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.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

On Missing People & Why We Don't Make Sense

The human mind is a very curious thing. I'm sure my prior posts have given you at least some insight into mine, and that - as hard as it may be to believe - is not as strange as it gets. This might be somewhat shocking, but maybe if you take a seat and a few deep breaths, we can get through this together.

Now then, it has been brought to my attention how insidious missing someone is, you don't realize that it's happening, and you might even be doing so conscious effort to NOT do so. And yet, you're just sitting there, and BAM! You realize that you do miss that person, and that you wish you could see them again.

The annoying thing about this is that sometimes you have no idea why you'd miss them in the first place. I mean, there are some truly horrible people out there - I don't mean that we tend to miss the horrible ones only, but bear with me. There are people with whom you've shared some truly unforgettable (at least for you) experiences, and then for some reason or another, they're no longer as close as they used to be. It brings pain and annoyance, not only because of the sudden breakage, but because you're driven to reflect upon the incidents of old, the ones you associated with happiness and positive feelings.

I suppose that is one of the reasons why over-thinking is a horrendous thing, as it tends to bore into your mind, and analyze everything you've seen, done or heard, then it proceeds to tell you how badly you've messed up everything. It is entirely possible that you haven't done anything bad at all, but your brain cares little about what you've actually done, or even what other people might've perceived your actions/words as (that's a completely different beehive), but rather what it thinks your actions signified.

Dammit, I know that the brain is a terribly good organ, but...it does the most annoying things sometimes.

Interestingly enough, your brain is also what tells you that you miss that person, after it eruditely expresses how that person absolutely and completely messed you up. But, I think that's an easier question to answer; I think you miss those people because of the simple factor of nostalgia, you're brought back to a time when things were going well for a change, when you thought 'You know, the world really isn't that bad of a place', or when you thought that you'll have those people around you for the rest of your life.

See, this brings me back to a point that I quickly tackled in a prior post; that of realism and averaging out. A realist would tell you that nothing good ever lasts, and there's plenty of proof to back that claim up, but life shouldn't be about good things lasting, it's about enjoying the good things, and cherishing them, but not wishing them back. I know that it's a very delicate balance, one that is very hard to strike.

One must always remember; these people were in your life for a reason, and now they're not, also for a reason.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

On Reading & The Art Of Living Vicariously

One of the things I regret the most is that I cannot remember the first book I consciously read. I recall a lot of the books I read as a child, including the abridged Shakespeare plays and dreary Charles Dickens novels. The one I seem to remember most fondly is the massive book of scientific experiments and trivia, including some of history's grandest mishaps. Memories of this book still swim fondly through my consciousness, even though I've lost it a long time ago. I'm even often reminded of it by my parents, telling me how I used to spend hours reading the damn thing, even if I didn't understand half of what it included.

Strangely, most of my high school and early undergraduate years were marred by a deplorably reduced rate of reading; I read maybe a book or two every year, and to this day I cannot quite place the reason for such behavior; perhaps it was the immense pressure such years entailed in terms of workload, perhaps I'd lost contact with the 'Me' who found reading copiously interesting and entertaining...or maybe it was just dumb luck. I cannot place it, but I know it's there.

Graduate studies seemed to propel my book addiction back into overdrive, strengthened by the massive bouts of boredom I suffered at the time (which in retrospect clarify how badly I messed up during those few months, but perhaps that's a tale for a different post). I was suddenly devouring books again, and the feeling was inimitable. To this day, I still look at the veritable towers of books that I haven't touched yet, and the thought itself fills me with unmitigated glee.

Books have existed for a very long time, much like music, and while I'd be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, I cannot overemphasize how important such literary existences are for me. Yes, I do realize that my favoritism towards fiction, and particular flavors of fiction at that might be a bit limited, but I am of the opinion that fiction easily paves the way for one to appreciate all sorts of writing.

We read books for all sorts of reasons, but perhaps the most prominent of those are information and escapism. The first is easy to explain; books contain information about all sorts of issues; scientific, political, theological, cultural, etc. If you wanted information, you sought the appropriate book. Sure, the Internet has long since diminished that role, and even the argument that one cannot take the Internet with him everywhere has been diligently wiped away. But still, if suddenly lost the Internet - a prospect that must've caused a few of you to shudder - we'd still have books. A relief, right?

and we also read for escapism, for the brief moments when we forget about life's worries and lose ourselves in the world so deftly woven by an author or a wordsmith. We watch them overcome adversity and triumph over obstacles we'd never come to face, but the danger and the worry is real and fresh, and you cannot help but want to be there with those poor souls, those weary protagonists.

But, aren't we already there? In the act of reading and living these experiences, we might as well be facing evil alongside our favorite characters. I've lived vicariously through all sorts of books; I've accompanied Frodo and Sam on their journey to Mount Doom, I've fought alongside Aragorn and listened to Theoden's speech in the Pelennor Fields. I've seen Russian magicians and wizards and werewolves, and saw them traverse the twilit ways unknown to mere mortals, I've cheered the Horde on, and marveled at the alien nobility of the Protoss. I've laughed at Arthur Dent's foolishness, and shared his longing for Fenchurch.


And I, though I'll die before you see me utter those words in real life, have always wished I was Harry Potter's bookish (and slightly brilliant) friend.

We might have each been born with a single soul, but we now have infinite worlds within us, constructed simply out of a little bit of imagination...

...and a whole lot of paper.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Addendum

I must admit, I did not expect the massive outpouring of support and praise that the initial blog post garnered, and for that I thank all of you; you who have given me the chance to talk to you, to listen to what I had to say, to read these few words that so easily flowed out into the ether. I appreciate it more than you could ever think possible.

Perhaps I might have painted a much too dark image of myself, but that was not my intention. I am a person who's in a state of constant mental motion, my opinion of myself varies wildly depending on so many factors that I cannot even begin to recount. I don't even think I know them all. But, I am at least aware of the fact that all is not as it seems; the bad is not so bad, and the good is never so good. You'll excuse the somewhat mathematical reference, but you learn to 'average out', so to speak. You usually end up with something that is, for lack of a better word, realistic.

Realism is often attached to more negative outlooks with regards to life and the future, and I understand why that's the case, but I do not support it. To me, realism is - as I've mentioned - the average. It's the future's expectations - tempered, not to submission but to cooperation, by life's myriad experiences and learnings.

I will not deny that this is easier said than done (a phrase I consistently loathe); my day is a tumult of good feelings, boredom and disappointment. But, I am piecing together what could be called an understanding of the mechanics of my own life. I might still lack the sense of purpose, the target I ought to aim at..

..but, at least it gives me the chance to learn how to use the bow itself.

Thank you all, once again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Initial

I may have once been pegged as a writer, but for the longest time now, I’ve been unable to conjure anything worthwhile to write. Perhaps my inner editor has evolved to the extent of being able to strangle my thoughts in their infancy, so that nothing’s left now. It is a thought that scares me, often to the extent of mental paralysis, but it is one worth noting nevertheless.

It is for this exact reason that I am writing now, to see if I am still capable of doing so. One might argue that I never had the capability, but people also say that they used to enjoy what I had to say in writing. I will not lie and say that it is for them that I am making these attempts. They are for me. Perhaps it is selfish, perhaps it is narcissistic, and perhaps it is none of these things. I do not know, and I couldn’t care less.

So, here I am; writing, ranting, observing, telling, hiding and - perhaps not in the literal sense - speaking.

I sometimes feel somewhat pretentious when I write, though my words are never intended as such. I constantly feel that people will look at what I’ve written and say “Well, someone’s got such a high opinion of himself that he writes so elaborately and expects us to swoon at the phrasing and structure. What an asshole.”  

Yes, I do have a not-so-flattering opinion of myself, and while this spills into so many aspects of my life, it is ever so apparent in my more creative undertakings. I am always too worried or afraid; sometimes of people’s own reactions, and sometimes of my own.

I am not afraid of failure. I am afraid of mediocrity.

Again, you might think this another pretentious statement, but I simply find mediocrity to be a far bigger threat than failure. At least, failure is a definitive end, a result that you can examine and use to learn. Mediocrity, on the other hand, is a far more insidious thing; it convinces you that it is a triumph, your work was perceived as something other than a failure, but then you realize that there was nothing entirely too special about it, and thus it fades into the back of the collective mind, a victim of obscurity.

And that is part of why I’m constantly paralyzed by the prospect of writing, or any other creative process.

I seem to be doing well so far, at least. This stream of consciousness that is easily finding its way down my fingers and into the ether, materializing as a bunch of pixels you’re witnessing on a page.

My fears are just an extension of who I am, of how I’ve lived and behaved for what is quickly approaching a quarter of a century (a venerable number, to be sure, until you think of the accomplishments you’ve made so far). For so long, I’ve believed myself to be of a significantly amorphous quality; I try to meld into my surroundings, to not find them too irritating. Do not mistake this for natural sociability, however. I am an intensely shy and reclusive person, and will often stand aside and say nothing when in a group. My previously mentioned nature caters more to my constant silence, my general...let’s call it agreeability.

Yes, I suppose that’s the most fitting description to the person I am. Agreeable.

There is nothing profound about agreeability, nothing special. An agreeable person is a person you can do with, but you can just as easily do without, and that is how I see myself. I know it to be a morbid (and rather childish) statement, but I’ve given plenty of thought to the concept of the world had I not existed, and I cannot see the difference. This is often compounded by the fact that I am able to witness the uniqueness of the people I’ve come to know; the rotund individual who’s not afraid to experience new things, the talented and sickly musician, the always-funny guy, the always-smiling girl. They all add this certain something to one’s life, and then when I look at my own existence, I find that there’s no added value, nothing that I present that isn’t provided by a million other people, I seem to always exist at the periphery of one’s consciousness; where you can detect one’s presence, but you’re not really partial to it.


I now find myself in constant search for a purpose, for a place in the world, not simply so that I would be recognized by others as a special person who’s not replaceable (and yes, that is low self-esteem that you’re sensing here), but more-so so that I can find a clear path, a direction towards which I’m working. I was asked before, what it is that makes me happy, and for the longest time, I could not answer that. Then, I tried to think back to times when I felt...not happy, but satisfied, content. I realized that this often took place when I knew what I was up to; studying, working towards some sort of scholarly goal. I thought at first that I could associate that with school and studies, but apparently it isn’t so particular; it is merely the sense of purpose, that my efforts are directed towards something in the long run. That was my ultimate driving force, and it seems that I currently lack it.


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It seems that pausing while writing this has the very detrimental effect of interrupting my train of thought, and now I find myself striving for words again. I am however, determined not to reread this, focusing only on the few red squiggles that indicate my lack of finger-ly prowess.


You might by now be thinking that this is entirely a whining session written out by yours truly, but then again, as I said earlier, this is not written with the reader in mind, but rather with my own peace of mind. I am a recluse, with nothing but my own thoughts for company. These thoughts often evolve and continuously consume me with worry and distress. My mind, as often is its wont, consistently tells me that everything is my fault. Yes, you defy that and you deny it, but after so many times, the attacks chip your armor, and the thoughts seep through. Soon enough, the armor you’ve built becomes a bloated container; one that ensconces you and your worries and self-blame, keeping the whole world outside.

I sometimes wonder if the shell would ever burst.