One of These Days

September 1, 2008 at 5:52 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, Randomosities + Rubbish | 6 Comments
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‘The best thing about the future is that it only arrives a day at a time.’

I remember reading this somewhere ages ago (it was Abraham Lincoln who said it), and nodding and thinking to myself, ‘Yes, that’s true no doubt, but how boring.’

That was me being the highly dumb girl I was at fourteen, who used to think only thrill and speed amounted to an exciting life. Now that I am older and ahem, *clears throat* wiser, I do not agree with that speed-thrill-stuff philosophy at all.

In fact, I wholly appreciate the truth that future arrives a day at a time and that’s the best thing about it. I mean, what’s the fun in speeding down the road with everything passing by in a blur? That way, you’re always racing somewhere and in the end, you end up getting nowhere at all.

Still, it perturbs me to see the days passing by in a flash when I can’t get anything productive done. A feeling greatly aggravated when I get a book called Scientist Extraordinary: The Life and Scientific Work of Thomas Henry Huxley out of the library, and come across a passage like this:

…continued entries in Thoughts and Doings (Huxley’s little notebook in which he made irregular jottings when he was seventeen) bear witness:

June 20 [1841]
What have I done in the way of acquiring knowledge since January?
Projects begun:
1. German
2. Italian
3. To read Muller’s Physiology
4. To prepare for the matriculation examination at London University which requires knowledge of:-
(a) Algebra-Geometry
(b) Natural Philosophy …did not begin to read for this until April
(c) Chemistry
(d) Greek-Latin
(e) English History down to end of seventeenth century
(f) Ancient History
(g) English Grammar
5. To make copious notes of all things I read…I must adopt a fixed plan of studies…and let me remember this – that it is better to read a little and thoroughly, than cram a crude undigested mass into my head, though it be in great quantity.

…Bloody hell. I can’t imagine how anyone could be so assiduously brilliant.

To be honest, I think it is more inspiring than aggravating. Hmm, I can’t quite say that I would be able to study Greek, Latin and Italian simultaneously, with History, maths and chemistry thrown in (that would really drive anyone up the wall, unless they’re a genius like Huxley which is highly improbable).

My obsession for self-knowledge notwithstanding, it is high time that I got down to work, now that’s summer’s over and all. Wait, SUMMER’S GONE?!

…seriously, where did the last few months go? Oh dear, not Time again.
By the way, it turns out the evil thing is now sending me snide reminders and premonitions. I don’t know why, but ‘Time’ by Pink Floyd comes up every time on shuffle on WMP (Yes, I support Microsoft).

‘Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find
Ten years have got behind you,

No one told you where to run, you missed the starting gun’

And just I happened to be watching the rain when it came on today. On top of that, Anne Dillard goes out of her way to shout at me “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives” from top of the page of the big book of quotations in the morning.

I swear, the Universe is rubbing it in my face.

(Annie, that was certainly a bit of worrying advice. What, am I going to end up spending the rest of my life with my nose buried in a book, living off chips and irn bru, and writing pointless entires like this? Oh, now I’m seriously disconcerted!)

But, but, but at the end of the day, it’s only a day at a time. Phew. And there are so many days. There’s birthday, death day, graduation day, this-day and that-day. There are good days, okay-ish days and some truly terrible days. Our life is sent to us as presents wrapped in these twenty-four-hour-period boxes called ‘days’. All of us would rather the presents were only good, lovely and perfect. Well, hope as we might, that isn’t the case and from time to time a nasty present will turn up. Shocks, disappointments, failures, frustrations – all wrapped neatly with a big fat ribbon on them.

But, when it comes down to it, there’s always another present waiting for us the next day. =D

(Oh, and isn’t Huxley’s opinion on reading stuff just brill?)

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A Letter to Time

July 26, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, Musing + Mulling | 5 Comments
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Dear Time,

You are a funny thing.

Except that you have a twisted, sick sense of humour. Yes, you do. It really isn’t funny how you can be more indecisive over your speed than George Bush over his multiple-question choices when confronted with an elementary quiz (even with all the options being exactly the same).

Why, for instance, do you have to travel at painfully slow speeds during every Botany lecture? Or, for that matter, when ODT takes up the mic and resolves to display his shameful singing skills? Or during those ridiculous traffic-jams? And you shamelessly zoom by whenever I happen to be sleeping, or reading, or in a concert or in the library or in an interesting lecture or sipping coffee while thinking about nothing in particular or…well you know the list.

You know how many times I’ve cursed you and begged you but you blow all the whining and cursing with one ‘Pooof!’ of your breath, throw back your head and laugh, saying ‘Relativity!’ Well, relativity all right. I expect Einstein spared you the shame of asking you how long you took to choose your pizza topping.

Anyway, I’m a bit alarmed and disturbed by you. Well, you know, us humans are always a bit alarmed and disturbed when it comes to you. You knocked at my door on the fourteenth of this month and pah! now I’m seventeen. Thanks to you, I’m hit by dumb questions from dumb people such as ‘Are you grown up yet?’ from all sides. I mean, come to think of it, there would be no such questions if it weren’t for you.

‘Are. You. Grown. Up. Yet?’
they ask from all sides, in a sneering, idiotic fashion that brings back – I don’t know why – memories of a particularly sinister chorus of an advertising jingle I’d heard as a kid. And then, I can do nothing but tell them to shut up. Growing up was never (and isn’t ever going to be) on my to-do-list, I tell them airily.

To-do-lists. That brings back memories too. Remember when I was a silly little girl of eleven, I’d make stupid, gigantic to-do-lists that included every wee thing, including even things such as brushing my teeth at night? It sounds so strange now. I never follow a To-Do-List (I don’t remember checking that little box in the ‘done’ column in ages) now…though that maybe, er, due to my failure to follow them.

But really, that’s the problem with the world today. For most people, life has become an endless chain of To-Do’s. Do this, do that. And you go on running, adding more and more items to your To-Do-List at every stop, but never once pausing to stay and care to look.

So…back to you. I’ve already whined about you being oh-so-unfair. But what are you, really, Time?
Do you even exist? Are you just an illusion? When did you begin? How will you end? Don’t you ever get tired of…going on, all the time? Don’t you ever rest?

Yes, I pestered you with these questions back as a six year old and I pester you with them now. They’re maddening questions, you know. You don’t how much humans fuss over them, and over you. We owe life to you, and yet we don’t understand you at all. You’re never absolute. Most of the humans are terrified of you. You’re the biggest bully we’ve ever known.

It’s easy to say you’re cruel. That you are merciless and intimidating. But don’t feel bad. It’s because of you that we have such a thing as memories – belongings that we gather and carefully preserve above everything else. It’s because of you that we can have music. That we have life itself is due to you. OK, that’s enough praise to last for a lifetime.

And what exactly is a lifetime? And what exactly is a moment?
Oh, I can hear you sighing now and wishing I’d stop with all these questions already. Well, all right, I’ll stop. But before I do so, let me ask you something. See, seventeen years isn’t really a long time when you’re looking back at them – no period of time is. Thing is, you’ve always been there, always hovering in the background, leveling every thing. But at some point of my life, I hope you’ll finally relent. I know that one day, even if for one fleeting moment, you’ll be still. And that moment will have been a lifetime.

Until then,
keep ticking.

When Life Hits You On the Head With a Brick

May 28, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | Leave a comment
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Finally, after a month and half of suspense, trepidation and much-felt regret, it’s all behind me.

I am not in worry anymore.
I am not in debt (money-wise or otherwise) anymore.
I am not in love anymore (if it was love in the first place).

I am free.

God knows I’ve had enough to deal with in the past few months. But now it’s all over and done with and I’ve promised myself not to whine over things for a while.

I’ve been wondering why it is that when everything seems to be going on smoothly in life, half a dozen problems and troubles come rolling down like boulders, and you go blank in the face of it. And then, as time passes, those boulders pass away too, and you emerge, sometimes scathed, sometimes not; but you emerge out of it anyway.

One thing I’ve learnt is that, when these problems do come our way, we feel their terror as they approach us, getting nearer and nearer all the time; but when they finally do arrive, a strange kind of feeling – I don’t know what it is, courage or  something else –  takes charge and it only begins to seem as a matter of time.

Sometimes life hits you on the head with a brick. Some of us manage to stay cool in its face and come up with an elegant solution, while some of us (like me) panic, get jumpy over little things, get knocked down, stumble, fall, get back up again, and staggering, tottering, wobbling, faltering end up fumbling our way through.

If My World Should Collapse Around Me Tomorrow

April 7, 2008 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | 4 Comments
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One moment, life is all joy and bliss, and the next, adversity and fear. The pleasure, the contentment, the solace. All reduced to dust.

I await and dread my future equally. Perhaps it’s only the next day, the next week. month or year that really frightens me, fills me with a nameless trepidation, because ten years on, twenty years on, it all seems so distant.

Always living in apprehension, living in worries, living in lies, is living while killing yourself inside. And yet, you have to do it. Everyone would like a life free of all care, and yet, the world doesn’t let you have it.

I’m safe today. I’m happy. I know it. But that happiness is marred by the knowledge of what I have in store for me. My present is forever stained by my past, and eternally haunted by my future. I’m caught, always weaving back and forth, sometimes resorting to tears, sometimes trying to laugh it off, and always carrying that sense of burden with me, within me.

If my world collapses around me tomorrow, and I lose everything…what would I be left with? If I should lose my possessions, my comfort, my freedom, what would I have? Would I have a future at all?

But would it be fair for me to say that I have nothing, no future? Am I only dreading it too much, because I’m scared of abandoning the refuge of present? The thing that I dread most will surely come, but it will also come to pass. That’s easy for me to say that at this moment, to resort to the only possible defence I have – hope. But what about when it finally arrives? What would I be like at that time?

I’m thoroughly confused. I hate it, I dread it with all my being and yet a part of me wants to see it come and go. Why do I feel that? I think it’s vertigo, probably. I’m not sure what I want, except that I cannot take any more worry and apprehension. If a thing makes me happy today, but would cause me pain tomorrow, let me have it. If I have to pay with tears for a laugh for today, let me have it.

Sometimes I have the strange feeling that I would like the earth to open up and swallow me whole, and no more be. That I would like to abandon everything, every dream, every joy, every pleasure – and the funny thing is, it’s not suicidal. It’s happy, almost. It’s strange. It’s an urge of relinquishing everything, whether good or bad.

It would be easy for me to continue to hope, continue to delude myself, into a sense of security. It would be equally easy for me to despair. Whatever way I choose, it’s going to happen. Whatever happens, tomorrow will come. I live, for better or worse.

‘You Think Too Much’

January 10, 2008 at 7:25 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, Me + Myself + I | 4 Comments
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That’s what my biology professor told me when I sought to ask her about the possibilities of ‘thought-waves’ or ‘thought-energy’ in relation to the clinical death of the brain.

I couldn’t help asking what she meant by her stupid remark. She was of the opinion that I was concerning myself with matters that were ‘far too advanced than what I ought to be learning at this age.’ Excuse me? It’s never too early or too late to learn or explore something new. I could have told her this, but what’s the point, I thought, in arguing with a person who sees it fit to equate knowledge with age?

Apart from the fact that she displayed her close-mindedness (despite of being a teacher) to discuss a new idea, I think that’s a really vicious thing to say to any student. What is wrong with teachers today? They’re dissuading us from veering off course from what’s written in the textbooks. Does anyone honestly believe that all the knowedge on a particular subject can be contained within the covers of a textbook?

Which brings me to the question, why do so many people – sadly, teachers included – disapprove questioning the conventional, the ordianry, the tested or speculating on the unproven and the unknown? I am so utterly disappointed that everywhere it seems as if people have forgotten to be inquisitive. Everyone takes things for granted. Why? Opinions are almost formed, packaged, and fed into the society – and many people seem to think that’s good enough for them. And why do so many students face opposition or general disapproval when taking out the unconventional route? Or for that matter, anyone who ever goes with a unconventional method – be it in business, science or even relationships?

Punishment isn’t the worst aspect of a teacher’s behaviour, is it? I’d say the worst thing that a teacher can do is to suppress a child’s curiosity. Once you lose sight of that quality, you’ve lost sight on the essence of all true art, of all true science, of life itself. A teacher needs to see things from a child’s perspective. If you go around propagating the usual ways of doing things what you’re doing is almost killing originality – and merely causing innumerable carbon copies of the same thing disguised in innumerable forms.

We’ve all heard stories of independent, unconventional, original thinkers encoutering criticism and ridicule all too often before. Who hasn’t heard of the exploits of Einstein or Edison in school? But I think it’s about time we learned practise tolerance on the difference of opinions or viewpoints.

Whoever said that you have to confine yourself to what society thinks is ‘thinkable or ‘unthinkable’ or even to what it considers is thinking ‘too much or ‘too little’? Which brings back to me a quote I read somewhere:

If we do what we’ve always done. we’ll get what we’ve always got.

Dreams or Goals?

January 7, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | 5 Comments
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What exactly is the difference between dreams and goals? And is one really one better than the other?Undoubtedly, goals make you put things in perspective. Goal-setting usually increases the chances of your achieving your objective. Goal setting requires you to limit yourself to your strengths and try your potential. You’ve got to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses if you want to have goals.

But dreams? They recognise no strengths and weaknesses. A dream always has a sense of profound hope attached with it. In the case of goals, they too have this attribute – but here it’s hope present in a forced sense. Not really hope, but a strained, put on feeling that has an uneasy edge to it. What if you don’t make it? What if you fail? It’s not the hope of winning, then, that pushes you forward towards pursuing your goal but the fear of failure disguised in the form of hope.

But then the question is, are you really able to acieve anything with dreams? Do they only remain in your head, or leap beyond that and assume the form of action and realisation too? I think that depends not on the dream, but the person themself. It’s the person that will doubt their dreams and will not pluck up the courage to chase after them. Every one can imagine the end, but very few are able to make a beginning in actuality. It’s true that people with dreams know no impossibilty – the very fact that they have dreams at all proves this. But it’s like deciding to climb up a mountain and getting scared by it before the climb has even begun. Why doubt your dreams without even making a try first? Dreams are there to be chased and realised.

If dreams really weren’t at all possible to accomplish, we wouldn’t have had aeroplanes or robots or surgery today. Each one of them started out as a dream. Not a goal. Wilbur and Orville Wright didn’t wake up one fine morning and say, ‘Well, I plan to make a machine that can make humans fly in the air within the next few months.’ They didn’t care if they failed. The best experts had ruled out the possibility of an aerosplane saying that it was thoroughly impractical to even concieve of such an idea. But that dream came true, didn’t it? What if it was a goal – they’d have tried it just the same, but after ten, fifteen, twenty tries given up; because apparently it seemed ‘impractical’.

So a dream is always possible, isn’t it? It’s upto us to take the initiative and make our dreams see the light of the day. So I’ve also come to realise that:

A goal is a dream with limits put on it.

Goals have limits, dreams are limitless.

Goals are short-term. Dreams are full-time.

The impossible becomes the possible, when it becomes a dream.

A Healthy Dose of Insanity

January 5, 2008 at 9:48 am | Posted in Life as I See It, Musing + Mulling | 9 Comments
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Insanity is my only means of relaxation.

I guess that applies for all of us. Even the most grim-faced, humourless creatures. That occasional quirky behaviour, the unpredictability or the feeling of unserious-ness that goes with it are some of the pills that all human beings ought to have from time to time.

But I wonder why so many people are unwilling to commit themselves to an occasional lapse of reason. Are they unaware that there’s a part of them that secretly yearns to get away from the mundane, to rid itself of all worry, to drop the concern and just be? Are they reluctant to expose that side of them to the world? Afraid, perhaps, of what the mind will do if set free?

Isn’t that what insanity is? Setting yourself free.

You can say that human beings are born free, but all of their life, whatever they may be bound by – wealth, responsibility or time – most of all a person is bound inwardly by themself. We imprison ourselves and don’t even know it. To be insane is to break the shackles and cut all the chains. The chains of reason. Of the tedious drudgery. Of the realm of impossibility.

To come on a more concrete plane, let me first define what insanity is. (And no, I’m not talking about the medical aspect of it.) Insanity, madness, lunacy – whatever you may call it – is an aspect of human behaviour that, in itself, is a counter-image of a person – and a very useful one at that. Why do I call it a counter-image? Well, because in this particular type of behaviour you don’t confine yourself to the facade that you may project to the world, or to even yourself. You become what you are not that you purport to be but that which you are, unknown to yourself. (Maybe that’s a bit confusing, but it does make sense.) Every person has dozens of ‘selfs’ in their natures. Dozens of different images, a whole bunch of different personas. All unified under the all-powerful ‘I’. This isn’t hypothetical rubbish, but science, albiet a very confusing one. Beneath the sense of identity that every person possesses are other sides of themselves that they aren’t aware of. Insanity is unearthing these sides.

Now you may argue it isn’t really possible, or rational, for a person to not know their own self. Well, guess what, it completely is. Schiller got it right when he said ‘When the wine goes in, strange things come out.’ We all know the effects that alcohol or drugs induce in a person that lead them to behaviour or ability they didn’t think themselves capable of – but there it is, a merely external, artificially induced, unnatural phase. Insanity is innate, instinctive…a natural drug, I’d say.

I know it’s boring to be predicable, conventional, and typical all the time. It is necessary to confirm yourself to the standards for society’s sake (we aren’t a bunch of mad apes on the lose, after all) but it is vital to be occasionally insane for the sake of your own. What’s the fun in leading an almost-programmed life anyway, with forlorn expressions and grim viewpoints?

To quote Jean Dubuffet: ‘For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.’ Definitely. And it’s also a kind of a defence mechanism that allows you to push back your anxiety and angst – and live as though you haven’t a care in the world. It’s good to be insane once in a while.

You aren’t doing it for anybody else; you’re doing it for yourself.

When I Don’t Get What I Want

January 2, 2008 at 5:30 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | 3 Comments
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…I get frenzied, restless, agitated.

Even when I know I shouldn’t.

I know I’m not the only one, of course. Most of the people do get frustrated easily when they don’t get what they want. But why? Is it because you can’t bear to stand the wait? When I know I’m going to get it eventually, why do I get so worked up about it? It seems pointless. More so when you count the fact that ‘getting worked up’ in my case is usually in the extreme. Temper and panic and restlessness. The constant yearning. The continuous reminder that I don’t have what I want. The dissatisfaction.

The worst part is, my dissatisfaction creeps into everything else in my daily life too. I get rude and snappy (more than usual), mess things up, and end up having that awful feeling of failure when I go to bed at night. I don’t want it. I don’t like it.

What do I do?

Cultivate patience? Tried that a dozen times already. Doesn’t work with me. Patience is one thing I’ll never have. It’s not that it’s just it in my head, I really can’t get much far however much I try. Perhaps my mind is so conditioned to get what I desire instantly that I can’t bear the wait?

Or is it something else?

Expectation. Endless expectation. Hoping, waiting, wanting. What if I just kill the desire? I kill the expectation and subsequently, the agitation. Or just, divert my mind somewhere else, and try not to think about it? But hang on, isn’t that just what patience is? And now I’m getting tangled up.

I found the following excerpt from The Ten Rules of Happiness highly comforting.

Take life easy and do not be judgemental of others, and yourself too. The world will not come to an end if you don’t get what you want right now. Most of the things are not so important that they cannot wait or be altered if required. And nothing is so helpless that it cannot be improved or solved. Never let small things bother you and never bother with small things. Remember, life is precious; it is to be enjoyed, not endured. It is not a competition, but a beautiful journey. And we are here to make our contribution, lighten someone else’s burden if we can, spread happiness and be happy.

It speaks out to me. As if it was especially written for me. Just how silly can I be? Letting stupid things upset me. I might be impatient, but this is just being silly as well. Honestly, I should try being patient some more. I mean, it’s either the temporary wait or the permanent abandonment of the desire, isnt it?

I’ll take the wait. :D

—————-
Now playing: My Dying Bride – My Wine in Silence
via FoxyTunes

Resolutions!

January 1, 2008 at 5:30 pm | Posted in Life as I See It | 1 Comment
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With every new year come the resolutions. Even though fifty per cent of people give up within the first three months of the year, I can’t think of a better way to start a new year. And they’re fun!

When it comes to resolutions, I’ve always failed abysmally at them. I usually set very high standards for myself, even when it comes to resolutions. The thing is, I’m able to excel at anything I set against myself, save the resolutions. I guess my way of living and habits are so hardwired into my psyche I couldn’t change them even if I’d wanted to.

But an online friend gave me this little piece on resolutions and I thought it was really brilliant. It made me realise that you don’t always have to do great or big things in life, you can do small things with great dedication. I’m gunna put it up here and try to follow it all year long for the rest of my life hopefully!

1. Be observant.
2. Never let any idea go uncaptured.
3. Try to learn something from the people you meet.
4. Take a book or magazine wherever you go.
5. Allocate a minimum of 30 minutes to read a book.
6. Meditate.
7. Take time to reflect on your day. What have you done right? What have
you done wrong? What can you do to improve yourself?
8. Drink water a lot.
9. Exercise.
10. Read a collection of quotes.
11. Choose a quote of the day to ponder and apply.
12. Take notes of every expense you make.
13. Do something for the first time.
14. Effectively read online articles.
15. Use timer to help you actually do what you need to do.
16. Learn to use a tool, either to improve your skill
with a familiar tool or to learn a new tool.
17. Take time to review your life purpose and goals.
18. Rise early.
19. Listen to educational or motivational audio programme when you are
doing activities which do not need full concentration.
20. Be grateful for your day.
21. Read a random article to expose you to new things.
22. Have fun. Be passionate about life.

– Donald Latumahina

Another Year Gone By…

December 31, 2007 at 6:10 pm | Posted in Life as I See It, World + People + Events | 2 Comments
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So 2008 is here. Well, almost. In a few hours’ time, we’ll be saying goodbye to 2007 forever. On the threshold on another year, just like last year. Seems like only yesterday. Time flies, doesn’t it?

But before I welcome 2008, time for a quick retrospect.

2007 passed in a haze of quick happenings, confusion an chaos. So much happened. But when you look back at it all, it seems like nothing much happened after all. Funny.

What has 2007 taught me? An awful lot, and here’s what I’ve learnt along the way, with the incidents associated with each one of them still fresh in my mind.

  • Your life doesn’t centre around some silly examinations. Academic acheivement doesn’t matter at all – what adds upto success in a person’s life is their ability to make it on their own in the real world – not by going on a basis of handful certificates.
  • Surviving the worst brings the best out in you.
  • There’s more to Newton than I’d thought. Much more.
  • Anticipating the outcome only makes things worse. Worry isn’t the answer.
  • Be comfortable with the way you are and don’t give a fuck about what others think of you.
  • Showing emotions is not a sign of weakness. It only shows that you’re comfortable with the person you’re with, and your own self.
  • Friends are fleeting…cherish the times together while you can. Letting a friend down is one of the worst things you can do.
  • Fiction is, in fact, more important than fact. Your imagination is probably the biggest asset you can have.
  • Racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination still continue to exist, people continue to remain indifferent, wars continue to be fought, blood continues to be split, stock market continues to rise and fall, life goes on. But good people do exist, people that strive, that never give up. And that is what matters.
  • Take life as it comes, don’t worry about the uncertain and don’t dwell on the past.
  • It’s never too late to explore a new idea.
  • All things, good or bad, must come to an end. That’s the way.
  • Life is too short. Honestly.
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