Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A Student's Reflections on the Valley of Wonderment

The following is part of an email I received from a young student on my post 'The Valley of Wonderment, 1987-2006'. I am sharing it here, and shall soon try to answer the two questions asked at the end of this excerpt:

As you say that the bookstores, libraries and cinema houses were fast vanishing when our collective life started to live in the Valley of Wonderment (1987-2006), which left the young minds of Pakistan in bewilderment. Their questions were left unanswered. Though if there had been some efficient means of bringing them closer to the literature Pakistan have produced, the films we have made and the messages our heroes have tried to convey through them, they certainly could have found the answers they were looking for. Also being in this ‘Valley’ the youngsters probably had little choice as to whom shall they make their role-models. Patriotism and positive thinking was there, but it had no direction to follow (as you quoted "they are in love but do not know with whom").

Yes, there was a time when all I knew about myself or the world was what others told me. My life was hollow and I had no solid reason to live, and consequently had no idea how shall a life be spent. Be it politics, philosophy, human behavior, arts or religion, my thoughts about life were quite superficial, dealing only with the surface, never looking for anything deeper inside. This was the time I stayed in the ‘Valley’ and although my efforts had no specific direction at that time, still it turned out to be fruitful as I was able to observe people and histories at that time which acted as a base for my future ideas and thoughts.

And now you have made me believe that every person has to pass through this stage. Perhaps it is some sort of a ‘grounding stage’ and sort of compulsory as well.

If yes, then that means that it had to be a part of our history, so that we can ask as much questions as we can, collect material which can help us fight our doubts and also in our future journey. I have always heard praises of the 20 years you have termed as the Valley of Wonderment, that there was peace all across the country, we had fewer problems and things were calm, and nowadays there is unrest everywhere, also in the heart of every Pakistani. From youngsters to their parents, from established businessmen to working class, everyone is in a strange quest. And now I feel that the ‘calmness’ of that time can be termed as ‘a collective slumber’ which ended to bring this ‘activity’ and ‘hustle and bustle’ of life. Today nearly all of us feel a need to change and revolve, although every single human being evolves in a different way, and we need to merge all the different frequencies of change in one wave of revolution.

Although I myself have not seen the James Bond film you are talking about, still I can notice the close link it has with the Pakistani public. And also ‘Living on the edge is the only way Pakistan lives’ is so true a statement! Living on the edge gives us strength and it prepares us for future, just like mechanism of immunity prepares antibodies for future use.

Now my questions to you are:

  • Am I right in saying that Valley of Wonderment provided a grounding stage for us as a nation, and no matter what, every great nation has to experience it?
  • Also, I have seen many people full of patriotism and good feelings for Pakistan but they hardly perceive depths regarding many issues faced by our country. So it can be said that they are on the right track but they still have to pass the ‘grounding stage’ and have to focus their energies more precisely?

1 comment:

Connie L. Nash said...

‘grounding stage’ and sort of compulsory as well.

This and other phrases are so aptly put and convey deep understanding of the subject at hand and it's application.

As you describe and round out what you are perceiving about Shafique Ali's text, you are coming to your own lively "merging of all the different frequencies of change in one wave of revolution."

I'm also seeing how you are tying together the personal stages with the stages of one people, be this community of the nation or another kind of community? The religious community? The community of peacemakers? Perhaps the community of RR here?

This phrase has often worried me because I have often inadvertently or by choice lived this way being an adventurer, a risk taker not in every way but where there was a worthy goal or curiosity. So I have developed more caution with " Living on the edge" so as not to waste "the currency of lives resources blindly" yet here I see that we need to be FIT as in toning and adjusting our bodies and life as metaphor spiritually and cooperatively as well to be ready for the compulsory living on the edge required in our world today.

Thanx for your comments which sharpen my understanding as well!
And I look forward to the answers.