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28 Hours in 2023

by: Samarth Bansal | 14 January, 2024

 I don’t know if it’s a late-twenties thing, a solitary-living thing, or just an outcome of relentless mental gymnastics, but last year, while living through months-long existential dread, where everything felt meaningless, I somehow, miraculously, emerged with a radically new appreciation for the thing I’d been trying to avoid forever: suffering. I realised there was no point in trying to escape it. Because you can’t. Rather, embrace it.

I am also suffering now, as I write this. The ‘why’ doesn’t matter. It’s an unexplainable pain with no grounding in rationality—it’s just what is. (Not trauma dumping—banal stuff only; you get the point.)

But what may sound cynical in theory was actually quite liberating because of the immediate corollary: in the midst of suffering, we find moments of joy, moments so memorable that I can’t forget. Moments that felt like magic, straight out of my dreams. Where the sensory experience of being there feels unreal once it has passed, and I don’t have any way to relive that moment despite the photos I might have clicked or words I’d write to cherish it. Suffering, eventually, will get back and hijack senses.

Which led to what now seems so obvious but didn’t feel so a while ago: in those specific moments when I feel like magic is happening, I forget everything—past or future, logic or explanations, meaning or purpose—and just be there. Just exist. To soak those moments in without any thought, with all my senses devoted to savouring what’s on offer. And nothing else. Because it’s those moments, however ephemeral, that make life worth living—and why we bear the suffering.

I had many of those moments last year. But, there were twenty-eight hours across three different episodes I will never forget. They are plastered in my memory. Like a movie scene, I can play again and again. I may not be able to feel those sensations, but I know how they feel. And that makes everything worth it.

At times when I feel really down, I sometimes just replay those moments, to get through the day, hoping that maybe the next day, or next week, or next month, or later, the next magical moment may come. And I gotta be there to live it.