Posted in Introspection, Life

Sometimes it takes darkness to really see

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It’s 1:15 AM, and I struggle to type in the darkness, darkness I daren’t banish for fear of my slumbering mother waking up. The dead of the night is a great time for revelations.

I am someone who’s thoroughly dissatisfied with life, despite being graced with necessary material comforts and generally favorable circumstances. Over the years, I have developed a penchant for brooding about the higher purpose of life, ruminating about the true nature of the inner self, and generally pondering the extent of the futility of existence. I drive myself crazy wallowing in unhappiness about the fact that I’m not happy. In fact, I’ve got so used to feeling melancholic about existence in general, that the familiarity of the feeling has caused me to inadvertently build a comfort zone around this particular state of being.

I often have lengthy, cathartic colloquies with a couple of my friends, who share my acknowledgement that life is meaningless. One of them, however, brooks a perpetual “I-don’t-care-about-the-redundancy-of-living-cuz-I-just-wanna-create-cool-shit” attitude that I have been unable to fathom, despite it seeming like a highly desirable attitude to live with. How does one conjure the enthusiasm to wake up every day and go about working, loving, TRYING so hard in life, when it’s all meant to end? Somehow, my mind seems inclined to leap right back into that cesspit of an existential crisis.

Sometimes, like right now, I can’t sleep, simply because I know that tomorrow’s going to be just like today, which was just like yesterday, which saw us engaging in feeble attempts to grace our lives with redundant actions and achievements. But presently, boredom and my Facebook feed conspired to lead me to a bunch of quotes by Charles Bukowski, one of which jumped out at me. It reads as follows:

You know, we’re monstrosities. If we could really see this, we could love ourselves…realize how ridiculous we are, with our intestines wound around, shit slowly running through as we look each other in the eyes and say “I love you,” our stuff is carbonizing, turning into shit, and we never fart near each other. It all has a comic edge… And then we die.”

I laughed (silently) for eight minutes straight. In a moment of clarity, I suddenly seem to have assimilated the fact that our lives, our pain and fears and love- it’s all a cosmic joke of epochal proportions. Maybe, if instead of going all doom and gloom over the whole Mono No Aware side of life, I ought to acknowledge how little we really mean in the grander scheme of things. Life’s too trivial to be brooding about the meaninglessness of it all. Besides, existence really is hilarious, with all its paradoxes and dramatic irony. We’d do well to laugh this ephemeral life away, than ruminate all the way to the grave.

I’m pretty certain I’m going to relapse into a cycle of what-is the-meaning-of-life in the near future, but even a fleeting epiphany goes a long way, and when in the cesspit again, I shall remind myself of this moment of acceptance, and draw from it.

And to end this piece, regretfully platitudinous in its hopefulness, I shall paraphrase the words of another wise man I much revere. “Life has no higher purpose. Life is a purpose unto itself.”

Posted in Introspection, Life

Of Comfort and its Perils

So I’m going to deviate from poetry to address a recurring concern that ails us all in varying degrees in various facets of life; the dynamics of our comfort zone. Everyone has a comfort zone- a behavioral space of low anxiety and stress, along with a stable rate of performance, triggered by a sense of safety that comes with the presence of the familiar and known. It exemplifies the paradox of duality the way this much needed and coveted state of being serves to encumber personal growth and thereby contributes to making one unhappy.

Our comfort zone is crucial in that we, as functional beings, need to experience environments of familiarity and comfort, characterized by friendly company and positive regard, to maintain mental stability. It also ensures reasonable levels of productivity by bolstering the cognitive processes that stimulate learning by providing a conducive atmosphere to assimilate new data.

But research shows that in order to achieve our highest level of productivity, we need to experience our “optimal sweet spot”. This is a state of moderate levels of anxiety where performance and alertness are optimized. Moderate levels of anxiety and stress stimulate one to perform better by providing necessary motivation and incentive to get work done. Statistically, performance improves with increase in stress upto a certain point, before plummeting again. This state of optimal anxiety can be achieved only outside our comfort zone. Thus, it becomes incumbent that we break out of our comfort zone intermittently and embrace productive discomfort. But like all useful tasks, it isn’t that easy. A comfort zone is a state we automatically trend towards. After all, it is an evolutionary mechanism developed to keep us out of harms way, by ensuring we always seek the safety of the familiar and the tried and tested.

Just yesterday, I attended my first day of college. It goes without saying that this new atmosphere had me dragged outside my comfort zone, away from the sheltered environs of predictable and relatively dull school life, and into the choppy waters of a sprawling campus, where I promptly got lost every 50 minutes (that’s the length of every lecture). The strength of every class, the introductions at the beginning of every lecture, the perilous task of having to talk to new people had me mentally squirming with discomfiture. Of course, college with all its new prospects didn’t fail to instill in me zeal that had me waiting to take on the world, but I can’t pretend I wasn’t still a trifle daunted by the…. newness of the situation. Thus, I found myself falling prey to the discomfort that inevitably comes creeping with new situations in life. This unease is negligible for many, and is felt in varying degrees. I have always had a very small and tight comfort zone that I have found very difficult to break out of, and the subsequent uneasiness felt is inversely proportional to the size of my comfort zone. It is comforting to know that each time one breaks out of his comfort zone, it gets easier to do it the next time. Also, one’s threshold to perform well regardless of persistent anxiety is improved, as he “becomes accustomed to optimal anxiety and productive discomfort becomes normal” to quote an anonymous writer.

I think I wrote this piece merely to acknowledge and thereby accept my discomfort and strive to transcend the fetters of its clutches. I love my comfort zone, but have decided to leave this treacherous territory to fray, as I find it encumbering my personal growth. In time, I will have broadened the boundaries of my comfort zone to accommodate even that which frightens me now. And until then, I shall embrace optimal anxiety.

Posted in Introspection

Epiphany After a Brown Study

The title “Epiphany After a Brown Study” is erroneous, seeing as I haven’t really had an earth-shaking revelation, and is actually a product of wishful thinking.

I generally tend to ruminate a whole lot, and if no obsession is available for my mind to chew on, I start to get mentally restless, and the feeling that something’s missing- that nagging void in my mind- becomes more pronounced.

I’m typing this not because there has been a dire need for me to do so for a while now, but for the sheer lack of more frivolous and unfruitful activities to occupy me.

The product of my ruminations of the last few days have been slightly disturbing, because, I think, my board examinations are over and I’m not constantly plagued by the notion of having to deal with the interpersonal and interpersonal repercussions that come with faring badly in an important, life determining examination, such as the boards. Anyway, I realize I constantly harbour a feeling of free-floating inadequacy, as if I’m not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. TALENT. This one, in particular, kills me. The fact that I have nary an answer to the question,”what have I to offer to the world?” just flays my mind of any remnants of sunshine that may light up its dark corners.

Alright, alright. I’m being dramatic. But I’m just trying to deal with the fact that I’m an insignificant and unremarkable member of an insipid, primitive, self-destructive and redundant race. My belief in panspermia and advanced extraterrestrial life don’t fail to exacerbate the unpleasant feeling. I am reminded of Douglas Adams, a genius who dealt with the severely under-acknowledged fact of our insignificance so beautifully with the total perspective vortex (hitchhikers guide to the galaxy fans will know what i mean). Having talent, I can’t help feeling, will reduce, or at least temporarily mask this feeling, and grant me an ephemeral sense of self- worth. I seek to have a talent to rid myself of this feeling of being unselved.

I’ve been writing poetry since I was eight and the surreal satisfaction that comes with the rhythmic melancholy of stark and eloquent expression has acted as my spur for almost a decade. Poetry is the one form of catharsis that I regard as being as efficient as the infinitely satisfying process of lacrimation. But of late, I now realize, I have been writing only to sustain a sense of pseudo-satisfaction, one that comes with me feeling that I actually have something to offer through my poetry, something that makes me worthy as an individual, and not a “piece of furniture” as one of my friends put it. This is a sorry reason for me to engage in an activity that was once spurred by only passion and a love for the art.

Why must I deem myself “not good enough” and then bank on writing poetry to rid myself of the feeling? Not only is it an insult to the beautiful art that is writing verse, but it also reflects on my insecurity and the ineffective way in which I have been trying to deal with it.

Hereafter, I promise myself to write just for the joy of writing and not as a means of escape from the feeling of inadequacy.