GOOD FROM THE EVIL!

CORONA VIRUS: A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

The fear of corona virus has slowed life resulting in forced idleness of various degrees. Not only work is affected, we can’t even pack off to a holiday destination. While we practice hygiene to ward off the dreaded virus, the unexpected leisure is the virus-sent opportunity to think and act, to teach and to learn.

Nothing is more important than helping children become better and responsible citizens. Of course, top priority now is teaching them cleanliness and protecting themselves from getting infected. But let us also give them our time to inculcate values, and to develop positive attitude, hobbies and habits.

We can utilize this time to nurture in our children values such as kindness, empathy, tolerance and respect for others and their views. This will build their character. Let’s tell them the importance of reading to widen their horizons and to deepen their understanding of life and times so as to develop a positive attitude and world-view, and to think deeper, broader and universal. Let’s present before them the pleasure to be derived from creative hobbies such as painting, writing, and other arts which help them to explore and to imagine, to delve within and to dive without. Let’s expose children to household chores and dignity of labour, and make them respect workers, maids, drivers, cooks and others.

Let’s show them by example value of money and savings, of considered spending and intelligent choices; to teach them basics of money matters such as writing expenses and keeping those within budget. Let’s convince them to avoid wastage of every resource- money, food, water, electricity, and to reuse, recycle and repair, and to be kind and considerate towards the environment. Children imbibe and emulate what they see. The mindless spectacle of stream of parcels delivered daily at home by Amazon and others makes their impressionable minds to think that  there is endless supply of easy money.

We must teach them by example that what matters is not materialism but goodness, knowledge, intelligence and being humane.

If we can give these life lessons to our children, I believe we would have given them the ultimate gift. The corollary benefit is that while teaching our children, we too will learn to be better human beings.

children-1879907_1920

 

BOOKS WHICH SCORCH THE SOUL AND WARM THE COCKLES OF HEART!

Some books compel us to search within and look beyond….. writings which have sprung from deep, uncommon understanding of life and exceptional sensitiveness to human emotions.

These books uplift us and deepen our belief in undying human spirit and its innate goodness…books which have painted life’s unblemished glory and its ugly underbelly, leaving an indelible impact on our world-view and thoughts about humanity, life and existence.

Books which speak of relationships enduring and gone sour….love and betrayal….trust and treachery…. bonds built and friendships forgotten. Books which take us on a journey of commitment and compromise, hope and despair, and triumph and tragedy.

These are the stories of lust, loneliness and longings; of naked needs, dogged desires and primitive yearnings; of dreams shut and shattered. These are the tales of agony and ecstasy, dignity and depravity, passions, perversions and perfidy.

Books which are the poignant tales of the moment to moment uncertainty of survival and struggle to stay alive; of life wasted, lost and regained; of now or never dilemmas; of simplicity of being, complexity of relationships, and difficulty of existence.

These are writings of epic proportions describing human entrapment, its helplessness to accept life on its own terms, and hopelessness to sink its soul and sell its sovereignty.

These are the sagas of sangfroid and sagacity, of righteousness, of character and decency.

Some such books which have moved me are:

  • Roots (Alex Haley)
  • The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)
  • The Good Earth (Pearl S Buck)
  • Goodbye Mr. Chips (James Hilton)
  • To Kill A Mocking Bird (Harper Lee)
  • The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
  • Educated (Tara Westover)
  • Of Mice & Men (Steinbeck)
  • Beloved (Toni Morrison)

         (not in order of preference)

There are quite a few, but these immediately spring to mind.

Such books give us a sense of the whole much more complete…which satiate yet leave us wanting ….and after reading these the heart is light and aroma of goodness lingers.

Please do share your list of such books.

IMG_20200126_100657

Life by Death ! Live by Death ! And Death by Chocolate !

Hi, my following piece on life and death is not intended to make you feel pessimistic or doomed, but to put the greatest fear of our lives, i.e., death, into perspective and leverage it to live by our values…..by what really matters.

When any near and dear one dies, we become philosophical and our values transcend to exceedingly good, and the importance of love, empathy, selflessness and so on suddenly dawns upon us. In those deathly moments we ask ourselves: does it really matter- this pettiness, this selfishness, this anger, hatred, ego, this one-upmanship, this attention grabbing and status seeking ? In the face of death, we realize the futility of it all, and the ultimate truth hits us hard:  I may not exist next moment and nothing will matter once I am dead, not to the “dead me” at least !

But these transformational thoughts are temporarily caused by death of some one close and evaporate soon. Therefore, does it make sense to make the temporary permanent ? Is it wise to think of death consciously and continuously, so that we remain transformed, so that we are naturally good…not artificially or by design, so that our values are not blurred in the hurly burly of life and we can be in command of our priorities? Remaining forever conscious of death may not be such a bad idea after all….. not in a forlorn, despondent, or pathetic manner, but in a life-defining, positive and reinforcing way.

In those few moments when we are aware of death, we let go of the superficial, the shallow and the sinister. This awareness then allows us to embrace the good, the beautiful and the worthy. Therefore, it logically follows that keeping knowledge of death as our constant companion, even if in the subconscious, simplifies and untangles everything…..from owning responsibility for “what a mess my life is” to ridiculing and rebuking myself for my sense of selfish entitlements, from accepting failures and rejections to allowing myself to be at peace with myself and others…warts n what not!

Change is the only constant and death is the only certainty. Our birth too was not a certainty…it could have been or would not have been…depending on so many factors. But once we are born,  death is a certainty….the only absolute absolute in life…and it comes at a time and place of its own choosing.

We can appreciate life more, live life more by being aware and accepting of death. Once we come to terms with our death (which is inevitable), we can let go of our fears as well as false values, dogmas, anxieties, and stupid sense of self-importance. It lifts us up from being mean, narrow and petty. That’s life in its true sense and in its magnificent glory. Death takes our lives away, but its knowledge makes our lives worthy by making inhuman humans humane !

So, shall we be in cahoots with death always while being alive ?

Yes ! if all that’s written above is true, then it is also true that:

Meaning of death gives meaning to life !

Death therefore define us, our values !

Death become us, for in death alone we live honestly and honourably and we do not become living dead !

Let’s not be in denial of death then, let us not lose sight of our destiny defined by death !

In this game of life n death, life is by death….so live by death !

And try Death by Chocolate…to sweeten it : )

IMG_20190214_091621

WALK OF LIFE !

Parijat

IMG_20180125_213504

My walk outside takes me Inside !             

My walk defines me, my life. It gives me my identity in relationship to others and to the world. It is my mirror…concave and convex….mirroring my soul and the world within. 

My walk has become my search, my quest…..to find meaning, to understand relationships, to know myself.

It makes me reflect, induces my thoughts, gives me ideas. It allows me to peer into myself, look at others closely, and dwell upon my relationships with people, places, events, the world and the nature. It provides me perspective for my life and times. Each walk becomes a journey of life and takes me down the memory lanes. It rejuvenates me… It heals the soul, cleans the mind, repairs the body.

I began walking with physical fitness in mind but along the way walking became incidental and thoughts began to creep in and it became a ritual of contemplation, of reflection, of thoughts…good, bad n ugly.

I have been walking for as long as I can remember. And as I walk, words form incessantly  in my mind and turn into thoughts. And the thoughts overflow….as if my thoughts have suddenly got legs and they run ahead of me uncontrollably, and I am always in the catching-up game.

When I walk, I am one with myself and also one with my family, friends, the world. My walking thoughts take me to places near and far….i think of things, people, places, of relationships, of happenings…. in the recent past or from the deep recess of the past, of times forgotten. Memories come flooding….. Nostalgic memories of love and separations, of laughter & tears, of joy & tragedies, of solitude and togetherness, of times happy and sad.

Walk takes me to my past. Walk travels with me to my future. Walk walks with me in my present. Questions come in floods…what I was, what I am and where am I going….

While mind is on its own journeys, the fresh cool wind caresses and invigorates my body, touches me tantalizingly. When the soothing first rays of the dawn touch me, John Denver sing for me “Sunshine on my shoulder makes me happy…”, and I sing along. Chirping birds, dancing butterflies, many splendoured sky with myriad hues….  the sights, the sounds, the smells…so enchanting, mesmerizing. Oh….how nature touches, teases, teaches !

And the music while walking sounds so heavenly.… paradise lost  is regained by listening to a Beethoven, a Mozart, a Chopin…

My walks also take me closer to the finest minds and the beauty of their written words, their ideas. The greats such as Russel, Huxley, Shakespeare, Hemingway and many more.

In childhood we used to recite: “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Well, my walk has compelled me to open my eyes early and helped me in controlling my weight, but neither am I wealthy nor wise. The early bird is yet to catch any worm. In fact, I have seen and known many wealthy persons who are perpetually late and lazy. Considering my credentials as a ‘Walker’, I wonder whether I will qualify as brand ambassador of “Johny Walker” and get unending n uninterrupted supply of this famous Scotch Whisky.

When I walk, the mind makes resolutions, action plans…some I act upon, mostly are forgotten. I wonder whether I ‘walk the talk’ or it’s all phantom fantasy of the “ghost who walks”. In my “walk of life”, there is ‘action’, and there is ‘motion’, but not of “Dire Straits” kind : )

Thinking of the people petty and hypocrite, my mind asks them to ‘take a walk’….but never with me. Love the wit of Noel Coward : “I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people I dislike”.

I observe other walkers and joggers and try to fathom what must be going on in their minds. I look at the dogs on the leash and imagine what if human beings were on the leash held by the Dog….. the scenarios from George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

I dwell upon the news…..the news about racism, the killings, the rapes, the political buffoonery and chicanery, the climate change:  and how the world is divided over every thing…matters which matter and matters which do not matter: makes me sad and I think about the future of the country, the world and its people. And I think about the fake news… its repercussions….how it poisons our minds and by repeating over and over again how false becomes the truth and truth becomes a lie. Reminds me of a quote I read somewhere: We were all humans until: Race disconnected us, Religion separated us, Politics divided us, Wealth classified us…”

And while I walk, at times I observe the poor, the old and the young… …cold and shivering, hungry and thirsty…..homeless, hopeless the helpless…and I think of the ever-increasing divide between the rich and the poor and why the successive governments have not been able to do something for them. I think of the good samaritans who selflessly extend a helping hand…by a kind smile, by giving food to the hungry, medicine to the sick, blanket to the cold.

And I think of revolutionary ideas, to bring about change in the world…and feel so useless, unworthy and ordinary. 

And I ponder about myself, my world, my being, my body, my mind, habits, wants, desires, role, my failures…but not about success because i have none. I reflect upon the time lost, opportunities not taken…what could have been, what I could have been…

And I reflect on the relationships, …parents, children, wife, siblings, friends…..and the fragility and strength of these. And I think of human nature, its kindness and meanness, the trust and the treachery, and how time heals…slowly but surely.

And I think of life and times, of separation and of death. I think of the people so very dear who drifted away, the people who were close and passed away….my relationship with them, how they influenced me, what I meant to them.

Walking Mind plays strange tricks on my psyche and forces me to think of my death, of my near and dear ones…what will life be without them. I feel utterly sad and miserable. And I wonder whether they think of their own death, and how they face each other, or will face me or each other while facing death. Had written about “Morbid Thoughts” on this Blog earlier. 

And I think of my disagreements, arguments and fights with my dear ones…and end up having a guilty feeling most of the time as to whether I did not do enough for them. At times I feel…I did my best and they are responsible for their lives…..conflicting thoughts indeed !

And in these walks, I imagine what if one very close to someone and always walking hand-in-hand- metaphorically and literally, turned treacherous? What if the good turned into bad, and beautiful into ugly? What if the fragile “Parijat” they admired together and smelt together and gave a handful to each other wilted, because the treachery of the one wilted their love? I recall Longfellow’s: The leaves of memory seemed to make a mournful rustling in the dark…. .  So true indeed !

Parijat

I think of human evolution and importance of walking in it, how we walk, how we differ from apes, in walking and otherwise. This thinking, contemplating walk encompasses all the dimensions of human evolution and existence: physical, biological, anthropological, historical, mental, psychological, philosophical, social, cultural, individual…. The microcosm of the whole world is with me when I walk.

Every day I walk, and every day it is the same…same sun, same trees, same paths, same people, same sights, smells and sounds. Yet every day it is different, every day it is changing…everyday everything is changing. And times are a’changing.  Same is so different and different is so same.

Walk connects me, walk disconnects me. Walk takes me to the people I love and walk takes me away from some of them as I recall their treachery……but does it take me away really…? I feel my walks compel me, push me against my will into the vicinity of their  thoughts..dark, gloomy, vicious.  

And after a walk, I sit on the park bench and close my eyes and control my breath…a sort of very basic meditation where I try to drive all my thoughts away…though I succeed very little…this is the time when I feel at peace with myself and with the world. After this ritual, I tell myself that I am doing my best and there are things which are beyond my control, and very often remember this quote of Reinhold Niebuhr:

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

Whereas walking excites the mind, meditation calms. Walking generates plethora and procession of thoughts, the purpose of meditation seems to be to rein in the thought process. In walking the breath runs faster, in meditation breathing becomes very slow. The effect of the two is opposite, but for me both are interlinked and important. One leads to the other. In a way both the rituals compete as well as complement each other, but complete me and my identity.

I fight myself when I walk and I love myself when I walk. I am despondent and desolate, I am ecstatic and exuberant.

The solitude I experience during my walks, then, shapes my attitude towards life and times, about people and places….and myself, my being. And the mind always walks an extra mile.

Walk breathes life into me, it takes me closer to death!

My walk is Walk of Life…everyday, yet I cannot fathom life…What is here and now?…What is beyond and tomorrow ? The search is never complete, the journey never ends, as penned so beautifully by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“My eyes already touch the sunny hill,

Going far beyond the road I have begun,

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp….”

Parijat

 

Is humanity digging its own grave ?

The outcomes of Sapien ingenuity,i.e., Artificial Intelligence, are unbelievable. The intelligence that we are creating will soon surpass our own intelligence…it is already taking over in many realms. The way even arts, music and myriad finer manifestations of human sensitivities and sensibilities are being appropriated by artificial intelligence, one wonders whether human pursuits will be redundant in not too distant future. I think it is no longer a question of ‘whether’, but ‘when’ ! In the new world when machines powered by artificial intelligence run amok, humans will become history in the human history. Think, Ponder…….

IMG_20160908_205441