I do not remember much of the history lessons from middle school. Renaissance, Reformation, Romanticism, etc have become a blot on the stretched memory that I bear today. I really cannot find fault in myself to not remember these central ages – reasoning, surrendering to God, and the forces of good and evil – because I eventually chose the science stream in high school. There I was concerned only with the physical and biological sciences, evolution, its implications, the progress of science, etc. Truly, I was still studying the pro-science movement but I was knee-deep in the dissections of frogs and studying the human hair under the microscope that I couldn’t seem to connect the dots.
Eventually, in my Masters, I did a major in social sciences. And, before I knew it, I regretted not having paid enough attention in those by-gone history classes. I couldn’t seem to remember what the age of Renaissance meant really or how things changes in the eventuality of its ascent. I did try to muffle my ignorance in these intellectually-exhausting classes by either probing questions or by observing silence. In discreet, I was reconsidering my decision to study a social science and more so, combating with whatever remaining self-will to not debase myself.
The first time I really understood what Renaissance meant was in a Ted talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert on creativity. This talk is of particular importance for me because throughout my life I had wanted to be the “chosen one”. I had wanted to be handpicked from among the rest and to be bestowed upon a power of any kind – creative imagination, great intelligence, incredible beauty, profound strength, anything. I had wanted to excel at the things that I merely liked from a distance. In honesty, I was infatuated by the brilliance of the geniuses that I watched growing up.
Gilbert put me in my place, albeit subtly. She introduced me to the idea of “having a creative genius” instead of “being” one. She pointed her finger directly at the advent of Renaissance and spoke how this age convincingly put man to the centre of life. Evidently so, most of the inventions and creations happened during this age but so did follow suicidal and depressive artists, geniuses, and tormented poets. Their works continue to remain the reference points for us, the 21st century to imitate and draw inspiration from. But, one could not forget that the period was one of grave egotism and a very high regard for the potential of man.
Now, upon reading Strength to Love, Martin Luther King brings to me a similar explanation of the age of Renaissance. That man suddenly was given high credence and that God descended into a lonely island, where miracles were only interpreted as scientific laws. Indeed, I do feel relieved that human egotism was not limited to the 21st century.
I have had my own journey from the Gods of my parents to Gods of my own, then Godlessness to the current state, where I understand perhaps, for once, what God is. I do not propagate religion but I understand why it is needed. It may or may not be an opiate but without the presence of a spiritual influence, life seems dull and hollow. I suffer from the after-effects of wanting “to be a creative genius”. I have depressive thoughts and alarmingly suicidal ideations, which have of late only increased. In those times, I often talk to that God – silent and still – but the faith in whose presence is most strongly established then as much as it is needed.
Some of these nights have been overcome only through divine intervention either as a statement spoken in clarity or as a thought that penetrates the concrete mind to liquidate it or as a flood of astounding stillness. It is not anything other than this – never grand or flimsy.
As I continue to read literature, I come across Renaissance often. I can recognise what the “creative geniuses” had been thinking about. Their blasphemous estimation of their worthiness and powers helps me see all too closely my own reflection. I too was drunk with power and denied the work of any external source. It was through egotism that I lost myself.
But, it was through egotism that I got closer to God.