Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Misery, Oh Sweet Misery

People tend to find being miserable as a way of living deeply. Deeper than what the other faceless masses of the world are accustomed to. We often announce our pains zealously, even competing with each other about who's more miserable. It makes our personality more 'intense' and 'sensitive' to the abhorrent ways of the world. You can't make yourself happy, but making yourself miserable is an easy task.

Misery can feel satisfying in a hollow, selfish sort of way. The times when I'm sad are also the times I'm really cynical to other people. You can see everyone's faults, even your own. But that brutality has a sense of gratification. I've often felt that cynicism is an attribute of the smug. You silently announce to the world that you know better than their rosy-eyed naive outlook. You know that things are worse than these people think, that only you can observe them. You hold people up to ridiculously high standards, believing that you're just being honest.

When you're feeling miserable, you're taken care of. Everyone listens to you and tries to pitch in. After all, who would want to hurt a sad person? But being happy does not provide the same compassionate sympathy. It's easier for people to forget you when you're happy and in your own world. When you're miserable, you're aware of your existence.

The society exists on misery. Misery is a great investemt.  -Osho

People always want an adversity to overcome, to have a struggle of their own. Something that brings them pain but the satisfaction of making a difference - whether in their lives or the world. But being sad provides a quasi-happiness. You create your own problems to overcome and then go looking for a solution to them.

Most people don't like silence, but what's worse than the lack of any auditory signals to your ears is the silence inside you. And that's terrifying, not being able to feel anything, not even sadness. And so you start believing being miserable is inevitable, so why not get on par with it? Misery feels safe. It is better than feeling a tidal wave of unfamiliar emotions.

Misery gives you a self published identity. A boundary between the world and yourself, something you can insulate yourself within.So you latch onto this false identity because without it, you're just another nobody. Another faceless person among the masses. It gives you problems to solve, even if they are self created.

Feeling cynical and being sad can make you think that you're being honest. But people are not thoughtless victims of an oblivious society. Being content or keeping a positive attitude doesn't make you yet another sheep without an identity. Hating and raging against the world is a waste of time if there is no cause.

There is no deep, dark, intrinsic value in everything, waiting to be found by the special broken ones. Misery is a self-feeding emotion that can lull you into thinking you're special but emotional pain is not the only way to distinguish 'you' from a horde of 'others'. Misery is but another weapon in our self-sabotaging arsenal.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

There are 24 hours in a day. Seems simple enough. Then why is it that the last 8 of them have an air of mystery about them?
The night envelopes you like an oversized hoodie, and it is equally comforting. Night can also offer unexpected treasures. Houses begin to glow from inside. The Earth seems to spin progressively slower until a certain stillness settles in. But do we really know about what goes on at night, when most of us are sleeping soundly and at our most vulnerable.
Do you really know a person when you don't know who they are at night?

Night is one large span of time that seems to go on. There are no inconsistencies, it is night and then it isn't anymore. Most if us have gone through the teenage night owl phase where night is refreshing and fun and forbidden. It brings a risque sense of adventure. But true night owls are genetically pre-programmed. Most people are hummingbirds. Neither night owls nor morning larks. They fall somewhere in between.

At night, the lines are blurred between reality and fiction. Special occasions take place at nighttime - parties, dinners, galas. The night offers a sense of freedom and lowered inhibition. But it also allows for self indulgence.  Things get said that wouldn't otherwise find a listening ear in the light of day.

A sense of impossibility, an awe, but also a sense of foreboding. There are no barriers to knowing what's going in our lives at nightYou are forced to introspect and scratch the painfully repressed itches in your soul. Under cover of darkness, our mind meanders into unknown territories. There are no parameters as to where the thoughts can go. Sometimes shrouded in privacy and a curtain of secrecy, and sometimes barely recognizable as our own. The hours of dark can bring over an unsettling effect on those who prefer the comfort of day.

Night doesn't always hide things. Sometimes, it reveals them until they're so apparent that you cannot ignore them anymore. The night is a portal to a different life that we lead in the after hours. Night can be like a funhouse mirror of what's inside us. It can be euphoric or meditative. Or it can be lethargic and forced.What do you think of when you imagine the night?

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Being satisfied is one of those rare fleeting moments in which you find fulfillment. When your needs are catered to and your life enriched. It is when the work that you put into something is equivalent to the reward you got.

Dissatisfaction can come in waves like a traffic on an expressway or be constant like a stream of an overflowing river. It resides in the back of your head, driving your every move ever so subtly till you're a husk who takes no real pleasure from their habits but just...exists.

In medieval times, the average human lifespan lay somewhere in the mid thirties. Now that we comparatively don't have a lot to complain about , our lives are defined by what goes wrong instead of what is right. Every victory comes with its little flaws. Things would've gone perfect if only...

Satisfaction from the work we do and the life we lead has been a primary goal of human endeavors. That's why there are so many depressed rich people. In a survey it was found that apathy, general indifference and depression has been growing amongst rich kids who did not earn their inheritance.
You can be dissatisfied even if you live a life of excess, fuelled by lavishes and praise. You can feel satisfied even if you don't own anything to your name and live amongst nomads.

If satisfaction is a cloud of enrichment, slowly being absorbed into your every orifice and changing your outlook, dissatisfaction is the stink rising from your decomposing failures. I believe then when a person does not have any goals, something to strive for or just a plain old challenge, their lives resort to a mindless stream of repetitive ennui.

Ennui is a curious word. It means a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement. People take pride in being lazy and still being able to achieve their goals. How is it that the lack of work can make them so unhappy and restless.

Chasing satisfaction from the work we do has been one of the primary sources of contentment. But that's not all someone has to be satisfied about. Satisfaction can also be an innate expression. When you see yourself changing and morphing into a person who fits into the shell of a human being that you want can be a satisfying transformation.

I think dissatisfaction has been growing amongst people because they have fit into their paradigm like a neat little shiny cog that turns and works like it's supposed to, but has no muses or flights of fancy to enrich itself.

 Dissatisfaction is trying to walk up the escalator that's going down. It is opening doors to rooms constructed in succession. It is playing a game of darts drunk, where none of them hit the target, but continuing to play thinking the next one will. It is watching the sands of an hourglass come falling down only for them to reset every time. It is smoking a cigarette not because you want to, but because you don't have anything else to do. It is owning the best gadget and then realizing there's something even better because enough is not the same it was before...

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Untested Morals, Changing Beliefs and A Sinking Ship

Most people have a set of morals they live by. Unsaid rules to govern them so that they can become and stay better human beings. Everyone likes to be a better person. Ethics and values are just one way we do that. They make us feel good about who we are.

But we also lie to others about these values. If these same morals get between us and our wants, they turn into annoyances. Mindless interruptions or obstacles that need to be scaled or dissolved to fit your new set of justifications.

Untested morals are just beliefs that we think are right and just. Nothing like a pregnancy scare to transform a pro-lifer into an ardent pro-choice believer. And although this transformation might be a better choice, the factors leading to it were nothing short of selfish and spineless.

Our values are a core set of who we are. We don't keep telling them to people to reinforce our belief in them. We trust them to be true and fair. Values should not be flexible. They don't change due to circumstance. What does change is how we choose to apply them.

One koan question I'd ask vegetarians is if you were homeless with no food and a man offered you edible meat that he was going to throw away. Would you rather eat that meat to satisfy your hunger or let him throw away the meat because it clashes with your values? The answer purely depends on who you are and what you believe in.

Having beliefs does not make you any more a hero as having an opinion makes you right. Terrorists have excellent moral conviction. Although media tries to portray them as cowards cowering behind weapons of mass destruction, they are brave, determined, but evil men and women. That bravery is belief and not value which is inherently constructed to make you a finer individual with strong moral fiber. Beliefs can be changed amicably, unlike shattering values.

Changing your beliefs on the other hand, is like being the captain of a sinking ship who goes down
with honor. You make your claim, defend it with vigor, and you admit defeat honorably at the hands of a superior opponent who was more prepared to dismantle your belief structure. The opponent can be another human, eternal stimuli, or a situation that made you perceive the same thing as before but with a new dimension. Like a 2D character in a 3D world.

This is the reason that while values and beliefs might sound like the same thing, they are different. Although with hazy and unclear boundaries. So are the things you believe in your core values that are unflinching and adamantite, or are they just beliefs that can be changed whenever they suit your purpose?

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Permeating Sadness

It's part of the life package that everyone gets once they arrive in the world.
But what is sadness? What purpose does it solve? At a glance, it would seem like sadness is just a negative reinforcement. That explanation seems very apt. It is also very wrong.

Sadness is a natural reaction to a difficult situation. Like most emotions, it has other causes that are not related to external factors. It does not need to have a cause outside the self. You feel sad when a friend moves away, or when your life does not seem to have a purpose. Both of these make you sad, but they are different kinds of sadness.

Robert Burton spent his life studying the science of sadness. In his classic 'Anatomy of Melancholy', he wrote "He that increaseth wisdom, increaseth sorrow". There is a long tradition of attempting to discern the value of sadness. It's not only an inevitable part of life, I believe it's an essential one as well.

Sadness, as opposed to anger or violence, is an expression of suffering that immediately brings people closer to the person suffering. Unraveling sadness also leads to the inevitable question of whether the sadness felt by us is the same as sadness felt by some other person.

I measure every grief I meet, 
with narrow, probing eyes. 
I wonder if it weighs like mine
or has an easier size
                                         -Emily Dickinson

But sadness is not a primitive stick based scale to be measured relatively. It is absolute. Either you are sad, or you are not. What the others feel has no way of affecting your own conditions, and yet it does. Humans have a way of projecting their selves onto other people. It's a tool of empathy, but it also leads to other despairing emotions like jealousy. The answer is, it's all just in your head.
Then again, so is everything else you feel. That doesn't make it any less real.

The Pixar movies - Inside Out does a good job of cutting through all of the years of trends of the 'believe in yourself and everything will happen for you' movement. Sometimes we don't get what we want, that doesn't mean we cannot be good at what we do. No matter how badly you want to achieve something, that doesn't mean it's going to happen, but maybe you can get close to it. It's perfectly alright to not feel happy all the time. Sadness has its place.

Do we need to attack sadness with all the tools and weapons available to us like technology and genetic engineering, or is there something sad about a world without sadness? People talk about transforming walls into doors, but walls keep us safe from the cold harshness of the outside. Sadness serves a purpose that's closely related with how we deal with challenges and issues. Removing the fuel gauge won't make your tank full.
Taking away sadness won't make you happy, it will just lead to nothingness.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Love, The Color of Rainbow

Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me no more
In the words of Haddaway, What is love?

When you ask someone this seemingly philosophical question, people might tell you that 'Love is the most important thing there is', 'it conquers all', or even 'it's all you need'. One common thread in all these statements are that all these are comparisons with other things. Love is very easy to compare, but difficult to define. Is it an emotion, a group of feelings, a signal from the brain, a universal truth?

One thing is certain thoughexpressions of love, they are not very hard to find. Even then, you're not really defining love. You're comparing it in regards to other material objects or feelings.
Ranging from the innocent to severely graphic. One seemingly all-encompassing definition would be that it is the most important thing there is. But is it really? Sure love is more important than a cup of coffee. But is it more important than say, your rationale, a home, or a great cup of coffee

One thing we know about love is that it has distinct social values in different cultures. Love in the West may be demonstrated in a form of public display of affection, but in the East it relates more with the subtler parts. One culture defines a failed attempt at finding your soulmate as an heartbreak. Others define it as the heart getting bruised. Anciant Greek defined sadness as a black liquid flowing inside our body.

Let's keep it focused on trying to define love for now. We all love our parents(I certainly hope so!),
and to some extent our relationships with other people and partners are based on the relations we have with our family. Your love for your partner may be culturally or socially weird, but does that make it any less than the textbook version of love?

Love is a construct grounded in reality deriving from our set of behaviors. Sometimes you hug a person to display your love for them, or it can be the making love part of it. For some people bearing kids of their partner can be a form of expression. But then again, you can love a person who does not want kids or can't have them too. Someone who agrees both with the ideas of marriage and divorce.

For something that has been thought about so much for so many centuries, it's bizarre that we still don't have a very concrete foundation for a definition. If love is a feeling, then feelings are dynamic. They change with time. How is it possible to hate someone you once used to love?

It makes sense if you see love as an obsession, an addiction ranging from temporary to permanent for another human being. And when people fall off this addiction or grow a tolerance to it, love wears off. Maybe it is the reason some people die loving their parter and some live to see it all fall apart. Asking someone who just fell into or out of love is like asking a gambling addict who just won/lost a fortune in a game of poker to describe money.

What if love is just a way for Homo Sapiens to propagate their genes and proliferate themselves. Nature's way to keep you continuing our species. If no two people are same, then maybe what they think love is isn't the same either. One thing is for sure however, you and I are as clueless about it all as we were when the post began. If however, you have an all encompassing definition of love that unifies all its edifices and factions, then comment and let me know.

(Special thanks to Dawn for the discussion about this endless and complicated topic)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Absolution of Ambition

We all want a little too much. Whether it's from others or our own life. The yearning to attain something to call our own is our ambition. Ambition goes beyond money, power and fame. It is the desire for a goal. Any goal.

We lose ourselves waiting for the safer ride, a comfortable life. Accepting the sadness and limited scope of our lives, people are equally scared of failing, as much as they're afraid to fly. Flying requires conscious effort and the dedication to land safely. Ambition requires passion and the eagerness to achieve what you want to.

Ambition is not just wanting two cars, a well paying job or even a cushy life. Living in the present
can still be an ambitious choice. A laid back lifestyle does not mean a life of lethargy and atrophy. It's not about how much you have, but how little you need to grow. Whether in your career or as a person. The desire to live a life without expectations about the times ahead, this type of ambition is not grounded in the future, but lies in the present.

The world will always be harsh on people whose ambitions are not grounded in the pursuit of wealth. It will make you doubt your every minute decision, every superficial action. It's like wading through a river of shit to get to the cleaner side.

Even so, there is a difference between people who're zealous about living in the present, and those who give in and accept their self-created fate. A reason most people get tired of their ambitions and dreams too easily is because they mistake the thrill of novelty with the merit of its true value. You fantasize about how it would be if you accomplished those dreams, putting on a puppet show for the imagination that makes the brain respond to them as the real events. And that feels good. So good, in fact that the actual toil and effort to achieve those things then starts feeling less and less worth it.

A reward created out of thin air feels better than the prospect of reward that has to be earned by putting in the work. You want to see yourself doing it, knowing that at the end of the day, you don't actually have to do it. That's not ambition, it's pandering.

An ambition is unflinching. It is not the question of 'if' but a matter of 'when'. If Muhammad Ali had said that - "I'll be the greatest boxer that ever lived...sometime before the next decade" then he wouldn't have been The Muhammad Ali. He would've just been a Muhammad Ali. So the next time someone tells you what your ambition should be, pay no heed. For the one who knows your goals and desires is none other than yourself.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Get Inspired

I have been in a kind of a slump. One reason for that is free time, it really seems like nothing sparks up the brain juice like a neat little deadline that's looming over you. If someone made a pie chart of every time I've done something creative and productive, the time where I had other more important work to do will have the largest share. Even so, I cannot blame my lethargy on a thing so inordinately silly.  And that invites the irony, this post would not exist if I didn't have the inspiration to write it.

Inspiration is like an epiphany, if you could simply have it every time you were in a slump and wanted some anchor to save you from drowning because that is what lack of inspiration feels like - being drowned in your own incompetence and failure, then you'd simply have it at a whim.

A website where scholars from all walks of life come together and share their vast amounts of factually correct knowledge with the world for free sounds like a ridiculous concept by a high schooler who still believes that countries should not exist and money is a detriment to society. But that website exists. Right now. It is the sense of accomplishment that drives people to contribute and make massive amounts of information public. Inside everyone is a drive to achieve greatness. This momentous need is extremely overlooked, leading to frustrating unsatisfaction which is often hard to explain and express.

It is said that everyone is great at something, even if they haven't found it yet.
I disagree. Most people aren't truly great at anything at all and it isn't because they lack the caliber, but because they lack the will to apply themselves. Inspiration is simply that will finding a way. You feel the sudden surge of energy and a desire to apply that into something tangible. A project to look back at with the satisfaction of closure.

All the water in the world cannot sink a ship
unless it gets inside. All the miracles in life cannot inspire you until you look for them. This was my catharsis, a way of rediscovering what I want to write and how I want to do it. Hopefully, you can find yours very soon unless of course, you're waiting for someone to 'inspire' you.

To find inspiration, you have to look for it. Which is also the world's most obviously frivolous advice while staying completely true and easily ignored. It will not always come to you right away, or at the time it's needed. After all, it is not a well trained dog bringing the stick to its master, but a wild wolf chasing the faint scent of its prey.

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Fading Memory

A memory is our connection to the past. It is the inexpressible bond that ties us with who we were, and who we are now. If your life is a story, memories are the highlighted passages vital to the main plot. The genre keeps changing according to the words that you choose to highlight.

It is said that whenever you revisit an old memory, your mind alters what you felt. It can throw new light on certain aspects, and repress some others. Maybe that relationship wasn't as flawless as you had felt it to be. Maybe that guy who pissed you off wasn't as big an asshole as you thought he was.  
It transforms what we once discerned as the only way to look at things. bringing a new perspective to events that transpired in the past, and thereby changing us in the present. It can be the origin story of someone truly epic. Or the failed ambitions of a misguided human.

It can keep a friendship going by thoughts alone. Or it can make you doubt the existing ones. It can help you understand how you felt about a person even if you were oblivious and didn't realize it at the time. Fluctuating between an intense Wanderlust for the past and a kind of regret for all decisions you never made, memory shapes us in ways that are delicate and subtle and yet so definite. You can lose your sanity to one false memory, or rebuild connections that may never have existed.

The past is a foreign country and you're only a tourist there.
You cannot hope to understand the locals, just see them for how they were.

A memory does not need to be your own. It can be the form of nostalgia about things you never got to experience. Things that never were, or could be except in the one place where you can imagine them to be anything. Maybe Renaissance Paris was the buzz of the time, or the invention of gramophone was the best time in history. It can be a mess of overwhelming emotions, or an organized dissociated version of ourselves.

Most of our life is forgotten instantly. And that's what makes the moments that we remember special. Even a fading memory is something that defines who we are because it draws focus on what we think is worth remembering and what is important to us.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Of Getting away

We like companionship, see, but we can't stand to be around people for very long. So we go get ourselves lost, come back for a while, then get the hell out again.

Sometimes, the most relaxing moment once you enter a room flooded with people is when you leave it. Humans are social creatures. It is as inherent as our need of affection and attention. So people who don't like the idea of socializing don't really fall into the human paradigm and work like the cogs they're supposed to be. They are ungodly.
And yet they exist, walking the same Earth as you. They're the men who don't fit inIt's not about running away, it's the getting away part that induces them to leave.

It's not about hatred, apathy, or ignorance that drives them away from the world. They want to experience everything, right now. It's a curse of the gypsy blood. They want the strange and the new, but what happens when the world is done with its mysteries and they're done unravelling the lotus of life.

But they get away, and they keep getting away. From people, relationships, friends, people who care and people who don't. They cut the blood supply and let the heart beat itself to death. Your words can't stop them, you can only hope that they return and nothing much is changed.

But the prodigal son returns home. And the reward for all his adventures is a giant feast of friends forlorn. And this time the smile, it's ear-to-ear. But with every homecoming, they have different eyes. Glimmering with hope and adventure and experiences experienced. They can only build if they tear the walls down. And then you realize, they're no different than ordinary men. They live in constant conflict and contradiction.