Life as we know it

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.

 

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Forward March

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!

Skyfall

‘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?

 

Clinging Shame

While synchronising a book catalogue application with Goodreads today, I realised the huge number of unread books I possess in my collection. Why I never got around to reading them or why I left them unfinished will truly take a large share of my memory to remember! Some days I feel the fire burned & extinguished out of me, while some days it is so fierce that I feel a strong unstoppable force within me. These moments of introspection come not without their terrifying implications on my psyche. Even the festive season is not uplifting my mood. There is just so much going around us at the moment. I am at a cross section of journeys that I feel too stifled to endeavour upon. One would think ageing gives us enough power to confront our demons and demolish them. Not always happening

 

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*

 

Such a glorious waste of our potential when we keep busying ourselves with broken histories of traditions and customs, never amending or adjusting them to the changing times. Our need for better has disrupted many a nature’s forces and indigenous heritage that we still can’t make sense of while wrapped and cocooned in our tangled hierarchies of power. How minuscule our worries are when sided with the struggles of people not barely 5,000 miles from us? There’s war, genocide, migrations, mass disruptions due to climate change and yet all we think of is following some warped concept of calendars to celebrate when our own kind is dying not far from us. We need a rebellion in minds, perhaps socially too but mostly on an individual scale to scrape off this naked shamelessness we have clung into our skins!

Awakenings!

Sometimes I feel like a lamb. Mostly, I try to be a lioness! This is so strange that we keep up pretences to convince ourselves and maybe, others too, that EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT! But is it? What is it that makes us become these different individuals than who we really are? Because we are all searching ourselves in this big crowd of a world.

A lot has happened in the past few weeks. I think I have just fallen in love with who I am as a person. Do I sound narcissistic? I mean, there are times when we don’t like ourselves. I was probably dwelling on the same feelings. I no longer do. The events that changed this thinking are fairly normal, everything that happens with a regular person. I met new people because of work, got out of my shell, realised the love that lies outside in the world and here I am, all new and fresh as a dew! It’s wonderful, like an elixir that’s working on me right now. Good people always bring the best in us! I also saw a movie I had been told about long ago. It was so simple and heartfelt that I couldn’t be any more grateful than I am now to have watched it albeit a little later. I also happened to attend this most amazing workshop ever on Accessibility for the Visually Challenged. The experience not just made me more optimistic about being myself as an enlightened individual about living life but made me feel eternally grateful about being alive and healthy and an absolutely privileged individual.

When I do think of all the irregularities we see and come across our daily routine, it makes me wonder if in running after our dreams and carving out an existence, has made us forget the essentials of being humans with the capacity to sense and love and feel emotions? Have we stopped being sensory to little things like holding hands and feeling the touch and warmth of the people we try to gauge everyday or are we really becoming ignorant to the pleasures of taking in the aura of people we meet? I do feel very, very happy to have become awakened to this new sensation about myself. I am overwhelmed to have met like-minded individuals, who I was discussing about with another friend are such rare species to find, just a couple of days ago. She said, why don’t we come across and maintain lifelong relations with people who share our thoughts and mind? I remember replying, variety is spice of life to which she let out a big sigh. So here is the beginning of meeting not just like minded individuals who share our anxieties and our concerns for the world but who truly are immersed in the very dynamic association of leading lifelong friendships for the better of everyone they meet and touch lives. I feel hopeful about being able to influence and be influenced by people of as diversified vocations as I take a keen interest in. It’s thrilling to be part of this beautifully intense, chaotic, neurotic yet a desirable world only because of all these spirited people.

The Geography of Nowhere

I got caught up and obsessed with sculptural edifices for the entire day yesterday. Somehow a dream from Jhumpa Lahiri’s An Unaccustomed Earth made me think of winding, narrow brick lanes and stone sculptures set on pedestals, looking over pedestrians and tourists walking in their slow pace. I ended up browsing pinterest and creating a sculpture board there, pinning and collecting more than 150 sculpture images in about two hours. Was it worth spending two hours on looking at pictures? I definitely think yes. All sorts of stories and theories accumulated in my mind while staring at each one of them. I saw the classical sculptures by Michaelangelo, Bernini, in ancient Greek and Hellenistic styles, by Auguste Rodin as also a lot of garden sculptures and with experimental material usage like hairpins, plastic, masking tape, brown paper. It amazed me and filled me with an acute curiosity to know of what went through the sculptor’s mind when he embarked on creating one of his creations. Sculpting is so much more intimate and passionate as compared with other art forms. It requires a close understanding and openness with the subject.

When I see intricately carved anatomical details in marble, something about the human physical form intrigues me with a compassion so overbearing and overwhelming I can’t quite express. Why have we caged our bodies and our souls in shrouds of fabric is beyond my comprehension?! It seems morally very correct to respect and obey the rules of staying in a socially-knit community but the very emphasis on putting it under a policing eye is retrogressive. It means that we are fighting against the geographies of our bodies and an existence that threatens to becomes volatile if suppressed too long. Surely the ancient Roman and Greek civilizations saw the human body as a more artistic entity and less as a moralistic proposition as we have now created it to be many centuries later. It’s very fascinating to note that while the ancient people had more tolerant and liberal art senses, us modern humans sadly seemed to have shunned the progressive mantle over art.

This very dangerous assumption that our geographies instead of expanding our sensibilities have instead had us descending over a comparative physical existence is saddening. Our capacities for generating personal physical boundaries beyond the ones existing due to a social code of tradition are immensely vast. Each one of us devises a socio-geographical relation with another individual, a place, an entity for our own personal worldly pursuits. Does this then mean that our understanding of ‘being’ is an imaginary concept? Do we belong to some place or just create a visual in time to pacify our restless spirits? There seem to be an availability of monstrous possibilities of our choices, each hurting or helping our individual aim to get through a day, week, months and years, together. I have always felt that not knowing is the biggest salvation as also a great discomfort to many of us who speed through moments hurriedly without stopping by to take in the happenings. It is in this nowhere of crevices that we stop when the world seems to be running away from us. Only in moments of solitude do we look out for the geographies of nothingness and understand the complexities of our contradictory behaviour in private and public space. It is this inward awakening of the darkness and suffering which engulf us, that we truly begin discovering and altering the geography of our existence. Borges wrote about the thousands of images from which he shall pass to one; from a highly complex dream to a dream of utter simplicity.

Camus on a rainy day

I started reading The Outsider by Albert Camus last night after a not-so-great reading week. It dawned upon me as I started going further in the book that this was about a man, a young bloke who is seemingly unambitious about his life. I instantly wanted to shut the book and stack it away from my reach. While we all know that Camus’s writing is depressing as hell, this book particularly came as a surprise to me. The young man who perhaps mirrors a life most of the people live, subconsciously, mostly to just fill their stomachs, work the grind of eat, sleep, earn money, raise families and then die, here this young man doesn’t seem to have a purpose in living. He works at a small office, is unresponsive to work in the manner that when his boss asks him about shifting to and working in Paris to head operations of their office, he declines the opportunity. The woman who he is friends with asks him if he’ll marry her and he replies saying if she wants marriage he’ll marry her. There is no love, passion, or a burning desire in him to spearhead his life in the way most hot-blooded young people do. He is surrounded by depressing and utterly miserable neighbours, one of whom is an old man with an old species of a dog that keeps barking; another is a frustrated man who keeps a mistress and then gets jitters on spotting a group of Arab men among whom one is the brother of his mistress who might thrash him for ill-treating her. Algiers has a dry hot climate which means the author completely took advantage of the fact that such a depressing setting would naturally have characters who live sorrowful lives. All of this is terribly miserable and I didn’t want to associate this misery into my life especially when I feel the dull rains are already creating a not-so-pleasant atmosphere where I live, putting me into a foul mood for hours at a stretch.

I have never hated the rains with such a dramatic intensity as I am hating it this season. Usually Camus’s writing which I associate with depression anyway, perks up the thinker (if I may say so) in me. I had also begun reading The Plague last month when a friendly bookseller gave his beloved copy to me seeing my love for Camus. I have to write here that even the most dreary landscapes have come alive in my imagination but the ones mentioned in The Plague just refused to get away from my eyes. I dreamt about plague ridden ancient citadels of Rome for weeks at end. Something about ancient cities and their perishing reasons that come down to either geographical or biological upheavals has me interested for a long time. But my reluctance to focus on Camus’s writing in either The Plague or The Outsider has got to do with his basic premises of treating the subjects. As a young woman who looks towards life with passion and soul, I abhorred Mr. Meursault’s character for its lifeless and cold attitude. I might just as well start resenting existential crisis solely for the reason of having read Camus’s extreme characters who don’t fit in society. I know that is the point of his writing but I have this sliver of hope for everyone who shows signs of instability and boredom with their lives that they can shape their existence in a better way if they take it upon themselves rather than giving it up altogether on destiny and fate. I am huge believer in active and sustained course of actions rather than passive submissiveness to problems. It doesn’t help when one reads Camus and decides to compare everything that he so vividly, I must say, paints with his words. They prick and trick us into believing everything he writes to be true. A good writer must be successful at doing so to his readers, but it becomes burdensome when such questions harm us more than solving our existing crisis. For all of Camus’s writing strength, I generally give up his books halfway during my first read and reread them usually after a long time just so to dust away the seeds of misery he seems to be planting in his readers’ minds.

I have seen young readers in their early twenties’ read Camus and I have always wondered at their thoughts about this writer and his depressing take on life and humans. I started reading Camus fairly late in my life, after I turned twenty-five. It also perhaps was good because his hold on sorrow and its depths would have otherwise crushed my senile self in my early reading years. Some writings we must read at an age group when perhaps they are long past their relevance. I certainly don’t regard reading to be a compulsive vocation as a person but it’s always wonderful to have an alternate world of theories where we can dwell as freely as we wish to. The real world often traps our minds and degenerates them with the material availability of possessions, but the reading world opens up channels of vast multiple routes that we can hop into without their implications burdening our souls. This is the reason why Camus is so successful in hammering his readers with a guilt of looking into their behaviour and finding something amiss that tries to shatter their protected bubble of existence. So often, he breaks my anger into different balls of satiated energy that I throw back into the world and announce to my heart and mind that spirits once ignited are hard to extinguish by mere mortals.