Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Spare me the wisdom...

Dr House was right. People don't change. Our attitude to things or approach to certain circumstances may change over time from experiences or from the right type of upbringing, but our deep instincts, never. At best, we learn to pretend that we are not thinking what we are; or to smother our raw emotions; or to present a polished exterior while dealing with our inner wilderness.

At certain moments, however, under the right amount of pressure, the real 'we' that with difficulty we had kept suppressed shatters the mask and springs forth...

If we are prepared to accept that people are like that, and they may open their eyes but will never really change, it puts us in a better position: for one thing, we realise our efforts to change them aren't going to work - which is frustrating of course, but then it is relieving as well. It sets us free.

I have been battling a demon of my own for many years. All this while, all these encounters, always the same outcome - and yet, I have not tamed the beast nor trained it nor brought it into any kind of control. It deludes me into thinking it is asleep or even dead; and when least expected, awakens with a roar, and rears its head, completely overpowering me. A battle of the brain and the heart, one might call it. The one, always pragmatic, always ready with wise counsel, eventually bows to the other, foolish, impulsive, adventurous. Every now and then, the cycle repeats, over and over. Tossing me up and down; and from north to south.

A string of disappointments follow, but interestingly, no regrets. Experiences, aren't those what we live for? Memories of adventures past, aren't those the only things that remain with us, when all else is lost?

There's no escape - ultimately I have come to terms with that fact. One can resist only for so long. The only way forward is to walk through the fire. Because there definitely is reprieve, on the other side. Besides, I know the road. I have taken it countless times.

I pretend that no one knows of the existence of the slumbering beast but I. Honestly, I have no idea. It must show, somehow or the other, a sudden flash. Our true nature cannot be hidden for long. I cannot change, but now that I know it, I can better equip myself for the stroll through fire.

I suppose I am grateful though. But for the existence of the demon and the unrest it drives me into, I would not be writing nonsense like this at all. Any writing, whether to a specific purpose or otherwise, is fuel to the fire of creativity. When the war rages on, as it takes me through its ups and downs, and stifles me with its maddening persistence, I find an outlet, an escape, an energy - in words.

This demon... this sleeping giant... and the battle I have to wage every day...

Thursday, February 7, 2019

We are capable of magic

Why do we read stories?

For entertainment? For a distraction? For learning something new? For living a thousand lives without moving an inch from our seat?

All of the above, of course. And more.

But we also read to find answers. It's like opening an holy text when you're worried, and finding the answers you seek, on the random page you chose. Even in a depressing novel that ends in tragedy, you might find what you are seeking. A sliver of thought, a fragment of philosophy, a shred of an idea. A ray of hope.

Lately I have been finding answers everywhere, in every book I read. Every author has something new to show me. No, they don't solve my problems - if only they could! I've to do the solving all on my own. But they shine a new light on the darkness. They show me something I have forgotten or I have never known. They don't help me with my choice, but they stand by me when I make mine. They expand our horizons and remind us of possibilities.

But when we write, we cannot think of the lessons we ought to leave behind for the reader to find. The moment we do that, the purpose is defeated.

Which, for some reason, reminds me of the water beetle.

“The waterbeetle here shall teach 
A sermon far beyond your reach; 
He flabbergasts the Human race 
By gliding on the water's face 
With ease, celerity, and grace; 
But if he ever stopped to think 
Of how he did it, he would sink.”
- Hilaire Belloc

I come from a book crazy family. Everyone in my immediate circle could be found poring over a book or a magazine; always going to the library to discover something interesting; always talking of books, new and old. I never thought twice about it. I suppose I believed unconsciously that every family was like that. Much later, when I made friends with people who "never read much" I was stunned that such people did exist.

I leave you with a beautiful thought from the inimitable Carl Sagan: "Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic."

(Photo: Sapna Book store, Elements Mall, Bengaluru)