Monday, December 31, 2012

Thanks, 2012

2012.

What a year, eh? Sure, the world didn't end (I still call shenanigans on that), but no one can deny that this was a particularly feisty one. I won't lie; I'm not particularly sad to see this year go, especially since its second half was nothing short of a disaster in all possible aspects, but still, I choose to believe that it could've been worse, and that is one thing to be thankful for.

Yep, thanks 2012, for not being an even worse year. Thanks for the roof above my head and the bed I sleep in at night. Thanks for keeping me close to my family. Thanks for letting me see them smile and be happy around me. Thanks for giving me the chance to hug my mom as often as I could. Thanks for the opportunity to hear my dad's voice, even if it's mostly chiding me for no reason. Thanks for the chance to hang out with my friends, and to see them happy with their loved ones. Thanks for letting me be by their side during the happy moments, and the sad. Thanks for all the stellar music that I got to listen to, and all the memories I now associate with them. Thanks for the movies, good, bad and average, that I watched on many a night as you went by. Thanks for letting me tackle a dream of mine, to write and see people around me all clamoring for their chance to write. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to buy a girl some flowers; it was fun. Thanks for the amazing books; the funny, the informative and the sad, they've all been a pleasure. Thanks for all the thoughts that have roamed the expanses of my mind, they helped pass the time. Thanks for the memories, too, even if I could've done without a few of them. Nevertheless, they've added to who I am, and hopefully that's not too bad a thing. Thanks for the chance to wake up early and see the sun spreading over Cairo's ragged rooftops, and for the chance to listen to the eerie quiet at 4am, when there's no one in the streets but me. Thanks for all the nice food, even if it tried its damnedest (and partially succeeded) to make me fat.

And, finally, thanks for letting me see people smile. It never gets old.



Well, what do you know...2012 wasn't so bad after all. Here's to hoping 2013 follows suit.

Happy new year, everyone. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Vignettes -- #1: Memories

Vignettes is a current writing project of mine, mainly a few short stories - some of them fictional, some of them real, and some just random musings about the state of the world we live in. 


It’s one of those things you find hard to forget. Even if it does evade you for a little while, it still finds its way back to the forefront of your memory, sooner or later, and you decide to document it, if only to acknowledge that you do recall everything, down to the very details. The thoughts, the feelings; they all come alive in your head once more, and there’s nothing quite like it.

This happened to me a few years ago, though the exact date eludes me. It was Friday, I believe, and I was just about done with Friday prayers. I was on my way out of the mosque, tying my shoelaces, when an old man walks over to me and starts putting on his shoes as well. Being the introverted recluse that I am, I really do not pay attention to the man, keeping to myself instead until I’m done and ready to leave. Turning towards the gate, I start to make my way to it when an old, craggy voice stops me.

“You know, it’s very different now.”

Turning again, I find the old man – dressed in his plain galabeyya and ‘Emama, his battered face a crisscross of wrinkles – standing next to me by the gate. He’s looking at the vast garden encircling the mosque, clearly lost in thought, and maybe even time.

“Sorry?”

“Everything’s different now. This garden, it should be green and beautiful. There ought to be kids running around, playing frivolously. There should be families sitting in the shade, men and women at every bench. But, look at it now, unkempt and dirty, with all those youth straggling around, doing nothing at all. Why don’t they play a sport or something? Where are all the youth centers?”

“Well, there are youth centers and clubs around, hajj.

“I know, but they’re nothing, shadows of what they used to be. I recall the times of the king…oh, you young people, you’ve truly missed out on those times. Princess Ferial, Qasr El Nil club, the parks everywhere…those were the good times indeed.”

“Eh, I guess things just change, you know?”

“Oh, yes, they do. I just wish the change was once, just once, for the best.”

And with that, he just smiled and walked out, leaving me there to ponder his words.

I just wonder, when I’m his age, what memories will I have to recount to my kids?


Oh, well. I'm sure I'll think of something.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What Is It Good For? (Absolutely Nothing)

Leaders. Commanders-in-chief. Generals.

Great men.

Great men?

It's a question that I've been pondering a lot recently. Wars have been part of human history since its conception, but the idea still irks me to this day. What is a war, really? At its very core, it's the decision that you're going to take someone else's life for some reason, be it conquest and expansion, or seeking vengeance for some slight, or a number of other equally viable (and ridiculous) issues worth fighting for.

But then, you just have to think about it; the simple man, the smallest unit in an army of thousands, what's his stake in all of this? Is his life even slightly benefited by waging war against his fellow man? Does he even believe in a cause that - most likely - isn't his? It baffles me, how those generals and commanders manage to convince their subordinates to head into a bloody trench, in search of glory that is - by definition - fleeting and momentary. These men-of-war, these fantastical, almost-mythical beings; they are manipulative and deceitful, and they're constantly lauded for how well they do that job. Boggles the mind.

But then, you might come along and say 'No! You fight to be safe! You fight to defend yourself!', and I rightly call you an idiot, for you're missing the point entirely. Your right to self-defense is well preserved, and is not being argued here. The idea is what starts these wars in the first place. Why drag an entire nation into a struggle, a pissing contest, that costs it most of its resources, and - more importantly - youth?

Is humanity really that vain?

Am I so silly as to be expecting an answer to that question that isn't 'of course it is'?

Of course I am.

What is funny (and there is nothing funny about this entire affair) is the fact that human vanity might've started the trend of wars and conquest, but it's greed that keeps this bloodied machine running smoothly. These 'lords of war' here and there, they turn a profit on these little skirmishes, and they're not about to let business dry up.

Is it not magnificent, how human lives are now mere blips that drive cash flows? Congratulations, your much sought-after death is now the reason someone somewhere is buying an arsenal of guns.

And - make no mistake - they will kill you. And they will feel good about it, not because they've defeated their enemy, but because they've validated their exorbitant purchases. It's like that annoying kid who buys an SLR camera, and immediately creates a Facebook page with a shitload of crappy photos, simply to feel good about himself.

You are the crappy photo.

Enjoy your life.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Septembral Anxiety

I am at what some might call an interesting juncture in one's life.

Currently, I'm back to being without a job, but - through some stroke of misguided luck - I'm back in class, studying (and teaching) my way towards a second master's. The past few weeks have been somewhat tumultuous, to say the least; errands to take care of, things to sign, paperwork to forget about, etc, etc...but it's not just that.

It's been a veritable hell inside my head.

I do not know how to describe it, but I have a massive problem with lack of clarity. Not knowing what the coming step might be irks me to a great extent, much like an itch that you cannot scratch. I toss and turn for hours in bed, trying to think my way through a situation, wondering where it might lead, and I end up not knowing. It is not an enviable place to be in.

This all culminated in a night, a few days ago, when I couldn't take it anymore. I was literally freaking out, thinking that my future had been summarily executed, flushed down the drain. I simply did not know what I ought to do, what my next step should be, and more thinking lead nowhere. My brain refused to work, the spectre of failure loomed before me- mocking me silently, and I went to sleep.

When I woke up the next day, I had the answer, and it was astounding in its simplicity; I decided I didn't want to worry about all this anymore. It was too tiresome to keep worrying about the future, about work, about people, about the crushing loneliness, about where I'd be in a few years, if I was making the right decisions...too much, and I already had the grey hair to prove it.

So, I just cast off all those fears and worries. I now ask myself  'Is there anything you can do beyond doing your best with what you have right now? Is worrying going to solve anything?' and the answer is always 'No.'

And, for once, I've decided that this answer is an acceptable one.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hyperbolia Inundata

How's your day going? Is it 'the best you've ever had'? It is 'the most awesome thing since sliced bread'?

How about that cupcake? Is it '> life'? Are you 'experiencing multiple foodgasms'?

Do you 'Loooooove this' and 'adoreeeeeee that'?

Well, isn't that nice.

Being an avid user of Facebook and Twitter, I'm no stranger to the expressions people use to reflect their current mood or thought. What troubles me, however, is the amount of hyperbole that keeps sneaking into such statements, that it becomes almost impossible to take people seriously (not that taking people seriously on such media is a good idea in the first place, but for the sake of the current argument, let's assume that you do).

It is curious, because it's becoming unacceptable for a person to simply state how he feels, that he simply likes or loves something. No, you have to state how much you adore it, or how much it disgusted you. It has to become so bloated and grand, so expressive,  that it loses any shred of authenticity it might have possessed in its original form. Your entire life becomes this aggrandized version of itself, where everything is garishly, almost grotesquely, bright and colorful.

And, it just makes me wonder, why? Why is it that our emotions, be they positive or negative, have to be injected with dose upon dose of hyperbole, until it becomes self-mocking. Are we so starved emotionally, that every incident has to become the worst/best ever? Are we so self-conscious that our lives have to seem better than anyone else's? Do we really need so much attention that we've done everything save tape fireworks to our tweets and posts, simply to let people know that we're having the time of our lives, every single time we go out?

Newsflash, guys; happiness - like everything - is best expressed through simplicity. Recognition has never come through hyperbole, but authenticity. People can sense that sort of stuff, much as you'd like to believe otherwise, and trust me, no one is going to believe you just had the best pancakes the northern hemisphere has to offer, unless you can back that shit up with proof and samples.


An understated life might take longer to appreciate, but at least, the appreciation lasts.

Till next time,

Me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Quote On Humanity and The Nature of Life

I've just finished Cloud Atlas, and there was this quote near the end of the book that I felt the need to share.

"Scholars discern motions in history and formulate these motions into rules that govern the rises & falls of civilizations. My belief runs contrary, however. To wit: history admits no rules; only outcomes. 

What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts.
What precipitates acts? Belief.

Belief is both prize & battlefield, within the mind & in the mind's mirror, the world. If we believe humanity is a ladder of tribes, a colosseum of confrontation, exploitation & bestiality, such a humanity is surely brought into being, & history's Horroxes, Boerhaaves and Gooses shall prevail" (Those are examples of villains in the book.)

"You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the "natural" (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?

Why? Because of this: one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness  uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.

Is this the doom written within our nature?

If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe diverse races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share this candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Tortuous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president's pen, or a vainglorious general's sword."

Nice thought, no?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Spark Plug

What if I told you that your existence is a mere second of thought within a much larger mind? Would that fascinate you or scare you? We are always inclined to lend importance to our existence, that our lives are a big deal. We're here for a reason, we keep telling ourselves. 

But is that a truth, or is it a lie that we perpetuate and repeat ad infinitum, in the hopes that we'll believe it, or perhaps in the hopes that saying so would make them so. 

Of course, there is nothing that suggests otherwise, and for all I know, we might truly be a big deal, but it is sometimes interesting (and quite funny) to note the tricks that we play upon ourselves, during the grand quest for self-worth. 

But then, how would you derive your sense of self-worth? Do you base it upon the opinions of others? The opinions of the well-cultured few? Perhaps your very own opinion. It's quite funny to discuss this with people, and watch them tear apart each hypothesis with such furor that you'd think you've committed some grave faux pas by suggesting that they rely on some external source of self-worth. We are self-aggrandising and self-deprecating, in one hard-to-swallow oxymoronic dollop.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

(Dis)connect

A quick thought..

It's funny how, in modern times, technology has led us to feel that we need to stay 'connected' at all times. Losing one's internet access is akin to losing a limb now, and it's actually quite ridiculous. What's even more ridiculous is the fact that through such 'connection', we are actually 'disconnected' from the actual, real world we live in. Our world becomes confined to an LCD/LED screen and a few scrolls and keystrokes, and we're completely fine with it.

How long until we wholly forsake real connections for ethereal ones? Until all our senses are tethered to something that's not really there? Will we mourn or celebrate it?

I worry, sometimes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Review of Sorts

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is a very special book.


I came to it not knowing what exactly to expect, I’d never read any of Kundera’s books before, and most of my friends -while confirming that it’s a great book - refused to tell me more, opting to tell me that I have to read it to know what’s so special about it. 

I thank them for doing so.
Upon picking up the book, and starting to read, I realized that Kundera has a very interesting way of approaching his story. He doesn’t go for the pure approach of simply listing events and characters, neither does he wax philosophical about motivations and motifs without purpose. He achieves an amazing balance between both, weaving events and thoughts together in a manner that had me hooked from the very first page.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Critical Juncture

The worst thing that can ever happen to an over-thinker is being faced with a situation that actually requires him to stop thinking and actually wait and act accordingly, because all he ends up doing is sitting there, thinking about all the ways things can go wrong, and thus he ends up caught in a nightmare that is not yet real, but is very likely to gain form through his own misgivings.

It is a sad, worrisome thing.




Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Let's Talk About: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter

Let's Talk About is - going to be, hopefully - a series aimed at discussing things that I've read, watched or listened to, and found necessitating further discussion later on. Stay tuned for fun stuff.


Note: This is mostly aimed as a rebuttal, after reading Shereen Gaber's review of the movie here.




All right. So, last week I've had the chance - or rather the misfortune- of watching the movie adaptation of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith which aims at sprucing up one of America's most famous presidents, by making him moonlight as a vampire hunter. 


I actually enjoyed the book a great deal; it was well-written, played its cards right, and even though the entire situation was completely ludicrous, my suspension of disbelief remained entirely untouched.

So, when I learned that the book was to be adapted into a movie, I rejoiced! It seemed like a perfect match, and they'd even managed to bring in Grahame-Smith to write the movie script. It was going to be great! Even better, Timur Bekmambetov, of Night Watch and Wanted fame, was going to direct it. Crazy, unrelenting action and set-pieces! Woo!

Then, I watched the movie.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Excerpt: ‘Impossible Dreams' by Tim Pratt

Here's an excerpt from the anthology Other Worlds Than These, a short story entitled Impossible Dreams, by Tim Pratt. It's really quite awesome.


(Visit the website here for more info about the anthology. All credit goes to Wired for sharing this.)






‘Impossible Dreams’ by Tim Pratt
Pete was walking home from the revival movie house, where he’d caught an evening showing of To Have and Have Not, when he first saw the video store.
He stopped on the sidewalk, head cocked, frowning at the narrow store squeezed between a kitschy gift shop and a bakery. He stepped toward the door, peered inside, and saw old movie posters on the walls, racks of DVDs and VHS tapes, and a big screen TV against one wall. The lettering on the door read “Impossible Dreams Video,” and the smudges on the glass suggested it had been in business for a while.
Except it hadn’t been. Pete knew every video store in the county, from the big chains to the tiny place staffed by film students up by the university to the little porno shop downtown that sometimes sold classic Italian horror flicks and bootleg Asian movies. He’d never even heard of this place, and he walked this way at least twice a week. Pete believed in movies like other people believed in God, and he couldn’t understand how he’d overlooked a store just three blocks from his own apartment. He pushed open the door, and a bell rang. The shop was small, just three aisles of DVDs and a wall of VHS tapes, fluorescent lights and ancient, blue industrial carpet, and there were no customers. The clerk said, “Let me know if you need any help,” and he nodded, barely noticing her beyond the fact that she was female, somewhere south of thirty, and had short pale hair that stuck up like the fluff on a baby chick.
Pete headed toward the classics section. He was a cinematic omnivore, but you could judge a video store by the quality of its classics shelf the same way you could judge a civilization by the state of its prisons. He looked along the row of familiar titles–and stopped at a DVD turned face-out, with a foil “New Release” sticker on the front.
Pete picked it up with trembling hands. The box purported to be the director’s cut of The Magnificent Ambersons by Orson Welles.
“Is this a joke?” he said, holding up the box, almost angry.



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Necessary Useless List: Things I'd Like To Do (Preferably) Before I die

People usually do lists on their blogs, right? Thought I'd get with the program.

Here are a few things I'd be quite happy about them happening before my eventual demise (read: ascension to Valhalla and bro-ing out with Thor and Odin):



1 - Travel to seven different countries. Get hopelessly lost in one, have a life-changing epiphany in another.

2 - Be on the roof of a really tall building at sunset, stay there chatting with friends until sunrise.

3 - Wake up one day to nothing but the sea and the sky. Oh, and a book. Clothes optional.

4 - Punch someone. Doesn't have to be a massive one. Just a punch.

5- Be hugged lovingly by a child, and not just because I just gave them candy.

6- Write a best-selling book. Tease my nemesis endlessly about it.

         Addendum: - Get a nemesis.

7 - Jump off a waterfall. Hopefully not land in shallow water.

8 - Live long enough for someone to discover a drug that would make my parents live forever. And makes them respect my privacy.

9 - Listen to the Kings of Convenience while watching the Aurora Borealis dance its merry way across the Scandinavian skies.

10 - Meet JK Rowling. Convince her to write me into a Harry Potter sequel. Get Neil Gaiman to narrate the audiobook.


Bonus Round (or what it all really comes down to): - Grow old with someone, smiling at her smile, hold her hand and squeeze it reassuringly, have her rest her head on my shoulder on a long bus ride to a place we've never been to, taking a silly photo of her and pinning it to the fridge, losing a snowball fight to her, and maybe even have her read my words aloud to me.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Write. Right?

I write to feel right.

This is - quite basically - the reason I write at all. My brain is often a cauldron, within which thoughts are constantly frothing and bubbling, threatening to spill over the edges, but the cauldron is tightly sealed, and so the thoughts keep percolating endlessly, never surrendering, only giving rise to more thoughts and ideas until you feel like your head is about to burst.

And so, I grab a pen, and with it I carve holes into my skull, allowing all the thoughts to filter through in an orderly (or not so orderly) manner, so that I can simply stop feeling like my head is three times its size, so I can stop grinding my teeth so hard that I feel my jaw giving way.

I write to stop feeling angry, or sad, or tired, or even to celebrate my happiness or random bouts of content.

I write, because I like words.

It's ironic how I've managed to fail to find a word that expresses how I feel about words. There is no word, sadly, to describe that feeling you get, when an intangible thought transforms before your mind's eye into a jumble of letters, that then coalesce into a word. It is beautiful, satisfying, and utterly baffling.

It's nice, to watch the words then interlink into phrases, expressing thoughts and meanings that used to be just at the tip of your tongue, so close and yet so very far. You smile, as you dress those meanings up, in long flowing statements, in bright adjectives and startling, sparkling words.

And then you step back, cupping your chin, and appraise your work in pride and (often hidden) relief.

Congratulations, you've written something, and you'll never be the same again.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Scale

A few minutes ago, I looked out my window, and saw the moon.

Then it hit me; I am on the surface of a planet, looking up at something thousands of kilometers away, reflecting the light of something that is even farther than that.

Scale is such a funny thing. We think the world of our problems, whereas we're really, really small.

Take a moment, look out your window right now, and think about it.

Is it really worth worrying about?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Dreams

This was initially triggered by a six-word suggestion from a fellow Twitter user. Thanks, Amenah.

This is also dedicated to Adly, who was one of the first people to encourage me to start this blog, and who's leaving the country soon. You shall be missed!

-----------------





You were in my dreams again yesterday.

You stood there, clutching that lace umbrella you loved so much. I watch in awe, as you twirl it playfully in your hands, and I can see you’ve painted your nails blue, that brilliant azure color that I’ve always loved so much. I smile, you’ve always had a thing for all things Victorian; you called them regal, austere, beautiful. 


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Existence And Definitions


My existence is a series of questions that I attempt to answer everyday, and the answers never really impress me.



I start with the obvious. “What am I?” - that one is easy enough. I am a man, a human being, an assortment of organs linked together by myriad vessels in a body that runs like clockwork. I am a being that is recognized by fellow beings as one of their own, part of a herd, member of the not-so-exclusive club of Humanity.
At least, that’s the physical interpretation of my existence. I am okay with that, it is clear and clean-cut, and it’s hard to argue against. It is what I perceive myself as, and it is close enough to what I perceive others as. So, it’s all right.
Then you move on to “Who am I?”, and that’s where the problems start; how do you know who you are? Do you define yourself, again, by your physical existence? No, because then you’d lose your individuality, that you fought for so valiantly by popping out of that birth canal, and you just become another human being. Is that what you want? Probably not. So, it’s not just the physical existence.
Is it what you do, then? Am I defined by the things that I do in my life? Aren’t those things that everyone does, to some extent? So, to define oneself, do we just mix and match a number of actions, and what adds up is what a person is? Perhaps.
I suppose one of the most deplorable things about the exponential growth in communication technology is that we’re now constantly aware of how tiny we are in the grand scale of things. You’re just one person among billions, one soul among so many more, and what makes you so different then? Once we thought that the things we did were unique and personal, but then you start learning that everyone does it to some extent, and that your actions were merely a reflection of an evolving human nature. Your soul is just a fraction, part of a larger mosaic, and it keeps looking like the little parts repeat themselves every so often.

You are a drop in an ocean. A reed in the marsh. A letter, repeated ad infinitum on a massive white paper, yellowing at the edges.
You are...you.
And I am...me. I am...not you.
Is that what it is? Am I defined through what I am not? Through who I am not?
Is that what makes me unique?
Sometimes, I feel like a character who’s been abandoned by its writer halfway through the story, and the bastard never even thought to leave me a pen to finish the job.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Technological Hyper-reliance And Second-hand Experiences

I'm writing this post because a certain trend has come to my attention, which is no way new or unexpected, but the repercussions of which are truly staggering. We, as humans, have this amazing tendency to abuse whatever privileges we manage to provide for ourselves; various forms of energy, all sorts of ingenious inventions, but no privilege has been more widespread in its disastrous effects on the human race than the exponential growth in technological advancements, and especially the internet.

Consider your life right now; you spend your day connected to the internet, browsing a massive amount of websites, reading, watching videos, checking in to your favorite coffee shop (then whining about how everyone now gets their coffee there and you have to stand in a queue for half an hour...God, those troglodytes!), then you see something nice and you decide to take a photo and maybe share it on Twitter or Instagram, and maybe then you'll record a video of your favorite underground artist during that concert you attend later today, and...

...okay, stop, look at what you're doing here.

See, I have nothing against technology at all. We wouldn't be where we are right now without the amorphous beast that is the Internet, and advancements in tech save lives on a daily basis, so I'm definitely not decrying the fact that we're making progress. I'm just surprised at our tendency to transform our lives into a series of second-hand experiences.

Allow me to explain. Nowadays, when you're looking at something nice in the street, you probably are seeing it through the lens of your phone's camera (or your very own, state-of-the-art DSLR that all your friends secretly crave, and which you're pretty much regretting buying in the first place) instead of just using your very own eyes. You attend a concert, looking through the minuscule viewfinder of your camera, trying not to shake the damn thing too much during the performance. Then you go home and watch the video, and you feel particularly vacuous. You feel nothing.

Why? Because your experience was entirely second-hand. Your unquenchable desire to obtain things which you can share with the world (or at least, the massively large portion of it connected to the internet) got in the way, and thus you - and them - managed to get a shaky video with terrible audio of the artist you admire so much. Well done.

It's so very silly, how we keep doing that, and then we start wondering why we're becoming more forgetful. How can you expect to remember something that you half-experienced, especially when you know that you can get back to it simply by revisiting that photo, video or audio recording. But the problem is that those things might capture how something looked or sounded, but they cannot capture how you felt, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot recapture something that you paid no heed to in the first place. And that's why you keep finding all those nitpicks with the photo or video you once thought was perfect. It doesn't feel the same, you think. It's not the same thing.


Well, yes, because you're the one who managed to alter it, from a personal memory to an digital, soon-to-be-forgotten souvenir.

So, just...make sure your own memory is a bit richer than your phone's or your camera's. That's all I'm asking.

Toodeloo.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Do(ugh)nut

What am I doing here?

I’m in a country I don’t know, working with people I’ve never seen before, discussing a topic that I’m not even sure I’m interested in anymore. And yet, here I am, walking down the only street I know, trying not to feel like it’s all a waste of time.


And then I see this famous donut shop, and I realize that even though I’ve been there for weeks, I haven’t even tried a donut. I never even thought about it, even though I walked down that street probably a dozen times since I got here. Apathy? Perhaps.

Maybe I should just go home.

The thoughts are still circling my head, giving me no respite, as I walk into the shop and decide to maybe try one of the donuts. I walk up to the counter and...

...you know what? I’m sure you’ll think I’m exaggerating, or maybe you’ll roll your eyes when I say it, thinking that I’m just another person spouting off nonsense, or perhaps I was in a deeply impressionable state, but I’m pretty sure that the girl I saw working at the counter that day was one of the most beautiful girls I’d ever seen.

Sure, I was in a country that was quite known for its beautiful women, and I’d seen quite a few of them, but none had grasped my attention in the way that girl did. She had this simple, unaffected air about her, compounded by her natural beauty and that gentle smile she wore as she took my (largely flabbergasted) order. I watched her work deftly, her delicate fingers extracting the donut from amongst its equally delicious brethren, then concoct a strong mug of coffee that was already looking good even before I took the first sip.

I thanked her and walked to one of the empty tables, still unable to get her off my mind. Of course, I start to construct scenarios, about how I might approach her and maybe ask her out. Of course, it was all ridiculous; I’d never asked a girl out before, and my pseudo attempts all ended in failure, so I didn’t really think I’d have a chance with a foreign attractive girl. But, still, my brain wouldn’t give it a rest; kept thinking about how I might act interesting, or funny, or - God help me - interestingly foreign. But, the same brain that kept telling me I should do it, also relished exposing to me the various cruel methods of rejection. She’ll say no. She’ll look it you funny. She’ll laugh and shake her head. Etc, etc..


So, yeah, of course I walked out of there without doing anything, and I never saw her again. What did you expect? A happy ending? Those are for the luckier ones among us, folks.

See you later.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flash Fiction: Consequence

“All right, you know what? I’m leaving.”

“What? Why?”


“Because I’m sick of this. Of ALL of this. I can’t take it anymore.”


“But, you can’t leave.”


“Why can’t I?”


“Because...I dunno, because you’re not supposed to leave. You need to be here with me.”


“Really? And why is that? What makes you think I’m not supposed to leave?”


“You’ve been here with me since as far as I can remember!”


“That’s not a good enough reason.”


“No?”


“No. You could say that I’ve never...known any better, and so I just resorted to sticking around, seeing how things go.”


“And now?”


“Well, now I can see that this is not the best use of my time, and so I’ve decided to move on.”


“So, it’s like that then?”


“Oh, please. Don’t give me that wounded dog tone. It’s not like you ever paid attention to me in the first place.”


“What?”


“Oh, yeah. When was the last time you thought of me? Talked to me? Even looked at me! Think about it. It’s like you don’t even know I’m there.”


“But, I do know. I just...”


“You just took me for granted, simply because I’ve been here for so long. Well, guess what? I’m done with that.”


“Wait, let me just...”


“Sorry, I’ve wasted quite a few years waiting. No more. Goodbye.”

---
And that was how I was the first man to ever lose his shadow.

However, I would hardly be the last..

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Daytripper, Death And The Choices We Make

Having recently acquired an iPad, I realized quickly the value of the device as a means of reading digital comic books, and seeing as I do enjoy them and have been hankering for a way to read them more efficiently (and with enhanced mobility), it turned out to be a lifesaver. I dove right in, picking up necessary reads such as Fables and Neil Gaiman's stellar Sandman. A close friend of mine, Marwan (a multi-talented artist, musician and comedian whom you should follow right now), told me to drop everything I was reading and pick up Daytripper instead.

I listened to him, and I'm very glad I did.

(Note: This might include spoilers for the comic.)

Daytripper Vol. 1

I really had no idea what to expect when I started reading it. The cover seemed imaginative and interesting, and the artwork and writing were stellar, to say the least. The main character, Bras, is introduced as an aspiring writer who's stuck writing obituaries for a newspaper. You learn a bit about him, his close friend, his wife, and his father...

...and then Bras dies.

Okay, so maybe now we're going to look back at his life or something. See how he got there. Right?


Those were my thoughts when I started the second volume, which I consumed dutifully, and again, Bras died. This time at a younger age.

What's going on here, exactly?




You see, Daytripper is a very interesting comic series; Bras's death comes at the end of every issue, at a different age, and by a different method. Each issue is usually concluded by a small obituary, a gentle send-off. But then, if you take a moment to think about it, you realize that you're looking at various snapshots of Bras's life, snapshots that shaped him into the person he became in the end; family visits, traveling around the world with his closest friend, recovering from a break-up, working on his book, his wife giving birth, and so on.

And, as you go through the books, you become infinitely curious; what's going to happen to him this time? So, if he hadn't done X, where would his life be right now? How is he going to die THIS time? They're all very legitimate questions, but in the end, you realize that you're looking at the choices he made through his life, and how each choice lead somewhere different and new, even if that different thing is a new death.

So, is life a game of possibilities? Are we just going through discrete points in time, where a simple action (or inaction) might lead to wildly varying outcomes? It's somewhat terrifying to think about; to see where your life was and where it is now, and to think that it could've been an entirely different thing. You could've become a lawyer! Or a dentist! Or you could've even died young! Maybe you could've married that nice girl across the street whom you never got the nerve to talk to! Or maybe you could've been run down by a car while you crossed that same exact street!



The possibilities are endless and dizzying, to say the least. But, then, you get to the 9th issue, and you come to a realization.


When you read these words, you're then left to ponder what you've been reading so far. Every issue cast a spotlight on a certain part of Bras's life, but it is the death in the end that makes it poignant, like dying right before confessing his love to a girl, or dying after having found the friend he'd been looking for for years. It is the biting edge of loss that makes you look back at what he's done, and wonder, and think.

This is then cemented in the very last chapter, in which - for a change - Bras knows that he's going to die. Bras refuses to seek to prolong his life, since he knows that he's lived a good life, and that he's enjoyed every little bit of it, and he's more than ready to go now. 

It is simple; the realization that sooner or later, life ends. You don't know how or when it will happen, so seek to live in whichever way you find favorable. So that at no point in time would you regret seeing it go. 

A good lesson. Thank you, Daytripper. Thanks, Marwan.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

On The Fickle Nature Of Happiness and...A Great Many Things, Really

Okay, so..

I've been debating writing this for a almost a week now, because I wasn't entirely sure whether I wanted to do so in the first place. At times, I thought that I needed to do so or risk my head exploding. Other times, I felt that it was completely unnecessary and a waste of time. I would be lying if I said that right now, I leaned towards one opinion or the other, but since I'm trying to regret as few things as possible, I decided to get this out there instead of wondering whether I should or not.

Last week has been a particularly stressful one; I'd been hurt pretty badly by a person quite close to me, and in the ensuing void created by that person's absence, I've been driven to wonder about a lot of things. Primarily, about the peculiarities of being happy. I am not afraid to admit that being around that person made me happy, and that for the first time in ages, that happiness seemed to be a dynamo that was urging me forward in other fields of life, fields that I did not seem so interested in before.

It was all going so incredibly well, until it ended.

Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely), when that encounter ended, I discovered that I had no desire whatsoever to pursue the things that only a few days before seemed quite approachable and exciting. I did not even have the desire to do the most basic of tasks at work, but realizing that work (quite truly) doesn't give a damn whether you feel like shit or not, I endeavored to undertake and finish those tasks. When the workday ended, all I could think of is how much I needed to be at home, to just lie down and sleep, and wake up to face another monotonous day at work.

I still do not have complete recollection of the entire week, and perhaps that's for the best.


One incident stands out; on the very next day to having ended the short-lived 'affair', so to speak, I woke up feeling not so bad. I was willing to face the day with a brighter disposition and it seemed like everything was going to be just fine. Why did that happen? While on the way to work, I came across a small family; just a father, a mother and their young daughter, taking the little girl to school. The father had a bicycle, upon which he had propped up the little girl, while the mother trailed behind them, carrying the (unquestionably overburdened) schoolbag. What drew my attention is that all three wore the brightest of smiles; it was a carefree expression, one that I hadn't seen in quite some time. It was at that point that I thought "Well, regardless of what their lives might be like, or what it might throw at them, these guys will pull through, they're going to be all right. I don't know them, but I know that they're going to be just fine."


(Sure, I succumbed back to depression a few hours later, but that's besides the point. Carry on.)


That got me thinking about the nature of one's happiness. You see, happiness is a very, very fickle thing. Maybe you base your happiness on being around people, or on possessing money or prestige, and that's not entirely wrong (well, at least with regards to friends, but who am I to judge?), but then when you lose such people (as is people's wont; no one sticks around forever. Another pricey lesson), or money or whatever, you're left with yourself, and most likely you won't be happy about it.

But, so what?

I do not want to turn this post into something along the lines of self-help or any of that crap, but the fact remains that greedy attachment is not the right way to approach happiness. Take me for example; I'm not happy at the moment, because of a great many things, but I do not pay much attention to that fact, because - again - happiness is a fickle, finicky thing. Perhaps the family I saw later had the worst day of their lives, but owing to that genuine smile on their face, I know that they'll spring right back up, because they won't dwell on the happiness lost. I think the lesson I've learned is that you take happiness whenever it comes around; you cherish it, enjoy it, and share it with others, but you do not take it for granted, and you do not think that it would last forever.

Because, at one point, you'll be left by your lonesome again, and you'll wonder where it all went wrong, and what you could've done to make it right. Sure, think about those things, and learn from them, but do not let them deprive you from appreciating the fact that you managed to feel truly happy..

..even if it was for just the few scant hours of a Tuesday morning.

Monday, May 7, 2012

On Scumbag Brains & Why The Mind Is The Worst Cage There Is

Wow, it's been some time since I posted anything, hasn't it? But why, one must wonder. Was it because I was too busy with many things? Nope. Was it because I had suddenly and spontaneously grown a life? Nope. Was it because my mind was empty and I didn't have anything to talk about? Hah, far from it! It was simple, run-of-the-mill 'I'm so lazy that I don't even feel like letting what percolates in my mind find its way into the ether.'. It is somewhat pathetic to think about now, so perhaps I should keep the pace up instead of finding myself addressing this again. I mean, one can only deal with so much embarrassment. (Though your mileage might vary with regards to that. I seem to be reminded daily that some people have no shame.)

So, why are we here today? Well, some of you might have heard of the infamous "Scumbag Brain" meme, which makes fun of the fact that the human brain can be quite the asshole at times; forgetting the important things you try to remember, remembering the useless stuff, keeping you up at night for no apparent reason, making you think that the monsters in the dark corner of your room do exist (they totally do, by the way. I had a stellar discussion with the young man with the slit throat. You'd think the fact that he had no vocal cords would be problematic, but...yeah, maybe I shouldn't get into that.) ..but yeah, generally, the brain does quite a few things that it should be ashamed of.

But then again, the brain does a bevy of other things that we are primarily responsible for. We tend to build the perfect cages in our minds, then step into them out of our volition, throw away the key, and then wonder why we can't stop thinking. It might be a shocker to some, but the brain's task is to think. Sure, you could argue that there's a bajillion (totally a number) different tasks that the brain does involuntarily, but when it comes to our own utilization, it really is all about thinking; important thoughts, mathematical thoughts, thoughts that should not be there in the first place, and many others. My point here is, the brain will not mind you using it to think, because there's no threshold on the sort of thoughts you should be entertaining. You won't attempt a thought and find a disembodied voice in your head saying 'No, thou shalt not think of this, because it will probably lead you nowhere and there is no point or reason for you to entertain it. Access denied.' (at least not yet, but I'm holding out for the future).

So, the brain allows you to think these thoughts, and with them you mold that beautiful cage that seems so appealing; the idea that entertaining such thoughts will lead you somewhere. You don't even know if it should lead you somewhere, but you think that the promise of clarity is preferable to the stark lack of knowledge. Perhaps we humans should've had precognition; it would have saved humanity a countless amount of thoughtful hours that really lead nowhere (and, you know, it would've been cool if we did have it.)

And thus, you end up in a vicious cycle; you want to think, your brain relishes being used, but the thoughts lead nowhere, and thus you think more, and more, etc. It's quite funny when you think...er, okay, perhaps you shouldn't think about it. But, you see how hilarious it is, no?

You should break the cycle. The brain, a remarkable organ to be sure, has a finite number of thought threads that it can maintained without them becoming entangled and lost. So, distract it with other things, other threads to would keep it occupied and unable to pursue the vicious - and quite honestly obnoxious - endless strand of thought.

Because, really, believe me, it does nothing. Nothing at all.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Random Thoughts (I)

- Few things rival that feeling, when nostalgia creeps up your spine, and finally reaches your eyes. There's then this faint squeeze upon your eyeballs, and before you know it, you're all teary-eyed.

- More often that not, I can trace where a relationship has gone wrong back to an exact phrase or expression. It is not a good talent to have.

- Relevant to the prior point: I spent the entirety of my teenage years wishing I had a time machine to rectify mistakes in my exams, or in conversations with my parents. I often went to sleep wishing I'd wake up to repeat the prior day. I was a weird kid.

- When I was reading Half Blood Prince, I could feel my face grow red when Harry kissed Ginny. It was not lust, it was a feeling of jealousy that I'd never experienced in real life. (You can get the Forever Alone jokes out of your system now. Done? Good.)

- I rarely curse in Arabic, and when I do, I feel awkward afterwards. Same thing regarding dirty jokes.

- I have a very strong love/hate relationship with the internet. I love it, because it provides me with access to a great many things. I hate it, because it reminds me that stupid people still exist.

- Youtube comments are where basic human common sense goes to die.

- I can listen to people for ages, but I can only talk for brief periods of time. I usually don't have a lot to say, unless I'm telling a particularly interesting story, and most of my stories aren't that interesting.

- I think I take criticism well.

- I once committed an actual crime. Three guesses as to what it might be.

- If you try hard enough, you can actually see colors simply by imagining them, without even having to close your eyes.

- I'm a fan of smiles, laughs and brains.

- More often than not, excitement gives way to anticipation, giving way to fear, which eventually gives way to hatred. The human brain is funny like that.

- Seeing the good in people is much easier than you think. We're all human.

- Lust isn't immoral. We just fail to realize that curbing human desire doesn't mean to quench it entirely, but rather learning to embrace them at the right time, and in the correct form.

- Freedom is a cage, defined by others' freedoms. Shatter it, and chaos reigns free.

- That girl you're looking at right now wistfully, the one you're thinking of (or maybe even the one whose profile you're stalking on Facebook at the moment); she's not going to tell you she likes you, even if she does (and if she does, don't tell her that you were stalking her profile, man. Be smart).

- 'Easier said than done' must be the most annoying cop-out statement in history. (And also rather offensive to those who cannot speak)

- I give people relationship advice, then wonder why the hell would people listen to someone who's never been in a relationship.

-------------------------

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fiction Draft: "Battles"

Note: I had a thought that brooked writing, and then it all essentially tumbled out of me. Here is what transpired.


The mouth of the cave yawned before her, bleak and menacing, as she trudged through the dreary forest. As she topped the final hill, she stopped to survey her surroundings, standing at the edge of the forest; the lands around her seemed as unfamiliar as ever, yet she couldn't bring herself to be surprised by the realization, just as she couldn't bring herself to be surprised by the fact that she was decked in a full suit of silvery armor, brandishing an ornate sword in one hand and a torch in the other. She did not know why she was there, but she knew that there was a reason, a purpose for her existence and location, and her curiosity got the better of her - just as it had for the past few hours - driving her forward so as to uncover the inscrutable mystery.

The woods sighed softly as she left them, moving closer to the cave's entrance. She peered inside, hoping to get a better idea of what lay ahead, but she was greeted with forbidding darkness that stood guard, valiantly preventing daylight from seeping through. Her attention was again brought to the unlit torch she held, still unaware of where she'd obtained it, she wondered if she could find something to light it with.

As if on command, something brushed against the steel toe of her boot. Leaning down to examine it, she realized that it was a matchbox. Without even stopping to ponder how it came to be, she opened the box, removing the sole matchstick it contained, and in a quick flash of light, the torch roared into life; sputtering and crackling, red and hungry, eating away at the darkness within the cave.

Reassured and confident, she soldiered on.

------------------

The sudden onset of darkness as she marched diligently inside the cave made it hard to tell how long it had been since she walked in; it might've been a few minutes or a few hours, but she knew that what she was looking - whatever that may be - lay at the heart of the stone beast she was currently trawling. She couldn't help but marvel at the immensity of the place, wondering if it was simply nature's hand that carved it; the ceilings rose to dizzying heights, while some holes opened up to cavernous wells that seemed to extend down to the Earth's core. The walls at times completely disappeared, giving way to what looked like hallways and courtyards, dead and abandoned.

And yet she could not afford to stop and examine such things, she saw them as she walked by, quickly and quietly, each step bringing her closer to her goal. It was near now, a certain hunter's instinct told her, as her prey seemed to pull her by some invisible string that refused to break or grow slack. Interestingly, she did not feel tired or exhausted, even though she had been walking for what was probably hours, in heavy armor. On the contrary, as she grew closer, she moved faster, her mind sharper and her muscles taut.

"There." She told herself, as she turned a corner and was suddenly greeted by a curious sight; it was the innermost part of the cave, and yet sunlight seemed to be filtering in through a narrow hole in the far-flung ceiling. However, the light did nothing but add an air of mystery, a curious fog hiding everything that wasn't already obscured by darkness. She edged forward carefully, the string that drew her in suddenly gone, trying to pierce the veil of fog and blackness, but to no avail.

"And who might you be?"

She froze in her tracks as a voice suddenly called out ahead of her, its tone cold, cruel and inquisitive, sending shivers down her spine. Before she could even reply, a fierce gust of wind  assailed her,killing the torch and sending her auburn curls flailing wildly. Steadying herself, she tried to pierce the darkness that had eagerly rushed in, no longer held at bay by the torch's dancing flames. Her hand ventured to the hilt of her sword, prepared should anything attempt to strike, but all she was greeted with was more silence, as the wind subsided, her heavy footfalls the only sound.

"That is close enough."

Her limbs froze, no longer obeying her orders, but those of the menacing voice ahead. She could now tell that the source was close, its commanding baritone sending her very molecules into disarray. The fog had slightly lifted, revealing an immense stone throne at the very end of the cave. The figure upon it remained obscured in darkness, only its monstrous hand, resting lazily upon the stone armrest,  revealed in the dim light.

Her prey had finally revealed itself, and now the predator had become the hapless prey.

------------------

She stood there, unable to do anything, as the creature sat upon its throne, gazing at her menacingly. She couldn't even see its eyes, but it could feel them, trained upon her, analyzing her, boring into her soul. She felt  naked, as if her entire being was under scrutiny, her choices judged and disapproved of.

Unable to bear the pressure any longer, she attempted to speak, but the words died at her lips, as the probing eyes looked elsewhere, releasing her from its invisible grip. She stumbled forward, unable to maintain her balance, and fell to her knees in a loud din. She remained there, gathering her strength, trying to piece together her thoughts, as the voice talked again..

"You're Ellie."

She looked up sharply. The voice cackled in undisguised malice.

"You didn't think I'd know you? Come now, I know you better than anyone. Now then, what are you doing here?"

"I'm here to defeat you. To erase you from being, once and for all."


This time, the voice laughed; a cruel, unrelenting laugh that again sent her very being into disarray. She managed to stand up and draw her sword, glinting dimly in the dark cave.

"Oh my, she has a sword. How very, very frightening."

The monstrous hand flicked a clawed finger, and the sword went flying out of Ellie's shaking hand, embedding itself with inimitable force into the stone wall. She looked back in shock, unable to comprehend how she could possibly bring herself to face a beast so powerful.

It also nagged at her that she wasn't completely aware of what was happening; the words had tumbled out of her automatically, without the slightest bit of thought or reasoning. She went along with it, wondering where it will lead.

"You poor girl, do you think you're the first to attempt this? Or the second? Or the third?"

The voice chuckled again.

"People - of all ages, I might add - have been trying to be rid of me for thousands of years now. They all come here, and - with varying degrees of success - realize that it is futile."

Ellie tugged on the sword, trying to focus on the task ahead, ignoring the condescending tone and mocking words of the beast behind her.

"No, really. It is a useless thing, trying to fight or defeat me. I've been around for a while, and I know what I'm talking about."

She closed her eyes, wishing she could close her ears as well. The voice chuckled.

"You don't even know who I am, do you?"

Her hands froze upon the hilt of the sword, having failed to even move it slightly.

"Come now, look at me. I won't bite."

She turned slowly, against her own will, towards the throne. The seated figure remained wreathed in fog, but now she could discern a bit more of it...him, it seemed. A gigantic figure, bedecked in armor, dwarfing her in size and power. She wondered how she even thought it possible to face him, and why she'd even wanted to fight him in the first place. She didn't even know who that man was.

"Well? Any ideas? It shouldn't be so hard to recognize me."

She peered at him curiously, wracking her brain, but it resolutely refused to offer an answer.

"Interesting. This must be more deeply rooted than I initially thought, but...no worries, it happens. Let me help you."

The figure raised a hand, and Ellie completely froze, this time of her own accord, as she anticipated a vicious blow. However, the man simply snapped his fingers. In an instant, all the fog about him dissipated, the light above exploding in brightness and intensity. Everything was thrown into sharp relief; as the shadows retreated into crevices and cracks in the wall. Ellie's armor glinted brightly in the light, almost blinding her, but she completely disregarded the searing pain.

In fact, she'd lost awareness of everything about her, as she looked at the man's face in sheer horror. He looked at her, eyes sharply glinting in the light, his lips twisted in a knowing smile.

"Recognize me now, sweetheart?"

And without waiting for an answer, he tossed her head back in a resounding laugh that seemed to shake the whole cave about her. Ellie felt as if she was shrinking before the already monstrous figure before her. She kept getting smaller and smaller, the world around her spinning madly out of control, shadows emerging from their hiding places and assaulting her vision, a monstrous darkness suddenly overtook her, obscuring everything.

Ellie screamed.

------------------

...

"Ellie? Ellie! Ellie!"

A voice called incessantly at her, but she was still wreathed in darkness, and she couldn't move. Something restrained her.

"Ellie! Are you okay, sweetheart?"

The words and the voice brought her out of her dark reverie, she opened her eyes suddenly..

..and looked directly into the eyes of the beast.

She shrieked and tried to back away from him, but couldn't. Why?

"Ellie, what's wrong? It's me, sweetheart! Daddy's here. Don't be afraid."

Her eyes went back to him, and she froze as everything suddenly made sense. She looked down, and realized that she was in her own bed, the sheets and her own nightgown tangled beyond recognition. Her legs were stuck in the tangled mess, no doubt from all the thrashing about.

Ellie turned her eyes again to the man before her. It was her father, no doubt about that. Why was she so scared of him? She couldn't remember. There was something about a beast...and, someone laughing. It was fading into the comfortable obscurity of dreams.

She threw her arms around him, and started sobbing uncontrollably. His own immediately wrapped around her, patting her back reassuringly.

"Sweetheart? Did you have a bad dream?"

Still sobbing, Ellie gave the faintest of nods. He hugged her tightly, his expression remaining one of sympathy and worry...





...and perhaps, a very faint smile.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

On Loneliness & Questions Without An Answer

One of the most annoying things about writing is when you cannot articulate how you feel in words and phrases. The emotional spectrum of human beings is far larger and wider than the vocabulary provided by the English language. This does not take into consideration the abundance of medical and psychological terms, because while these may manage to describe symptoms and statuses, they fail to reflect the true essence of the state: the emotion.

I am currently faced with a monumental task here, that of describing how I feel. Some readers might find this a bit redundant, since my very first post was entirely about my thoughts and feelings, and how they figure into the process of writing. But, it's been some time now, and I'm more confident in my capability to write. What is suspect at the moment is my capability to discern how I feel.

What bothers me at the moment, is the fact that I feel immensely alone. This is not an attempt to whine, nor is it a cry for help, sympathy or pity. It is simply a statement, a fact about my own emotions. I used to blame that upon the lack of friends, at a point where I realized that there exists a massive difference between friends and acquaintances, and what you can expect from either (a disquieting, but very insidious difference), but even when I managed to largely classify the people I know, I still feel lonely. This bothers me, because of the dichotomy of human existence; we are largely social creatures, we function in groups of various sizes, and we desire people to be around us, we draw strength, approval and so many other things out of them. Yet, at the same time, we're encouraged to be independent, non-reliant upon others, and we're always told that people will disappoint us when we need them the most.

This inevitably makes you wonder; so, are people good to be around? Or, are they bad and we simply shouldn't spend time around them? Of course, the safest answer is that it entirely depends on the people you surround yourself with, some are good, others aren't so good.

Goddamn, this is turning rather whiny quite fast.

But, back to the main point. I'm feeling lonely, and not due to a lack of friends. I realized that when I started thinking 'Okay, so do I want person X to be here so I could hang out with them?', and my answer was 'Nah, not really.' So, I started ticking people off my list, and the further I went, the clearer the image became.

My loneliness isn't just a mental situation. It is one of the mind and soul. Now, this might seem immensely hyperbolic (or, for lack of a better term, totally bonkers) to you, but it is exactly how I feel. This goes beyond the regular underpinnings of friendly interaction. I actually yearn for someone who brings peace of mind to me. Someone around which you feel that things aren't so bad after all. I do not even say that I desire love, or the perfect woman or anything of the sort. I simply wish for a companion, with whom I could share my thoughts and worries as well as theirs, and actually feel their concern.

Of course, there is no indication as to whether this might change soon, or even in a few months or years, but I admit that it becomes increasingly difficult to deal with.

Not that there's anything I could do about it, but I wanted to get it off my chest; perhaps that might be slightly helpful.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On Religion And Why People Continue To Suck

I hate ruffling people's feathers, but I will inevitably do so when I broach the topic of religion and beliefs. See, the fact that it ruffles people's feathers in the first place is what's wrong. People find it immensely hard to realize that religion is theirs, and theirs alone. Sure, it's nice when you have others who share your point of view (or faith), but it is not necessary.

Let's examine something; what is religion? Faith. Belief. It is a decision you make, based on 'something' (be it reflection, introspection, family's handed-down beliefs, seeing God in a donut or a bagel), to have certain thoughts about the world around you. Perhaps you believe that there's a higher existence or a deity that created the world. Maybe you think that the world just came to be through some sort of cosmic incident that came along. You might be under the impression that the world is borne on the back of a giant turtle (If you do, then hello, Terry Pratchet! Glad to have you here.)

And you know what? It's totally fine to think so. We, as humans, are entitled to believe whatever it is we want to believe. Some might say that you need to have sufficient proof to have a well-based belief, and that's not entirely wrong, but it is not my right to tell you that your belief is wrong. I could say that your belief doesn't have enough proof for me to share it, but that would be my problem. My situation, not yours. You can continue to have those beliefs, or you can decide that you'd like to worship a monkey instead. Again, totally your right.

I am absolutely sick of two sorts of people. Ones who find it necessary to belittle other people's faiths, for any sort of reason. Not believing in your faith does not give me a metaphorical carte blanche to diss it as I see fit. I'm not even sure why I'm saying this. It is one of the most important pillars upon which human interaction rests: respect. You do not shove down your beliefs down people's throats either, because then you're encroaching upon my own rights.

It's funny, because the people who so adamantly champion their own beliefs and actively declare them superior to other faiths are usually the ones who - at the core - possess very little conviction when it comes to said beliefs. It comes down to the observation that loud arguments often are the most weakly-based, and all it takes is common sense (which is becoming increasingly rare) to bring down the house.

So, yeah, believe in whatever you wish. Just keep me and everyone else out of it.

Note: I decided not to delve too deeply into the more annoying situation of people belonging to the same faith who decree some sort of 'rules' or 'learnings' necessary for you to be an abiding member of that faith. To summarize what I would have to say about this: almost all faiths have primers that explain said faiths, it is again up to you to explore such primers and work through them to achieve the necessary level (determined by you) of abiding. You may rely on more well-versed members of the faith to provide you with their own insight regarding aspects, but in the end, it is a singular effort, yours, that counts. Do not let people arbitrarily decide how good your relationship with your God is, because last I checked, people didn't have hotlines to deities.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Wanton Prose #1: She

Note: A long time ago, spurred along by a friend of mine, I tweeted a few statements starting by the word "She". They were supposedly directed towards a woman, an entity who might (or might not) exist,  attempting to encompass what she was to the writer. It was a fun endeavor, one that I undertook several times afterwards, and so I decided to see what would happen if I attempted it upon this platform instead; wanton prose in essence, directed at the mysterious yet omnipresent She.


You look into her eyes and you see everything; your own self, reflected in the ever-flattering mirror that is her beautiful soul. Those orbs of vision, they always comfort you, telling you that you're not so bad at all. The whites of her eyes, crisscrossed with rivulets of red, a reminder of the purity you once had but misplaced. She tells you that it's still there, buried beneath the years of disillusionment, pain and disappointment. Her irises, much like everything about her, are in constant flux. They change and vary; to you, they are the pure azure of the brilliant pristine sea, the delicious waxy hazel that always reminds you of the honey you effortlessly consumed as a child, the sun-touched green that brings upon the odor of freshly watered fields, right after a much-awaited rainfall, the soft grey that reminds you of that one day you spent amongst the mountains and hills, swallowed in indomitable fog, and even the black, inscrutable and forbidding, vying for supremacy against her obsidian tresses.

You cannot look into those eyes, and not be raptly attentive to everything she has to say. Even if her lips say nothing, she speaks to you with her very existence; a glance that beckons you forward, a spurious dimple and a crinkle at the corner of her eyes that arise when you try to be clever, a slightly  knuckled forehead when she's focusing. All those things, you see, and love, and learn to never live without. It is a conference of minds, a melding of souls and beings. It is the perfect chemical reaction, brought along by chance or fate, one whose constituents are forever one.

She is the island in the ocean, the one you've always seen from afar and never knew why it always seemed so distant, even though it's only a swim away. She is that curious rock you picked up when you were a child, marveling at its existence, wondering how such a perfect being came to life, forged in the furnaces of creation. She is that intricate kite you've seen flying in the soft summer breeze, weaving to and fro, almost enticing you to join it in flight. She is the curious phosphenes in your eyes, brilliant and colorful, and always destined to fade in time. She is that light droplet of rain that taps your forehead on a sunny day, making you wonder if you've gone mad, or whether you were just simply really lucky. She is the song that sends shivers down your spine, and yet you feel like your chest's on fire.

And yet, when you try to describe how you feel about her, you find that it transcends things such as love, adoration or desire. Words like 'gorgeous' or 'beautiful' feel ordinary and mundane. You scour the depths of your mind, formulating the perfect description, the right sentence.

...and you can only say.. "She is.", because you realize in the end, that full awareness of her existence - in all its glory - is the truest compliment there could ever be.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Privacy Of Thoughts

We live in a curious world; one where the honest portrayal of feelings and emotions is frowned upon. We're encouraged to be secretive, to keep our emotions and thoughts to ourselves. We all do it, thinking that we don't want to be a burden upon others, we don't want to bring them down with our own sadness (or, alternatively, don't want to flaunt our happiness in their less-than-fortunate faces), and so we keep to ourselves.

Problem is, this is also combined with the revelation that 'No One Cares'. It is hammered quite intensely during several years, that no one really gives a damn about those thoughts and feelings you have. 'Everyone's got their own troubles, and they're not exactly keen on having yours added to the mix' as someone once told me. This just reinforces the concept of humans becoming thought islands, forbidding in their remoteness and almost inaccessible.

It saddens me, especially as someone who's inherently socially inept. I understand why some people would find it hard to share such things, but instead of being encouraged by the behavior of those around them, the idea is reinforced by the constant drive to keep everything under wraps. No one cares. These are your problems, not ours.

I also keep wondering why that's becoming the case; is the drive towards individuality to blame? Have we sought independence in thought so strongly that now we see these thoughts as permanently ours, not to be voiced or shared? It is interesting, especially when you look at various artists - those who actually could fear for their thoughts and inspirations and worry that they might be stolen - constantly share those thoughts with their audience.

So, if those do it so freely, why can't you? Sure, you might think that people don't care, and you might even be true about some of them, but someone out there does care, and they want to listen, and share those experiences and feelings with you.

Find them. It's well worth your time.