A Permanent Image

I was on vacation, last week.

It has been a while that I have been on a vacation. Those of you know me, will probably be rolling your eyes. Yes, I have been on a holiday recently, but it has been a while that I have been on a vacation. Somewhere, in my mind a break, a holiday, and a vacation are different. I mean obviously they are different, they are three different words. But how they differ, actually, is a mystery to me. It’s probably got to do with the length, of how long you are away. This one was a full week, so, vacation.

A vacation after five years, almost. And much has changed, since my last vacation.

I saw all that I thought I would see. The faraway trailing mountain lines, the thready waterfalls of summer, the centenarian eucalypti seeking the sky, wild flowers sidelining the roads, brightly coloured happy homes that are the stuff of dreams, and sunsets that Turner would want to capture on a canvas. I saw all of that. Yes, I did.

I also saw, however, that no one else was seeing all this. Almost everyone had their backs to these wondrous sights. Seeing the sight doesn’t matter much. Being seen with the sight is now important. At all places, yes, all places, all the tourists had their back to what they came to see. This is not to say that they weren’t seeing the mountains, the trees, the waterfalls, or the flowers. They were seeing it. They were seeing it on their phones, bounded in an unnatural 16:9 ratio on a five-inch screen, while they took a photo of themselves being there.

I do not deride these selfie-seekers. For, when you are on a vacation, you must seek that, that makes you happy. I am, however, unable to relate to it.

How I look to the mountains; how the mountains look at me, is an image. It will never be shared. But it is forever.

It’s etched on my soul.

All’s Well; The Owl

One night, I was day-dreaming about being an owl. Not being an owl, actually, but looking like one. It was so late in the night, it was almost early morning. I don’t mean to say, ‘somewhere in the world, it was early morning’, but there, just right there, where I lay, it was so late in the night, it was almost early morning. You never know. (Neither do I)

It was like when once a friend said, “I am middle-aged.” I asked, “How do you know? Unless you know your exact life-span, you can never know when you are middle-aged!” I know the convention for using the term middle-age — I just think it is illogical.

Let me tell you of another conversation I had (and you may recall it, because I wrote about it, “some” time ago). Like Black and White. Whatever scale you assign for the colour range between black and white, both black and white are such tiny specks on that range, the range is almost completely grey.

It’s all sense-making. Late-night, early morning, young-age, middle-age, and old-age. Black and White. Day or night, human or animal, inside or outside. There is no sharp line that separates these pair of opposites, but a band or a scale.

Centuries of us all living together have forced us to make sense to and of each other. Irrespective of the language we employ, sense-making is the true semantic we deal in. When we made sense, things have been somewhat calm; when we didn’t make sense, we went to war; or created a Twitter handle. I prefer the Twitter handle. At least lives aren’t lost. Mostly.

Going to war is also sense-making; somewhat aggressive, but war is a means to make the other person see sense. War is akin to an actor on stage with a monologue. Who actually makes sense, however, depends on who wins the war.

I don’t know how you see it, but I believe we experience more than sense-making, naturally, i.e. when we are left to our own: not having to transmit the same experience, we aren’t limited and coerced to step-up or step down our experience to make sense – to someone else.

The experience is real even without the devices of language and expression. This experience is possible only when we leave the factory of shared constructs. And there’s nothing necessarily grand or glorious about these experiences (though, some may be), But perhaps you will agree with me my dear reader, what makes them grand and glorious, irrespective, is that they are our own.

Perhaps, you will indulge me further, by risking your “agreement” further, that these experiences matter more than sense-making. (I do not yet ask for the indulgence; only the consideration). The question that follows is how would you ask another to cherish these experiences without sense-making?

It’s just another random Thursday in my life, somewhere between late night and early morning. I am thinking: Owl: I almost look like an owl. Almost. Long way to go.

All’s well.

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Optional Appendix

I recall a legend from my childhood. [I’ve over simplified it for this post; link for proper narration at the end]

/Digress Begin

Hiranyakashipu, a demon, once performed penance to Brahma (a God) to acquire immortality. PS: Demon wanted immortality to take revenge against Vishnu (another God). Brahma, though pleased with the austerity and penance, refused immortality (Bro-code). So, Hiranyakashipu chose the next best thing: a proper specification of how Hiranyakashipu could never die. He asked that he never meet his death (and this is just a representative list):

  • not in day, nor in night
  • not inside a house, nor outside
  • not on ground, not in the sky
  • not by a weapon
  • not by your creation
  • not by human or animal
… and the list goes on.
To cut a long story short, he wreaked havoc on the world after he got this boon, and the Gods kept going over the spec, wondering how to vanquish him. Then an avataar of Vishnu – Narsimha (Man-Lion), killed him.
A half-human, half-lion, who wasn’t a creation of Brahma, lifted him up, between earth and sky, on the threshold of a house, tore his entrails with claws, at twilight.
As mentioned, an oversimplistic story-telling. Hiranyakashipu was sense-making. In asking for the boon, he ignored possible experiences, and went with what was common grammar between him and Brahma. It did not include Vishnu’s experiences.

Detailed Story: Hiranyakashipu

/Digress End

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.

Light & Darkness: Remainders

It’s been a long time. I’ve been blogging for over a decade. And I have forgotten all that I have planned for this blog. Mostly, I’ve confused the summary posts. Those that have been called many things. Summary posts, pot-pourri, schizophrenic, remainders, and other such names. The Schizophrenia label was my doing. I used it in the sense of disconnectedness. Most of these posts have found refuge in abstraction. A person, who once was a friend, might find some closure in this statement.

If there were a machine that could extract every emotion of me – and classify it; my being would fill every compartment that was defined, and then, some would be dropped in a big basket called “Miscellaneous.” I know not this for a fact, but it might be the same for you too.

Light Leaks - As Nature Imagined It

Light Leaks – As Nature Imagined It

There’s pride and there’s humility. There’s fear and anger. There’s desperation and there’s conviction. And more of these opposites. A friend today referred a popular theme; I thought of darkness. We never tend to darkness; there’s no pull: it is within; We fight it, if at all, towards our way to light. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail. Or, that’s what we think. For how are we to know if we have succeeded or failed? What’s light, and what’s darkness? Is it the same as brightness and shadow?

Abstraction is good for expression; not for experience.

What do we ask for, when we ask the power-that-be to lead us from darkness to light? If we have never experienced light and never recognised darkness, how will we ever know, even if we are led? We know light only by the way we have been informed about it – it has never been an experience. We know darkness only by the way we have been informed about it – it has never been an experience. Our meanings cannot be slave to inherited meanings. We have to discover them all over again. And in that, if we fall to the so-called depths or have to rise to the so-called peaks, so be it. Our inherited meanings are shared – so we bond and become social. There’s comfort in those shared meanings, even if they do not mean anything.

Our experience is our only guide. The experience of others is, but, a perspective. It can never be ours.

One day, we will walk out in the sun.

January 2016 Schizophrenia

As the first month comes to an end, the only sport that I am really passionate about (other than other sports) goes live. My home team wins the first game, and as usual, I am not happy about how they win it. In this third season of #ProKabaddi much has changed, so, I’ll post more after the first rounds are done. (Need to get my head around it)

*

I am losing currency, in certain places. No! It’s not about money. There’s another meaning of that word: “the fact or quality of being generally accepted or in use.” If you look up the dictionary, this is the second meaning; I think it should be the first.

*

And we speak with ourselves. It’s weird. We do it when we are alone. We suspect, we are going mad. So we shunt it. And, suddenly, there’s no conversation. Our robotics continue. We accept it. We slowly and surely forget our purpose.

*

I am glad (and blessed) that I can laugh about when people make jokes about me. I have the ability to laugh at myself. Laughing at a joke is not an endorsement or a betrayal of our beliefs. If we are true to ourselves, then, we can laugh at all the mockery. But no joke can offend us or alter what we believe. Humour is ephemeral; beliefs are permanent. If you know that, you will laugh more. I laughed a lot today.

*

Losing trust is an important milestone. Like a shattered glass, there is no coming back. And if there is coming back, it is meaningless. I lost trust. If, for whatever reason we came back together, would you want it? Because I would continue to be a stranger and distant. You don’t seek that, do you? You seek status quo. But I am guarded because of your earlier transgressions. Even if we become the same as before, we will never be the same as before. At least, I will not be.

*

Truth is not always the best way to express yourself. Truth hurts. Truth, is how you usually drive people away. Be smart.

Honesty may be the best policy, it’s not the smartest. Or, just apply this policy at every nook and corner.

We are all different, that way. 

All’s Well; Perhaps

If all my posts were put in a word-cloud, (yes, that’s easily possible, but I am not doing it), perhaps, the word I use the most is, perhaps. The word is a tentative word. People think of it as a weakening or a disclaiming word, often, both. When I speak, I use maybe quite often. Same difference. Words like ‘perhaps’ are the refuge of people without conviction. They lack assertiveness, perhaps. So be it.

“You are being modest,” he said, with some irritation.

“I am being truthful,” I said, “I know what I know, and I know that there’s much that I don’t know. And I know this because I know people who know much more than what I know.”

We will never know everything, for sure. We will also never know everything in a specific discipline of our choice. There will always be something more. Of course, to prove me wrong, you can narrow down the discipline so much that, you’ll know everything in the discipline. And then, you’d be right.

Perhaps (the word) will never figure when we own the conviction of what we know. It’s when we cross the borders of our knowing that we need words like perhaps to help us navigate the unknown landscape of new knowledge. Slowly, we conquer these rich lands, by becoming familiar and then knowledgeable. Steadier now, we step deeper into the Fog of War. When we are faced with low visibility, we have to be tentative, and the vehicles we use to traverse this untravelled terrain, are made up of perhaps and maybe.

And it works well for all that is without. Within is a different mystery altogether.

The Real Spaces between Black and White

The Real Spaces between Black and White

We’d imagine, with all that we know, with all the certainty, the sedimentary maturity of the years, we’d be more expressive and less prone to misunderstandings, for example. Perhaps, words like perhaps and maybe are reminders of how much we know. And how much we don’t.

“In the colour band between black and white, the pure black and the pure white are just tiny specks. Our eyes deceive us,” he said, last Saturday, “and we see the range of grey towards white, and call it white, or we see the range of grey towards black, and call it black. It’s our sense of making sense of things; only because we understand white and black better than grey.” I thought, I’d counter him on that. He interrupted me, before I could start, “I want to explore that infinite band of grey, rather than seeking minuscule specks of white or black.”

In that grey colour band of life, I do not recall a moment of pure white, or pure black. Though, there have been moments that were almost white, almost black. I can, therefore say this:

All’s well; perhaps.

Honestly, The Almost Year-end Schizophrenia

“We come across as rude, because we speak little, and what we speak, we are straightforward,” he said. “We are sarcastic,” I said, half-apologetically, half-proud.

***

I have always thought of myself as brilliantly sarcastic, but I have realised, over time, I am not. There’s a line, between wit and sarcasm, and it’s so thin, an electron microscope might miss it. I am not saying I am witty either. I love humour, however. I love to experience humour and commit it. In trying to be funny, witty, and sarcastic, I have — more often than not — crossed lines. No, not in my head, in some one else’s perception. In other words, for me, I now do not know where clean starts and offence begins. It’s perhaps not a line; it’s a band of grey. And from where I stand, it looks like a really broad band of grey.

So, I limited my brand of humour to folks who knew me (irrespective if they knew my brand of humour). I was being safe.

*

A movie is due to release in a couple of weeks. It’s a classic example of everything that can go wrong, making historical fiction. I am upset about it, and after much, much, much deliberation, I wrote a sarcastic post on Facebook. Another friend, who has an evolved state of sarcasm, told me that my post was very safe. I didn’t change anything, but by my standards, it has become popular. I did cheat, to be fair, I made it public, while most of my posts are limited to my friends on Facebook. Often, limited to my close friends.

*

There’s no telling, how your joke will be received. But then, if you care, you cannot be a joker.

*

All expression needs space and time. For it to be absorbed, digested, and responded. For example, a misunderstanding needs space and time to rearrange itself and morph itself back to understanding. But we are so busy and crowded, our opinions take over. Quickly call judgements, simplify our life, accuse the other, move on.

*

3791: The Green Door

Seeking safety in expression is irony. Because, if we are being safe, then we are not expressing the truth. And safety is not security against misunderstanding. Honesty, while being the best policy, can get you in all sorts of trouble. Late in life though it may be, honesty is really worth the trouble.

*

Of being honest, the worst is being honest to yourself. It is daunting and scary. In the beginning. After a while, we question our own honesty. Then, over time, slowly, one fine afternoon, your conversations with your self are the most interesting.

And that’s enough.