The Wonder Years

When we were young, carefree, without the restraints and constraints of the real world hanging on top of our heads. When we were free to roam and do as we pleased without a 9-5 or 6 or 7 routine hanging on top of our heads 5 days a week. When the biggest stress points were just exams in our life. When entertainment wasn’t mostly digital or technology based. When we could live with our heads up in the clouds. Those were great years. They were wonder years (yes the statement is a play on the old show which is also on some levels synonymous with the ideology of this post).

True the above outlined is pertinent only to the privileged class – somewhere along the lines of our SECs A to perhaps a little higher side C. So not getting into the division in fortunes over the more spread out SECs. That is better left for another blog post.

So coming back to the premise of this post.  The wonder years. How things can go from that to such a complicated pattern of dealing with different aspects of life and people and real life stresses is unbelievable. And it’s not just any one particular aspect of life. It is more or less in all areas. Work, personal life, professional life, future, operational day to day stuff, commuting for things, social, micro, macro. All. All of a sudden everything becomes pertinent to you which previously wasn’t. I mean let’s be honest, really honest with ourselves. How many of us truly cared about the GDP of the country or the IMF before we joined the ranks of salaried individuals or for some the family business. Or for that matter how much did our local residential body’s governing mechanisms and processes for xyz things matter to us. How many of us were interested in the economic policies that were taken up by the government? How many paid any attention to topics like circular debt? Very few I am sure.

It was a carefree time in our lives and we will always look back and cherish on them. I bet if I did a survey, some of the happiest memories would be of people either in their childhood or perhaps of their early parent-hood from their children’s birth to early growing up years.

But then again one must consider that the wonder years I am referring to were perhaps a better time overall in the context of the world. It was a more secure climate overall. Terrorism wasn’t as spread an evil as it is today. In the generation before me it was even better. I was talking to my aunt yesterday and we both agreed on this – even till my childhood I could at the very least take my bike and ride to my uncle’s place to play cricket with my cousins. During daytime and even at times during late evening. It was ok. And it’s not like I had a cellphone on me in those days. Nor did anyone else my age. Not that I recall. Not the case anymore by a long shot. It was even better for my parent’s generation. In retrospect their life was perhaps even more simpler and less complicated even though it did not have many of the technological conveniences that are present today.

I believe that will be an ongoing thought process for every generation to come. Maybe 50 years from now someone else will be writing a post along the same lines. And 50 years from that someone else.

All we can do is just look back upon our wonder years and reminisce. And smile at the memories.

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Judgement

Humans have a tendency to pass judgement almost instantly on people, situations, events or circumstances without taking all factors into consideration. A person’s action at a point in time are judged without looking deeper into what led to the action or the circumstances behind the same. An event without understanding the external and internal factors revolving around it – this is of course barring all natural or very obvious events. A statement. A mindset. An act. Behavior. Different things but all resulting in a natural tendency for a person to pass judgement. Or an opinion. Without taking into consideration all things or all factors.

This is a tendency that at least I have come to realize lies within most people. Maybe not applicable to one person for all situations but that one person would have judged something or someone at some point without getting into the details. Labelled them also perhaps. And then the label itself serves to be the point of judgement for others. An example, mundane example, a restaurant experience for someone might have been bad resulting in a critical review being posted online. The review going viral and the restaurant in question gaining the label of a place having questionable service or product. While in actuality the case might have been a one off or a bad day. Or a new place going through teething issues.

But that was a mundane example. And one which might not hit home with people a lot. Let’s take another example. A person’s behavior.  People might be having a bad run of days. Or they might be going through a difficult patch in life. Or maybe they are just born that way. I am not saying that a person’s negative behavior is immediately required for us to think of a reason for them to be that way. Perhaps for some people that is not the case. That’s their personality as it has been molded since birth by the environment around them and their upbringing. For some it might have been some experiences which have changed them. For some it might not actually be who they are but a consequence of what they are perhaps going through at a certain point or period in life.

Everyone has their own set of problems or challenges that they are facing in life. Some deal with them with remarkable ease, strength and poise. Some fare on an average level and manage to survive out the other end. Others find it difficult perhaps. And this also can vary form point to point or situation to situation. Not necessarily written in stone as a trend for someone to be the same always. Some people buckle after having to go through something of the other again and again. Some buckle after facing something of absolute enormity for the first time in life after having a pretty protected and otherwise near perfect life. Some have a system to get through things. Some don’t. We are all humans after all and every person is different to every other person and hence has differing attributes and differing perspectives towards each experience. Things which on paper may be same are not necessarily be the same in actuality for people. Every experience, every relationship, every feeling is different just as every person and every human is different to others. There are commonalities here and there. But never entirely the same.

One person has not gone through experiences that you have not and similarly you have gone through experiences they have not. We shouldn’t judge people. We should always try to examine the entire information set that we possibly can and even then discount for the fact that we still don’t know everything. Live and let live. Don’t judge. Always keep an open heart and mind. Stay calm and approach things with calm. Stress kills (something I also really need to learn). Giving stress also is just as bad. One must always learn to stay positive. Especially towards people. It will help a long way in life.

As is a usual trend in my blog posts – I am not sure if this will make much sense to people. I hope it does.

Memories

I was thinking of various things tonight before starting out on this blog. About how Time is not just the great healer but also well the great almost everything. As everything needs time. About how things that you are born into are unconditional and not just limited to human relationships and families. It is also about the cultures, sub culture and the society in large in which you are born into which is there and inherently very much a part of who you are. About how given enough freedom your mind tends to take you to the most obscure of thoughts and conclusions and coincidences. And I have had moments with that much mental freedom that has come across very …well … let’s just say coincidences which I would rather had not been there. (more on that later….. perhaps this blog or another). About how music and pictures can combine to give some of the best emotionally moving results and trigger one’s memories. 

So yes there were a lot of thoughts going through my mind before I sat down to write this blog. My mind though started getting stuck on one thing, that last bit. Memories. And if you think about it then all the things that I was thinking of did hold this one common factor as well – memories.

Memories are the treasure chest of thoughts that keep safe all the experiences and special moments and even ordinary moments that mean something to you. Memories of events, activities, a particular time in life, a partner, a parent, a job, a friend. Memories of sadness and memories of joy. Memories that make you cry in pain as well as cry in happiness. At times memories are all that one needs to get by. At others memories are what you cherish and treasure once someone close goes away or a good time comes to an end. Memories can keep people alive. They are alive in the stories that are shared with each other. They are alive in the photographs that we go through, the albums of days gone by. Times gone by.

However at times such memories, especially of loved ones who have passed on or are no longer a part of our life can have an adverse effect as well. They may keep a person from ever moving on in life. Of accepting things as they may be. Of rejecting life as it is happening so to speak. Some people are bogged down by their memories. Memories of a trauma. Memories of an emotionally crippling experience. Memories of a tragic death. Memories of a better time in their lives , happier time. Of course circumstances might be such as well and memories may not be alone in bogging someone down. But still. 

We all have our share of good and bad memories. We are all in the process of life and that will have different experiences , different moments , different challenges which are thrown at our way in absolutely differing circumstances. No two people can have the exact same experience ever. But they most definitely can have similar experiences. But we all have them. Good or bad. Hence we all have good and bad memories.

Everyone I suppose has their own way of cherishing these experiences or on the flip dealing with these experiences. We all have our way of remembering or forgetting. Of keeping alive and moving on or simply moving on. Photographs are such a great thing for me. For my memories. I love making photo collages with music and give the whole thing a different emotional appeal all together. It is my way of honoring my past, present, loved ones and experiences.

Here’s to our memories. Let’s pledge to remember the good ones, learn from the bad ones, keep those of our loved ones alive in the best of ways. And let’s move forward and make new ones for the future!

An Epiphany

An epiphany can be described as an obscure moment of absolute clarity regarding a problem or dilemma that is being faced. It is may be obscure because it can come in any shape or form, at any time and at any place. The weirdest of places as well. Some epiphanies occur after creating the required setting for one to come. Others take course themselves.

As I flew back from my holiday – I felt an epiphany had struck me. This holiday has probably been one of the better decisions in my recent history. The whole two weeks of it (Bahrain & Sri Lanka both). Just underlines the importance of two things. One that everyone should and needs to take some time off. It does them a world of good. And if possible then also take some time to yourself, to gather yourself, talk to yourself and rediscover who you really are underneath all the layers of everyday routine and hard realities of life. The other thing is of course – family. Nice to just slow down everything else and take time to be with your family. Trust me you can never get enough of family. Regardless of whether your entire family is living together or spread out over geography, you simply cannot. In your own way of course – every family being different to each other. Point taken I assume.

Coming back to the epiphany. I feel some parts of me have changed. I definitely do feel fresher. Rejuvenated even (a word that has been the source of much amusement for some people I know over the past few days). I feel like a different person at work – thou the work place seems different from last when I left it but that’s a whole different story and perhaps a blog post some time in the future. And most of all I can feel myself smile. I know that might sound weird but I don’t think I have smiled on the inside in a long time. Longer then I can remember really. I have had a cautious smile perhaps but not this free kind all the way inside my soul, my spirit.

It wasn’t that Bahrain had anything magical about it or Sri Lanka. Both place offered their own positives. Bahrain a nice relaxing time with family and Sri Lanka a peaceful, beautiful solo escape to be by myself. I think the combination did the trick really. And of course our Lord and Creator, Allah. I genuinely think given all that has happened Allah has done something even if it is temporary to sort of balance of my emotional equation. I am very thankful to that and genuinely feel that is one of the major reasons for me to smile. My epiphany. That life is and forever going to move. It will not stop for anything. That it will take from us but also at the same time give us opportunities of greatness. That we must take it by the horns to truly live it. To truly understand it. That there are things that are not worth worrying over and there are those things which require that emotional investment as they are worth it, they are worth the risk. That everything that happens does happen for a reason and that there is indeed a connectivity to everything. Every single moment in life has been preparing me to be at this current moment. There was a connection between all. They all had to be lived to be where I am today. Wherever that may be. I am thankful for where I am today because I know there are those with much more difficult struggles then mine. Mine maybe emotional , for some it is survival. So yes I am very thankful to Allah for everything. I am thankful that He has always given me strength when faced with a loss. And the ability to move on. To move forward. And at the same time for showing new paths, new bridges, new connections that will take me more forward. I feel one such thing from this holiday. Maybe it is true, maybe it isn’t – but at least it has helped me smile.

While most of the things I said above just now may seem cliché , I humbly believe unless you actually come to a point where you feel all of the above one cannot truly understand it. Till then they will remain clichés.

It is in moments like these that one understands that there are more powerful forms of communication and connection out there then just mere words and letters. There is a language beyond the one governed by alphabet alone. It exists in signs, in gestures, in those little things that happen to us in life, those little things that we see happening to others in life, the right moment for a particular song or set of musical notes, the perfect view, the sound of nature, the silence of peace. An absent voice that forms in your head using imagination while talking to someone via text/online. 

One simply cannot underestimate the power of an epiphany. An illuminating realization, a discovery resulting in feelings of elation, awe and wonder.

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The Greener Grass

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I was recently told by someone that despite all that is taking place in my personal life with my mom’s cancer and visits/stay at the hospital that I still manage to come to work without giving any such impression. While it is good that people perceive that, I know I have some tells which can give away that there are cogs working in my mental background. However it did make me think that there are people who while being in the midst of some of the most traumatic life experiences still manage to show up looking like a million dollars as if life was all cherries and gold. And that in turn made me think more and how people tend to look at others or their circumstances and start wanting all of that. The greener grass.

People inadvertently always tend to drift towards this psyche that regardless of what their current circumstances are – the philosophical grass is always greener on the philosophical other side. In all this philosophy the reality is of course sometimes a foregone conclusion. Nailed somewhere in the background and out of sight. But the thing is that the grass while greener isn’t all that it seems. Eyes can deceive and things may not always be as they seem.

Every one is fighting their own personal battle and regardless of comparison of one battle or the next or someone else’s – it is ‘their’ battle. Everyone’s circumstances are different. Everyone’s struggle is different. Even if a person is genuinely happy with nothing wrong in their life at a certain point in time one simply cannot know what that person has already had to endure to get there or what all he must endure in the future. One cannot know of someone else’s trials and tribulations simply by looking at them.

People are where they are after having gotten there. They have either endured or their cosmic fates are preparing them to try and endure what lies ahead. Everyone’s journey is different.

It would be better then to stop lusting for that philosophical grass and instead working on the one that we have been given on our side to fend for. We are given our lives, our specific lives because we are strong enough to live it. To face it. Let’s remember that. And then go forth and live.

Time – the greatest healer

Time is by far one of the most precious commodities that every single human being has at their disposal regardless of their background. It works independent of us. It brings joy, it brings peace, brings tears and brings in some cases understanding. One of the greatest capacities that time has is its capacity to heal. Time heals everything. It is the greatest healer.

We experience a lot of draining emotions in life and some of those emotions take longer than others to get digested or moved past from. There is pain, sadness, depression, hurt, broken hearts, lost trust, bruised egos, shattered confidences, trauma. And there is death.

When we lose someone close to us, even thou we know that death is also part of life, we feel an immense amount of pain. Even if the loved one was suffering and that suffering has come to an end – we still feel the pain. The pain is of course of not having them with you anymore. The pain is of the overwhelming flashbacks from your memories with them. The pain is of all the things that you said and all things you didn’t say. The pain is the space, the gap, the hole, the void that is left in your life and which cannot be filled. In some cases perhaps replicated or replaced, but never filled. But then, there is time. Time heals, time teaches, time helps. Time remains our greatest support system.

4 years ago on the 9th of Jan, 2010 I lost my father. He was healthy. He had no illness, no one could see it coming (apart from this that it is an inevitable truth). I know initially it was something that required coming to terms with. I am thankful that Allah gave all of us strength to deal with his loss. But coming to terms with his sudden departure. That there was no warning. That there couldn’t be any goodbyes, no last words. He went in peace, and time helped in making that my strength. That he didn’t suffer. Time healed the pain of not having him in my life anymore.  Time – the greatest healer helps that way. I love Abbi, and I still miss him and always will. There are moments when I really do feel his absence, a lot. And nothing will change that ever. But again, time has helped me cope with that. But how 4 years have come to pass, I can’t say. Sometimes it feels like an eternity that I could speak to him. And at others it just seems like yesterday when it happened. Life goes on. It went on. Time saw to that.

There is solace in the fact that we know in our hearts that our close ones have gone to a better place. There is peace that they don’t cease to exist and continue living through us. Through our memories.

I lost my Grandmother last year. And then there was of course my own personal emotionally draining experience. Over the course of the months that have passed for both those things – I have gradually come to learn to live with both those realities. One way or the other.

The point is, yes there are many experiences of different nature and varying intensities in peoples lives. Everyone has their own personal hell or emotional baggage. No one is issue free, at least not in this day and age. But whatever the case, whoever the person – time is always there , working at its own pace. All we have to do is to give things time.

A dash of pessimism?

Wake up to a dangerous narrative, interact with an increasingly disillusioned / disconnected / disjointed generation, drive home on the back of an insecurity of being robbed. Oh did I miss out the whole part about arguing with the merits of logic on your side against the absolute ‘thickness’ of a brick wall on the other?

Yep, that’s pretty much what makes up an average day in this country these days. Add to that the normal everyday and everywhere things like work, career, competition, rising inflation etc etc. As it is all these elements are getting tougher and tougher as well.

Sprinkle some fears over the fact that natural disasters are getting ever more frequent. The latest being a typhoon which hit the Philippines, causing damage and loss of life on a large scale. The last I saw on the news the death toll was being put at 10,000+. The infrastructural loss was massive as well.

Taking all of the above in totality and one just wonders how is it exactly that the world is going on. Well maybe that isn’t the entirely the right question. Perhaps the better question here would be till when will the world keep going on like this.

Not very long ago I wrote a post on the ‘moral corruption’ in the current society. Maybe the end is nigh?

A boiling pot waiting to boil over. Pessimistic much? Realistic? Practical? Or putting together certain facts and drawing some conclusions together? You can decide and draw your own conclusions.