Thursday, October 24, 2013

Courage is a rare but vital commodity

We are all born courageous, yes we are! When humans come out of the womb of the mother they are filled with courage by default. Logic being, they are coming out from the safety of the womb to an utterly cruel world. The invisible injection injecting this courage is unbiased and every child has equal level of courage at the time of being born. This courage remains at the same level till the child is capable of hearing and understanding the stories that people around them tell. And with this ascends the fears. For every child this fear is unique coming from the precautions their family takes to keep them safe and sound. Some may fear dark, coming from the horror stories of venturing into a dark room. Some may fear old men/women, coming from the spine-chilling stories of that person stuffing you in their huge backpack and taking you to the unknown land. Some may fear animals, coming from the scary stories of them biting and you having an incurable disease or even death.
Then arrives the bed time stories, ironically called fairytales, in which without fail there is an evil queen or a witch or a wicked magician who is out there in the world to destroy the good. And slowly as per individual perception, children start developing fear of different things.
The next vital stage of life, school, has its own horrors. From homework, difficult subjects, heartless teachers, bullies to high expectations of parents, all start constructing a pyramid of fear inside people. Our mind starts racing swiftly to keep ourselves safe from these evils of the world and everyone finds their way of living with these fears.
Slowly growing with fears, the fears growing exponentially within us, we land in the real world. Mostly this is the time when people come out of the safety net of family, are out on their own and trying to prove the purpose of our life (Yes, that’s the perception that we all have a purpose). Life becomes a battle with these fears because now they are your environment, all around you in college, office, with friends and even out in the streets.
Sadly, a lot of us give up to these fears and lead a miserable life or just end it. But that is a different topic.
I have dealt with kids and constantly deal with adults. Kids are braver, still ready to fight courageously, indifferent to the consequences. Adults, somehow, have lost all courage. This is not a generalization. 

We are all like 'Courage the cowardly dog'

We all try to put forth a brave face but inside we know that our world is breaking down. A lot of us wish to do so many different things and we blame the shackles of society. We want to raise our voice against widespread injustice but we keep it to ourselves, cajoling our inner being by the statement “we have better things to do”. A lot of us don’t see any meaning in what we are doing and have far forgotten that purpose which was de facto some years back. We fool ourselves into believing that this is the right way. We get lost in the world of Gucci, Louis Vitton and call it success. We get lost in finding ourselves and call it taking the road less taken. And writing this I feel that either way the world and we are hopeless.

The only way to come out of this hopelessness is to be courageous. To follow what your heart says, to stop following the well drafted directions of the society and make rules of our own.  How many of us can really stand in front of the mirror, be honest to ourselves and say I am living my life my way? (Mind you! this takes courage) Self help books do not help, the only person who can help you is YOU. If ever your heart says I wish I could do this, try your best to do so. If ever your heart says I wish I had done that, its never too late fellows.
One mantra that has so far helped me is that I constantly fast forward my life and think that I don’t want to end up as an old lady, rocking on a rocking chair and telling a neighbour I wish I had known this before or I wish I had done that before. I want to be the heroine of my life and not the victim.
Thanks to the people who ensured our safety when we were toddlers, I am on my feet and still toddling. But it’s fine as long as all are toddlers. We were pushed out of the womb so we have to fight and probably find that umbilical cord that injects the courage in us with which we were born.
“A ship is safe in the harbour, but that’s not what ships are for” – William G.T. Shedd

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why should you read? Coz its not just cerebral.

“...reading has as many functions as the human body, and... not all of them are cerebral.” 
I’ve done a lot of thinking on why people say that they don’t have patience for novels. As someone who is always reading something, has read hundreds of books and refuses to go down in her grave before reading a zillion more, I find this statement intimidating, confusing and discomforting. Earlier, I used to abhor people who would use this statement but my two years in Teach for India have made me empathetic and understanding. I am able to put my feet in shoes of others and try to see where are they coming from.
So after a lot of discussions with non readers, observing them, learning about their way of reading (whatever they’ve read) I’ve been able to craft a reason why people say that they don’t have patience for novels.
Life makes sense only in the real world, in our surroundings and in our day to day actions. When people read novels they read it as the story of someone else, written by someone else. They take reading as a hobby or as an extra curricular activity. My understanding is that it should become an integral part of your life for that particular time.

So drawing lessons from the way I enjoy reading - 
1) I get immersed into the book completely. I perceive the story as that of mine. For me it is not reading a book but living a different life, after all, life is just playing the characters in the script written by the almighty. I read in bed because reading is right in the middle of consciousness and dreaming. You can guess the dreams that I see based on what I am reading.
2)  I love authors who take their time in developing a character, explaining it patiently to the readers. This is the reason I am a fan of classics. It takes time to understand the characters, to slowly fall in love with one of them, to start despising one of them, to feel sorry for one of them, to give up on one of them, to get suspicious about one of them, to feel the anguish of one of them. And after knowing each and every character well, I associate myself with one of them.  
3)  For both the above mentioned things to happen, it is also important to realize that you need to forget that an author named XYZ has written this. It is vital to have the feeling that you are reading your own different life, not pre written but happening as it moves on.  I appreciate authors for their penmanship, for the words that they use and for the beauty with which they describe the most banal things of life. But that’s about it.
4) Why is important. Books are not just stories, characters and plots. Books are invaluable lessons for life. Each book is strengthening your beliefs or questioning your strongheld beliefs. Even fictional books, in very subtle and artistic ways, throw intriguing and speculative thoughts at you. The only way to become wiser with each book read is not to note the intelligent quotes from them but to question and let your mind stir. Every book should change something in you. It can make something in you stronger or just break something strong in tiny bits.
5)  Last but not the least, we are all scared of being alone. We are all scared of leading a boring and not so happening life. We are glued to social media peeking into life of others and wondering that why is our life not as exciting as it seems for others. We are all scared of dying with regrets, of things that we wanted to do, of choices that we wanted to make. Books are an antidote for all these fears. One is never alone when in the company of books. Books transport you to a different land, give you a chance to lead a different life. Pick up any book which will take you to those unexplored areas and live the experience. Grow old without regrets because it might be difficult to decide the course of your life but you can decide the kind of book you want to read.
“In books you travel, not just into other worlds but also into your own”
Read as much as you can because there is no better asset than to read and no better experience than to read. Fall in love not once but everyday, be dramatic not once but everyday. And you will realize that your real world will inflict less pain on you because you will always have the fictional world to go into and enjoy every bit of it. Don’t be a third party observer while reading, take part in the events of the book and you never know in the quest of figuring out a fictional story you might figure out yourself, discover your true identity because we all know that in our mind our own image is bizarre.
Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” – Anna Quindlen
-     If even 10 people pick up the habit after reading this, my work is rewarded.
-     If you want help in figuring out good books to read follow this link
          Written for a greater cause. XOXO J

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

All we are is contradiction!

I am a person of contradiction. Actually we all are but here I can just speak for myself. 
I call myself an ambivert. Sometimes I can't be happier than being in the company of a group of people. I face no problems in having conversations and usually come out as a social person. But within a fraction of an hour I feel like running away from that group, find a place that I can call my den, just think about whatever I want to think. I struggle in starting a conversation and despite being taken as a social person, 8 out of 10 times I fail to build a long term friendship/relationship.
This confuses me everytime.
There are days when I just grab my purse and leave the house for nowhere. Usually I end up in a crossword, cuddled in a corner with some random, unheard book. Today in one of these "date with myself" visits I was having a pretty successful date. Read a quarter of "Growing up Bin Laden" and had a juice and munchies. Extremely satisfied with my lone trip I was on my way back when coming down the escalator I saw a man in Gloria Jeans, sitting alone, reading a book. 10 tables around him were occupied and none of the occupants were alone, except him. Three floors down, I couldn't help turning my eyes from him. A zillion of thoughts ran through my mind. The one that struck me was "Oh! Poor man. He is sitting alone. Doesn't he have anyone to give him company?" I was shocked to hear my thoughts! I wanted to reprimand Miss Pankhuri Shrivastava's thoughts. But chose to remind her that she was also alone, reading a book and sipping juice. She has been blessed with good friends but she was doing so by choice.
This surprises me everytime
People choose different things. Sometimes their actions mirror your actions but if you are not wearing that dress at that time you prefer to criticize it. And this makes me think we are so complicated. Everything in the world except humans can be defined by a definition but for humans the definition changes for every different person. A far more complex issue is that even for one person the definition changes every minute.
Sometimes I want life to be simple but at other times I love the complexity.
This amuses me eveytime.
In short, life is all about Confusion, Surprises and Amusement.
At peace for now


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