On What Really Matters

I didn’t, at any juncture of my life, consider 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. For some reason, it never struck me that I could ever have the character traits to fall into that unfortunate category. 

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

No, it was actually because of a glaring blind spot in my spiderweb of core concepts: I managed, youe see, to avoid learning the word “priority” altogether and never comprehended its real world implications in all the time I spent on this planet. It is quite amusing to observe how I failed so completely at developing something that comes so naturally to most.

The problem that arises out of this sort of blanket ignorance is simple: I don’t have the tools or the clarity to distinguish more important matters from less important ones. And this, irrespective of its roots, is troublesome.

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. 

 I have grown up to be quite the closet optimist, to be quite honest. While I routinely enjoy pessimistic jargon and nihilistic contemplations much more than traditional 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 an oddly 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 relatively 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 (given the proof of history), and I have thus subsequently developed the tendency to be dumbfoundingly 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 proposition. Clearly, my childhood was not one with too many options- great things were expected of me at all times and I refused to disappoint when it came to tangible results. 

This means, by extension, that when I avoided doing things for too long, they started following me around like dark clouds until I relented.

But even then, I say as I salute my own pigheadedness, I always did either everything or 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.

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

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 were all in bright crayon green and glitter. Since stages of life are never mutually distinctive, my 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.

I did not become a person who was bold, intense and impulsive, as one would expect- I just got consistently worse at prioritizing and became more contradictory with the years.

But, even as this obviously flawed style of thinking made me a lot more stubborn and confused and unequipped in the following years of intense decision making and moving on, I still remain adamently grateful to have had the chance to inculcate it. Granted  that all it’s stated shortcomings are painfully valid, I cannot deny that it is also the primary reason I never lost my interests when the world around me struggled to pick up books 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 mature. 

While it’s true that I now possess a brain with the most scattered sort of cognition and a spectrum of preoccupations 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 fascinated. And, because I never understood how to sort things that “matter” from things that don’t, I never 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, but if there is one thing I can say about myself with 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 ignorance till now. 

Lately, however, I can feel myself slipping dangerously. Defects only become visible when crises come knocking, and right now, I am noticing all of my classic chronic problems as in brand new packaging and popping bubblewrap. 

Of recent, I have managed to create too many obligations for myself without actually establishing a sense of commitment to any of them, and this has predictably led me to a state of permanent frustration. I take on activities that seem invigorating and carry the promise of fun, but I always forget to take into account my own pleasure-seeking habits.

 As you can guess, It’s all downhill from there.

Because I, as a dynamic and constantly lost person, don’t understand how to make things work when they don’t organically.

How do you devote yourself to a bigger cause when you would always rather stay in and watch movies? How do you begin to care when you are always distracted? How do you work when there are so many cute Korean boys in this world?

Big questions.

And I only have stupid answers.

So we have caught ourselves another one of those depressing dichotomies that haunt all ideologies: 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 fatal flaws. All good is at least a little bad. 

Thus, my inquisitiveness is selfish, my convictions are transitory, my attitudes are flighty, and my commitments are unreliable.

It turns out that eveb though it’s important to be your own person, it’s also (and this is where I fall hideously short) as important to belong to the real world and instil a sense of duty toward other people who surround you. 

Because they exist too, contrary to your own egocentric beliefs. 

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

 

 

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Identity Crisis

Attempting to find in motion what was lost in space 

“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 constant search for answers that barely exist outside of us, looking at simple things and making monsters out of them, constantly confusing universes in our exhausted heads, forgetting 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 lonely 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. 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 personal 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 the world for the first time completely as ourselves. This period of irrepressible curiosity and wonder inspires uncertainty and intense internal conflict within us and we get insecure about our very existence, becoming helpless victims of the classic identity crisis that plagues all of the humanity at some 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 take our first hesitant steps into the harsh world of adulthood and brutal realism. 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.

 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 about ideas. I turned to the Existentialists, like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, and fell into stupors of inconclusive deep thought on a daily basis, wasting time in massive proportions, and thinking 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.

It is always good to remind oneself of the memorable quip by Joan Didion that “we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not” — advice 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.

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 faith, 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 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 embrace our true worth in the universal scheme of things.

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 that makes us human and drives us towards bigger truths. And thus, we must not shy away from it.

Better know yourself naked than love yourself in disguise. I stand by this conviction.

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 exercpts 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 embarassed.

“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.

The Great Reckoning of Confused Identity is that 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 present 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 particularly 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 ovservation. 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 articulate on paper!

So with all the nostalgic excitement of a millennial teenager who, say, happens to receive a hand written 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 waaaaaayyy 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 as a cherry on top) 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 little, abstract snowflake. 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 completely 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 headd 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 experiences 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 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 expressing what you 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 more in demand today.

And well, vice versa.

Sounding cool is not enough. Being your own boring little self and still being 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 pretense.

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.

“New Girl in the City” (sort of)

After a semester and a quarter spent groaning and grumbling away in Mumbai (with a few notable existential meltdowns along the way), I only just realized that I never got around to writing the  generic ‘new girl in the city’ post, which happens to be the purest essence of the “Indian girl” blog genre, and is thus my one true obligation as an almost 19-year-old human of the internet. I can’t believe I have neglected this. I am ashamed of myself and my lazy online existence.

But hey better late than never, right? At least I remembered. That is a big deal if you personally know me.

What will follow is an elaborate breakdown of Rajsi 2.0 with all the tweaks and updates.

First off, I’d like to confirm the stereotype- this city is ridiculously fast-paced. To demonstrate via metaphor, if Ahmedabad was a happy little puppy frolicking in landscaped backyards, Mumbai is a ravenous Cheetah on rollerblades tearing through the Savannas. I can vouch for my acute lack of stamina after a number of breathy walks on sidewalks and across roads. So intense is the speed of this bizarre metropolitan world, that I have to catch my breath every time I even dare leave my apartment (not that I have bothered to change myself to match it any better- the burden of this particular problem lies entirely on my shrug-prone shoulders.)

Second off, I must confess my secret exhaustion. It becomes increasingly unsettling when I stay out too long in the company of flighty, fun-loving friends who don’t need to charge their introvert batteries as desperately as I  need to. In fact, the facial muscles of professional extroverts constantly befuddle me when I see this species effortlessly charm entire nights away at the meager cost of a little, smudged mascara and mild, breathy exhaustion.The lifestyle of the cheery continues to remain a puzzling enigma. My judgemental, slacker lifestyle that I have always shamelessly sported appears to be approximately the same, but I cannot deny that there has been a perceptible change in how I move through the motions.

I have unconsciously begun to walk faster and developed the sort of urban impatience that honking taxi drivers in the spirit of traffic perfectly represent. I still tend to wander and get lost, but well I just do it a lot faster now.

Additionally, my ability to avoid all undesired eye contact has been almost perfected and my 180-degree peripheral vision to stare at vague, scandalous college mates could easily shame international spies.

There is also much to be said about my newly acquired elitism. I recently graduated to a whole new level of social escapism and snobbery. Somehow, my approach to companionable acquaintanceship has become suspiciously Slytherin- I use people with brains to clear my own head. I ignore the uninteresting. I vent out my thoughts for personal articulation and then I leave behind baffled, stressed-out folk as debris. I selfishly navigate through the electric ocean of adolescent group dynamics like an indifferent, hipster jellyfish.

Oh, and I do not rise above stealing stationary and cutting my own hair.

Do I qualify as a monster yet? 

Even though I was always one for introspection and generally excessive thinking, the new me makes me quite uncomfortable sometimes because it requires self-analysis and tangent elaboration like an addictive drug.  (my sense of humor is not tailored to this city yet. I have to keep myself amused most times).

If you are getting any ideas by now, let me just say that I am not sad or depressed or any of that morbid business. I am actually having the best of times, doing what I want to do, growing into myself, dabbling with new ideas, reading interesting things every day.

Life’s great.

It’s just that I have changed, and I am extremely aware of it. It irks me how I could become so different so easily. My self-image has had to undergo considerable (reluctant) alteration. I am clearly not as nice as I used to be.

“People change” is what everyone always told me, but nobody gave me instructions on what to do when I began to morph myself.

What are you supposed to do when you suddenly don’t crave Burger King any more? What foundation of your personality do you go on believing in then?

So keeping tabs on my own evolution (devolution?) is suddenly imperative because I have come to acknowledge that one day,  I might wake up in a strange, exotic country and not even recognize myself. It is not impossible.

I know that I become an indistinguishable part of the world around me. The world is what I see, and what I am, becomes the world.  If there is existentialism, there is also the butterfly effect. As a person, I must not just adapt, but also understand more with each passing day. I cannot resist novelty if I wish to survive and thrive as a human being. It is the foundation of all integrity in our species. I’ll just have to roll with it.

So, after all of that self-dissecting and philosophical tangents, here is me trying to hold on to parts of myself as I let go of the others.

Here is me hoping Rajsi 3.0 turns out to be a happy human too. Maybe just a little less distracted though.

 

 

How Good is the Bad 

“It would’ve required a supernatural intervention for him to have your morality given his environment.”

Methods of Rationality. 

I spend a lot of my free time battling my own mind. There are many questionable things crammed up in there, exploding without warning and pulling me into bouts of deep, unnecessary introspections at inconvenient moments in an otherwise easy, typically privileged life.  I always end up being unbearably lost in the crevices of my brain with questions about very fundamental things that never have satisfactory answers. Later, realizing how fruitless it is to wonder in metaphysical loops, I encourage myself to think a certain way for the preservation of my soft sanity.

But even though I try, or rather aspire, to be open-minded and accepting of all things morally right, I often find myself confused and astray in a labyrinth of highly contradictory thoughts and misplaced sentiments.

Due to my own inadvertent reluctance, it tends to get very complicated. When you put your own beliefs on a high pedestal, you tend to unconsciously belittle everyone else’s, ignoring the basic courtesy of granting at least the benefit of the doubt to the supposedly close-minded and by doing this, you paradoxically become a narrow-minded person yourself. Your open-mindedness becomes restricted to only the things you can comprehend and articulate. You become forever doomed to be blinded by your own self-gratification.  You become judgemental and preachy. You see in black and white, and you fail to forgive genuine mistakes.

In these scenarios of intense moral crisis,  the dilemma of what is good and what is bad takes center stage more times than not.

Consider this question: Is it okay to kill a man?

Now as a righteous, kind human being, you say of course it’s not okay to kill a man. I believe in Atticus Finch and Disney tropes. Shounen manga and teen fiction trilogies have taught me that taking a life is the ultimate ethical ordeal that is always overcome with successful self-restraint by the harassed, optimistic protagonist.  A hero simply doesn’t kill by virtue of being a hero.

But then you watch a Mafia movie, where underhand murders happen like spontaneous brunch plans and men casually cheat on their wives like there was hardly any moral consideration involved. Here, in a complex world where things get gray, your degree of morality evolves to another, more complicated plane, where you now root for the one who kills the bad guys only.

Then you watch a war film, where killing the opponent is survival, and here you just hope for the protagonist to kill as many enemies as he can to ensure his own safety.

You pause, step back and think, eventually allowing your brain to melt.

Of course, in real life contexts, things are hardly as exciting and conveniently direct, but it is undeniable that they are definitely as blurry. Furthermore, we don’t have any protagonists to read. A serial killer is as much a main character of his own life as a Tibetan monk is of his. We can’t just rationally answer if anything is truly okay or not. We can only believe whatever feels like it’s right.

In the end, it’s always about instinct. Screw the law. You can’t deny your prejudices, you can only work on them.

Sometimes you might want to support the infidels, the other times you might love the drug dealers and sex addicts. Everything is dark and the gray area of reality spans almost the entire spectrum of uncomfortable situations.

Having morals while claiming to be open-minded can be extremely difficult as well. An unchecked liberal mindset can lead to moral hypocrisy in certain circumstances and stubborn moral self-righteousness can make you blind to dubious possibilities.

Before deciding anything it’s imperative to consider the context and the settings. The Mafia, the Ordinary man and the Shounen hero- all have chinks in their armors. They have as much a right to make a mistake as you do.

You should not guilt yourself with your own half-ripe ethics. Let yourself decide about things, and stay true to your own thoughts above anyone elses.

As Albert Camus said, “Those who prefer their principles over their happiness, they refuse to be happy outside the conditions they seem to have attached to their happiness.”

So then what can we do to calm our desperately high-strung conscience?

Well, we can catch the winds, hold the grounds and absorb the words and the ways of the world. We can think in relatives. Weigh out our options. Embrace the ambiguity that is life. Open our minds.

Consider shades. And, above all, give chances.