The Privilege of Being Pointed at

Today I thought of a metaphor that summed up my conception of friendship and loyalty so easily and coherently that I almost couldn’t believe it. I stared into the distance all dramatic, incredulous and overwhelmed, marvelling at the eeriness of its simplicity, and smiling- a little warmly, a little warily- at the resolute idealist that continues to live inside me. Evidently.

At many points in my life, I have felt like I am difficult ‘romantically’ because of how I interpret intimacy and choose to trust others. There exists an obvious dissonance between the idea of what I truly want and what people come to think I need- a hopeless miscommunication and an unavoidable misunderstanding.

You see, all the daydreams I fabricate of a happy, satisfying life for myself involve the idea of good, solid friendship in a much larger capacity than any expectations of love. Every time I have befriended a person in the past, with all my heart and over significant periods of time, it has been with a purity of intent that has never wavered towards notions of finding “something more”. I have not been in love with anyone yet and quite honestly,  if anybody ever ‘sweeps me off my feet’ someday, it will probably be a loyal friend who stuck around and not a ruggedly handsome dude I am infatuated with. It has been confusing sometimes because the standard I hold for friendship essentially translates into some freak polyamourous version of platonic dating, which has made me wonder endlessly if I have it all wrong in my head.

And no, I don’t think of myself as asexual or aromantic or demisexual or any of those intimidating labels. It’s also not that I don’t imagine myself ever being in love.

It is just that where I stand now, I dream of fire-forged friendships and fierce loyalty and reckless brotherhoods much more than I fantasise about meeting someone I would like to be with.

I know it is a little strange because I am twenty, and not twelve. But hear me out nonetheless.

The media fails to validate my convictions intermittently by making love the endgame in most happy endings, and considering how I literally never crush on anyone, this just makes me feel even weirder about the way I am. I mean, I actually feel betrayed when I find out a person I spent time with as a friend had feelings for me the whole time, so these movie scenarios might never mean anything in the narrative of my life. I barely have any precedent to base my worldview on in this department, and I feel like my intentions are not popularly relatable.

So you must see how crucial this metaphor is to me.

This whole ‘friendship is transcendent’ business I have preached so loudly about throughout my life has been very scattered and intuitive until now, but when I was out tonight, it occurred to me as I ranted about the ethics of genetic manipulation (prone to unexpected digressions, as always) that I just want, more than any other social achievement, for somebody to ‘pick’ me.

To illustrate, imagine a giant stadium full of a billion people, all complex and unique in their own ways. Now imagine yourself, stumbling through this crowd, trying to navigate your way out, distraught and panicked, pathetically out of your element. Now, within the chaos, imagine that somebody stops you, smiles, and slowly lifts their hand to point at you. Here, you frown in confusion and look around, telling them there are others more worthy of being pointed at and that you are not much of a person anyway and this is quite odd and sudden, but they shake their head, slowly and certainly, and keep pointing. It flusters you and you lash out, but no matter what you do, their hand does not shake, not once, not even for a second. I choose you, they say, and that is all. You realize, with awe, that they truly mean the gravity of their words, that they have no plans of walking away, that they don’t deal in unclear subtexts. And eventually, you find the courage to point back at them, you learn to look into their eyes with the same stubborn commitment they ambushed you with. Now there is no fear and there are no levels of attachment – you did your pointing, this is just it, there is nothing more to it.

When I picture this scenario, I realize that when I make friends, I simply point. This is why it is all such an idealistic muddle for me. Friendship is bias and friendship is love. There is no fundamental difference. I wasn’t misinterpreting anything, I just wanted to be pointed at, regardless of the context being love or friendship or anything else. I am not as stunted as I thought, after all. I was just offering myself like a child.

Of course, in the real world, there are always the precursors of contextual interactions and time and social norms, but I believe the idea sustains through the deconstruction. Whether it’s family, best friends, or romantic partners, all that we really need from each other is a genuineness of investment and an intensity of loyalty. The nature of affection is secondary- what counts more than the source or the dynamic that constructs it is the authenticity and the confidence that founds it. It is the sheer clarity with which your people place trust in you. It is the security of their beliefs that cements everything.

To care is to point. And to be pointed at is a privilege.

I can’t say to what extent I have felt this sort of connection in my life, but I like to think that there are some out there who understand what I mean without so many words being written and read. I believe in friendship like this. It has to exist.

It is too goddamn easy.

Advertisements

Not Myself

I am tired of trying to introduce the point of my posts everytime I decide to blog (which, I have to admit at least to myself, is nowhere near as frequently as I’d want it to be). Every time it is the same old thing- I try to be a little funny and give a vaguely amusing anecdotal bit, then I declare I have a problem, then I rant a lot and reach a meaningless conclusion that barely has any correlation with what I’ve been going on about the whole time, and then I sign off with a wispy resolution that is definitely not applicable in real life. And then, when I’m done saying what must be said in so many words, I torture myself profusely by editing every sentence fifteen times over each time I open my blog, crushing all prospects of me coming up with a new one because I neurotically alter everything I have written here since January 2015 again and again until I’ve exhausted all my creative potentialities. I update my own history more than I chronicle it and that’s disgusting and counterproductive and just flat out dumb. Without provocations, I remain my own worst critic, censor, and insecurity.

So now there are going to be some changes- Barring proper grammar, I say to hell with structures and formats. I am done caging myself with conceptions of what I’m taught to believe is the right way to express myself. I’m also tired of considering what others think of my writing even though I will deny that I ever remotely cared until the eve of my death.

And it’s fucking terrifying, by the way, that I am actually going to die, and there is nothing I can do about it? I can’t emphasise the levels of dread I experience from the reality of this prospect. In fact, I’m pretty sure this fixation is not that normal for someone my age, especially when life has been this unbelievably kind. I don’t ever feel sad or lonely enough to want to kill myself, and nothing remarkably traumatic has ever happened to me, it’s not about that- I just constantly feel angry at the inevitability of death itself and subsequently make myself really, really hot and bothered all on my own for unjustifiably long durations of time. I hate feeling helpless.

I never succeed at accurately communicating the nature of this stress to anyone else either. I don’t know what to do about it.

But anyway, moving on.

The year is about to end. I will be 20 soon. And I don’t feel so good.

Can I just say that everyone I know has ridiculously real issues and my problems never seem to measure up to theirs? Don’t get me wrong, I love being the sanest, most sorted person in the posse and I wouldn’t trade places with anyone for the world, thank you very much. But I also can’t deny that it gets severely annoying when people in my vicinity have highly dramatic protagonist moments in states of elevated emotionality while I cry over a vague tv thing even I don’t care about that much. I witness and I wonder, but I always stay at a wary distance with all my hipster self-assurances that things don’t matter much if you don’t let them have power over you, that all these “messy emo kids” are sabotaging themselves by getting too invested in the role of the main character.

The story is not all about you and you can always switch arcs if you become self-aware about the narrative, right? Break the goddamn fourth wall and you’re good. It’s easy.

That’s another thing if you want to take notes- my tendency to presume the position of a spectator when the world seems to unravel before my eyes, and then to try and make sense of things by cross-referencing and correlating them to a bizarrely diverse range of tropes I have accumulated in a life characterised by the frenzied consumption of thematically diverse media. Truth is, I never truly belong to my immediate surroundings because I’m constantly refracting the world through my film-roll eyes and the rigid constructions of plot, character, and motifs.

Talk about being caged by formats.

I am also always a little out of my depth when it comes to matters involving sentiments. Maybe this is because I moved around a lot as a kid? Always the new girl trying to survive in new situations and always the one having to leave everyone behind for the obligations of another, even newer life? I mean, everything is neatly compartmentalised in my head and I have been a lot of people in a number of discrete lives, all healthy and happy. But it is not a lie, unfortunately, that there has always been a prolonged sense of rootlessness in me. I am somehow an inherent outsider no matter where I go. I linger, I observe, but I always go back to the woods.

So I can’t help wondering if I have ever really felt anything in all its magnitude. If I have never fancied myself the one everything is about, have I ever really felt the pain of things the way it deserves to be felt? Because when it comes to me, everything is about me at the end of the day, and I’m just too self-alienating to see that.

Also, why am I so stupid when I am angry? I argue and I lie and I lash out when somebody blames me for the right reasons, even though under the surface of all that aggression, I know I am the idiot who messed up. I always know, but I can’t say it. I have never been able to say it. This is the centre of all the guilt I feel about being inauthentic when I am around my family- it’s made even worse by the stinging, uncomfortable awareness that they have become irrecoverably jaded with my stubborn defensiveness, primarily because of the distance that has come into existence due to repeated instances of miscommunication and incomprehension. I have reduced the chances of being heard out, without any reservations or measured reactions, as a consequence of my own self-created history of meaningless altercations. I have to try extra hard to be taken seriously now, and it is all on me. I, in really dumb ways, catalysed my family’s scepticism and suspicion, and made it all the more difficult to be perfectly honest.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that they love me and they trust me, but I also know that it is hard for them to understand me and it is harder for them to support me. I don’t make it easy. It’s like every verbose, incoherent research paper harassed students are made to read for the understanding of something that could be expressed in three simple phrases. I am the unnecessary complexity of that language. I’ve been trying to get better, though. I am trying to be level-headed and calm and empathetic and kind in my interactions. It feels like a waste now, to fight with those who love me the most. Now that I live away, I see it better. I am beginning to get it. Some lack of mutual agreement and understanding can be overcome by the sheer strength and stability of love and loyalty.

Anyway. On to the next thing.

This one has been bothering me for a while now – Why do I play the devil’s advocate for those who belittle me, but shirk off the purity of regard others hold for me? Why do I try so hard to justify criticisms people spew my way when they are evidently uninformed, and why do I instinctively reject the faith people who actually know me choose to place in me? Sometimes it feels like I actually want to dislike myself- as if my fundamental terribleness is something that has been waiting for proof all this time, and I am subconsciously searching for reasons to validate that doubt with ever single conversation I have. I mean, there is no real evidence of me being an awful person. Sure, apathetic and entitled and petty and inconsiderate sometimes, but never bad. Do I doubt the truth of my own morality?

I really need to look into this.

Lastly, I don’t know who I am. Again. I thought I had it down pretty well, but I clearly don’t because I have started reacting again and feeling lost again and being unbearably cranky again and staying confused about the point of things again. I still am an optimist and I realise that that is a victory in certain ways, but considering how frequently I manage to drown in my head, even as a stable, satisfied person, it disconcerts me to think of what I might become when something does finally happen.

At some point, the balance has to tip, right?

That is all for now. I have nothing witty to say here. Fuck structural coherence. Goodnight.

On What Really Matters

I didn’t at any juncture of my life, think that I could become one of those fundamentally sad people who stop doing things they like because they claim to “have no time” for anything besides work- the pantheon of those lost souls who’re swept hopelessly away by the nagging urgency of the Type A world, the firm pull of material ambition, and the painful rationality of trivial compromise. As I stand shielded behind thick walls of impenetrable fiction today, I carefully admit my failure to properly acknowledge that side of reality – there is something so horrifying and stressful about the prospect that it makes me uncomfortable to consider it even on a hypothetical level.

I should clarify that this dismissive belief and this instinctive terror are not because of an absence of accountability or lack of focus on my part. I’ve always been pretty ambitious in my own little ways and I have pursued many personal goals quite sincerely over time.

No, this is actually because of a glaring blind spot in the intricate web of my core concepts: you see, I always hyperventilate in the face of obligation, and I have managed, it turns out, to avoid learning the word “priority” altogether in all the time I have spent on this planet. It’s quite amusing how I failed so completely at developing something that comes so naturally to most, but the problem that arises out of this sort of blanket ignorance is as troubling as it’s laugh worthy: I don’t, after almost two decades of life, have the necessary tools to distinguish between more important matters and less important ones when presented with seemingly plausible options. And this, irrespective of its roots, is ridiculously problematic.

So I am here to think.

I am inclined to believe that this skewed development of my personality is partly because I have never not done whatever I have really wanted to do, whenever I’ve wanted to do it (my silver spoon is gold plated) and situations have almost always worked out in my favour in the end. In fact, I believe I have grown up to be quite the closet optimist. While I routinely enjoy pessimistic jargon and nihilistic theatrics much more than generic romantic notions, there is always a stubborn part of me that intuitively hopes for the best simply because I, on a personal level, have led a charmed life. Contrary to what I intellectually conclude, I can always reassure myself about the future. And when I try my best to hate the universe, my own good fortune begs to differ.

I think because of this easy, breezy existence of mine, I have often felt a very strongly founded sense of security and comfort in my conception of everything that’s possible for me and I have thus subsequently developed the tendency to be unbelievably reckless and destructive in the face of responsibilities. To illustrate, let’s just say that if I had an important submission in two days but I felt like obsessing over an obscure fictional character on Tumblr instead, I would most likely do the latter for as long as I could, regardless of the impending consequences.

I mean, I would eventually come around to finishing my work before the deadline on my own, but that’s only because I grew up in a family that taught me how incomplete things are barely a concept and of course I have to finish what I start because there are no conceivable alternatives to that particular proposition. Clearly, my childhood was not one with too many options- great things were expected from me at all times and I refused to disappoint when it came to showing physical results. So, I grew up to be a decent, mildly disciplined, academically sound kid who always saw things to their mostly passable ends. This means, by extension, that when I avoided doing things for a bit too long (as was natural to my disposition), they started following me around like dark clouds of anxiety until I relented and finished them for good.

But even in situations of such terrible hauntings, I say as I salute my own pigheadedness, I always did either everything that could possibly be done, or absolutely nothing at all. When I left chapters before exams, I didn’t even skim through them, and when I decided to write stories, I wrote all of them in one go. There was no in-between and there was no character constancy in my person. I abandoned everything that I lost interest in without the slightest hesitation and I took up fascinating things within heartbeats. My experience of privilege lay most significantly in my freedom to be so frivolous and temperamental at all stages of my life.

Bearing evidence to the power of nurture, I never quite lost this perplexing element of my brain.

As a pampered kid, I was a creature of pure instinct. I was a brat with curiosity and vitality and a million distractions. I was too many things at once, and my drawings, like my head, were all in bright green crayon and glitter. I was fun, but almost all of these qualities are only reasonably charming when possessed by a tiny wide-eyed toddler with more energy than she knows what to do with. But since we must all grow old and since all stages of life aren’t disconnected from each other, my stupid colourful past very sneakily trickled into my present and slowly became an essential determinant of the current me: it translated into me growing up to be a chronic procrastinator with unjustifiably high personal expectations and a subjective reality that revolved primarily around avoidant tendencies and hedonistic principles. Trust me when I say this: flighty adults are not as fun. As time went by I got consistently worse at prioritising and became more and more contradictory with each book I read and each person I met.

But, even as this obviously flawed style of thinking made me a lot more stubborn and confused and unequipped in the following era of intense decision making and soul searching, I still remain grateful to have had the chance to inculcate it. Granted that all the stated shortcomings are depressingly valid, I yet cannot deny that my permanently fidgety mind is also the primary reason I was unable to lose my sense of wonder when the world around me struggled to pick up books once again and forgot what feeling stories was like. I never lost the strength to cling on with a death grip to everything I held dear even though my circumstances became more complex and demanding and frighteningly mature.

While it’s true that I now embody a brain with the most scattered sort of cognition and a spectrum of preferences that make no coherent sense in the same person, it’s also true that I can make time for myself even when there is none. I do very stupid things, but somehow they always feel worth it. Amidst all the thinking and ageing, I realize that I developed a perseverance for things that make me feel alive and happy and curious. And, because I never understood how to sort things that “matter” from things that don’t (and since I was lucky enough to never have to), I barely even considered letting some of those things go for the sake of other “more important” ones.

I make no claims of being a well-settled person today, but if there is one thing I can say about myself with total confidence, it’s that I have always been happily preoccupied.

And, as you can probably tell, I have never had to actually deal with the repercussions of my own stupid ignorance.

Well. Until now.

Lately, I can feel myself slipping dangerously on the tightrope of this lifestyle.  Defects only become visible when crises come a-knocking, and right now, I am noticing all of these faults as if in brand new packages of popping bubble wrap.

Like an idiot, I have managed to create too many obligations for myself in the past few days without actually establishing a sense of commitment to any of them. This has predictably led me to a state of permanent, dynamic frustration. I tend to take on activities that seem invigorating and carry the promise of fun, but I always forget to take into account my own pleasure-seeking inclinations. As you can guess, it’s all been downhill from there- because as an introverted and constantly lost person, I don’t understand easily how to make things work when they don’t organically do so.

With grudging desperation I ask you: How do you devote yourself to a bigger cause when you would always much rather stay in and watch indie movies? How do you even begin to care when the internet exists? How do you commit to any purpose at all when there are so many cool stories in this world?

Big questions.

And I have no answers.

So, it appears, we have caught ourselves another one of those dichotomies that seem to haunt all perspectives: like everything beautiful in this world, my cheery quirks too have an equally repulsive flip side. While my lack of prioritising makes me more vibrant and happy, it also gives me my own share of fatal flaws- thus, my inquisitiveness is selfish, my convictions are transitory, my attitudes are changeable, and my promises are unreliable.

I realise  that even though it’s important to be your own unique person, it’s also (and this is where I fall hideously short) as important to belong to the real world with an instilled sense of duty towards other people. Because they exist too, contrary to my egocentric beliefs.

Moral of the story: I am perfectly incompetent at time management and organisation and teamwork. And I still want, above wanting to get better, to watch more tv and read more novels.

Go figure.

Identity Crisis

“Attempting to find in motion what was lost in space”

I realise that this post may come across as preachy, but it’s kind of deliberately so. I was trying to think better by framing all these random things I’ve picked up from around the internet into one cheesy ass lecture I give to myself in a tone that sounds far more sure of what it’s claiming than the kind I usually use to articulate personal thoughts.

This is an experiment. It’s an attempt to condescend myself into self-improvement. It’s a little nuts, yeah, but bear with me if you are here already.

“We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery.”

The human heart is born with an unquenchable inquisitiveness. We walk this earth, curious and confused, in a wild search for answers that barely exist outside of us, looking at simple things and making monsters out of them, constantly misplacing universes inside our exhausted heads, forgetting every day what is truly important.

Great minds have tried endlessly to fathom the mysteries of the world, but in spite of all the philosophical endeavours of our enterprising species, we still remain doomed to unsatisfying lives of misinterpreted hints and vaguely conveyed solutions.

The problem is that the answer is different for all of us, and we must find it for ourselves if we want it to be right. It is not a common path, but rather a personalized quest that all individuals must undertake in their own unique way.

We are truly alone on this specific road, and we cannot afford to be distracted.

Among the greatest questions that haunt us, none is more detrimental than the question of “Who am I?” and among the greatest answers of our being, none is more pivotal than the experience of “I Am.” Life is lived relentlessly in pursuit of an absolute validation of personal worth, a hamster wheel odyssey for confirmation of self-identity. We keep looking for a sense of purpose in this unforgiving world, day after day, year after year.

But at certain critical stages in life, we step back from our realities and examine ourselves as essentially as we can and question everything we have believed so far about our worlds. We reluctantly come to recognise our delusions. Our existence suddenly appears to be hollow and misdirected. Nothing makes sense according to our original perceptions and we are compelled to nurture a new mind for the sake of a more authentic comprehension. We take off our rose-tinted glasses, rub our tired eyes with clenched fists, and look at everything, for the first time as ourselves in a greater sense. This period of irrepressible fascination and wonder inspires uncertainty and intense internal conflict within us and we get insecure about our very being, becoming helpless victims of the classic identity crisis that plagues all of the humanity at some fateful point.

Erik Erikson, a German-born American psychologist, proposed a psychoanalytic theory of development, consisting of eight stages of life from infancy to adulthood. During each stage, a person is said to experience a different psychosocial crisis, and the way in which he deals with it is considered to directly impact the growth of his personality, steering it either in a positive or a negative direction. The fifth stage in this theory has the conflict of identity vs. role confusion, and it is believed to occur during adolescence, from the age of 12 to 18 years. Erikson said, “The adolescent mind is essentially a mind or moratorium, a psychosocial stage between childhood and adulthood, and between the morality learned by the child, and the ethics to be developed by the adult.”

If we were to agree with what this theory claims, it would explain why the identity crisis manifests itself so loudly during the teen years- It’s because this is the age of extraordinary change, where we retain our childlike idealism and secret beliefs in magic but bear the suddenly immediate burden of adulthood and brutal realism at the same time. The social expectations from us change suddenly and drastically, and as we find ourselves in the process of switching roles, we get lost in the crevices of our overwhelmed minds, committing to neither side.

 Who am I, now that I am not who I used to be?

I cannot give a universal answer to this question because that is not how self-discovery works. All I can do is explain how I personally resolved my crisis and hope that it contributes to everyone else finding his or her own solutions as well.

During my impressionable years, I tried to come to terms with my feelings of helplessness, insecurity and broken identity by directing all of my energy towards building a strong knowledge base of ideas. I turned to the Existentialists and fell into stupors of inconclusive deep thought on a daily basis, wasting time in massive proportions, and thinking aimlessly just for thinking’s sake. As I started to become saturated with the brains of others, I became alienated from my own past and scrambled furiously to grasp at my inherent self as I saw my childhood fade away to a stranger existence. I realized the extents of my own changeability, the fact that I have the power to choose what I tether my sense of purpose to, the bizarre fact that I am barely the same person for more than a few days.

It is always good to remind oneself of the memorable quip by Joan Didion that advices us “to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not” — an idea often difficult to implement as we cringe at the bitterness, stupidity, and pretensions of our former selves; and yet advice that stays extremely relevant in the everlasting pursuit of healthy self-acceptance.

After conducting a number of ruthless ideological experiments on myself, I have decided that the best way to understand the ‘self’ (whatever that means) is by acknowledging and staying with the contradictions. If you persist, you begin to see that there is always more than the two opposing truths; and the third part, which is reconciliation, can successfully glue your personality together. It doesn’t matter if you are both right and wrong at the same time as long as you realize you are both and can live with it. The lure of typecasting the self is often sharply tempting because of its coherence and stability, but it places iron limits on the potential of the person to find happiness, especially in ways that are “out of character” and thus “not right”. Finding meaning can be daunting, but you are bigger than you think and you’re more complex than you realize. Knowing this is key.

It is also rather important to ask yourself what is your opinion about the influences acting upon you- like the universal laws of nature, the teachings of religion, the concept of trust, the deceptions of sleep and dreaming, the very idea of man’s place in the living, breathing, sentient cosmos, the demand for morality, the nature of animal instinct and intuition within and around you, the meaning of pain and pleasure, the idea of conscience and consciousness, the genuine and fabricated needs and desires of the body, the intimate force of sex, the inevitability of death, the illusions of time, the constructions of logic, and the world in its entirety resting on your eyes to be seen, bare and complete.

Only when we learn to be true to our experiences and methodically break down the elements of our rationality to their roots, can we truly come to embrace ourselves.

I believe that finding yourself is a merciless expedition that demands great mental fortitude and very clear thinking. It is a challenge to our species, making us human and driving us towards vaster planes of understanding. And thus, we must not shy away from the journey. We must at least strive, no matter how futile it may feel, to know the whole nake, rather than to love fragments in disguise.

Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, “Become who you are.”

And, given time, I intend to.

The God Question

This is an assignment I recently wrote that got very meta and I am thus posting it here. I don’t claim to be an expert and I have borrowed excerpts and ideas from lots of heres and theres, but if ever you want to call it plagiarism, think of the following as borrowed and arranged content in accordance with a simple stream of personal thought. And if ever you choose to condemn me as a pretentious nerd trying too hard at something beyond her, I say that we are all one of those in one way or the other and I am not embarrassed at all.

“If we ever reach the point where we think we thoroughly understand who we are and where we came from, we will have failed.”

-Carl Sagan

For generations, the classic argument concerning the existence of God has remained frustratingly unresolved.  The Universe, as inexplicably vast and unfathomable as it is, has baffled scientists and theologians alike and man has speculated about the creation of the cosmos and the reasons for his own consciousness a thousand different ways.

Many schools of thought with a diversity of views have come into being to seek the final answer to the God question.

There are many intricacies in the faith that people place in their respective convictions but, to generalize, religious men, who abide by scriptures, traditional writing and prevalent belief systems, can be said to hold the stance of ‘theism’, which is a belief in the existence of a god or gods, specifically of a creator who intervenes in the universe. On the other hand, hard rationalists, who refuse to acknowledge anything that is not scientifically proven, tend to be ‘atheists’, a stance that advocates a stubborn belief in the non-existence of god.

Apart from these two basic streams of belief, there is also the question of the knowability of the reality of god. Those who think we can know whether god exists or not are called ‘gnostic’ and those who think that there is no conceivable way for us to confirm the existence or non-existence of god are called ‘agnostic’.

There can be numerous elaborate debates in favor of and against all these claims.

The size of the universe is very impressive, with us on a tiny particle whirling around the sun, among a hundred thousand million suns in this galaxy, itself among a billion galaxies. Man is a latecomer in an endlessly evolving drama- can the rest be but a background for his creation? Is it not narcissistic of us tiny creatures to presume that the whole infinity of things was created by an Almighty entity of our own imagination for the sake of our puny little human lives? Is it not close-minded and presumptuous to proclaim a religion as the absolute truth where there is no believable evidence supporting it? Isn’t it bizarre to believe so strongly in stories and myths that we ourselves created in ancient times when we had no clue how vast the world truly was? Thus, isn’t gnostic theism a logically flawed stance to hold?

To staunchly believe in something simply because you have been told to do so is equivalent to willful ignorance. Further, in the multiplicity of religions and theological stances, how do you choose which one is most authentic and honest? How do you fear penance in a hypothetical afterlife when death remains the biggest mystery?

To summarize, what do you base your convictions on but the incomplete teachings of the uninformed past?

On the other hand, agnostic atheism, the other extreme branch of thinking, which condemns all religious beliefs as naïve and ridiculous, is a tall statement to make as well, because the absence of evidence does not in any way confirm the absence of a coherent God; in fact, it simply makes the matter more uncertain.

The enterprise of Science is fueled by the curiosity and doubts of men. It is imperative to have uncertainty as a fundamental part of your inner nature to be truly rational. Nothing is certain or proved beyond all doubt. We investigate out of inquisitiveness and as we develop more information in the sciences. It is not that we find out the truth, but that we come closer to grasping what can be considered more likely. We must realize that the statements of science are not of what is true and what is not true, but what is known to different degrees of certainty.

Thus, even according to the principles of science that atheism so proudly resorts to, this stream of thinking is very condemning and obstinate.

Further, it denies people the comfort of placing faith in the bigger picture. We know that, even with moral values granted, human beings are very weak; they must be reminded of ethics to be able to follow their consciences. It is not just a matter of having a right conscience, but also a question of maintaining strength to do what is known to be right. And thus religion is important because it gives strength, comfort, and inspiration to follow prevalent moral views. It gives shelter to those men who proclaim “God, I need to believe you created me: we are so small down here.”

In a world where all our beliefs can at best stay dubious, I believe the perfect way to think about God is as a liberal skeptic.

Civilization seems to stand on two great heritages. One is the scientific spirit of adventure or the humility of intellect, that promises a journey into the recognized unknown where everything is decidedly uncertain, and the other is the heritage of religious ethics, which establishes the basis of action on love, the brotherhood of all men, the value of the individual, or the humility of the spirit. Both worlds clash and intertwine on multiple dimensions and manifest as unique realities.

If we ever hope to understand God, we must be cautioned from our own prejudices. When we blatantly accept or deny something that is not proven, we become less welcoming to potential answers and forget to be open-minded and perceptive.

Even as the God Question remains full of suspense, the search for divine evidence continues to evolve. As inherently curious creatures, we humans must keep our eyes open and our minds clear, so that we are ready for any kind of knowledge when it does come to us.

Like the famous actor, John Hurt said, “We are all racing towards death. No matter how many great, intellectual conclusions we draw during our lives, we know they’re all only man-made, like God. I begin to wonder where it all leads. What can you do, except do what you can do as best you know how.”

Robots with Feelings

Recently, I have been experiencing a multitude of drastic changes in this semblance of a life that I have. They probably aren’t as momentous as I treat them to be, but if there is one thing about the world that I know, it is this- what you don’t understand, you can make mean anything. And I make no claims of not being a member of this mindless human tradition (not even to establish the fashionable extents of my hipsterity).

So, because of an instinct inherent to my unfortunate species, I have been shamelessly hovering in the realms of the hypothetical, with my jetpack powered up to a hundred and my flutter velocity turned recklessly high, flying over probabilities and possibilities like a starved bumble bee in a flowering orchard.

What I have come to finally comprehend from all of these internal endeavours, though, is far bigger than these perplexing-but-normal, trivial-in-retrospect problems themselves. What I have discovered is far more fundamental to who I am as a person and far more necessary to how I choose to live henceforth. Unfortunately, we’ve got ourselves a situation here.

I think you know what is coming.

I have, like always, found myself in the middle of a mind-boggling identity crisis. Yet again I am here to offer you my confusion. Yet again I am here to potentially waste your time.

With that, my imaginary readers, I invite you to accompany me on a highly self-critical and ultimately pointless piece of writing where I give myself too much importance and adamantly define the world strictly in accordance with my prejudiced worldview.

Here goes nothing.

I have developed an acute awareness of my ridiculously frigid and methodical way of dealing with emotions.

I have never been the type to moderate my convictions and if I feel anything at all about something, it is bound to be in superlatives- otherwise, I tend to spare nothing but an almost offensive indifference to the uninteresting object, a response I cannot disguise to save my life.

I reside permanently in the wonderful dimension of intense and invigorating exaggerations, but what is important to note here is that none of my reactions stem from a place of pure feeling. There is always an elaborate breakdown of everything I notice that my brain automatically undertakes with a vehement sort of computation. I see, I trope, I reference, I analyse, I understand. So when you ask me why I love or hate something, I am likely to give you precise reasons with exhaustive associations that explain which specific parts of the thing were critical to my conclusions and why exactly it was so.

You’d think with the way I think I’d be good at math, but that’s another story.

All this time, I have taken this mechanical reaction as something that is natural, ancillary and nothing worth bothering with as long as I continue to have a good time. Stupidly enough, I have never brought myself to consider how this part of me translates to personal problems and contributes to my gestalt personality. I have, thus, been outrageously ignorant and deliberately blind to my personal truths.

Until now.

With the bombardment of random issues that I had to deal with in a concentrated period of time, I finally began to notice my own peculiarities. I saw that every time I perceived the threat of overwhelming feeling, I switched to hard, rational computing mode. I suddenly looked at the problem with crippling objectivity and made a blueprint out of it, weighing out the pros and cons, evaluating how much I cared, prospecting the worst case scenarios and calculating the expected damage. I kept on pondering until I concluded on a realistic, coherent solution and decided on it resolutely, never allowing my feelings to overpower my thoughts and attributing great confidence to my strong, logical stance.

However, I eventually realized that these particular issues were much more pronounced and important than most of the other ones I casually came to terms with in life because they kept attacking me when I least expected them to, bringing me down to a dull, depressive low and making me feel absurdly vulnerable.

You’d think this is the part where the robot grows a heart, feels the warmth of humanity and lets sentimentality wash over its soft, hidden interior.

But this, in fact, is where I started to scare myself. When I saw that there was no way to avoid experiencing these emotional ambushes, I started to acknowledge their patterns and repetitiveness, building up this strategically stoic outlook towards them. Over time, they just became recurrent hindrances that hit like mild nausea and then faded away in their own comfortable time. I actually began to mentally categorize them as strokes or pangs with a resigned “here it comes” attitude each time I suspected their nearness. I conveniently switched off until they passed because I was well aware that I’d be perfectly fine when they were gone. In this way, I braved the storm of emotional conflicts and survived, all in one piece, maybe even a little happier.

And this is also how I solved all my problems without actually authentically experiencing any of my own feelings.

Go figure.

It seems that I possess an insanely strong defence mechanism that can nullify all sentiments without ever sparing them serious, conscientious consideration. As far as I can think, this does not strike me as too unhealthy or repressive because it’s not that I refuse to address the existence of any feelings at all. I simply never give them too much attention.

But considering the existential struggles of all the protagonists I have read and watched, and detecting my own deviance from the natural way of coping with stress, I cannot help but wonder if I am, in actuality, a little too robotic for comfort.

And, more importantly,  if my ice cold rationality comes from a place of conscience or cowardice. An essential question arises about the source of this highly efficient defence of logic that I have come to live with.

Is it that I don’t feel like a traditional human, or that I’m too afraid to do so? What are the reasons that make me who I am? Do I need to thaw out pure feelings from the unexplored cores of my being or conveniently depend on my automated thought processing?

I really don’t know.

And I suspect, with a healthy dosage of irony, that once I have thought about this hard enough, I won’t care either.

Ah well. Full circle and all that.

 Paper Cuts

In the last  few days, I have come to make an unsettling observation. 

There are important things in life that have direct consequences and must be dealt with immediately. Then there are the other things that hardly lead to any physically manifest effects and yet hold the capacity to quietly obliterate the world as it is known when they do come into observation. This was one of those other moments for me.

I realised that I cannot think on paper anymore.

Yesterday, as I pulled off yet another pointless all-nighter doing things that did not need to be done (ah, ’tis the season to not sleep and be fake-jolly during passive aggressive cranky days) I thought hey, everybody is sleeping right now, I have no distractions, the battery on my laptop is pathetically low and the charger is too far away.

I should write on paper!

So with all the nostalgic excitement of a millennial teenager who, say, happens to receive a handwritten letter or listens to old records on a gramophone, I picked up an artsy looking notebook and sat myself down on my sister’s horrendously messy study table.

And I couldn’t get a single passage out.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t think of anything. In fact, it was partly because I was thinking too fast for my own good. Before I finished on a tangent, I plunged into another that was way off topic and successfully made no sense by the time I was done with my abominable little sentences.

All the while, my hand was getting fidgety because I wasn’t sure about the spelling of the word “fluttery” (fluttry? fluttery? ) and there was NO spell check there to save my semi-educated ass immediately. Not knowing how to write that word for sure made me question everything I ever thought I knew and I conveniently collapsed into a puddle of intellectual self-loathing.

Yuck.

I feel like we don’t notice frequently enough what a blessing it is to be able to edit our writing on computers and how comfortable we have gotten with rewriting everything we write. If you have forgotten the good old days, and I’m sure you have, let me remind you (dejectedly) that paper cuts no slack, friend. Only unsuspecting fingertip skin. Creativity is not shoved down your throat on the silver spoon of Microsoft word when you brave a physical notebook. Nope. You need to sharpen your goddamn pencils and you need to get your thoughts right as you go.

I noticed how unforgiving the paper truly is when I saw what I had done with my disgustingly scribbly and unorganized paragraph- there were sentences within, above, below, between and parallel to other sentences. There was no direction of writing. I was scrunching up words wherever I found space and it looked like utter crap and I was very deeply disheartened.

So I shook my head, violently crumpled up the poor, vandalized piece of paper ( my handwriting is the worst too) and slammed it into the open mouth of a dustbin.

In a gesture of crippling surrender, I picked up that far-away charger, started up my laptop, and wrote all of this down in one giant fit (don’t worry, you won’t be reading the original ghetto version of this because technology pampers me and I will grammar this up like a winner when I’m done ).

As I got down to REALLY writing, a disturbing idea dawned on me when I considered why exactly I couldn’t write properly on paper anymore. The real reason, veiled beneath the protection of all those obvious and defensive excuses, struck me like a lightning bolt in a desolate farmland.

I can’t articulate on paper because I can’t think straight.

Let me explain. When I write on the screen, I get to edit my original thoughts as much as I want. I get to transform my own ideas in ways that make them more appealing and interesting to the world and, here comes the stressful bit, I get to alter my essential thoughts in ways that make them different from the mainstream. That make them cooler because I deliberately set myself apart when I attempt self-expression.

Now you’d ask what is wrong with that. Nobody likes generic stuff. Innovation is evolution, new ideas change the world, old ideas hold us back, be different, be unique, be better than the rest by being a maverick. That is as good an opinion as any.

But I have a pathetically stubborn obsession with honesty.

Not in a virtuous, humble, heroic sense but in a way that is highly introspective and all-consuming. I hate myself when I try to rationalize around basic problems and I refuse to accept any version of me that isn’t perfectly honest with myself. It doesn’t matter if I’m different or cool or interesting- if I am genuinely, unapologetically, thoroughly honest, I will be fine. My self-image HAS to be real to me.

And me changing my ideas all together in the process of unwarranted, nazi editing to be more interesting on a blog that no one reads has begun to disgust me.

When I censor myself, I am not being honest with myself. That is problematic.

(My brain has basically exploded in an explosion of rage at this point, bear with me.)

My desperate need to stay honest is not something that I just happened to pick up. There was a long drawn process of bitter character development behind it.

I saw that as I grew old, I read too many damn books and absorbed too many weird ideas and I didn’t just let them be. Oh no, I mulled them over and over so much that nothing and everything began making sense to me. I observed one day with a jolt of surprise that I had so many opinions- I actually had none. I was just a bubble of thoughts floating around contradicting myself, debating irrelevant matters in my head in a cycle that led to NO conclusions.

This is where the honesty bit kicked in. I begun to acknowledge that I read things, I think things and I learn things- but all I truly know is what I have experienced and concluded for myself. I have to be true to my own world and if I aspire to be any sort of successful. I can learn ways to think, but the thinking itself has to be done entirely by me.

So I never wrote about love even though I knew hundreds of love stories and all the romantic tropes out there. I refused to write an adventure until I had my own.

And now, I can’t pretend to know any emotions until I’ve felt them for myself. I am me, nothing more, nothing less.

I must not tell lies. I must have integrity.

I cannot waver from this resolve. It is detrimental to my personality.

So now, I need to define my priorities once and for all. Is originality setting myself apart deliberately or just writing things that I thought of by myself, no matter how generic the content? Is originality coming up with new things or simply expressing what I originally thought? Is originality a stroke of genius novelty or just perfectly genuine representation of personal ideas?

I don’t know. But I do have a massive prejudice.

If you are merely expressing yourself, I don’t see any reason to overreach. I’ve always thought that if you truly feel the beauty of a pretty flower and write generic Wordsworth crap about it, it will still be better than forced urban romanticisations of cigarette stubs and vodka that are so much edgier today.

And well, vice versa.

Sounding cool is not enough. Being your own boring little self and still finding a way to  be cool- that is what I respect with all my heart.

Just to be clear, I’m not reprimanding brave attempts at hypothetical life experiences and I am not belittling anybody’s art. I love dragons. Creating worlds is not lying. Imagination is different from pretence.

I am simply judging myself for doing something all this time that I myself so strongly condemned.

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what I think. Creativity is bigger than everything I ever was and will be, and as for what it is?

I still don’t know. I am only disturbed by my hypocritical pursuit of it.

I will need to edit this blog with all the literary grit I have because it is a mess right now and makes no sense but MAN this feels good.

Okay, I am done. For now. Phew.