A Beautiful Story

I’d like to write a beautiful story. I am unable, however.

Because there isn’t one available. In contemporary strife and disharmony, the beautiful stories are lost. It’s not that there aren’t beautiful stories. There are, many of them. They are just smeared by swatches of current ugliness. So, we don’t see these beautiful stories for what they are. We refer to the ugly smudges.

Boatman - 3

From the stink and sludge of the faecal remains of an unnecessary and useless debate, we will have to rescue the beautiful stories; lest the smears become their identity and they sink to the bottom of the sink.

We shall not gather beauty from ugliness, nor intellect from a slow temperament, nor fiery passion from disciplined apathy, but in all things shall reap as we sow, and must sow the wind before we can reap the whirlwind. ~ Sri Aurobindo, in “Early Cultural Writings”

And that gives us hope; for the ugliness in which these beautiful stories lie with extended arms, is artifice; one swipe of our hands and we will see the beauty and embrace it forever. And it will be our own, forever.

All we will need is a gentle long wash & shower in cold water.

There is hope, yet.

Writers & Carpenters

Writing is difficult. Writing well, is another matter altogether.

Carpentry is difficult too. Carpentering well, is another matter. Just like writing well.

Writers get distracted; just like carpenters. Writers and carpenters have their own means of getting distracted. Writers get distracted by style, grammar, method, medium, and such. Carpenters think of paint, cuts, design, trends, and such. (Needless to say, I am making things up for carpenters. I am not a carpenter. Though I would have liked to be one. Come to think of it, I am, perhaps, making things up for writers too!)

When distracted and diffused*, writers write nonsense or trite passages and carpenters make bad furniture or misaligned shelves. And this distraction is perhaps important. For writers and carpenters. It offers an opportunity to move away from the known, experiment, make mistakes, fail (often miserably), learn, and therefore, create something new.

6172: Buddha

After all the wandering through the land of distractions, however, the writer and the carpenter return. To the place where they started. Everything is the same, but nothing is. The intercourse of familiarity and strangeness is at once comforting and disquieting. This conflict is beauty’s birthplace.

The carpenter creates a writing desk for the expression through words, as the writer would, and the writer measures and assembles his words as the carpenter would. The open window is witness: to what the carpenter would like the writer to see and to how the writer sees what the carpenter intended.

It may not happen at first, but it is a stage for success.

~

* Kathy’s Song, Paul Simon

Someday…

… I will write good posts on this blog.

Blogging 101

 

The most important lesson of blogging is that when you have nothing to say, you should say nothing. And this lesson does not intersect at all with writing rigour.

Time to Go

Ambition can change its character, and we end up not recognising it. In fact, we begin to question its very existence. The problem is just about syncing our place with our ambition on the timescale of life.

*

The Dharma Bum is doing a-post-a-day series about his workplace. Two things stand out, as I read his posts every day: one, the natural flow of his thoughts about his experience and the weave; and two, the nature of his workplace; it’s easy to be envious of him, working there.

Bala - The Dharma Bum

Bala – The Dharma Bum (Not the current true likeness; this one is from two years ago)

*

I challenged myself to a-post-a-day, two years ago. July 2014, to be precise. It wasn’t easy. But I completed the challenge. I can imagine what the Dharma Bum must be going through. The toughest promises to keep are those that you make to yourself.

*

I get angry with my words, sometimes. They seem to mock me. Like, when I said:

Tomorrow can either be impregnated with the sameness of all your suspicions, cynicism and scepticism, or it can be the tomorrow that rids you of that sameness that you so despise.

Your call.

*

A wise man once told me the secret of attaining perfection. You don’t. God is perfect, in whatever sense you choose to see. Being perfect is not for humans; there’s only striving, striving, and striving. (He used to do that; repeat a keyword thrice; each with a unique tone) The beauty of being human is in the striving. It is, indeed an unshackling philosophy. It took me a while, but I can sense it now.

*

It’s time to go. The skews are being straightened. Or perhaps, new skews are awaiting.

12 Years

12 years.

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Not enough posts perhaps, to account for the time.

But (more than) enough friends and well-wishers.

Many thoughts.

So many changes.

After twelve years, it’s no more the same person, though.

Crossroads.

Returning to give up; returning to take back. Willing to call-out.

Leaving. Taking charge.

Learning love; unlearning love.

My love for blogging has not changed. I am glad about that. I have learnt to love the other; and I have learnt, what love is and is not. In that small space of what is and what is not, I discovered myself. It’s a revelation.

Notwithstanding, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Paper & Me

If I was me, I’d issue a restraining order, against me entering a stationery shop, ever. Needless to say, it would save me a lot of money; it would also make me start using the many lovely writing tools and instruments that I have amassed over the years, rather, than just amassing them.

I feel very strongly about my notebooks, writing pads, pens, pencils and other assorted stationery. So much, that I am willing to be called a stationery snob. I generally refuse to write in a notebook that has a corny gold label proclaiming: Ajanta No. 5, or any such assembly line-like, engineering-ish brand, that has no respect for design, class, or even simple presentation aesthetic.

Photograph of handwritten post

The Original Post

Somewhere in 2000, I was in Singapore. There, I entered a stationery shop. My dear imaginative and curious readers, I leave it to your fecund fancies, what transpired, then. Done? OK. In the months that I was there, I visited that shop many times. I bought enough stationery to last me a lifetime. Couple of years before that, my sister went to Japan. She asked, what she could get me. I said — paper. writing pads, onion skins, notebooks, loose leaves, any kind of paper. And mechanical pencils. And pens with thin nibs. Lesser than 0.5, if they have them. She bought me all of that! Later, living with the love of my life, I discovered acrylic paper, and other forms of art paper. I bought all of those. I am not an artist, in that sense. But, I had to have that paper.

Most of my writing, now, is on the computer’s keyboard. As you can see, it has had a toll on my handwriting. Yet, for the life of me, I cannot stay away from a stationery shop. At least one small pocket-book has to be bought.

And then, just like that, Rubberband arrives in stores — real shops & online. In response to Moleskine, perhaps, but not entirely there. (PS: I have three Moleskine notebooks). This post was written in a Rubberband notebook. And much has been written in this Rubberband. Phone numbers, ideas, doodles, meeting notes, and various scribbles. It’s a weathered notebook.

And while I prefer notebooks (and books) that always look as if you just bought them from the store, the weathered notebook has a story to tell.

Apart from the obvious virtues of the notebook and the pen (or pencil, which I just adore), the one thing that writing with pen and paper is the sense of intimacy that a keyboard and a screen doesn’t offer. Perhaps, it is the sheer physics of it — the friction of the nib on paper — that disallows a thought to run ahead of its owner. The drag of the pen on paper gives the writer the time to evaluate, construct, and refine a thought as it first forms in the mind, and then imprints on the paper. If you have ever experienced your pen hovering over a comma, eager to touch the paper, you will know what I mean.

The absence of a backspace key doesn’t make your writing better — it makes your thinking better.

Most of all, the tangibility of dried ink on that blank, flattened, pulp is worth all the effort. No two letters ever look the same — unlike a font on a computer screen. Each word, each letter in a word, has a character of its own. Even the same word written over and over acquires a unique character.

Wherever we sit to write, whatever the circumstances, all our experiences — past and current — all of them twirl in our “g’s” and swirl in our “S’s”

As you read this, in fixed font, I trust, you get a flavour and a sense of what I experience tonight, as I write this post. All of it. On paper. With pen.

This weathered notebook, holds within, all the seasons of my life.