Wanting to Die
I hope you are doing well. I am writing this letter because I have such strange desires in my heart today. I do not know how to share them! I don’t want to write a single word without carefully weighing it anymore. I am searching for thoughts now. I am reaching out into the universe with my entire soul concentrated on tapping that unreleased creative energy which lies latent just underneath my life’s outer skin. I want to be a writer someday! It’s been my dream since I was a little girl. More importantly, however, I kept thinking I would wait for a time when I have gathered enough experience to have the most meaningful things to write about. Today I am filled with a horrific doubt for the first time. This is something I have heard before but never imagined possible: What if everything that needs to be said has already been said? And anything else I do or say is just a reflection of something already out there? This means a skeptic who reads something I write could easily say, ‘Well, so what is new in that? This shit has already been said before, since eternity.’
Maybe this thought is a sign that I am growing up. Grown-ups have doubts and fears. One of the main characters in a movie I recently watched states it, ‘What if I have already experienced every feeling I ever will and everything from here on out is just a repetition of those?’ It could be true. As we grow older, life seems to speed up. I thought this was a recent phenomenon, owing to the speed our lives have gained due to the effects of technology. To a certain extent it is, of course. So much of what we do is confined on the internet that we harness swiftness as our eyes and fingers move over the screen and keyboard and our mind briskly processes information. But the other angle is that as we grow older and know ourselves better, we gauge our own reactions and the turmoils of our teenage agony fades away.
Until a few month ago, I would have given anything to replace that pain with stability. So I chose to do just that. Over the course of half a year (or maybe it started unconsciously long before that), I re-created the bricks upon which I began to build myself anew. Pains are still fresh enough in my mind for me to not want to go down that road. But I imagine ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years of this. And that makes me want to go insane! My mind is already searching for something new. Which is why the same sort of books and movies representing the same emotions are no longer enough. I need to feel something different in the things other people have created. And in the things I create myself.
I extended this argument further in my head as I typed the above paragraphs. I got to the root of my problem: this was something else that was burning inside me in the recent weeks. I watch everyone getting married and starting a family. I know, inevitably, as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow morning, one day I will get married and have (or try to have) children. But…then what? I know it is what everyone is doing and that seems to make it lose some of its value. This isn’t because these things aren’t beautiful or worth having (because of course they are). Nor is it because I want them, someday in the distant future. But because this is the standard society is holding over my head and that alone makes me feel like a clown.
That is why I have started to think of writing as my one single saving grace. Words hold a strange power over me. They distort my reality but I love them more for that. I want my experiences to be translated into words because nothing else is enough. I don’t think I knew how powerful words were in my life! There was a whole year where I barely wrote anything but the flimsiest excuses of prose that could possible exist. Somewhere along the road, I found those words again and now I want to lean on them again. But how! It takes finesse to create something wonderful. I want my words to be more than just random letters laid on sheets of paper! People tell me I am a good writer but I value the opinion of those who point out my flaws more than those who say how formidable, effortlessly talented my writing really is. It isn’t! I know that. They might not. So I want to see the my writing reflected in the eyes of readers who know what they see when they see it.
There are three ways to begin as soon as I possibly can: One, of course, is to have a journal again. Much as I adore this blog with all my heart, the content I put out here should be slightly more thought-over than it currently is. A post of this sort is useful once in a while but I should be able to do more of this writing in a journal. I love pretending to be writing letters. Of course, I created a “Kitty” of my own in my old journal and for some pointless reason, I called her ‘Lucy’. I no longer want that, of course. I want a journal where I can stick to the format of letters but they should reflect my growth over this period of time.
The other inspired solution owes itself to the reading of The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath. I adored the harsh standards to which Sylvia Plath held herself as a poet and author. She berated every sentence she created. This has never been my style. I’ve been in the habit of pouring out the insanity of the minute and then watching it spread slowly over my consciousness until the meanings pop out. There are times when I am ‘inspired’ by something beyond the ordinary. Posts like ‘My Unborn- A Letter’ are a testimony to that. But most other posts are tiny sparks that I convert into something more. I do not do it painstakingly and I do allow myself mistakes- lots of them. I want however, to capture tiny moments and learn from exercises that actually show a pattern of evolution. For that, I must learn to capture the essence of descriptions- people, places, emotions and more. There are numerous ways to do this and I want to start trying. This needn’t be a daily exercise but as frequent as I want. After all, I did keep a diary for eight years. I should know how to channelize myself better.
The third, of course, is to keep reading. In 2013, I read 30 of the 50 book target I set for myself. This year I managed 32. I don’t mind the count. Having enjoyed reading books such as ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ and ‘The Brothers Karamazov’, which were long and challenging, I feel satisfied with my numbers. But this year I ended up reading a lot of books I wished I hadn’t! If I give myself a good 60 years more to read books and pretend to be able to manage a book a week (which means 52 books a year), I’d only have read 3120 books by the time I die. That is nothing compared to the books that are out there, begging to be read! And of course, I cannot and do not want to read 52 books a year because that would mean I raced through them without stopping to smell the roses. Also, life would get so hectic soon that I wouldn’t be able to manage even 30 books, unless I’m in every weekend (which is quite plausible, but let’s pretend it isn’t). And that would be utterly pointless. So I need to concentrate on reading better books which make me feel like I achieved something. I must be careful of what I pick up because once I start a book, I cannot leave it midway. So I should be more careful about my reading choices than I have been.
This could be a ‘Resolution’ post to the future me. Now that I am nearing the end of it, I think that is what it has grown into. I do not like keeping resolutions per se but giving this post that label helps justify having it out on my blog. I need to buy a journal that suits my needs. If anyone who is reading this has any tangible suggestions on that front, I’d be happy to receive them.
As 2014 draws to a close, I am forced to think in a backwards direction. I cannot help it. 2014 was more stable than I might have hoped. Every year keeps getting more so. What sort of a creature am I, to want more! Stability was what I wanted and now I want to be swept off my feet! But please, life, do not take this as an invitation to swing out into a tangent direction! Instead, curve slowly towards something new and interesting. And teach me the art of mastering my emotions without losing them, so I can use them to play by my strengths!
Wow. I really must be growing up, in order to be able to give myself such mature advice.
The last time you came
I saw reflected inside of you
The broken pieces of my own crazy stories
You don’t remember what that was like!
The last time you left
I slept on a clinical steel table
Shining bright with the stunning apathy of this world
I was directionless that day
I drank from the colors you gave me
I filled my pockets with the crumbs you left behind
I swam terrifyingly until the twilight died
And the world became pitch black
Then I began to hunt for you like a dog
In the wilderness of my raw insides
You’ve left a hole behind; come find me in it.
PS: I could write pages of poetry to this music, if only I could sit here all day:
At times when the cold is getting to your bones
And you think of someone you love differently
From the love you’ve felt since you’ve learnt to love
This love is like a song you write when
The crackling logs of fire settle deep
And ash starts to form black rivers on the sand
And you know there is no one left to lie to
This love is like that love you feel in your cold blood
So you are done looking for messages behind
The strange pagan rituals of lost, buried gypsies
And then you knock on an old door, having
Felt the need to travel the whole world
Wanderlust blazes off your chest and someone just
Gets it. You don’t use words anymore, just signals
To communicate stories imprinted on yellowing pages
Stitched loosely together inside you.
And then you wonder together why
Love has inspired centuries worth of renditions
Of the same sob story. Suddenly you feel it
It’s no longer black and white but shrouded
In the universe’s tangled, lustful grasp
For a lifetime isn’t enough to unravel what
A few words can easily say every day
At times when summer is inside of you
And you love someone in a different way
From the way life taught love to you
You draw maps in the stars and find
Ten million ways from you to him. You know
None really lead you where you want to go
But these taut strings hold the universe steady
Over your head
Like the lights on a highway. These stars
Make sense to you. You could follow them
And reach him inside the safe retreat of your head
You think deeply of how, when
You love someone in a different way
You see a mosaic of sun-swallowed memories
Fly past your eyes and then you’re back
The cold gets to your bones. You think
Why did I never know this love before?
Patriarchy has a negative affect on both men and women. Although many men might refuse to accept the subtle ways in which they themselves are harmed by the cruelly deep roots of patriarchy, this image I recently saw brilliantly sums up the poison ivy spreading through our society and our media.
Perhaps we need to realize that feminism isn’t just an isolated call into the wild but a reasoning we all need to lend our ears and later mouth to, so that we become a loudspeaker resounding the truth, not just force-fed machines generously reproducing everything mainstream media shoves at us.
Almost everywhere I look, something ugly seems to rear its head out of the sand. Questioning doesn’t always help because a dozen voices will drown you out, asking you to firstly ‘get a life and lighten up’ and later to ‘not be so affected by the things you cannot change’. I fall in and out of traps, of course, but at least on my blog, I can raise my voice and reach out to a handful of individuals.
So a few of my recent observations are leading to this second feminist rant. On a flight recently, I was isolated in a seat at the very back, surrounded by a bunch of young male professionals who were taking great pleasure at oggling and passing comments on the air-hostesses that ramp-walked their way up and down the aisle. Why is air-hostessing such a glamorized business, again? What would it feel like to cake your face with a ton of makeup and fit into a tight skirt and do the same high-heeled walk at an Indian railway station? Uncomfortable to say the least, I betcha.
I’m all for women getting a change to embrace their sexuality. But it seems to me as though there are higher forces at play here. There is a certain attraction for young men to watch beautiful women strut past them thirty-thousand feet above the ground, with the realities of life temporarily suspended. They can make the most of this opportunity to admire that soft, garbled-until-it-sounds-cute-and-partly-vulnerable speech and enjoy the brief safety routine that nobody would pay shit to if it wasn’t for the accompanying sexiness. The point I am trying to make is that, like so many other things, this too is a money-minting technique which reinforces the brilliance of the prepubescent kids in the picture above (‘This is how you’re going to be controlled for the rest of your life. I’ll be turned into a hole beckoning you to fill me until you’re full of pleasure waves and you will be forced into believing this is the one and only thing worth achieving for as long as you live and that this is the only thing I am capable of giving you anyway. I will be nothing more than a hot body you will never be able to own and you will be the grudging admirer who will run after me, sometimes expressing your manliness by forcing yourself into me and at other times placating me with gifts and sweet-talk so that I will give you the only thing you’ve been taught to want. Isn’t it a crazy master-slave relationship where we’re both neither the masters nor the slaves but alternating puppets for a perverted society that doesn’t even realize it?‘)
And I have realized lately that the more I think about it, the more I discover how often I walked through life without sexualizing a single damn thing. Is it strange? Not everyone does this, surely. I look at a woman and I hear her words. I look at a man and I see his eyes. And then I realized, when everyone pointed it out to me, that I was doing it all wrong. I began to see the sizes of breasts and the swaying of a woman’s hips. I began to judge the broadness of a man’s chest and his demeanor. But try as I might, I couldn’t shake off my earliest observations. Unless I consciously force myself to see it, bodies aren’t as important to me as they might be. That is why I zeroed in on this title ‘Sexless and the City’.
We all desire companionship of the opposite sex. Some seek depth, others seek careless flings. But either way, why do we let sex permeate every interaction we have with the opposite sex? I began to grow conscious of my own interactions and realized how completely capable I was of looking at the world in a sexless way. Without wanting a man to give me anything more than I would want from a woman. Why can we not all be like that? Is it really so hard?
While watching a movie in the theatre yesterday, I grew absorbed in the story but found my attention drawn by a group of men sitting a few seats down the column. They were jeering at something. It was then that I noticed that the actress was carelessly dancing in the scene in a spaghetti top, her breasts thrust out and jiggling conspicuously. I marveled at the fact that, having spent so long being conscious of our over-sexualized society, I was capable of not perceiving a hint of sexual undertones in a scene that made these men whistle at an unresponsive flat screen. What was this phenomenon and why can’t we fight it, I wondered?
I’m not denying the beauty of sexual relationships and the fact that of course, they need to be brought to the forefront. All that I am saying is there is no need to dramatically enhance the sex-factor of every single life incidence. A woman in an office is likely to be seen as a part of the glamour-quotient than as an actual thinking, acting being. This adversely affects both the women and the men. It means a women who is not good at what she does could be meaninglessly hired by an all-male panel just for her looks and it means that a woman who wants to be noticed for her work may be noticed instead, for something purely physical. It means a deserving man might not get a job because of a pretty face. It means men could be manipulated by attractiveness and women pushed behind for not using their sexuality in the workplace. It means women can be treated as a wallflower and nothing more. It means a man can unreasonably resent an attractive woman because she garners attention for her appearance, perhaps without wanting to. In short, it means there is a need to make certain parts of our lives completely sexless.
The only way to do this is to stare with wide-eyes at everything that goes on around us and try to see the blind spots we face as a result of our upbringing. The presence of something terribly souring in our lives needs to be acknowledged before we can set out to fix it.
Something shifted within me
Like at the bottom of a deep sea
The sands of time with a gigantic sweep
Made patterns swirl into potent heaps
I pushed and pulled a wall of rock
I crumble still when new ships dock
Their anchors stolid; hurting my skin
My fish swim faster with their frantic fins
My swollen edges roughen with the storm
But guiding lamps of light keep me warm
I swim in my currents; cold and hot
Find sunken treasures in lucky shots
But movement starts to come easily
Fifteen days of happiness; fifteen of misery
I slide in and out; observe my feet on the beach
As the turning tides create a blank space each
Still while other yachts luxuriantly moor
My paper boat rocks with dreams of tours
I’m content as I follow the whispering wind in me
I’m older, wiser, still; permanent like the sea.
Golden-brown, almost toasted
To the soundless music wrought within
The endless tussle on the end of a muzzle
Pleasure and pain. Pleasure and pain.
Victory was ensured by a sorrow
That called my name. It called my name
I turned cold feet in a warm bed
And turned insane. I turned insane
Of a moist touch, its love abated
To a narrow frequency heard in the dark
A moment stolen from daylight’s hectic teeth
But it all lies wasted. It all lies wasted.
I smelt fragrance from so far away
I was captivated. So captivated.
But it turned and bit my head right off
And so I had to fake it. I had to fake it.
Crisp, light; crunchy under the crush
Held in large hands they were untasted
A swollen heavy breath on another day
Today grew tainted. It grew so tainted
Pressed closer, searching for an eternal truth
I turned away hated. I turned away hated
He swore it wasn’t just another day
But his tongue was jaded. His tongue was jaded.
Aglow in the middle of the day
These patterns replay in full swing today
I stare in horror at the mess I create
But the past lies naked. It just lies naked.
Strangers one second, lovers the next
My soul can’t take it. It just can’t take it.
Which is why I hold this in my chest
The bedsheet- I stained it. I only stained it.
This poem is a powerful one for me; it contains elements of imagination, experience and raw emotion mixed together. I can’t believe I wrote it at one am at the end of a really busy day. I don’t want to lose touch with the writer in me. Which is why I need to prove to myself; over and over again that I am capable of staying in touch with my emotions. This poem is full of vulnerabilities. It reflects the patterns of relationships. I’d like to think there is a little bit of everything in it.
The question I am wondering is: Am I losing my voice? It changes so often, it becomes so many different things. How real is it? And when will it start to hurt me, having a blog like this, out here?
The lovers are all dead
From what I hear of adulthood
The days my mind can’t count
The lull of a seaside town
The gull flying in its wake
The skull spiked in a maudlin play
The magicians are all dead
From what I hear of adulthood
Fruit off trees on a rainy day
Unheard pleas for a deity’s sake
Poisoned ivy on a childhood gate
The singers are all dead
From what I hear of adulthood
A cacophonous drowning dirge
An isolated whistle on a dried up shrub
A whisper in an azure field
A kiss on life’s sweet cheek
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