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Wed, 16 Nov 2022:

Self-pity is horrible.

Express it to your closest friends and they'll highlight your privileges. You have money, you have love, you have family, you have health, you have freedom. And it won't help.

In fact, you'll rant about "why bad things happen to good people" and "it wasn't supposed to be like this", because you feel entitled to your privileges. Your struggles are undeserved, but are your privileges too?

Let me take you through pity and then blow it all away with gratitude.

My 2yo was having a seizure. We're on our way to the ER, but my wife is on another continent altogether. But my heart is overflowing with gratitude, because everyone who is with me is moving together as if we were all one. One is a doctor, the other is on break from her undergrad, my uncle is there for the weekend and the hospital is less than a mile away. A day later by my plans, this would be a very different story, I'd be in car a hundred miles away from home in a taxi with just my mom and in semi-urban highways. There's no good day for it to happen, but right now I'm part of a support structure which I had no part in building.

My kid had dengue, the platlets were dangerously low and just lying on one shoulder would leave a welt from the blood vessels hemorrhaging. No part of it was going to be good, things could have gone terribly wrong and if it did, I would still feel exactly as grateful but it wouldn't have stuck with me as a life changing experience.

The next 24 hours were spent taking turns in the ICU. I slept for 4 hours and worried more about calling my wife about it rather than the kid. I felt like I had fallen off a high wire into a net and all I had to do was wait for it to stop bouncing. In fact, the kid bounced back faster than I did - playing Khan Academy Kids on the iPad with her aunts in the ICU with the nurses tolerating it barely. ICU stay was precautionary, so the next six days go by in a private room.

The real reason I felt immense gratitude was because of how my kid came out of it. Every injection, every IV, every blood test was a struggle, almost torture, but the return to normalcy after each event was almost immediate - why waste time crying when you can do something more fun. A belief that "it's going to be fine" and their trust that whoever is around will take care of them is contagious.

The pain is real, but the suffering was only to those who looked into the future or the past. To exist right now, without carrying the trauma of the last needle or the anxiety about tomorrow's needle.

And I felt grateful beyond words on how that was possible, in a circumstance that none of us would have wanted. The gaping trap of "I don't need this" opened and was filled over before I could turn it into self pity. And the gratitude was about the immense privilege of resources I had in that situation, which was a temporary but timely thing. People, money, transportation, 24x7 medical care, the fact that I had the freedom to do this and nothing else.

There's not a single thing I can do to repay the efforts of others, except to be like them in my heart.

Sure, disappointments will eat away at it. But I'll never feel the same way when I struggle. Because I sit atop a mountain of privileges, none that I was entitled to. And maybe I should work on being more deserving of all things I've already received.

Nothing taken for granted, but the gratitude of others.

Blessed are those that can give without remembering and take without forgetting.

posted at: 18:02 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Thu, 15 Mar 2018:

This isn't about leadership, but the events leading up to it. There's nothing new for me to say here, except to walk you through the path I took reading Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Though this truly started because I read Men At Arms again and wondered what Corporal Carrot is made of (& Vetinari and Vimes too).

Because reading it made me pick up H2G2 and look at Zaphod Beeblebrox & the man who rules the universe. But that's for a different episode, about presidents with a penchant for orange sashes.

In the Republic, Plato records Socrates's argument about the nature of leadership. That guardians of the state are not necessarily the leaders, but leaders employ themselves where they can show the way and to do that may abdicate power when they observe a well functioning, if not perfect state of affairs.

Weighing between the potential advances they could make from mastery of their art against the heavy burden of leadership, they choose to advance their mastery instead and indicate to others that their mastery is advancing the world.

The world changes shape, right at the moment where those have ignored politics realize that the state of affairs is regressing, despite their progress through life. In those moments of chaos, they consider leaving their avowed profession and take up the unthankful jobs that they had left to others before - leadership. There is no longer a question about comparing the rewards of leadership against anything else, since the alternative is to lose out on the most relevant of common goods - peace.

And I quote

And this is the reason, my dear Thrasymachus, why, as I was just now
saying, no one is willing to govern; because no one likes to take
in hand the reformation of evils which are not his concern without

For, in the execution of his work, and in giving his orders to another,
the true artist does not regard his own interest, but always that of
his subjects; and therefore in order that rulers may be willing to rule,
they must be paid in one of three modes of payment: money, or honour, 
or a penalty for refusing. 

What do you mean, Socrates? said Glaucon. The first two modes of payment
are intelligible enough, but what the penalty is I do not understand,
or how a penalty can be a payment. 

You mean that you do not understand the nature of this payment which
to the best men is the great inducement to rule? 

Of course you know that ambition and avarice are held to be, as indeed
they are, a disgrace?

And then Socrates explains.

And for this reason, I said, money and honour have no attraction for
them; good men do not wish to be openly demanding payment for governing
and so to get the name of hirelings, nor by secretly helping themselves
out of the public revenues to get the name of thieves. And not being
ambitious they do not care about honour.

Wherefore necessity must be laid upon them, and they must be induced to 
serve from the fear of punishment.

And this, as I imagine, is the reason why the forwardness to take office,
instead of waiting to be compelled, has been deemed dishonourable.

And Socrates goes onto explain the punishment that awaits a good person who sees a leadership vacuum and does not step up to it.

Now the worst part of the punishment is that he who refuses to rule is liable
to be ruled by one who is worse than himself.

And the fear of this, as I conceive, induces the good to take office,
not because they would, but because they cannot help --not under the
idea that they are going to have any benefit or enjoyment themselves,
but as a necessity, and because they are not able to commit the task
of ruling to any one who is better than themselves, or indeed as good.

And that's how Socrates concludes that leaders are forged out of a crisis, not out of peace or prosperity - not by intention, but by choice and circumstance.

That does paint the progression as sort of inevitable, but it is entirely rational to observe the choice ahead and just leave.

PS: Republic talks about doctors getting paid for good health, women being educated equally and rulers being enlightened - it's hard to think of it being written two millenia ago, while most of that is still fought out. Read the whole thing.

There is no harm in repeating a good thing.
            -- Plato

posted at: 13:52 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Fri, 16 Jul 2010:

Religious books are works of fiction.

At least, they were meant to be (yes, Mr. Tom Cruise).

I've read every religious book in English I could find, before I was twenty. Partly because I wanted to get a hang of religion, but mostly because some of the books made entertaining reading. I'm not going to repeat my issues with religion here, but if you do care - I agree a lot with George Carlin. But I didn't come here to dig a shallow grave for religion & its fan club, I came here to praise the writings it has preserved over the ages.

There is a passage of the Bible, I read often. Hidden in a history book of who begat who, is a passage of pure undiluted philosophical gold. Ecclesiastes - The book of the Preacher. The words, said to be those of King Solomon, inherited from the Talmud.


  And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: 
  I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit. 
  For in much wisdom is much grief: 
  and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

As I read on, the world made more sense.


  Then I saw that wisdom excelleth folly, as far as light excelleth darkness. 

  The wise man's eyes are in his head; but the fool walketh in darkness: 
  and I myself perceived also that one event happeneth to them all. 
  Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; 
  and why was I then more wise? 
  Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. 
  For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool for ever; 
  seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. 
  And how dieth the wise man? as the fool.

  Therefore I hated life; 
  because the work that is wrought under the sun is grievous unto me:
  for all is vanity and vexation of spirit. 
  Yea, I hated all my labour which I had taken under the sun: 
  because I should leave it unto the man that shall be after me.

  And who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a fool? 
  Yet shall he have rule over all my labour wherein I have laboured, 
  and wherein I have shewed myself wise under the sun. 
  This is also vanity. 
  Therefore I went about to cause my heart to despair
  of all the labour which I took under the sun. 
  For there is a man whose labour is in wisdom, and 
  in knowledge, and in equity; 
  Yet to a man that hath not laboured therein shall he leave it for his portion.
  This also is vanity and a great evil. 
  Therefore I hated life; 

For all the days I questioned my purpose, here was a man from ages beyond who was at the very same threshold of questioning his. To hate life because it takes away from you what you possess, to what end? To know that the world that gets your precious wisdom and labour, does not deserve it. That I'm creating a better world to only leave it behind to someone who never deserved it, because he was not as wise, as hard working, as worthy of it. But in my vanity, I choose to think all my wisdom was mine. And there in lies my pain and vexation of spirit (sic).

Very rarely, does the Bible not talk about human beings as being the pinnacle of creation. This book deviates from that course and does indeed ask the question whether it is vanity to assume our superiority over the beast. Indeed does ask you to enjoy your time on earth and your good deeds, instead of a promise of a glorious afterlife. There'd be a better world today

Ecc 3-19
  For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; 
  even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; 
  yea, they have all one breath; 
  so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. 
  All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. 
  Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, 
  and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? 
  Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works;
  for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?

In a very definite departure from the general tone of religious texts, the book of the preacher is very pragamatic and rarely invokes hopes or promises of a better life once you are through this one. And reciprocal altruism finds its way into an ancient book (move over Robert Trivers, Talmud just took your case).

Ecc 11-1:
  Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days. 
  Give a portion to seven, and also to eight; 
  for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.

  He that observeth the wind shall not sow;
  and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.

  In the morning sow thy seed, 
  and in the evening withhold not thine hand.

For those who might recognize, this is the same sentiment of action that the Gita begins with. To hold the courage to do, without heed to circumstance.

  Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: 

  But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; 
  yet let him remember the days of darkness; 
  for they shall be many.

And I shall.

Only as a work of religion would this text have survived millenia, without change and through thoughtful translations. And for that, I'm thankful.

Vanity is so secure in the heart of man that everyone wants to be admired: even I who write this, and you who read this.
      -- Blaise Pascal.

posted at: 20:01 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Wed, 10 Mar 2010:

Don't trust me on this ... I've been wrong before.

The difference between good friends and bad shows itself when you're wrong - when you're wrong and you don't know it. Sure, misfortune is a true test, but it hardly comes around every day and I'm glad it doesn't. But try being wrong about something. And you'll notice a strange fact.

These days friendships are too shallow. We're too independent to really need them. No, I'm not decrying the current times from the chair of age. I'm talking about the way my life's taken. And I notice that I've stopped being wrong - there was no wrong way to live my life. For a while, I thought it was because I finally had life figured out.

And I was wrong. Wrong on both counts. And people have noticed. I've been insulted. Told off by people that I was an idiot. But I didn't care for insults. They've never been a way to make me comply with anything. People have tried shame on me for years and failed. I've rarely got anything to prove to anyone but me.

A friend would've told me why. Felt comfortable enough to sit me down and outline the flaws. Because I'm not my mistakes, I'm more. Friends have got stuff to salvage, the snipers from afar don't seem to. There's a world of a difference between "He's such an idiot!" and "Don't be an idiot". And I react very differently to both.

Like I said, I've been wrong before. And I see no reason to stop now.

Well, you know what to do. Also, bring popcorn.

The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.
              -- Albert Camus

posted at: 03:19 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Thu, 04 Mar 2010:

I have an ego. A nice, cheap and refurbished one in good condition.

And yes, I'm proud to have one. I've been without one, lost nearly all traces of it. Killed, choked it, sacrificed it at the altar of love & togetherness. Apologized for what wasn't my fault, forgave without apologies, silenced my self respect and cut off my ego from my life.

And that nearly was the end of me.

I couldn't survive. Because here's the thing - the world isn't always fair. Life's a bitch and it shows its true colours. It criticizes without reason and often without gain. To keep your course through that minefield of criticism requires a tough skin and a crumple zone. An ego is the crumple zone for your real self. It stands up to the world, in your stead. Takes a few dents, but nothing permanent.

Building myself back up from nearly nothing, there was my ego, leading the charge. Driving me, pushing me to do things I'd never done before, channeling my Id into the useful. Everything accomplished was an ego boost. Every failure hurt, but every failure challenged.

An ego strong enough to repel the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, from the inner sanctum of your self and spirit. Something to keep the material world out of the spiritual, something with an edge to cut my path through the world.

There's that bright light within my eyes again. A smile on my lips and a spring in my step. And screams that it is here to stay, till death do us part. But there's balance. Between me, my ego and my Id, I'm ambitious, curious and cautious all at the same time.

In a mirror, I see me. And I smile.

The ego is not master in its own house.
        -- Sigmund Freud

posted at: 04:12 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: ,

Tue, 15 Dec 2009:

Inner beauty is overrated.

Perhaps the greatest handicap my parents ever provided for me was the concept of inner beauty. In their attempts to prevent me from turning into a flake, they emphasized that it was probably the most important thing to develop. Their efforts bore fruit. They taught me to look deep into the heart of others, judge them by their intentions and to know them by their actions.

But they also taught me to avoid the shallow. I learnt that the shallow, do not linger to explore another. Like butterflies, from flower to flower, they pass on from one to the other, having known no one, but calling all friends.

Slowly, but subtly, I started to wrap myself up in myself. Layer, by layer, everything that was good in me, was only there for those who lingered long enough to peel back enough. And I thought that only fair, that only those who cared enough to know me, got me. There was precious little of me to go around and I kept it for those special people.

But as it turns out, *that* was a very stupid thing to do.

Sometime over the last year, reading the Bible at some hotel room somewhere in the country, I ran into something that clicked. Something that made sense and shone a light on the errors of my ways (uhh... no, I'm not going Born Again on you folks ... keep reading).

Mathew 5:15

	Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, 
	but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. 
	Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works.

There's a certain arrogance of self that is required to be an introvert. That it seems worthwhile for someone who's met you once to dig through all your issues, fears and eccentricities, to know the really awesome person you are. That the end result, i.e You, is something enticing enough for a stranger to actually embark on that quest. As if there is some secret sauce, essence of pure self, that makes you unique among all others. That it doesn't really matter how you appear to be, that all that matters is how you really are. Pfft, maybe in an Apatow World.

Perhaps it is humbling to know that what you are isn't worth someone's time - at first glance. Perhaps there are so many who are boring on the inside & outside, that the odds are against you, all the way. Perhaps they are indeed shallow people who judge others by appearances or by popular opinion/reputation. I don't exactly know why people don't bother to look twice, but they don't (actually, some do ... which is how I got by for years). But it's not their problem that they don't, it's yours.

So, pull the covers off the true You. Shovel out a path through the icy reaches of your outer surface, put a window on your soul. It'll change your life.

In short, SUIT UP!

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
       -- Oscar Wilde

posted at: 01:01 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Fri, 04 Sep 2009:

Occasionally in life, I have a blinding flash of the obvious. An idea which has been hiding out there in plain sight, just jumps out and catches my attention. I don't even claim to be original about this, but at least I hope that here's the first time you've seen this in writing. Here's one of those ideas I had when I was 14... looking back at the all the years.

The world has a plan for you. The day you were born, you've watched it unroll in front of you. The system tries to coerce you to its plan with its checks, balances, pains and rewards. The system is all around us in our culture, environment and upbringing. It's implemented by the powers that be, to turn you into a well oiled cog in society.

If you're reading this, you've probably already dismissed the plan. You, the individualist, is determined to make your own way in this world. You've already recognized its shortcomings, pitfalls, weaknesses and in fact, you know you're cut out for bigger things. You are the person you are because you chose to branch out from it, rather than conform to any expected norm.

This is not a bad thing in itself. But the powers that be, they fear the change you represent. They will resist you, they will force you into their systems of indoctrination. You will fight, you will fail. As your idealism tends to wear out, as it grinds incessantly against the real world, you become frustrated with your impotence in this world. The rebellion becomes destructive - to yourself and others around. As you're thrown out of society's inner circle labelled as an outsider and a troublemaker, you're reaching an end which you do not deserve.

There are only two basic rules of survival for the individual:

  • Work the system
  • Fuck with the system

It doesn't get any more contradictory than that.

I listened to the world carefully as it whispered its rules in my ear. I didn't agree at first, but I still listened with as much care as I could muster. Because the day I stood up and disagreed with it, I didn't want to disagree because I didn't understand. I wanted to dismiss their plan because I understood and understood all too clearly.

The System is not your friend or your enemy. Being caught in it is like being caught in a raging torrent. You don't escape it by swimming against it, the only way out is downstream. You need to know the currents, the way the water flows to let the stream take you where you want to go.

Fight the System head on and you will most certainly fail. It is not fair, but that's how it works out. You need to focus your efforts on what you want to do rather than in wasting it on the system's clampdowns. Don't reject it outright, but instead ride the river - use its power to your advantage. But don't let it change who you are, understand that you are making the system work for you.

But you will need patience. Almost infinite quantities of patience, because the Machine will never move at your pace. The right moves at the right time, holding your breath waiting for the right moment and you can move nearly anywhere you want to get to. Without giving up an inch of your inner self, at complete harmony, but in complete control - in surfer cool fashion, you'll be able to move about.

But how do you not become a drone in the process? Society, as powerful in mainstream life as it may be, is not omnipresent. Sooner or later you'll have people around you who do not belong to it. By reaching out and connecting to such people, you'll build yourself a little sub-culture where you are truly truly free. You'll be able to disconnect from the hum-drum of the rest of the world and truly enjoy human interaction sans rules built by others. And those moments will reasure you that you haven't lost it, yet.

Just like any surfer on a wave, now comes your time to stand up & shine. Once the machinations of society are second nature to you, the threads pulling each human being around you start to pop out of the background noise. Even as a non-conformist, you'll be able to manipulate the world around you to your own ends. As you delve deeper into the systems within systems and wheels within wheels, you'll start to "see the code" to the world.

You'll be surprised about how much of your blatant individualism will be tolerated by the powers that be, if they can't detect a threat from your existence.

Don't be an idiot. Don't complain into the ears of your peers. Don't fight the system and self destruct. Know in your heart that you have something to offer to this world, whether it wants it or not. That is not worth risking for any rebel posturing or meteoric martyrdom.

But in the end, they won't call me a rebel. Because I wasn't ... I was just being myself.

So be you.

Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.
          -- Albert Camus

posted at: 16:03 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , , ,

Wed, 18 Mar 2009:

Yet again, I find myself in a strange position. I observe, I learn and I contemplate. Spend much time on those, travel by thought and arrive at conclusions. Only to find out that I'm a century too late with them; That in fact, I was a century late when I started. Like once before, I'm not ashamed to borrow the unforgettable words of a soul long passed by.

No, we never sicken with love twice. Cupid spends no second arrow on the 
same heart. Love's handmaids are our life-long friends. Respect, and 
admiration, and affection, our doors may always be left open for, but 
their great celestial master, in his royal progress, pays but one visit 
and departs. We like, we cherish, we are very, very fond of—but we never 
love again. 

Love is too pure a light to burn long among the noisome gases that we 
breathe, but before it is choked out we may use it as a torch to ignite 
the cozy fire of affection.

But of the fire we all know, but let him speak of the embers left behind - the death of love and the journey ahead.

I am afraid, dear Edwin and Angelina, you expect too much from love. You 
think there is enough of your little hearts to feed this fierce, devouring
passion for all your long lives. Ah, young folk! don't rely too much upon 
that unsteady flicker. It will dwindle and dwindle as the months roll on, 
and there is no replenishing the fuel. You will watch it die out in anger 
and disappointment. To each it will seem that it is the other who is growing

Both are astonished at the falling off in the other one, but neither sees 
their own change. If they did they would not suffer as they do. They would 
look for the cause in the right quarter—in the littleness of poor human 
nature—join hands over their common failing, and start building their 
house anew on a more earthly and enduring foundation. 

But we are so blind to our own shortcomings, so wide awake to those of 
others. Everything that happens to us is always the other person's fault.

It is a cheerless hour for you both when the lamp of love has gone out and 
the fire of affection is not yet lit, and you have to grope about in the 
cold, raw dawn of life to kindle it. God grant it catches light before the 
day is too far spent. Many sit shivering by the dead coals till night come.

And from a page penned more than a century ago, the man stabs at the heart of our modern lives - only to go unheard again & again. But reader, to you I repeat, words that will make sense of this world - the creed of its people, of self and nothing more.

Ah, those foolish days, those foolish days when we were unselfish and 
pure-minded; those foolish days when our simple hearts were full of 
truth, and faith, and reverence! Ah, those foolish days of noble longings 
and of noble strivings! 

And oh, these wise, clever days when we know that money is the only prize 
worth striving for, when we believe in nothing else but meanness and lies, 
when we care for no living creature but ourselves!

If you enjoyed reading the paragraphs above, this is all quoted verbatim from Jerome K Jerome's "Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow". And at least in my ears, it rings absolutely true - scarily so, for something written in 1886 - a different era altogether. In some strange sense, for all the progress we've made, we haven't changed at all. And if you think so, read the whole thing.

Men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.
                -- George Gordon, Lord Byron, "Don Juan"

posted at: 01:12 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Tue, 17 Feb 2009:

We condemn the most in others that which we hate in ourselves. For it is our nature to be honest and judge oneself so harshly, so much so that your judgement passes onto the actions of others. It's never their deed that you despise, but the bitter taste of your own which rises like bile from your gut. And you can never forgive, never forget.

At some fundamental level, we are incapable of being with people like us.

I'm a man, you're a woman. We're just too different.

posted at: 19:12 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Freedom isn't degeneracy. Oppression is never constructive.

Rebellion isn't the answer, it's merely a step. Freedom is a state of mind, reality checks are moot.

The ability to be whoever you want to be is no excuse to slip & be somebody you aren't, someone you don't recognize anymore. You are not truly free inside your mind, until you know your Ego & your Id - in your decisions, reasons and emotions. Until that day, freedom from the comfortable clasp of social norms is meaningless. Free from others, but still a captive of your desires and whims. Merely an illusion of isolation, holding onto it; Changing everything, seeking instability, perpetually emptying out your soul. Hoping to be free in solitude, but still not succeeding.

Perhaps I'm wrong and freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose, nothing left to keep and nothing left to fight for.

But how would I know? I'm not free, at least not yet, not for a long time to come.

Man is free the moment he wishes to be.
        -- Voltaire

posted at: 18:12 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: ,

Thu, 31 Jul 2008:

I'm not alone. I'm just lost. I know where I am. I know where I'm going. I know this way, I've walked these paths before. I know where they lead. But I'm lost.

At a familiar crossroad again. Been here before, taken all the forks, gone the full distance, come around full circle and back to square one. Moved over, settled down, played around and even took the detour - from there to here and back. But my heart whispers that somewhere up there, is there a path I skipped, which takes me away and hides me away.

A way forgotten, in haste or carelessnes. There must be a way - I need to find a way to cut a path across the hills and valleys of life. Passing the crests and troughs like a rough rollercoaster ride of emotions. Travel alone, but arrive together.

Or maybe just pass by. In this vastness of our lives, we pass each other by - a look and a voice. A light and a signal, then the darkness and a silence. And yet again. Crossed paths and meandering routes marking our journeys across this lanscape of existence. There must be a plan, a map to consult, a compass to travel with and the stars to guide you by.

But this is not the map I need. Directions are not what I need, I need a destination.

Predestination was doomed from the start.

posted at: 21:12 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Wed, 30 Jul 2008:

You are disconnected, you live in your own shell. The world exists for you only when you wish it to be. Your world is one of your own, independent from those around you. And you learn to enjoy the silences, they carry their own sense of meaning, peace and serenity.

And one day you forget how to feel. Caught up as a spectator to your own life, watching, taking apart and doing what's rational. Being successful, but completely unsatisfied with your own success. It's not that you don't crave for meaning, but it's like a tango with the world in lead. You realize that you've lost purpose, drive and emotion - but it's been taken care of.

Of all the things you miss in life, that's what you miss the most - emotion. Pure indiluted irrationality has leaked out of your mind, leaving a completely rational automaton behind. Every action you take is followed by a Why? and one day the answer "just because" stops answering it. And it feels like it's never been enough of a reason, anyway.

Living in the present. A pitiable existence, a slave to your senses. Never nostalgic about the good times of past, never looking towards anything in particular. You eyes, ears and intellect guiding your hands. Doing what's needed - no more, no less. Somehow rationalizing to yourself, that you're just waiting for something. Something that signals the end, turns the page. You know you need something, but not knowing what you need. Spending your days, waiting for your real life to begin in full earnest, with a happily ever after.

Comfortable. Sane. Numb.

Sun rises one day and something in you awakes. Trapped in a perfectly logical box of thought, it tries to break out. Illogically, it seeks to renounce everything that makes you comfortable. Seek pain, not enjoy it - but need it to break out, start feeling alive again. The veil that is laid over your emotions is torn to bits in a fit of anger and desperation. You hurt yourself, you want pain, for the lack of anything better. You hurt others, perhaps you run away from those whom you might. But most of all, you cut yourself open & bleed.

Understanding it was hard. Pain - it's only catharsis. The puff of smoke as you cauterize your endless haemorrage of reason, to be human again. Deal with it, learn to live again, love again; laugh again.

Wait, did I say "again"?

Never look back, the view is never as good.

posted at: 07:47 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Sat, 14 Jun 2008:

Ashamed I'm not to borrow the words of te inimitable Jerome K Jerome.

We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach.  Reach not after 
morality and righteousness, my friends; watch vigilantly your stomach, 
and diet it with care and judgment.  Then virtue and contentment will 
come and reign within your heart, unsought by any effort of your own; and 
you will be a good citizen, a loving husband, and a tender father - a 
noble, pious man.

But as someone remarked "nobody starves anyone else".

It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive 
organs.  We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so.  
It dictates to us our emotions, our passions.  

How good one feels when one is full - how satisfied with ourselves and 
with the world!  People who have tried it, tell me that a clear 
conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does 
the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.  
One feels so forgiving and generous after a substantial and well-digested 
meal - so noble-minded, so kindly-hearted.

I always thought it was just me...

Man doth not live on bread alone;
but philosophy baketh no bread.

posted at: 02:47 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: , ,

Wed, 29 Aug 2007:

Sometimes discussions go offtopic. The starting points don't matter, neither do the goals (as if they exist !) - but it is the path it takes that needs to be recorded for posterity. One such philosophical debate happened yesterday, ending up rather more off-track than usual. Repeated here, from memory (i.e mostly what I said) & in condensed form.

S:  An argument for the sake of itself actually diverts away from the 
    original opinion to merely counter the other argument (no, not opinion).

Me: No, but an argument is actually productive in the sense that it feeds 
    the internalized argument inside you by offering new arguments 
    for/against your own bias.

Me: There are no convictions bereft of argument, but those that have 
    completed a debate with yourself about the pros and cons of itself,
    to arrive at a conclusion with both residing in the same mind at the 
    same time.

And since the discussion started off about patriarchal meddling, it went on into some more interesting topics.

S:  How will people learn if they don't make their own mistakes

Me: You *can* learn from other people's mistakes.

S:  No, you learn to avoid them - not to deal with them. Ending up
    in the established beaten path of safety which leads nowhere 
    in particular. Making mistakes and experiencing it first hand
    is an important part of growing up.

Me: Experience is not learning. Learning is when you internalize it,
    analyze it.

Me: Learning is not a goal by itself. What's important is to develop
    good judgement so that you can make smart decisions based on 
    lessons from past experience.

To put it mildly, it was enlightening for me to have to think that hard and come up with words for abstract concepts which I assume have always been there in my head. I just had to write them down somewhere before it all evaporated from my memory. I would've never done this without help - on the other hand, I've never had to explain anything to myself with the poor tool that is the English language.

After all, what is the sound of one hand clapping?

In most instances, all an argument proves is that two people are present.

posted at: 03:12 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: ,

Fri, 04 May 2007:
Man's unique agony as a species consists in his perpetual 
conflict between the desire to stand out and the need to 
blend in.
                -- Sydney J. Harris

It is a trade-off. Everybody needs their own personal rebellion and to be welcomed back into the herd - like the prodigal son of the fables.

Some people get stuck half-way. Some people don't even start.

Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart;
to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.
              -- Georges Clemenceau

posted at: 04:05 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: ,

Sun, 10 Sep 2006:
Q: What are you rebelling against ?

A: What've you got ?

But I understand.

Rebellion lay in his way, and he found it.
                -- William Shakespeare, "Henry IV"

posted at: 17:01 | path: /philosophy | permalink | Tags: ,