How Much Does the Truth Matter?

9:15 pm

A few months ago, on a walk during my lunch break, I was on a street full of unusual shops - wedding dresses for very tall women, personalized tailors for very rich men, exotic Indian instruments for very bored Europeans. Walking past all these with the glazed-over-curious-eye that I reserve for such occasions, I came across a small saxophone shop.

It was a particularly windy day with post-autumn-fallen leaves flying around everywhere. A strong whirring sound was muffling all other sounds. Amidst this chaotic environment, the shop stood still and shiny, almost as though it was placed there in defiance to the weather. Behind a large glass window were several saxophones hung on display in ascending order of size. Behind these, perched on a tall stool, was a young man with a beard, playing the sax for a small audience that was assembled around him. He seemed to be showcasing his wares to his customers.

Standing outside in the blustering wind with discarded worlds around me, I couldn’t hear a single note. Instead, I found myself developing a small pang at the thought that the young shopkeeper would probably never have to impress me with his instruments. As much as I enjoy jazz, a venture into the world of saxophones seemed to be a highly unlikely one for me.

This thought provoked a familiar feeling - that of being slightly alienated from every club I ever belonged to from my childhood into adulthood. I have always been interested in many things and I seem to have found a certain level of happiness in just dipping in and out of stamp/stone/pencil/pen/coin collections, drawing, keyboards, guitars, basketball, tennis, graphic novels, French, engineering, writing, song-writing, hiking, trekking... etc etc.

Being in the school basketball team was great for a few months and then I found that the team was full of veterans, who all seemed to love everything that came with playing for the school like missed classes and team-gossip. I had no inclination towards such things and then it was time to try something else.

Each of my interests still gives me some amount of pleasure but rarely in a strong, consuming way that will make me want to get really good at it.

Living in a place like London only catalyzes this process of going around broadening one’s horizons. The city itself is a confused one, each area almost separate from the other, constantly strengthening its own culture, shape, and voice. It overflows with several different kinds of people who come and go as they please, and several different kinds of experiences, both sets of which spark several different kinds of thought processes.

Most of the times, I tell myself that I’m growing as a person, gaining - all - this - diverse- knowledge. What I find increasingly difficult, however, is to absorb and make sense of all this information. I seem to have developed a sort of wide-eyed fascination for everything everyone has to say just because it might be different to what I know and because being interested in many things makes conversations more fun, and because every unique experience feels necessary if I were to die tomorrow and all that sort of thing and now I feel like a very convincing and glowing amateur.

Working in online advertising with reams of readily available information has taught me some valuable and at times, difficult things. One of the things I have come to learn is that although we have access to such huge amounts of data, ultimately, all that matters is what we choose to present from that data and how we choose to do it. Even with that selected, special data, each person interprets it quite differently and there are hardly ever any discrete truths.

I think it’s going to be difficult for me to stop dipping in and out of things because at the moment at least, I have to accept that it makes me who I am. But for whatever unfathomable reason, the truth is important me to me and sitting in a lovely room full of books in the French countryside over Christmas, reading some Zen poetry, I came to the conclusion that in order to stay a little more focused, I would devote at least an hour every day to pursuing something that gave me some serious, true, happiness. Perhaps if I’m lucky, that will lead me to a singular, all-encompassing passion that always leaves me craving more, something like the theory of hybridisation or the production of beer or the promotion of children’s books. Or not. But it wouldn’t have ever been for the lack of trying.

I also decided that as a small experiment for whatever duration of time, I would also try to keep a small encyclopaedia of sorts, detailing the answers to all the burning questions I have and discuss with others, then Wikipedia it and remember the answer in a very vague, false way. A world I always wanted to belong to but never did, was to understand things right from the basics and I’m finally going to attempt this in my own random, meandering way. At least the method will be my very own and just the prospect of that is very, very, very exciting.

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