by Omar Faroque
May 22nd, 2023
Illustration by Shiva A.
Will our feet land firmly? Or the patch gives way like inconspicuous quicksand. In a riveting scene from the 1989 installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, Harrison Ford’s character stands at the edge of a wide chasm, before he can reach his goal- the holy grail. Without any apparent way across this deep death, Jones struggles to visualise any path forward. In the backdrop, his dying father utters, “You must believe boy, You must…believe!” Eventually, Jones lifts one of his feet up and starts to lower it. Slowly, steadily but with a pinch of uncertainty. The foot comes down and rests firmly! A concealed bridge was there all this while, signifying the requisite leap of faith. Whether we find ourselves alone like dear Indy here or with a partner, such confrontations stir up stronger than usual reactions within us. Neither of us can see this with the combined power of our respective physical corneas and the bundle of nerves behind them. The mind’s eye, deep-seated, sees, the beating heart reluctantly believes, then our body takes a deep breath and leap!
We are breathing, building, and breaking in the age of increasing information. Genetic history, constant personal health feedback, academic repositories, job insights, political promises, quality of our natural and built environment, active AI’s assistance, biased interviews, etc. This mountain of data is composed of information that is opinion, criticism of opinion, fact, alternate fact, curated lies, and inflated truths. All while feeling lost and unsure in this abundance and ease of access. Scrolling, tapping, searching and sharing, to come as close as possible to much truth. Be it the beats per minute of our hearts, the engine’s rate per minute or the intentions of the Prime Minister. This raging drive of securing data is transporting us from a deeper search for truth to faith in something that is treated as the truth; but this is what gives Faith its distinct place among virtues, both real and virtual.
Faith functions by filling up a void of information in the solidity of our everyday events- both ordinary and special. An absence of the complete picture, a probability, and eventually a beautiful possibility. This enriches its core meaning. in the shallow uncertainty of the present, as we wade towards a future that will unfold to all our senses, in another present.
Opposite to what we are getting used to- data from all points, available at our fingertips, on our wrists and beamed into our eyes. Reinforcing our biases, giving in to our mind’s needs and quenching our curiosity. Scroll, tap, scroll, tap, confirm from the outer to placate the inner, while Faith gently envelopes us from the inner to outer. Requiring prostrating our belief and repeating our trust without knowing the ifs and whens. Will our relationship flourish? Will my college application be successful? Will I get this job? Will my team win this match? Will this diet help? Will my health improve?
Will we survive?
Will I get this job? Will my team win this match? Will this diet help? Will my health improve?
The imperfect beings that we are, we must embrace it with our strength and continue climbing. Often sourcing this strength from a gut feeling. Faith will always remain inconspicous and seemingly unattainable in uncertain situations. Yet, banking on that ever mysterious and intuitive friend, we can begin to form an image of it. Blurred and far at first but in our sights nonetheless. Our vision will be clouded by copious amounts of data, even drowning us without our awareness of it. Faith will test us in specific moments- planned or not. Showing scarcely and demanding deeply. An unfair deal at first. Holding onto what Faith demands from us to give, to receive back, will get harder as we progress up the lengthy stairwell of data abundance. Only to arrive at a chasm of our own choice. Here, we stay still, slow down our breath, and prepare internally. We hesitatingly lift one of our feet up and begin the lowering. Surprisingly, the other foot lifts, eyes open, our vision improves, our breathing becomes unrestrained and we float to the grail.
Referring to himself as ‘a detached observer, looking through a shifting Overton window’, Omar Faroque is a Bengaluru-based Architect. Working professionally since 2019, he enjoys designing public spaces and derives inspiration from readings on cities, historical fiction and India. He expresses his observations (& frustrations!) through poetry, typography-based artworks, original quotes and collages; while occasionally using old brown paper bags as canvases. He loves the energy of Mumbai and dreams to visit Istanbul.