Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I am weak and I will fail you

Date a girl who doesn’t read. Find her in a wretched bar in the smoke, drunken sweat, and varicolored light of an upscale nightclub. Find her on one of those road side shopping complexes. Wherever you find her, find her smiling. Make sure that it lingers when the people that are talking to her look away. Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance. Take her to your apartment. Dispatch with making love.

Let the unwittingly written contract evolve slowly and uncomfortably into a relationship. Find shared interests and common ground like food, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance, but do little thinking. Let the months pass unnoticed. Ask her to move in. Let her decorate, your place. Get into fights about inconsequential things like how the the bed room needs to be organized so things are easy to find. Let a year pass unnoticed. Now, begin to notice.

Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the 50th floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same. Eventually, get married to her.

Let a few years pass unnoticed. Get a career, not a job. Buy a house. Have two striking children. Try to raise them well. Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis. Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal. Feel, during walks, as if you might never return, or as if you might blow away on the wind. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives, and that she will die, too, with only a mild and tempered regret that nothing ever came of her capacity to love.

Do those things, because a life in purgatory is better than a life in hell. Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled—a vocabulary that parses the innate beauty of the world and makes it an accessible necessity instead of an alien wonder. A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much. A vocabulary, god damnit, that makes my vacuous sophistry a cheap trick.

Do it, because a girl who reads understands syntax. Literature has taught her that moments of tenderness come in sporadic but knowable intervals. A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie. A girl who reads perceives the difference between a parenthetical moment of anger and the entrenched habits of someone whose bitter cynicism will run on, run on well past any point of reason, or purpose, run on far after she has packed a suitcase and said a reluctant goodbye and she has decided that I am an ellipsis and not a period and run on and run on. Syntax that knows the rhythm and cadence of a life well lived.

Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers. The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not.

But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied.

Its ok if you don't like me....

If my first goal is to make sure that everyone likes and approves of me, then i risk sacrificing my uniqueness, and, therefore, my excellence.(Source: an age old proverb)

Am i a people-pleaser? I am not sure if i am. I have felt like one at times. I generally hate arguments and debates and a lot of times, I agree knowing that the other person is wrong. At times, when i do come out and argue quite strongly, it often leads to disagreements of a different kind. Maybe, i have never learnt the art of raising my viewpoint, and yet make sure i respect the other person's viewpoint. No, that that i don't i do respect someone's opinion even though i may not agree to it. But a lot of times, it might appear otherwise. For these reasons, i stay away from arguments and maybe, i might be interpreted that i am a people-pleaser. At the end of the day, i want to be liked and appreciated, just like most others. Who doesn’t want to feel accepted, respected, and appreciated?

A major portion of my life has been spent in trying to "prove" things to others. It could be education or a job or a project well done or money or whatever. In these circumstances above, though most part was for self, a big part was for the alter ego, just to "prove" i could do it, because someone at some point had told me i couldn't achieve certain things. Most part of my life was fixated, and was never fixed. Why? Because, i wanted that him/her who made me feel low to accept that i did prove them wrong. In a way, they were forced to respect me and eventually like me(convoluted, but that's how it was). Hence, for a major part of my life, my need to be liked and respected, overshadowed all other needs. I was always trying to trick perception, and constantly adapting myself to receive "external validation". I believed(still do) that "external validation" gives rise to self worth which eventually transforms into internal validation. It always has been draining(personally and for my friends) and counterproductive. In the bargain, i realized, there are very few people who actually know me - the real me - and that became the prerequisite to liking me. And fortunately, a few of these people have been around my life for a while and i have realized very very  recently, if there are some who don't accept or agree with me, its a good sign.

I am not suggesting to be rude, inconsiderate or disrespectful. I am not writing about disregarding other people's feelings or opinions. This is about releasing my stress about other people's opinions. Its about getting comfortable with the feeling of being disliked by someone.

So, i started wondering and reading what could be some pros and cons to the above:

1. It allows me to be true to myself:  The biggest treachery i can do to myself is trying to please my audience. Its pointless. No one will get to know the real me. If they don't care about me, why would i care about them? By not doing the above, a lot of times, i have felt empty.

2. I am more comfortable:  I don't really have to pretend for someone else's sake. I am not saying one should get drunk and hit someone or shout in anger or disturb others. I am realizing that its perfectly ok to say "I am scared(or lonely or weak or struggling)" regardless of what people think.

3. I can freely express my thoughts:  I have often been told that i am a good listener. "Most" people think i don't judge someone when they are talking to me about something. I deserve the same kindness too, which i don't get a lot of times. I have realized that people will form opinions as i speak. Should i continue talking to these people? How do i even know someone i don't know very well is going to form an opinion anyway? I have realized that if they are interested in talking, then i shall continue talking. My words, should be kind but needn't necessarily be defensive or fearful.

4. Feel like a celebrity: Pick a popular artist and look up their profile on facebook or twitter. And check to see the harsh comments about their album or work or anything. The higher someone rises, the higher is the probability of receiving attention, both positive and negative. A willingness to be disliked is important in these circumstances.

5. Do what is right, not just for something in return:  A lot of times i have done things because i thought they were right. It could have been having a heart wrenching conversation with someone who i hardly know when they were sharing their problems with me or going out of my way in helping someone because he or she genuinely needed me at some point etc. Some of these have not even bothered to find out if i am dead or alive in a while. Some, have gone a step further in spreading word on what a distasteful person i am. I wonder then as i wonder now, if all these are worth? Why should i care for someone i don't know. But then again, if i don't care, how would i know the person? How do i stop constantly getting hurt and feeling used? Should i shut down? But then, will i be true to myself? My true nature dictates that i have always been a helpful person. Should i become completely self obsessed? I don't have answers to some of these. But the biggest dilemma i have is, should i change myself due to this insignificant bunch?

PS: Some of the above thoughts have been inspired from tiny budha articles.