moment that didn't seem unusual at the time or even out of the ordinary, and yet... we realize that it was that moment that triggered everything.
Some of the far reaching issues in life usually begin that way, and sometimes, all we need to do is pay attention to those tiny whispers or that small nudge or even that slight knee jerk reaction.
But more than the 'moment' what surprises us most is how it happened at all... how something unheard of in our mental schematics should end up becoming such an integral part of our personality?
If it is something to do with our eating habits or our dress sense, then, it's fine... those habits are just superficial anyway, and do not have a huge ethical impact. I am talking about issues that are much deeper such as... our sense of loyalty, our sense of ethics, our passion for doing and standing by the right thing always, and our intolerance to cruelty and oppressors of any kind.
When we look back at the time when these things were important, we remember these elements were rock solid and immovable. Nothing in our lives would make us want to shift our passion or loyalty to do the right thing. We would scream in horror if it was suggested even as a joke that we compromised.
And yet, somehow when we look back and see the changes we realize that we have... indeed... compromised. What was important earlier is no longer so but we have explanations to state why and how. We are quick with the justifications for our position but not quick enough to explain why the same passion no longer has the same urgency.
It doesn't require a rocket scientist to explain why... we compromise because the older explanations no longer seem valid, and this is not because the explanations have lost their validity but we feel they no longer matter. Our priorities have shifted, our compass has turned to a different north star to help us navigate our moral and spiritual waters. From what is vital we turn to what is needed, and as the list of the 'needed' increase we turn our positions around like shifting sands.
Sometimes it is the need of the moment... the change is required because circumstances demand it to be so, and then, we agree to it at first. But before you know it, the circumstances multiply and each time our response shifts to what is needed for that particular hour rather than what is vital in the widest and broadest ethical and spiritual sense.
So once we start on that compromising note, it becomes easier the next time and then the next, and before you know it... we have changed completely from what we were earlier.
And so, our voice that once spoke truth loudly and clearly now merely whispers what the other person wants to hear because.... peace needs to be maintained and we don't have the energy or the passion to argue.
And yet, it is this moment that can also bring us back to where we were... this self realisation of how we slipped can also be the road to take us back to that place where we once inhabited. All we need to do is take the hint, listen to the nudge and walk away.
Question is... will we?