Love is one of the most intense state of being for humanity. It is experienced in shades infinite, in forms innumerable throughout life. It has had its showers of blessings as well as wrath of bloody violence on the civilisation from time immemorial.
Of all the forms of love that has been glorified or vindicated by poets and thinkers, love for a domain is something that is least discussed. Poets most of the times have expressed their maddening love for men, women, seasons and nature. But the love for a domain is hardly directly articulated by many.
However, it is not very difficult to see the powerful and transformative nature of this magical potion of love, when alighted on a non human domain – a field of study. Lives of great men starting from Pythagoras or Plato to Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo, to Keats or Blake, to Einstein or Planck, have always shown what it means to be in love with a domain.
Eric Fromm in his book, “The Art of Loving”, had very powerfully demonstrated the importance of the self and one’s own capacity and abilities to experience this highly exalted state of humanity – love. He compares love with expertise in a form of art. He says the subject of art has nothing to do with the excellence of an art form. It is the mere inspiration, skill and perfection attained by an artists due to years of consistent hardwork, perseverance and discipline, that makes their work a masterpiece. Being a psycho-analyst, he delves primarily into the love for men and women.
Without much difficulty it is very easy to extrapolate this nature of the transformative process of love even in non human aspects, especially love for a domain of study. This article delves into the powerful dimensions of this form of love, and exalts it over humanly love.
Love by nature is infinite and it infuses power, energy, rejuvenation, vitality and an urge to blossom. The way it is experienced in a human relationship is rather of a substandard value. Rather, I would say, the source of the experience even in a human relationship, lies firmly founded in a non human aspect. For a lover, he might be enchanted by his beloved. But then a little deeper reflection in the nature of this love, would soon reveal to the lover, that the source of his love lies in probably a non human aspect of the personality of the beloved, that he craves for and he misses that in himself. I would not further delve into the nuances of the human psychology. Rather, I would slightly drift towards the non human aspects.
In his seminal work – FLOW, Prof. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, scientifically proposes this powerful psychological state a person enters when she is involved in doing something that requires high level of skill, and it is inherently complex in nature. He says that when a person is involved in a work of this nature, he enters into this trance like state, where she forgets the passing time, physical needs, hunger, discomfort, etc, and gets totally involved in the process. The time flies. The more important aspect is that after this trance like the person happens to have evolved with a greater sense of differentiation and integration.
It is very intuitive to visualise the nature of FLOW, and we all have experienced this. We also easily can conclude that one of the secret for a vital, happy, inspiring and engaged life is to be able to be in FLOW doing something difficult, that needs high skill to do. But the fundamental question is how one gets into FLOW.
One idea that was seeded in me several years ago while reading the novella, “Little Prince” was the musing of its author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. He mused,
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
“This longing for the endless immensity of the sea” is the subject of this article. This is that state of being, when one is in love with a field of study. Life of Einstein and his likes show us what magical impact this love has on the lover. And it is also very easy to appreciate the higher class of the relationship with a domain, over that with a human.
That love for learning, once kindled in a human soul, I feel her destiny is made. All human tribulations dwarf outs for her. She turns out as invincible in the face of all odds. Only that ability and capacity to kindle and nurture that love for learning is what is to be developed.
In this era of speed and skewed importance towards productivity and efficiency, this kindling of love is equally relevant. Once this spell is cast on the person, she would magically ride the waves of time, figure out for herself energy and time needed to pursue her study, experimentation and will undoubtedly continue her progress in the field. The art of time management becomes intuitive. Rather to her, it appears as if time is elastic, and it extends to accommodate what is needed to accomplish results in the field of study, she is involved with.
One humane need to sustain love for anything, is the desire for novelty. As the novelty dies down, love withers away. Love for a field of study ensures a constant flow of this novelty. As a person graduates from one level to the other, they are exposed and challenged to newer areas and aspects of the field of study. That continues to challenge them, and feeds the need to explore. The beloved remains as a newly wed bride, for the lover. That is the key thing that separates love for a domain with love for a person. A person has a very limited ability to provide for this novelty. This immortal nature of the love for learning, is the source of its strongest dimension. It is the at source of all creativity.
From a sociological point of view, this form of love does more good than its lower kin. It enables mankind to be a medium of evolution of the ideas and thoughts (meme) to higher levels of beauty and perfection. Human love culminates only in procreation. But the reach of this form of love for a domain, breeds path breaking discoveries, transformative inventions, and above all makes man more humble, respectful, compassionate and better integrated with life and people.
From my school days, I had this immense love for Physics and Mathematics. This love overflowed into Physical chemistry, and then later into Organic Chemistry. (Thanks to the book on organic chemistry by Bahl&Bahl). Interestingly, these same subjects were source of dread in early days. And then in-order to overcome that fear, I delved deeper in these areas -read more and practised more, only to find later, that I am deeply in love with them. Once I was in love with them, time management, daily routine, memorization, replicating in exam, experiments, etc did not matter at all. Everything just happened like a cake walk. Computer algorithms and Linux, was another domain that helped me to experience this childhood love during my engineering days.
Today, I am able to re-live this childhood love for computations and science, with my engagement with Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. By coincidence, this area fascinated me while I was doing my MBA at IIM-B. I started reading about computational models on corporate strategy. I was able yet again experience that childlike wonder and immense love for numbers, theories, and application of them to visualise and explain complex phenomenon in the visible world.
More I meditate on that unifying nature of this love, more it becomes clear to me that what had always fascinated me is the invisible domain which is at source of anything and everything that is visible. This love for that invisible, always pulled me into the working of things. That infatuated me to pursue engineering too. I feel grateful for being an software engineer, for my profession is to look into the source of providing a visible solution, from the domain of computations, algorithms, bits and bytes. That makes one feel like God; more concretely, a medium that connects visible with the invisible source.
As a father, I always try to kindle that love for the invisible in my daughter. But that is nothing special about me. If one looks into the evolution of human civilisation, it becomes so clear that pursuit of the evolution of mankind has always been directed towards exploring that invisible. Starting from religion, to science, to technology – all was directed towards making more sense of the invisible. It was always an effort to reconcile what is visible with what is not.
That is the best part of being a lover of the non human domain that fascinates me. You become an agent who is tirelessly looking out for that link between the invisible and the visible. You become an eternal explorer. You are always in the constant companionship of your every youthful beloved!