Tuesday, July 20

One more cup of coffee

The sheer awesomeness of a great trip does not lie in the fondly remembered incidents.

It was not born a moment, hurrying down 80 ft. road at midnight, knowing your friends are creating a pandemonium in the vicinity.

It did not depend on being cheered, greeted and bodily lifted and hugged by people who are more family, than friends.

It did not evolve because of sitting on the kitchen counter at 2 am, sharing a meal and beer, hearing people talking and laughing in every room.

It needed no help from unbelievably desultory brunches on a gloriously salubrious day.

It almost became about finally acknowledging the pub of all pubs.

It was not accentuated by swapping hilariously nostalgic stories in the dead of night.

No. 

You understand that the great trip has happened when you find yourself with friends at dawn...

All bleary-eyed and dishevelled
All flying off in different directions

All wondering why the weekend seemed to last just a heartbeat.

But what a heartbeat!

Song for the moment: On every street - Dire Straits  

Sunday, July 11

Close another door

Back in college, the group I hung out with would engage in an exercise called "Who would you want on the island ?" The idea was simple enough; were you to ever have the misfortune to find yourself stuck on an island, who are the 5 people you would want accompanying you ? In all probability, the people you chose to bestow this dubious fate on, would not view it in quite the same ecstatically touching light, but that's another story. What seemed to matter to all present was whether everyone from the group was included and most often, they were. After all, the alternative would have been downright crushing and rude. I suspect that you have engaged in similar musings, reader. Back then, being on the island list affirmed camaraderie, assuaged fears and doubts of ending up alone and friendless. In some landlocked area, no doubt. Today, if we were to revisit that list and speculate on our hypothetical fates, would any of the names match ?

Old habits, they say, die hard. I wonder how much easier or harder it is letting go of people and of things one takes for granted in life. In case you've missed the point over the last 150 posts, this blog is sautéed in nostalgia, indicating lucidly enough that I have trouble shaking off the past. But this tenacious hold doesn't extend to people, whom I am forever walking away from. A few frayed ropes have been re-entwined, but I can't seem to assign any satisfactory rationalisations for these. Most parting of ways have been brutal and lacking explanation. Sure, lack of proximity is a strong possibility. So is the lack of a common institution, one of the major reasons one's college friendships are so fleeting. Other popular contenders are serious disagreements, betrayals and assorted behavioural melees. Heck, even boredom.

But, is it that cut and dry ? We are talking about people; family, friends, lovers... another human being with whom you shared part of yourself. And, on that personal emotional level,  I can offer even myself only a vague intangible; one day, it just does not feel right any more, and that is it. I simply let go. To you, reader, this may seem a callous approach, and perhaps it is. I'm not suggesting a lack of guilt on my part, just a sample of the circus playing inside. Out of curiosity, I'd like to know; when you feel the need to part ways, what noble and gratifying method do you employ ?

Whatever solution is bandied about, the end result is still inelegant and most often, ugly. I used to think it was hard to live with letting go of the dead. I was wrong. It seems infinitely harder to live, having let go of the living. More so when we're seduced by the thought of a relationship lasting forever. Or mesmerised by responsibilities that were shouldered on the promises of being glorified in the future but end up becoming crutches for one's ego. It is when these supposed certainties are snatched away that things generally start to spiral. 
  
While this post feels, in no way, complete, I'm left with only two clear thoughts that can be put into words; that sometimes, letting go is the convenient option.

At other times, it is the right thing to do.

Song for the moment: Life for rent - Dido
         

Saturday, July 3

Rite of passage

In tactful language, it has been suggested that I take a hard look at the rather depressing tone taken by the blog over the last few posts. The words "batty, old man" were used rather forcefully.

I agree with the judgement; while I'm no subscriber to sanguine prose, the melancholy is threatening to capsize the literary raft. There's only so much oddity that can be attributed to creative inspiration before someone loses an ear or drowns themselves, no ? I do have to say this in my defence - it being an autobiographical blog, my moods tend to reflect in my posts. Over the last couple of months I have not exactly channelled any joie de vivre. Partially, this can be put down to my job. For the sake of succinct speech, I'll say that it is sucking the life out of me. My first job, with the NGO, was a retirement home compared to this place. But I like the long hours and the chance to create new content in an atmosphere filled with hidden intrigues and random new developments. Like operating in the Bates Motel, only there are a lot of customers besides myself. And no shower scene.

But that only explains part of it. The rest is taken up with challenges of a more personal kind; the type that force me to think deeply and re-examine a lot of mental bric-a-brac I took for granted. Since it would be unfair to spring most of the above without context on a soporific reader, I won't bother. However, there is one aspect that is probably worth sharing. I've thought long and hard for the last week on the topic of maturity, specifically the mental kind.

From childhood, I have memories of certain people in the family-friends circle being referred to as 'mature' by the elders, always accompanied by a massively approving nod of the head. It was almost like those anointed thus were joining a secret, prestigious club. Even then, I found the idea of maturity complex and mysterious; that there were far deeper waters flowing beneath a simple word. As I grew older, I yearned for the day that approving nod would be directed towards me but it seemed that I managed to steer away from any actions, achievement or behaviour that could be labelled mature. Of course, once I knew better (or thought I did, since we are talking about my early 20s here), I was rather grateful for the miss, since it seemed more a responsibility-laced, behaviour-regulating burden than an inspirational crown.

During recent self-critical phases, I have begun to wonder anew, not whether I will ever be thought of as a mature person, but to what the idea of it means to me personally. About the existence or lack thereof of a crossable invisible barrier decided by age or accumulated actions & behaviour, after which I can have a gratifying moment of music-marked realisation about maturity achieved. You know... the popular cinema kind, roughly 4 minutes before the protagonist gets the girl. Or is seen driving across either the Brooklyn or Golden Gate bridge.

Here's my 2-paise on maturity - publicly it is fostered by our deeds and behaviour. Privately, I don't believe anyone thinks of themselves as a mature individual. The whole deal feels more like a never-ending degree; take a life-class, learn stuff & hopefully clear the paper and move on to the next one. There will be instances where I'll almost be able to taste the change and I will feel better for it. But there is no fixed checklist to tick off, no age to cross and no recognised / approved amount of responsibility to be shouldered.

There are only chances; to change and to accept. And, like all opportunities, these have to be recognised and acted upon.

Song for the moment: Turn! Turn! Turn! - The Byrds