Sunday, December 18, 2011

Strong Coffee, & a Lot of Random Thoughts...

A strong coffee makes you stay awake and think random thoughts. Or so a friend believes. There was a hint of self-disapproval in the way it was stated, almost as if it was something to be ashamed of, as if it was a sign of weakness or mental aberration that people would make fun of. It set me wondering.

I believe increasingly that we are in a world that places a premium on action. We seem to be a society of doers. Working, hanging, chilling, travelling, watching, commenting. Thinking seems to be a lesser activity. Not many people want to think. Most just want to move forward to capture the next available gap that they see in front of them. There’s something about survival and perpetuation which is deeply ingrained in the human DNA. Thinking directed towards improvements in these is respected. Thinking for its own sake is not.

I struggle to remember, but obviously can’t, as to how I used to think when I was a baby. It’s particularly difficult to remember how I used to think without language. And now it’s become impossible for me to think without language. My thinking is bound by the languages I know. Why this is important is because over a period of time we allow constraints to bind our thinking. Language is the first one.

And slowly, we train ourselves as to what we should think about. We do it by stifling the so-called random thoughts, by blocking them out of our mind repeatedly over a period of time till we are no longer conscious about them. There’s a contradiction here. All the thoughts that we think are originating from within us. Then where’s the question of some being random and some being not? It’s only that our brain has introduced some sort of filtering device, some sort of self-censorship mechanism which tells us what is right to think about and what is not.

And that’s the reason why random thoughts that manage to sneak through are scary and difficult to handle. Like death, we are unsure of where they will take us, because we are all grown-ups. And the essence of all “growing-up” is learning to define our own bounds. What we “can” do and what we “cannot” do.

People talk of self-acceptance as being important in the path to self-realization. I believe that one of the primary aspects of such acceptance is the acceptance of one’s thoughts. We tend to question our thoughts, in particular things such as “Why am I thinking about this” or “How could I think something like this” That doesn’t allow the completion of the thought to take place, because it is discarded beforehand.

One of the fascinating aspects about being a writer is the ability (or need, depending on which way you look at it) of being able to view yourself as a third person. When you are both the observer and the participant. That enables the evaluation of thoughts with detached, almost scientific, interest. A realization that the thought doesn’t reflect on our character or our mental state, but is intrinsically a part of us, to be duly considered and put in its rightful place.

This realization is what enables us to overcome the fear of vulnerability. We feel vulnerable with our random thoughts. But that’s the trade-off in all aspects of life, always: Safety versus the Richness of the Experience. Where we draw the line, is what we have to decide.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Old Lady of Bori Bunder...

I saw her standing in a dark corner, in one of the bylanes close to CST.

"Hi. You look familiar" I remarked cheerily.

She gave a strange smile, as if she knew more about me than I myself did. "Do I, really?" she asked.

"Yes, well at least I think so, though you look a bit different" I continued.

"Bit?" she questioned, as she stepped forward into the light.

I stood aghast, shocked by the transformation that I saw in front of me. Her face seemed completely hidden behind a veil of garish make-up, which was in absurd contrast to her age. Her dress, ill-fitting and gaudy, seemed almost obscene. Her demeanour seemed seductive, pre-calibrated to elicit a favourable response, instead of adapting to the person at the other end.

She smiled mockingly and asked "Am I not a pretty picture?"

"Who did this to you?" I managed to stammer out.

"You did" she said, very matter of fact, as if I should have known it all along.

"I? How could I have? You were always my conscience!" I protested.

"Your conscience?" She asked, the derision unmistakable in her voice. "And, did you consider what happens to conscience? What is its end?"

I remained silent.

She continued. "Conscience has only two possible ends. It either withers, or is brokered away."

She paused to look at me, then said "And you allowed me to be brokered. You allowed those fingers to crawl over me, fingers that knew what they were searching for, fingers, swiftly moving, as they went about their purpose..."

"No!!" I shook my head in denial. "I cared for you!!"

"Don't care for me!" She shouted. "Use me, as the rest of them do. Ravage me. Enjoy me. Don't care for me. I cannot bear it. Care is temporary. Care is unstable. One push, and care is destroyed. Submission is the equilibrium. Submission is permanent. Never questioning, never caring. Just flowing along."

She kept speaking. "You must learn to flow. You think, feel & question. Thats an unsustainable combination. You will become insane. You must give in. Learn to act, learn to rush, learn to grab the vacant space. Survive. Adapt. It's your only chance"

"Only chance to what?" I shot back. "To end up like you?"

A coquettish ripple of laughter burst forth from her. It was ludicrous and painful at the same time.

"Someday, you will use me" she said, and vanished into the dark recesses whence she had emerged.