I am writing this in response to a very fetching interview I read in one of my email subscriptions today. Just a few days ago, I was moaning about unread emails and yet in the past few days, I’ve been reading quite a few articles from a mammoth sea of subscriptions I was sure I wanted to unsubscribe. Sometimes, reading too much makes us lose interest in the actual things we ought to read. Like last week, a new friend asked me if I had read Virginia Woolf and how did I find her writing style. To her, Virginia was morose, depressed, boring and confusing. She said, she gave up reading her in college. Now, it’s completely subjective but I do firmly believe that our reading evolves over time as we grow, particularly more so in phases that we seem to be struggling with educating ourselves, polishing our understanding of the world and stocking up on our views, basically that we have no clue when we would be spouting. So it happens that in trying to cross check our political views with the current undergoing in the world, we sometimes come off as the ones who are negative about what a lot of people around us feel positive. It’s not bad. It happens. If it weren’t happening, then perhaps we would need a reality check about the worth of our opinions.
Let me not veer away from what I wish to write. The world seems broken, actually it is. There are narratives written about it and people are speaking of their personal experiences of love and hate, discrimination and prejudices, of marginalised lives, the struggle to survive, just plain living in a world that shows nothing but disdain towards their lives and them. Someone writes about being broke and finding a copy of The Paris Review left behind by a reader and they read it while sitting on a rotten staircase, about voices that are singular, angry, broken, funny and sad, all at the same time. And I connect instantly with these voices. Because I understand being penniless, I know the pain of trying and not succeeding, of being miserable about circumstances that do not look promising, of failing expectations and carrying their massive burden on my shoulders. Yet, here I am, not giving up on the spirit that drives me far when nothing seems right, when there’s no light. It’s a constant churn of life’s flailing challenges that beckon us, question and urge us to get back on our feet. How can we not believe the shining speck that resides within us and is the single most reason we carry on every day? It is just a little thing that needs to get our attention away from the discouraging forces spewing their hatred toward us. It’s a blanket with a double sided texture on it. One is coarse and prickles; the other is soft and warms us when we bury our mindful selves along with the many aspirations we possess. It’s like a chain mail of unnecessary products meant to tempt and entice us into wasting our attention rather than engaging on the things we ought to surround ourselves with for our supposed elevation according to standards set by a few individuals. Perseverance is the key to success, rightly so. It is in this obsession and confidence that in itself feels like a departure from the many specifics of our daily lives. All of us need daily affirmations for believing and surviving Mondays (for some). Our many feelings of recognition that constantly has us climbing imaginary walls that involve behavioural and moral lessons usually guiding us on our best show put on for an audience who is as clueless as we are. It all begins in the mind and ends up on the being.
I’m Virginia for my friend since she’s the one we’ve talked about for two days of a week that sees us going through many events and places. Oblivious of the literary journey of interweaving people of character into our messy lives, I am always a tad bit happy when it happens. Discussions on photographs that completely bedazzle me; I ask questions and get exhilarated when I receive answers from total strangers. Isn’t that a wonder that one giant web of information technology is allowing me to ponder my heart’s musings into opinions without caring about judgements? The revolution that has taken us all by its little fingers is here to stay and create many more striking arrays of visual deliverance that we will be tongue tied to talk about in whispers. It worried me earlier that the concept of time and future that has played havoc in many a lives, was confusing me and throwing me into roads that jumbled on their own, leaving me hapless. It is but merely a cloud that passes as soon as the nebula starts to threaten its brilliantly lit spectre on the horizon. I could never be you, as you could never be me. We’ll always leave a different trail of colours behind us. I remember the moment of first seeing Jackson Pollock’s dripping canvas art photographs in a library book some afternoon when I was alone with only the whirl of the overhead fan for my company. It looked trivial, just a mess of paint, and the enormous luxury of owning that truth. What happens to all this creative, non-essential bubble of information we are leaving behind us each single day? Is it a respite from the social drudgery we’ve invented into a spool of ongoing nonstop activity that fills up our time here? Questions like these often deserve answers that originate within each individual. We live fictionalised lives, and every past, present and future remains heavily gilded with its edges trimmed carefully to fit most of us, comfortably.
Take your broken heart, make it into art.
I feel utterly foolish, for believing that we are always able to guide our way into something we want. I think it is the result of blind trust into too many bookish aphorisms I’ve been reading since as long as I remember. The thing with misery, self-doubt, anger, hatred, aggression is that it all originates within us when we learn that no one else can put enough faith in us as a person, apart from ourselves. And even that little self-belief we have been pumping into ourselves starts to wane. We should bother less about the world and more about our individual lives because who cares? What is happening to the world out there apart from our little personal worlds is far bigger and will always continue. That’s a harsh fact said but it’s true. Someone I look up to, recently (read) 22 hours ago, said this to me. I understand frustration. Who doesn’t? We are living in the worst times ever. Even Dickens would agree there’s hardly anything nice or good about the times we are living in.
Enough with my world charade. I am truly distressed today. A very negative, uncertain energy keeps hovering in the air I breathe. I can feel the uncertainty, the tension, the spark that threatens to blow up this tentative thin sliver of peace surrounding me. I hate it. Hate being in it. I don’t know what I have a bigger distaste for- using a strong word such as Hate or just disillusioning myself into writing about it here. I dislike this state of nerving. It puts me into an unnecessary position where I can’t express my anger or at the least display it physically. Years of being a tolerant, quiet, mute spectator to some of the worst episodes of emotional and mental rage I’ve personally been involved in, I feel quite like putting up a show, every year, spaced a few months in between. No amount of self-loathing from the previous years prepares me for yet another episode of tension crackling underneath my (already scared) nerves.
Times like these are when I think of all the “supposed” motivational thoughts shared and some forwarded to me on my phone. DO words actually, ever, really hold ANY meaning at all? Apart from when we feel like a messiah and are throwing them away grandly to others? That old adage of putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes before we do something that hurts or destroys people resonates strongly than ever. We get hurt. We hurt others. There’s too many hurtful words thrown around in the heat of anger. We despise the situations. We forget or not-so-forget them over time. Sometimes this hurt comes back unexpectedly, in our dreams, in the daylight, in moments of halfhearted celebrations of joy. We can’t seem to bury them anymore than the moment we pushed them away. I used to feel at peace and calm after writing my tribulations, not so anymore. Words are indeed, cheap. But Alas, it was me who once upon a time greatly believed in the power and value of words. I think I still do just not with that burning conviction. Time is running out. For what? For pleasing this society of humans we are a part of and must abide by their customary time line that dictates our ability to be a member of community living. Yes, we are born to fulfil these grand roles cut out for us even before we are formed. The decision is made. Do not challenge it. Perish if you can’t sustain the life. Wither away little by little, admonishing your inabilities while the world celebrates the success of perfect people.
I guess a lot of things happening lately have put my mind onto a thinking wheel a bit too much. I have been thinking a lot about the sappiness of everyday life and moments that I reflect upon time to time. Suddenly everything seems to have grown in vision. There are things I wouldn’t consciously dwell upon but which are now making their presence felt inside my mind. I keep thinking of possibilities of doing either this or something else that might come along. ‘Might’ as I must remind myself. The uncertainty of happenings is weighing a heavy hand on my heart. I keep hoping and dreaming about ‘that’ something which will satisfy and satiate my passion but I can’t seem to pinpoint as to what it really is. Will I ever lead myself towards it or keep floating on the edges outside praying for an entry? I don’t know when I turned into this person who thinks that things will automatically happen on their own. They never do and never will. I will have to spearhead them on my own. And I feel that push is missing in me right now. The more I think about how times are changing, the more I look back at ten years ago, I realise this is all they call Life. It is so simple really if we think about it. All we need to do is act upon our unresolved feelings and carry on with it. But….
Everything that is happening around us, in the little worlds we inhabit and the larger globe, is incomprehensible. One can’t help but feel if this is how our life history will be inundated with events that totally mar our choices and expectations of a safer living atmosphere. If this is the best time to live according to science and technological standards, then why are we still miserable? Why are we still fighting wars, and choosing fascist powers back in authority to rule the world? When news of Aleppo being bombed gets printed every other day in newspapers, I wonder why nobody takes it anymore seriously than discussing about celebrities or movies or other random less important things. I suffer from a terrible heartbreak every moment I realise how fortunate I am to be in the safe confines of this nation whereas there are kids who sit within their houses permanently in fear being bombed and killed whilst struggling to read and dream of the magical world of Harry Potter, not very far from me. I wake up everyday here in peace, laughing, going about my life each day with moments of happiness and being able to witness the change of seasons, simple things like enjoying the warmth of the sun, whereas there are a million others right now who live under this constant fear of not being able to make it to the next day. Do their dreams not matter anymore? Have we become so aloof of this real world that we prefer to bask in our virtual worlds full of merriment and happy smiley photographs? How long will kids be told by their parents that all this will be over and they will soon join their friends and go to school and movies and everything that is normal? It is a great travesty to be fooled by all the commercialised glossiness that corporations still believe we can be wooed with amidst all this disarray and chaos of living. My mind is in a tizzy, thinking of all the suffering in the world that demands far more attention than a single individual’s daily problems.
I cannot not overlook this mess of a situation we call life. We mourn for a while when people die in terrorist attacks but what about those who die each day in planned wars undertaken by the big powers in our world right now? First, there were the World Wars, then came the Cold War and now this big seemingly unending blood thirsty Oil and Mass Weapons War. We would have thought we learned from history. Clearly our focus is not on peace but a super control and for what? I can’t see the prize money. Are we really waging wars on poorer nations because we can’t let go past our insecurities? Or are there bigger threats looming over our heads we are oblivious of? These are the worst times to live throughout the history of mankind. Everything that could have gone wrong has been done with and yet we live each day anticipating the worst that shall hit us. And yet we find means to carry forward the laughter, the light that could outshine the darkness that hovers our world. We regale ourselves with the hope that all this could be tidied up. Yes, hope springs eternal. Such is life.
Suddenly I’ve started feeling envious of all the 24 year-old youngsters. Not that I’m old compared to them, but I wish I WERE 24 today to possess the same energy, liveliness and excitement to do things. With these thoughts I was reeking in a wee bit misery last night, when I ended up reading late at night, a seminal text from 1911 written by Emma Goldman titled, Marriage and Love. It’s an unfortunate reality that society even today in the second decade of this 21st century pressures people and especially women into undergoing choices that are out of their will. Goldman writes succinctly about the institution of marriage and child rearing as these were considered the only circle in a woman’s life back then. The difference between texts and essays written by feminists from all the decades from the suffragette movement is that each one of them clearly expresses their anger and resolve to create a new inclusive world for women instead of disappointment and helplessness at the slow pace of the events that changed the course of politics around the world. Imagine this changed world with little improvements yet for women who still have to fight for legislation for Abortions, Planned Parenthood, Reproductive rights and ownership of their bodies. What would these feminists had they lived long enough think about the current state of women in the world today? Certainly, not a very encouraging scenario from how they started the movement. Isn’t it tragic in a way that we as society still link marriage and love together in a vain connection whose onus solely depends on a woman’s conduct, both inside and outside the home? What are men doing if not put us under a burden of their patriarchal diktats further pushing us away from liberation and freedom for our individual selves? Even today, as I write here, I see and hear talk of marriage as the sole highest point of achievement for women. Not even urban women are spared from the third party decisions took on their behalf for their well-being by people who perhaps don’t understand the pace of their lives any more. If only, as society we let individuals be themselves without any inter-dependence on these age-old institutions and perceived moral cages of social order, the planet would be a definite better place to live for men and women alike.
My thought trail kept on treading too many a different topics. I realised that at age 24, I did not have the luxury of dwelling on the many ideas and ventures I do now. Also, don’t we always pine for the past days and long for them in the belief that it was the best time of our lives regardless of whatever else is happening now in the present? With every bygone year, I keep an account of my foolish and wise ways, of the many good and not-so-good things that have happened in my life, my emotional strength and mental spirit that carries me through everything. In doing so, I believe that we grow in our capacities towards being better than we ever are and could be. Every change is after all an ever-evolving process towards progress. It’s a forward march always!
‘Shut your eyes and see’, wrote James Joyce.
And what is it that we shall see, sadly no one wrote a manual for it. Why is it that some people can see things the way they are while others just fail to look beyond the superficiality we are presented with? I wish there were an easy answer. As I sit here, writing behind the computer screen wishing for a boon to understand the mechanism of finding answers to the many questions that plague my existence, it’s hard not to feel dejected and cynical about expressing it. A friend sent me a quote about Zero. It reads as follows: The terms ‘void’ and ‘zero’ do not imply that nothing is present. ‘Zero’ is a point from which the scope for progress is infinite, and ‘zero’ is complete in itself. It’s this nothingness I am afraid of, aren’t we all?
There is a vacuum inside us that we all fear. Some people go insane trying to figure out the meaning of this void that dominates our psyche. Others who maintain their neurological balance are still somewhere searching for this troublesome phantom that creates an havoc in our everyday lives. We can’t run away or dissociate ourselves from this ghost. It remains inside us and we have to fight him as long as we live. Perhaps this is where individuals with spilt personality disorders end up struggling and coping with the inadequate systems, we as society have created for them. Mental healthcare is one of the most sought after health systems in our country today. Yet we do not put enough emphasis on helping individuals deal with stress, depression and anxiety. Does our physical and social environment play a much more greater role in ascertaining to the needs of individuals with frail nervous systems? It definitely, does. Except, we are ignorant of such methods of mental health care available. We don’t even recognise the signals of mentally ill individuals unless they end their lives. That is when the wake up calls and sirens start screeching but it is always too late till then.
I am writing about this here because of the pressure our fast paced lifestyles have put on us and the absence of a slow moment in our metro lives. All of us seem to have ingrained a chip in our bodies. If we stop, we are finished and if we slow down, everyone else shall tramp on us and move ahead. I read this very analytical and carefully researched article titled ‘A world without Work’ a few days ago. It details the world in another 30 years as a world where machines would function everything, an age where humans will not be needed because of their comparative work inefficiency with the machines. This is already a reality in a few nations, Germany for example. The bad dream that we saw in sci-fi movies of the late 90’s about humans becoming extinct and Earth ruled by machines is sadly almost a reality in beginning. The planet inhabitants will reach a number of 10 billion by 2050 and everything that was predicted by Plato, Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes will be seen in truth. It is now that this future seems to be the darkest hour in lives of those who dwell now yet don’t wish to align themselves with the bitter reality of coming years. All the literature that speaks of Utopian future is soon to be a reality in another few decades. Which is why I still can’t believe the callous attitude of indifference our global leaders have been holding so dear and which is why the irrelevant troubles of a few individuals seem to be so imbecile and worthless today.
I truly cannot figure out if my inner turmoil of an emptiness should be given so much importance when there are clearly bigger things that are waiting to devour our world in a few years’ time. Or is this the zero from where I need to focus on my individual advancement that shall give justice to my existence today?
I am reading a lot of diverse material from Gender Studies to Polity and Social Structure of Economies but it leaves a gaping hole each time I dwell upon this utilitarian arrangement we are part of, that leaves us with living each day as it comes for people from varying economic strata. All these festivities have started making me sick of the farce we put up for the sake of our personal gratification. How long can we stay masked till we really gather that it is stripping us of our integrity as sensitive human beings(if at all we still cherish it within us)? I am repulsed at these double standards we have adapted and employed as part of our persona. It troubles me a great deal that my actions and services for an imaginary part of this human world are largely concealed and mangled in the distress of living one day at a time. Who came up with this theory and imposed it upon us with such little consideration for the inclusive wholesome betterment of humanity? *Sigh*