Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Child Within

As a child, the world of the adults always fascinated me. The fact that they never had to do any homework, or the fact that they could watch television whenever they want.
They seemed a fascinating sort of people. Those who didn't have to answer to anyone. No one could boss over them, or reprimand them for trivial reasons. They didn't have to get up each morning to attend a god awful institution called school where one would be tortured by the continuous convoy of "teachers" who were nothing much but bored disgruntled house wives who wanted to spew out their venom on us poor lads .
And so I thought, "ahh....if only I were a grown up. I could make my own rules, yell at whomever I want, and watch television all day".
But growing up turned into quite a different experience, and a multitude of things took me by surprise.
But nevertheless, somehow, I didn't let the process of physical growth affect me to much of a degree. For I had a refuge. A friend with whom I could constantly play with. The child within me.

When I was almost 13, I would wander our football field immersed within a land of fantasy, where the football field was actually my kingdom, and I, its proud ruler who was renowned across the land, for his just reign. I spent the day muttering dialogues to myself portraying every character in my make believe kingdom.
Of course to the remainder of my friends who just took a break during half time, all they could see was a babbling lunatic all by himself across the field, acting the goat.
But their opinion then never bothered me.
I was far too busy within my kingdom, fending off the tyrants who wanted to usurp my throne.

The classroom was no different from the football field. While our teacher was explaining to a bunch of 12 year olds, the economic importance of the wool gathered from the merino sheep in Australia, I was busy sketching away in my notebook the map of my island kingdom.
Strangely the above practice in particular has still continued through the boring lectures at medical school.
The only difference being, that instead of maps I sketch...ahem...other noteworthy works of art.

The one good gift that God has given a child, would be the gift of imagination. The ability to remove yourself away from the world, when things do not seem so right. The ability to withdraw within your world of toy soldiers who battle evil men, when in reality downstairs, the grown ups are having one of their "arguments".

It is in the world of make believe that children seek refuge. But as one grows, the childish pastimes are rendered meaningless and one is subjected to the numerous aspects of reality.
But in my case, I never let the child within me go away.
I have kept him alive till today.
I still regale him with comic books and cartoons from time to time, least he gets bored of my grown up life and decides to move away.
I have kept him alive at all costs. I care precious little for public ridicule.
I suppose that is the reason why I never personally cared for the sort of situations that "grown ups" find themselves into.
The child within me matters.
In life theres no point in letting go of the few things that grant you refuge when the going gets tough.
Different people have different ways to escape momentarily from the world they live in.
Some watch movies, some go for a walk, while some get drunk and put a hole in the wall.
In my case, at times I go back to the child within me. Though I take care I do not look like an imbecile in the process.
To each of his own I suppose.
I owe a lot to the child within. For there are a lot of things that he has missed out on while growing up.
In time all shall be well.
And together we shall live happily ever after.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Letting Things Go



After ranting away about the people in an around me in my last blog post, I just had an epiphany.
These are the sort of things, that you only subtly realise one way or another. The thing is, I live in a bit of a crowded international students hostel with people from many countries, including my fellow Indians. Now, the thing about living together for long periods of time like peas in one humongous pod can have its affects upon you sooner or later. The whole familiarity breeds contempt bit.
As a consequence, over the years I managed to breed a good deal of hate, mistrust and jealousy towards my fellow compatriots.
Little misunderstandings, squabbles and arguments finally took their toll on my overall outlook towards those in and around me.
The thing is, with some of us humans, is that we just cannot let certain things go. We hold on to all that hurt us and affected us over the long years.
Truth be told, I am the sort of person who bears grudges for quite a long period of time. I remember(though I shouldn't) every insult, every humiliating incident, every embarrassing episode right from the days of high school.
And over the years all that keeps piling up like junk in the attic (useless things you accumulate but do not know so as to why you haven't gotten rid of them).
The thing is as far as old thoughts go, like any old useless thing in our day to day lives, they tend to rot and decay within our minds. Over the years they begin to affect our perspective towards life and all that we see and feel around us.
And that's not a good thing. For out of spite and suspicion you may actually rebuke someone who approached you with good intentions.

Today was basically an exhausting day for me. And when I went to the kitchen to cook, I found myself chatting away with my neighbour (whom I generally find very annoying).
And much to my own surprise, I actually had a good time chatting away to glory. Otherwise, for me it was usually " huh!!...its that self presumptuous pain in the neck again, why cant he go cook somewhere else"?
On other days I would give him the cold shoulder and curt replies. But today was different.
Subsequently I found myself speaking to more of my colleagues who I usually tend to ignore or avoid.
I realised then, that the reason I spoke so freely with them not withstanding grudges, was because I was utterly exhausted. Speaking to them was like a breath of fresh air in comparison to the damp environment of mistrust I had created all around me.
You see, bearing grudges is exhausting work. It tires you mentally and physically irrespective whether you realise it or not.
I was tired today, and I didn't have the energy to mentally rebuke them when they came to speak to me. But like I said, I enjoyed the conversation. I enjoyed it when I didn't have to consistently and subconsciously hate the person that approached me.
Its not worth it believe me.
The people around you may be different, they may not share the same views as you do. They may irk you out of your wits end most of the time. But in time its best to let things so.
Nothing much is gained out of spite and prejudice. Nothing at all.
You lose your peace, your solace, your trust in humanity.
One cannot hold on forever all the petty things that occurred in ones life. The uninvited parties, the bad gossip, betrayal by someone you trusted etcetera.
Holding on to things is hard work. And nothing can be more gratifying than to get rid off all the angst you have borne deep within.
Its like someone walking through a beautiful field, carrying piles of useless junk which one never needs. You miss out on all the wonderful things around you, while you stay obsessed with your grudges.

There are far more wondrous things out there, once we cast away the veil of hate that blinds us so.
Thus, the best way to life life to the fullest, would be to let things go.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Running Away



Sometimes, I just wish I could run away. Run so far that the world left behind me looks utterly insignificant from a distance. Run so fast so that none of my miseries can keep pace with me. I just want to run away as soon as possible, so that I do not end up as a sorry remnant of my previous self, battered and bruised by the unforgiving tides of ignorance and stupidity.
I just want to run, and never stop.

I always envied birds. They can always fly off where ever they want to. They look so free and sublime. So blissfully aloof, soaring far into the heavens.
To only be able to live such a life. Something that dreams are made of. Alas, for as a human theres not much I can do as far as dropping all that I am doing and scuttling off to where my fancy takes me.
Why must it always be this hard to incorporate your self in the very world you live in? And why, time and again must I be constantly thrust between those who have the I.Q. of peanut butter, and the sense of humor of a demented child?
Someone up there has an awful sense of humor!
The worst part of belonging to such a crowd, you end up doubting yourself. Doubting whether there is something wrong with you or something wrong with those around you.

Excerpts from the conversations that I must undergo every freaking day of my life:

Me: Hey, I just started writing a blog.
A "friend": Whats a blog?
Me: "deep sigh"...a site where you can write about whatever you feel, post your pictures and stuff.
A "friend": Why would anybody want to do that?
Me: "deeper sigh".....never mind!!

Once this dude walks into my room,
Another "friend": Hey, what are you up to?
Me: Nothing much, just writing my blog.
Another "friend": God!!....its so big!!...Who reads this shit?
Me: I don't care, I just write because I feel like it, that's all.
Another "friend": Man, you need a girl!
Me: Struck dumb.

Of course man seldom learns from his mistakes. I'm literally kicking myself after this recent conversation.

Me: Hey, I just started a blog.
Sort of Friend: Huh!!...Big deal! I started one three years ago.
Me: (A bit surprised to realise that one of them actually knows what a blog is)
Hey, that's cool...may I see it.
Sort of friend: Sure, its xyz.blahblah.com
A site opens with some music, and a picture of the dude in question......and I'm waiting to like, catch a glimpse of some posts.
Me: Its just a picture of you. And some info about you.
Sort of friend: Of course!...What did you expect?
Me: I thought you would have written something.
Sort of friend: Write? Jeez!...Who writes?
Me: (screaming within)...Oh! Okay.

So that's about it. Practically in a nutshell. These are the sort of people I must see and talk to, day in and day out. Since I cannot have any intelligent conversation with them, (and by intelligence, I mean the ability to talk beyond the subjects of cricket, the latest Hindi movie, and the curves on the girl who lives on the floor below), I resort to making funny awkward gestures and grunting noises. So now, I am the funny guy.
Do I like being the funny guy? Sure it has its perks. People notice you, and they call you over when they need some "time pass" in their dull as dishwater group. Other times they just acknowledge your existence by ignoring you when they have their intricately profound conversations like, "Dude!....I drank a litre of vodka and was sooo wasted!!..I puked all over the room."
Of course, not that I am complaining. There are things that I prefer staying out of.
At times I turn to the fairer sex for some solace. But at times even that can be a bit trying, when most of their conversations run around the shade of their nail polish or how their diet is coming along.
End of the day, I'm exhausted. Exhausted for constantly playing the role of 'the funny guy'. Forcing a big broad smile on my face every time I am around them (any other facial expression will actually reveal how I feel, and that might freak them out a bit!).
Spending all day constantly being who you are not, can take it toll upon you.
A toll on your mind, your nerves and your sanity.
Hence at times I just want to run away! Run so far and so fast that none of their stupidity can catch up with me, and turn me into one of them (shudder).
Am I a misfit? Perhaps. Or perhaps the classic case of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. But the awful part is, that I have been at the wrong place for the past 23 years.
It just makes me wonder, do I really belong here?......

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Creative Impulse



A while ago, I made a painting. It was nothing much, just something I had recreated. Something that had caught my fancy. Basically as an amature painter, I tend to capture (or should I say recapture), paintings that somehow seem to me as unique and a tad different from the conventional things we see.
And hence after painting a couple of them I decided to put them up on the wall, so that my friends could have a look and give me their opinions. And so, after the usual formal compliments I thought to myself, "Great! I suppose it wouldn't have made a difference worth a shilling even if I had hung a Rembrandt on the wall. Pity no one even realised that the frame is crooked."
Now I am not the least bit cross with my compatriots. I daresay had anyone of them invited me over to have a look at their new motorbike, my response might have been equally lukewarm.
I suppose each of us have our own individual patronage.
Now, getting back to the event, there was this girl who glimpsed at my paintings.
And it was just a glimpse, not even a brief look. Soon upon her brief observation, she blurted, "why are you studying medicine? You ought to have been an artist."
Now I suppose I ought to have taken it as a compliment. But that didn't quite register the way she expected. Of course being the gracious host I mumbled a "thank you", and that was that.

Later on I began writing this blog. The main reason I started a blog was so that I could rediscover my passion for writing. To basically rekindle something that was long lost to me.
I sent my blog link to one of my friends, while chatting online who remarked, "wow, you write really well, why are you studying medicine? You ought to be an author."
For me it was déjà vu all over again.
So according to the assumptions previously stated, since I am a student of medicine I should be absolutely devoid of any creative ability.
Its sad when you think about it. Just because you have entwined yourself to a professional course it is assumed that you must be rid of any creative yearnings whatsoever.
But then, when I think about it, I do believe that there is an iota of truth that lies there.
Creativity is something inborn. It happens to be one of the most satisfying and self gratifying things that one can do for oneself.
Nevertheless its something, not all of us manage to hold on to. A few make their fortunes out of the art they possess, while the remainder opt for other occupations.
Now, not everyone can opt to become an artist, but at the same time it doesn't mean just because you have chosen a different line of work you need to be rid of the creative impulse within you.
I have no intention to abandon medicine, but nevertheless, that doesn't mean that I need to stop painting or writing.
Unfortunately not many realise this fact. I am not talking of the commercial aspects of selling your art. I refer to the sort of satisfaction one gets when one views one's creation with pride. People end up strangling the artist within them thinking it might come in the way of their career and their families.
But it is never so. Art is the mere expression of ones inner soul onto a material medium. It is like revealing oneself to the world by other means.
You need to be with yourself in order to invoke the artist within you. We spend much of our days engulfed with work, with family, and when we are tired, we forcefully subject our minds to the mindless entertainment that television offers.
I suppose on that account no man is ever left alone. Even for a moment. Creativity needs solace. It needs solitude. One has to rediscover oneself. For through time, almost all of us have lost ourselves to the constant ramblings of humanity.
I suppose when one is alone and not engulfed in any sort of activity, away from chaos, away from all the noise, the endless chatter, can one discover what he or she is truly capable of.

It seems apart from being an exceptional scientist Einstein was quite a decent violin player. He would play his violin, not in order to perform before the masses, but to grant himself solace from the chaotic world outside.
I wonder if anyone remarked to him,"why are you a scientist? You ought to be a musician."
One doesn't need to be creative just to chalk out a living, or because one is terrible at doing other things. Ideal creativity has no specific purpose or aim. Like I said, its just an impulse. A spark of light to brighten our dreary lives. Ideal creativity for some rests in their minds getting better with age, just like wine in a cellar.
You need not quit your jobs to be creative. Being creative happens to be a part of you, just like breathing and walking. It can be anything, say like gardening, carpentry, music, pottery etc.
We spend a great deal of our lives by engulfing ourselves with pointless activities. We all have but one life to live (at least the one that we are aware of), and its a pity that we discredit ourselves by spending a great deal of our time watching mindless dramas and reading about some actress who dumped her third husband. There is much more to life and living than all this.
One needs to be with oneself to be able to realise our true potential. Its stupid to let go of our lives, our creativity on account of the ridiculous dictates that society imposes upon us.
Let us not be the prisoners of our actions.
To be creative is to be free.