The lingering question

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Oh the million number of times I’ve mulled over this subject! Both on this blog and in my personal everyday musings. The first time I wrote about this was here and other times,in different ways here and here. So yes I totally sound like a broken record on this. Searching for myself is like the common theme here, probably the heart of why I started writing.

My endless mental pursuit for meaning has led me inwards towards myself for an endless pursuit of who I really am…And it’s daunting. To my pleasant surprise I am not the only one who has tried to dig deeper into this subject. Countless psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists have delved into the subject that is personality/ character.

Who are we and how do we become it? There seems to be a general agreement between some specialists that fixed personality is a myth, going by what’s written in this article Debunking the Myth of Fixed Personality sent my way by the brother.

As is expected from the brain pickings team,the sources quoted are ever so deep in ever so subtle ways. And beautiful too.

“Ongoing experience gradually transforms his (an infant’s) neural configuration, changing him from who he was into who he is, one synapse at a time. Emotional identity drifts over a lifetime — if fast and far enough, one might encounter a stranger’s heart where a friend’s or a lover’s once dwelt.”

A stranger’s heart where a friend or lover’s once dwelt…Ever think of all those people who once meant the world to you and now..You don’t even know where they are?

“Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue… Temperament is the iron wire on which the beads are strung.”

When everything seems like an illusion,maybe it just is.

And lastly, the one I think strikes accurately the most is

“A man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him.”

And it’s daunting to think that who we are to each other, and to ourselves,is but a glimpse into the vast variations of the hallways of our being.

PS: if you’d like to blow your mind further listen to this podcast which inspired this post, sent my way by my friend Joel😊

Ennui

Ennui. I think many call it a mid life crisis when this feeling hits them.

en·nui

änˈwē/

noun

  1. a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom:

Others feel boredom and think that adding more work to their load will fix it. Others don’t feel this at all and those are the ones I envy. Whatever it is, you may find that nothing you do can take it away completely. A quiet discontent. That is what I call it.

But like every other disquiet that plagues my everyday, a good book and a deep song never fail to remedy it,if only for a time . I love to love music, i crush on lyrics, i fall in love with melodies and sometimes i blog about my favorite songs. Many times I have declared my love for books. So for me, these two things quiet my disquiets. They awaken in me whatever has gone to sleep.

I am in good company when it comes to the feeling of ennui. And she couldn’t have said it better.

You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip, or you talk with [someone], and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death.

 Anais Nin

Kindred spirits

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I think people who love to read are my kindred spirits. And many a time i have found my kindred spirits tucked away in the books I read.

There is so much to read out there, sooo many books, soo many stories but I have always been drawn to fantasy and fiction. My life is filled with too much reality (duh). So books, my precious books are everything.

I am not a huge fan of the melodrama that is US politics, but I sure am a fan of anyone that loves books. Obama’s interview on what books mean to him was rather touching (yes i get emotional when it comes to such). He said everything i feel about reading in that eloquent way he has come to be known for and in so doing inspired this post.

Just the other day i was mulling over how the world is filled with so many stories and in this interview Obama sums it up nicely:

 Because when I got there, the guy who had hired me said that the thing that brings people together to have the courage to take action on behalf of their lives is not just that they care about the same issue, it’s that they have shared stories. And he told me that if you learn how to listen to people’s stories and can find what’s sacred in other people’s stories, then you’ll be able to forge a relationship that lasts.

He goes on to say something that is particularly close to my heart because this is how i feel about fiction and can never be ashamed of still buying novels at my old age 🙂

….because most of my reading every day was briefing books and memos and proposals. And so working that very analytical side of the brain all the time sometimes meant you lost track of not just the poetry of fiction, but also the depth of fiction.

Fiction was useful as a reminder of the truths under the surface of what we argue about every day and was a way of seeing and hearing the voices, the multitudes of this country.

The depth and truth I find in all the fiction I read cannot be understated. And beyond that is the poetry of these ghost characters that come alive only in the writer’s and reader’s mind. And boy am i grateful that writers choose to share these invisible lives with us. They’ve gotten me through many an existential angst filled day. In them I can find purpose vicariously.

In his own words:

Sometimes you read fiction just because you want to be someplace else.

For me it is all the time. And in the words of the interviewer. “Fiction leaps”

The poetry of fiction.

the dictionary of obscure sorrows: 4

 

 

We are a complex web of emotions and experiences, of circumstances and thoughts, of hopes and dreams, of joys and sorrows…and sins.

I wrote that in my last blog post and reading it again now has filled me with the same emotions I had when I first wrote it. It’s a feeling I’ve always had but never put into words quite like that.

When I read it again though,it didn’t feel quite right. I have this thing with words where they tug at my heart and linger. If I don’t use just the right words to express a feeling, the feeling never quite leaves my system. So I had to add the last part.. “and sins”

Because who are we without our demons? But let’s also consider for a moment that the planet is filled with billions of other people (gasp!). And each and every one of them is as complex as we are or even more than we ourselves are.

Oh how many stories there must be out there! waiting to be told and waiting to be heard. This is the reason I love Humans of New York. It brings the stories closer to home and for a minute you realize,you are not alone. This life thing? This life thing has us all trapped in it.

Be a little gentler today, a little slower. Pause and listen to someone’s story… Or tell yours.

This post was inspired by a brief twitter convo 

You think you know 

I think deep down in our subconscious we know this, by this I mean.. we know we don’t really know. But rarely do we recognize it fully,not until someone does something to make us realize it.

We are a complex web of emotions and experiences, of circumstances and thoughts, of hopes and dreams, of joys and sorrows. 

All woven together by this thing called life, and held together by a conscious whose origins we are not sure of. We don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do so imagine, how well do we think we know each other? 

We just don’t. 

Source: dictionary of obscure sorrows 

Our masks

I wrote about conversation,and how having good conversation is a dying art probably because we don’t know how to come out of the online personas we create.

Today I chanced upon this beautiful short poem about the masks we wear in our day to day lives,a fresh take on the masks in our lives, and I couldn’t have said it better. Thank you Ngugi Wa Thiongo.

The dictionary of obscure sorrows: 2

Conversation. Many say it is a dying art. The rise of the smart phone has made us slaves of the screen. We are safe behind these screens. We can be anything we want to be, bullies, flirts, philosophers even our true selves (gasp!).

The possibilities are endless as long as you don’t have to look anyone in the eyes, you can be anyone you want to be in that moment. Like having a variety of costumes and being free to pick whichever you want to use to mask yourself with, because there and then no one can really see you, or see through you. You are safe behind the screen.

But what happens when you are face to face with someone? Who are you? What words do you speak and are they a true reflection of you? How easy is it to disguise who you really are? Do you need to anyway? Is it much harder these days for us to be who we really are when we have no screens to shield us? when we have to live up to the personas we have created behind the scenes?

Maybe because we are so used to hiding behind masks or forged personas, it is now that much harder to have genuine conversations with each other. To talk freely, without fear of being judged, to talk about the mundane and banal and have the other party engage us on these non issues, just enjoying the exchange of words.

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And then as this exchange takes place the banal turns into the interesting, which then turns into the deep which then turns into the vulnerable and then finally into self revelations which may otherwise not have happened…had we not started off by exchanging words. Conversation.

 

 

 

Of doubts that plague

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It should be okay to not know everything, but for me, the not knowing leads to over thinking. As if over thinking and thinking will lead me to answers which I know can’t possibly be found. But sometimes i can’t help it. I want answers to everything.

And that is definitely too much to ask of the universe, you just cannot know why everything is. Which is why i think i sometimes resent the certainty that i’ve come across in some people, in some places…how can they be so sure, so at peace, so lacking in any doubts whatsoever that what they know is exactly what it is.

And that is where reading comes in, for me it is an escape from the parts of life that bring plaguing doubts, it is in reading that i find characters i can either relate to, or characters, lives, worlds that help with escape. In Paulo Coelho’s the Zahir, one such character says something that just absolutely hits home.

..I was always joining and leaving different groups and fraternities, always
thinking that I had finally met the person who could reveal to me the mysteries of the
invisible world, but in the end I was always disappointed to discover that most of these people, however well-intentioned, were merely following this or that dogma and tended to be fanatics, because fanaticism is the only way to put an end to the doubts that constantly trouble the human soul.  

Fanaticism is the only way to put an end to the doubts that constantly trouble the human soul. The only way doubts will cease to exist for some is to believe something so completely , so zealously, so single mindedly. And for me, the thing to believe in, in such a way, just hasn’t come.

It hasn’t come to me yet but i’m hoping it does.

The dictionary of obscure sorrows: 1

It’s boredom,it must be. No,not that,it’s something else..weariness! yes, that’s it. But wait, am i really just weary? Or is it a mix of weariness,boredom and anxiety? Or am i just idle?!

Fact is…i don’t know, and many times we have feelings swimming through us that we just can’t quite define. That one word that can tell you what it is you feel, because it is easier to battle the demons you know,the ones that have a name.. right? So what is this thing with no name, this thing that sits there and asks, who am i?

Imagine my joy when i came across the dictionary of obscure sorrows , definitions of neologisms strung together with soft and slow moving prose. And when you read them, you just know, i know that feeling! I’ve felt it, i feel it. Once in a while i’ll share my favorites with you, starting here. It’s not so much the word but the definition..

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If you find yourself looking for trouble, looking for that long unpacked baggage that I once wrote about here and you unpack it and then you realise, maybe I shouldn’t have done that. Then maybe it’s because you had nothing left to think about, then you went digging..