Icarus

Why do all dreamers share visions of Flight?

Is it the longing of the spirit to be free of the meat and bone and dirt of mortal life?

Do we tap a shared memory of some long lost history, where we could soar at will?

Or is it simply base jealousy that propels minds into  the clouds?

For how can anything that flies be burdened by sorrow or want?How could anything that dances with the wind stay still long enough to hurt?

What would one give to find out?

What would one give to fly?

 

When Words Fail

Today, someone’s mother affectionately touched my cheek so as to offer some love and imply I was being a child. Well, I guess I was.

For a few days now, I have had composite emotions brewing inside me. I haven’t been able to segregate them and choose what to feel when. Doesn’t it happen that when one is overwhelmed what is inside looks for an outlet? Somehow I have set aside the need to make sense of how I feel these days. I just take it as it comes and ride on the back of the wind wherever it takes me. There is so much to savour and so much to digest. Yet today the heart wants to make sense, even if it is in some rudimentary way such as this.

There is belonging.
The feeling of homecoming and nesting. A sign that the heart is in order and has arrived where it needed to. Attempts to run and hide are abandoned, the guard is let down, and one snuggles. Looking around in sporadic reflection makes one wonder about the transition from prickly discomfort to cozy enveloping. Strange how tides turn when you give time, time.

There is incisive disappointment.
That sinking of the ship of hope and watching the water gurgle its way through the bottom of the ship. You can’t plug the hole, it’s too late. You can’t jump off the ship, your limbs won’t move. So you sit there and watch the water glug in, and you try to furiously mend inside your head what you could not mend in life.

There is gargantuan gratitude.
Tons of it. So much so that sometimes it overflows from the edge of my lips and even the corners of my eyes. Songs are clearer, robins flutter, yellow buttery sunbeams bounce off the cheekbones, and the shivering heart says a small prayer of thanks to no one in particular. One connects the dots and suddenly everything that seemed despondent raises its head and apologizes. You don’t say it explicitly, but you know it’s alright. The sinews on your arms are more visible. The shine in your eye refracts. Then, the soul dances. It does.

There is fear.
Of sorts. Of being joyous, again. Of trusting, again. Of dreaming, again. Of loving, again. It swoops down at the spirit sometimes in an attempt to suck out the optimism. Then, there is a fight and you know that you want fear to lose. It’s got to lose. But what if it doesn’t?

There is joy.
Plain, unadulterated joy. It is found in conversations, loud laughter, appreciation of how green the leaves are, work well done and well-done work acknowledged, friends who take the time to stop by, a sibling who articulates your fears better than you do, the unsaid words because they needn’t be said anymore, and even plain insulation of the mind.

There is loving.
Although feeble, but it’s an attempt. An attempt to love words again. To love oneself enough. To love people because you deserve to, and not only because they deserve it. To regain oneself. To pull out and dust the beliefs one had buried. To be courageous towards your dreams.

There is failing.
And then there is also failure. That ugly stop in the road which makes one question everything. Makes one question oneself, choices, path, and purpose. Failure of ascension, dissolution, and faith. Faith fails; perhaps it’s being hammered at and wants to be broken. Of all that I have observed, I believe that if something has to be broken, it should.

There is all this and much more that is unaccounted for. It cannot be said. Words won’t come. They lie still in the corner of a mind unwilling to move. They propel the body to move forward and go out there and give my world one big hug in the hope that an embrace can convey what poetry cannot.

Why you need to stop cussing as often.

There’s nothing like a good curse to stretch your lungs on a morning, is there? The odd expletive can be a satisfying release from stress and swearing is even known to relieve pain on occasion, but effing and blinding in public is still frowned upon by many people.
Disregarding the whole societal scorn,  should you really be swearing as much? 
I mean,  I see teenagers who use profanity like it’s reciting a nursery rhyme. High-school going children all think it’s hip and totally cool to swear at anything that moves,  even if it’s totally uncalled for. They will swear in public places,  at school, during class,  the cafeteria, even at home.
Now I’m all for freedom of expression and I really do think society as a whole needs to be more liberal in what we censor and what we don’t,  the catch being there’s logic in the whole thing.

Writers and readers assume that words have meaning and value. The prevalence and nonchalant attitude surrounding profanity in western culture might have us believe that using hardy vocabulary is appropriate willy-nilly – after all, that’s how we live. But perhaps that is the best reason to pay the most attention to when and where and why we drop these words: the more they are used casually, the less impact they bring to the page. We are depriving these infamous words of their full assault value when we use them like grandparents giving chocolate candy to toddlers (and the results in both cases are disastrous).

The truth is that a lot of people are afraid to teach swear words, others are afraid to learn them, and many more abuse them to the point that they sound horrible and even offensive, NOT because these words are inherently bad or offensive, but because the people never learned how to use them properly.

“Hey, mind if I smoke?”
“No, mind if I fart?” 
Steve Martin

Profanity is no different from passing gas or peeing in a public pool. It’s repulsive. It offends people.

I know that you might be thinking that it doesn’t offend your friends. Right? Well, sure. A room full of people who are okay with cussing is a lot like a room full of people who don’t mind if you pick your nose and eat the snot, as long as they can do it, too. Of course it’s not offensive to people who cuss as much as you do.

But none of us live in a vacuum. If it was just about our friends then maybe cussing would be okay. But it’s not. We must interact with people from all walks of life. It’s part of being a responsible human being.

Everything I need to know about swearing I learned in college. This boils down to two principles. One, for the best effect, swear sparingly. Two, swear when the situation requires it for authenticity.

When I played volleyball in college, I played with a team that was expected to win the regional championship. We played hard, and we won. Our coach was even-keeled, level-headed, and never swore. I don’t know if that last part was on principle or the thought just didn’t cross his mind. I was the youngest on the team so I didn’t get much playing time, but I will never forget the day my six teammates slouched off the court for a time-out during a  match. They knew they deserved an earful. We were playing a second-tier team, and we were losing. If we lost, we were out of the tournament – nowhere close to state finishers. Our coach knew this was ridiculous. “Damn it,” he started.

I remember the shock on everyone’s faces. I remember the team marching back to their places on the court and winning. Why? Because he let the d-word fly when he never had before. Because we knew then that our play had breached a level of catastrophic nonsense that required a sharp kick in our collective mental focus to restart us. He could have railed on and on about inspiration and perspiration and superheroes and butterfly wings, but none of that would have had any impact on us. Boy howdy did that “Damn it” get a response.

In non-fiction, regular swearing makes the author sound angry or cynical. This came to mind while I was reading Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird. The content in the books was solid, but both authors peppered their writing with a noticeable amount of cursing. I get it: when you drop profanity in here and there it makes the writing sound chummy. Experts can dole out advice about how to make mediocre writing less mediocre (or whatever advice they’re toting) without the reader feeling as though the author is breaking their fingers and smashing their keyboard. But also, I’m reading this because you’re a professional, not because you’re my college roommate. I don’t want to know about your ability to swear, I want to know about your writing. You’re not supposed to be my bud. (I accept that their response to this opinion can be “Yes, but I’m laughing all the way to the fucking bank.” Fair enough, doesn’t change my mind.)

In blog posts, the occasional pops and snorts of colorful banter are reasonable, but again, if it’s the only tool the writer has other than an emoji, I’m going to pass. Why? Because, when used in excess, expletives are empty words. Even when we use them in conversations, they’re similar to the presentation-busters of “oh,” and “um” and “uh.” In other words, they suggest inexperience, lack of polish, and carelessness. When someone uses a lot of swear words, I assume they don’t have much to say.

My English teacher professor during my first year at college explained it this way in a discussion of Kurt Vonnegut’sSlaughterhouse Five: “If your leg gets blasted off in war, you’re not going to say ‘Oh, fudge.’ You’re going to scream “Fuuuuuucccckkkkk!’”

This isn’t about being offended. It’s about being distracted. A swear word (or lack thereof) should not detract from the action. Quite the opposite. It can and should be used to draw sharp attention and focus to a situation – either for authenticity or for shock. It can only be effective in writing if paired with the content and characters of it’s surroundings. If you’re writing in a war zone then using lollipops and ladybugs as verbal exclamations will make me close the book.
Putting it really simple-
So what it really comes down to is,  Are you swearing because the situation demands it,  or are you just another of those wannabe hipsters? 
I’ll let you decide 🙂

Self images aren’t really accurate.

Let me, as I so often do for matters such as this, use myself as a good anecdotal example. You know, generally I try to be amusing; some people don’t find me amusing in the least. I try to write engaging books; there are people who can’t stand my writing. I often speak up on issues that are of concern to me; there are people who wish I would shut up about them, including some folks who are nominally on my side of an issue. I try to be pleasant with people; to some people I come across as insufferable, glib or insincere. I try to be open and upfront about most of my opinions; some people see that as me being an arrogant asshole. And so on.

I’m not gonna lie, here: I don’t really see myself as a glib, unamusing asshole who writes awful books and doesn’t know when to shut up. But despite my best efforts not to be any of those things, there will be people who think at least one (and possibly all) of those things about me. Because in their heads, that’s how they see me. It doesn’t mean they’re having a psychotic break with reality. There’s enough room for variation in basic human interaction for this sort of thing, even before you add in everyone’s own personal life experience to the mix — their own personal reasons for thinking a person acting like I do might be glib rather than pleasant, as an example.

What can I do when I try to be [x], and I come off as not[x] to some other person? In the very short run, not much of anything. People are going to respond to me the way they’re going to respond to me, for all the reasons they have that response. I’m not going to know all those reasons unless I try to engage them in a Quest for Context, which may not be convenient or appropriate at the time. I’m best off accepting that to them, that’s how I’ve come across.

The next thing I can do is ask myself, well, do they have a point? Am I being glib/unamusing/an asshole? Because sometimes they’re right and I am wrong. In which case, fair enough. I’ve learned something and will work to fix my behavior. Note that this requires a certain amount of personal honesty and willingness for critical self-examination that everyone says they have but lots of people actually don’t. On the other hand, If I decide they don’t have a point, then I generally chalk it up to people having differences of opinion and let it go.

What I don’t generally do is demand that the other party see it my way and believe that if they don’t then there’s something wrong with them. One, who has the time, and two, I’m not sure it’s really important that everyone respond to me in precisely the same way.

(If one does have time and the other party has an interest, one could talk to them about the variance and see where the disconnect is. But sometimes one party or the other doesn’t have that interest or time; that’s fine too. If one does that, however, one probably shouldn’t do it with the underlying thesis of “let’s discover why you’re so very wrong in your opinion about me and how we can fix that.” Most other people won’t sign up for that.)

Bottom line here: Your self-image is not the same as the image of you others receive. People will often see you entirely differently than you want them to. No one’s required to see you the way you see yourself, and you probably can’t make them do that even (or often especially) if you try. If you try to insist that they must, the likelihood of you coming across as petulant and unpleasant rises significantly.

So, no, in this respect, some people (often women) seeing other people (often men) as creepers when those other people are trying to be interesting and engaging and fun is not actually an unusual reaction dynamic at all. What isdifferent about the creeper scenario is that there is very often a physical and psychological dynamic that has threatening possibilities to it. Which to my mind makes it more important for people to realize in that situation that they don’t have the ability to dictate how others respond to them, and to accept that as part of the ground rules going in.
This apparently has struck some to be dreadfully unfair, with the implication being that other people responding to folks (usually men) as creepers when in fact they’re trying to make an effort to be charming and witty and fun (or whatever) is some sort of special case in the interaction of human beings, and that such mismatches between intent and reception hardly ever happen in other situations.
One final point: If your takeaway from all the above is to think “If I can’t control how other people respond to me, then I’m relieved of my duty to be concerned about how I come across,” then you’re doing it wrong. People may respond to you differently than you intend; you should still make an effort not to be a grasping, self-centered assbag.  In my experience, being a grasping, self-centered assbag is one of the very few times where how you present yourself is exactly how other people see you, every time, without exception.

Turning Mirrors into Windows.

“I have an interest in education.
Actually, what I find is Everybody has an interest in education.
Don’t you?

It’s one of those things that goes deep with people, like money, religion and other things.”

Classical education was based on the seven liberal arts or sciences: grammar, the formal structures of language; rhetoric, composition and presentation of argument; dialectic, formal logic; arithmetic; geometry; music; astronomy. For centuries, the classics dominated the very idea of being educated and attempts at reform were resisted.

But look at the Indian Paradigm of today, I come from a group of people (This I am ashamed to admit), who think that Economics and commerce is an “Art”. This misconception is due to the fact that the Early British Regime segregated the “Harder Sciences” ( say Mathematics,Physics and Chemistry) from the Softer Sciences, and the end result was the “Arts and Science” group. The British however understood the distinction between Art and Science but sadly many of my peers today Do NOT.

Economics is based on solid facts and numbers, it is Science( In some ways more than Physics or Chemistry). I would just like to clear that up.
Roger Miller Summed it up best.
mirrors-into-windows

Have you ever wondered why the typical classroom, when asked a question responds with almost the exact same words, in the very same order. Why are we incapable of answering questions (Disregard for a minute the “Correctness” for these answers) that are as unique as say, your personality?
Why is it that when asked a question about your taste in music, everyone in class has a unique answer but when asked for insight into matters of text, we only hear unintelligible droll?
Why hasn’t education taught us to form opinions based on facts? Instead of just reciting facts. Why were you never taught what it meant to actually experience emotion?
Even the elite “Nerds” of today don’t exactly wonder why.Our schools have a doubly hard task, not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.

Producing works of art doesn’t often count as appropriate intellectual work in an arts department: yet the equivalent in a science department, doing physics or chemistry, does. So why is it that in universities writing about novels is thought to be a higher intellectual calling than writing novels; or rather, if writing novels is not thought to be intellectually valid, why is writing about them?

If all you had was academic ability, you wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed this morning. In fact there wouldn’t have been a bed to get out of. No one could have made one. You could have written about the possibility of one, but not have constructed it. Don’t mistake me, I think that academic work – and the disciplines and abilities it can promote – are absolutely vital in education, and to the full development of human intelligence and capacity. But they are not the whole of them. Yet our education systems are completely preoccupied with these abilities to the virtual exclusion of many others that are equally vital – capacities that becoming more important every day.

“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man… I see a cocky, scared shitless kid.I can’t learn anything from you, I can’t read in some fuckin’ book. Unless you want to talk about you, who you are. Then I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t want to do that do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief. “

P.S-
For anyone who’s reading this, I would be utterly delighted if you could spare a few minutes from your busy day, and take a look at the video below ( I swear, it’s worth it 🙂 ).

Adolescence.

It was a dreary midsummer’s night. 
A sole light flickers on in the three bedroom condo. A nubile body stirs to wake,  A stirring of clutter from under the streets, restless motion,miniscule noises, almost blinding light from the laptop screen hits the Iris.
Belt clanging to the side of the bed,  zipper unzips, Jean ruffling along with the bedsheets.
Faint murmurs and moans issuing from the earphones. 
.
.
.
.
.
Shoes thump wood, sounds of footsteps nearing.
*Nervous gulp*
The door swings open and

Adolescence walks into the room and laughs. 

Just enough pathos.

Life’s a mix of things.
-Scratch that-

Life’s a delicate mix of things.

Yours,mine and even the guy on the road who sells umbrellas, we’ve all got lives that are a mi of things.It’s almost funny how we seldom notice such things, despite priding ourselves on being so observant.

The man of the world lives in nuance and by degrees, he lives in a mixture of light and shadow, in confused enchantment or irresolute mediocrity: in the middle. Tragic man lives in the extreme tension between contraries, going from a yes and no confusedly merged back to a yes and a no that are clear and clearly preserved in their opposition. He does not see man as a passable mixture of middling qualities and honest failings, but as an endurable meeting of extreme grandeur and extreme destitution, an incongruous nothingness in which the two infinities collide.

Infinities are a concept that many fail to understand, I say this essentially because John Green has gotten a lot of us believing in the wrong thing.

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities.” – John Green

While walking out of the theater I tried to explain to my friends why there were, in fact, exactly the same amount of numbers between 0 and 1 as 0 and 2, but Cantor and bijective functions are not great learning tools to English majors.

Even this little post could prove to be analogous with life, as a delicate mixture of things.We’ve touched up on Contemporary Young Adult Literature to Advanced Calculus.
For a final year college student, who’d been thrust with responsibilities he never knew even existed  and as a person who struggles with getting his life into order, making that transcendent journey from a careless teenager to an adult who cleans up after himself, may not be graceful as I’d hoped.It is a mix of left over teenage angst, artifacts of past love, hormonal fluctuations like Male PMS, learning to pay the bills, buttering up my own toast, drinking responsibly *sigh*  because of that important lecture next day, prospective placements and careers. But even with all this happening, to me life is a mixture with

-Just enough Pathos.