Uncertain and Afraid

Photo by Alfred Kenneally on Unsplash

Forgive me in advance if this post doesn’t seem like your cup of tea. I’m unspooling a lot of thoughts from my head at the moment, but fear not, I’m fine. I’m just taking my time to speak my mind.

I’ve been mesmerised by this poem lately after watching it on Vlogbrothers, called September 1st, 1939, by W.H. Auden. Like John, or even more so than him, I only treated the poem as a glimpse of the past, a past I could never fully understand. As a fifteen-year-old, I barely understand my own time, let alone an era of war that existed eighty years before I did. But as I read the poem again and listened to John, I found that there were certain parts of the poem that I could comprehend.

I find myself in this spot of my life where I feel responsible for things I’ve never done or never intended to do. There’s this strange aura around me right now that’s both very new and very discomforting, to say the least, which makes me feel terribly guilty of my actions, and until now, I didn’t know what was causing this.

The poem begins “I sit in one of the dives/ On Fifty-second Street/ Uncertain and afraid/ As the clever hopes expire/ Of a low dishonest decade“, and while these lines refer to the 1930s, it holds true for the present as well. I can’t put a finger on what it is, but something about the the decade we’re living in feels deeply scary. Sure, we’re at the pinnacle of scientific and technological breakthroughs, countries are way more secure than they were back then, but there is still a lingering aftermath of the hatred that the past endured. We find ourselves at the mercy of the social internet and its vagarious nature. Virtual communication is usurping the need to form real-life bonds. Relationships (not talking about just romantic ones, mind you) are made and shattered in seconds, and I hate it.

I find myself deeply and consistently aware of the transience of life, and though that’s an accurate description for any decade — the truth that life as we know it will end — now, that’s mixed with another, more disturbing truth: in today’s world, we are precariously tied to being fake and happy at the expense of being real and honest.

What I hate the most is how most people, including me, are terrified by this image, but not moved enough to change it. In John’s words, it’s like we’re all actors stuck in a play that we can’t rewrite.

We call people trash. We lash out at them for things they don’t necessarily control. We say it’s fine to break trust as if it’s something transitory, easily mendable, and in the process, we actually end up treating people as trash, we break trust, and we hate people just for the sake of not being able to love enough.

I now realize why I feel so guilty. It’s because I let myself be swept away by these waves of fear and hatred. I actually believed, even if for a moment, that loving people and being kind to them was not only stupid and dumb, but also extremely dangerous in this world, where hate runs everything. I hold myself responsible for the things I say out of hatred, but now I realize more and more, that the world we live in pushes me to treat every interaction with a neutral, indifferent tone. So who, exactly, do we blame? Ourselves? Circumstance?

I realize that I probably should reiterate the statement that I’m fine, but I am at the same time, absolutely clueless about how to resolve this. The last stanza of the poem does well to translate my thoughts into words:

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

As we grow older, and just a little bit wiser, I hope that we can learn to put our intense emotions aside, and just for a while, feel safe, knowing that the light we shine towards others is fair, real, pure and full of love. As Auden said,

We must love one another or die.

Song of Perfection

Poem and artwork by my fabulous teammate, Drishhti Mangar. More on our Instagram handle, Body+ve. Go follow. You’re welcome.


And I bet it hurts not much

For it pricks you no more

We’ll hum the song of perfection dear

Until they all march out the door,

The insecure have named,

The jealous have framed,

All of them had put you through shame,

The heartless yet “faultless”

Were the ones who tamed.

We’ll paint you perfect honey

We won’t spare a single freckle for sure

We’ll hang on you a price tag too

And you’re ought to be allured,

We’ll dig you a deep grave

And you can toss your soul within,

Forget not to embrace it with all your flaws

Lastly to strip down

Your namely “faulty” skin

Oh wild creature of the cosmos

Swaddled in the shimmer of stars

Your quirks and untamed beauty

Are a crime here

And they’ll attend your funeral with

Plastered smiles and paper flowers

~

Vox — Part 1

April 15th, 2019.

It’s the morning. I wake up at about 7:30, and with this unfazed focus in my head. I guess I was expecting it, cause it had been on my mind for quite a long time. I was going to get off of Instagram. Completely, permanently and indefinitely, quit social media.

For what must have been the 50th time.

In a previous post, I think I briefly addressed my love-hate relationship with Instagram, but this is probably the first time I’ve taken the time to actually write about it. I don’t hate Insta. I love that it has connected me to my friends, given me a platform to share my content with a wider and more vibrant audience, and I love, love, love the memes that bless my feed.

However, the constant flow of information, that Instagram as a platform so happily and overtly encourages, is what often throws me off my balance and sense of self-integrity. I am happy to interact with people over the internet, as long as I know that this is only a secondary form of communication with them, and that the dynamic we have created is solid in real life. I enjoy finding out what’s going on in other people’s lives, as long as I don’t feel any obligation (consciously or otherwise) to do the same.

In a nutshell: I like sharing with the world, but only in small amounts. That’s how much my brain can take before my teenage self-image starts to shatter.

As a teenager, there are some expectations placed for me that I gladly exceed. I do impeccably well at school. I am kind and helpful and considerate and understanding towards everyone, irrespective of whether they reciprocate those traits or not. I stay within the limits set by my parents, my immediate society, and even myself, because I know that there is a lot of time for me in the future to break those limits and go beyond them. I don’t even consider them expectations anymore, rather just the basic rules of my life that I choose to live by.

What I don’t understand is when people place teenagers as nothing more than a liability to the greater good of the “stability of society”. It’s almost as if we’re expected to mess things up. And the only two ways to resolve this conflict is either by telling teens to hold back their feelings, or punish them afterward.

Where is the space for me to make mistakes? When is it okay to say “I did something wrong, I hope we can make it right”? How is a growing child expected to do anything of purpose if there is absolutely no way for her to find out on her own? To mess up and still recover?

Is this all we are, as teens? Problems that need to be fixed asap, or even worse, problems that shouldn’t exist at all? Is anything we’re doing worth it, or is everything, by default, just wrong?

Looking for Purpose-It’s a Challenge

Before you start reading, I’d like to thank Idy Tanndy for this amazing guest blog post! With absolutely no brainstorming whatsoever, she sent me something that was so in tune with what I write here, I just had to post it. Please, please, please go check out Idy’s blog, because it is SO COOL and she deserves so much love from all of you!


| SO MANY LIFE QUESTIONS |

There are a thousand and one questions to ask or consider before doing anything or going somewhere.

I wonder which of these questions comes to mind first before taking a step forward or backward.

What to do?

What should you do with what? Your love life? Career choice? Parenting? How the hell am I supposed to know or have the answers to that seemingly important question? Why are you asking the wrong person? Sincerely, I do not have the answers for you. Have you tried asking the mirror? I heard talking to it helps put things into perspective. It answered most of my questions, especially when it refused to talk back. It got me thinking about the next logical step on whether to buy a large pepperoni pizza or save that money and make myself a sandwich instead, from my kitchen.

Where to go?

The direction of your life is, unfortunately, none of my business, however, we all need guiding every now and then. So, what I will say is that you should always keep an open mind though, the course of your life will change over time and it will be your sole responsibility to see it coming and act accordingly if not, you are dead meat. So while you are fantasizing about becoming the next manager of your stationery shop in the next five years, you should also ask yourself if you will have more time for what matters the most in your life. You know? Things like family, and all that sentimental bs that makes us humans and not robots.

When to do?

I am not a time expert but I’m pretty sure, now might be the best answer. Okay, use me as your guinea pig. Every time I plan to do something, every time I have an idea which clearly aligns with my values, I always find a way to talk myself out of it. I tell myself all sorts of things like; I am not ready, that idea already exists, or that people will hate it, there is always time…lots and lots of reasons excuses in order to procrastinate that into the future. Then when I finally come out of my shell and attempt to venture to do it, I realize that all that fear was only in my head the whole fucking time. And then, I will curse myself for not beginning earlier. So when you ask? I’d bet all my money on NOW!

Why should you do it?

Why do you do anything? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why do you feed the dog? Why do you tell the people in your life how much they mean to you? Why do you save money? Heck! Why are you even asking why? Let’s start there. I read a book called ‘Why Ask Why’ when I was very young and I thought it was brilliant. In the book, the author talked about the importance of asking the right questions. Without asking the right questions in life; you may never find the right answers. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five Minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you will do things differently.” – Warren Buffett. So why should you do what you want to do? I do not know but you should know before starting.

How to do?

In my opinion, this is by far one of the seemingly difficult life questions you can ever begin to answer. It makes sense when you begin to answer the questions like which path your life should go, as it questions your core values, and prompts you to think about what kind of future you are planning to have. As for the question of how to go about doing what you wish to do with your life, it depends greatly on your skills and ability. Sometimes, it depends on your talents, but I greatly doubt that an untrained talent will do you any good. Then there is the issue of taking a leap of faith in the direction you have resolved to go. It can be hard to assert your confidence in the skills acquired, but how else will you know if you do not try?

Which to choose?

Finally, you which option should you go with? How about you choose what is best for you? That should be the core of every choice you make because, eventually, you will have to deal with the consequences of your choices. Good or bad. And as much as I do not want to scare you, the choices will be hard and you will still have doubts, but you will end up making a choice and will have to live with that choice for the rest of your life. So choose what you think is the best for you at that particular time and don’t look back. You may be given lots of chances to make new choices, but the past decisions you made in the past will always live with you. Choose your poison right. I guarantee that taking this last step and choosing will be very easy as soon as have taken the time to answer all the other questions.


I will like to guess that it is not easy to answer all of these questions before venturing to do anything in life, but with time and practice, it gets easier and easier. There will come a point where you do not need much effort in answering any of these questions and they come to you naturally. So relax, take your time and do not be too hard on yourself. Just keep crossing those bridges as you reach them.

Be Not Silent – Mary Walker

“Do not be silent.
Do not sideline
yourself
to the imagined power
of another.
This silence you stand in
begs you, 
answer.

Be silent only
on your terms,
for your own listening,
for hearing
what you long to speak,
and when your voice rises—
speak it.

When words inflate
your chest,
heart beating ahead
of your mind,
drumming its path for you,
it is time.

Even as your palms sweat,
know this—
your body does not fear the speaking;
it does not fear being heard.
As you stand trembling,
as you hover
on the lip of voice—
all your body fears
is that you might stay silent
yet again.”

Ghost Lights

As I walk down the street

On a hot spring night,

I am overcome with a sense of longing.

A longing for the bright lights that drive our lives

To turn off and go to sleep.


Why is it that when we are in the dark,

We have to spread light in all directions?

Do we fear that the unknown will engulf us,

That the long-dead monsters will, somehow, re-emerge?


As these questions played with my mind and soul,

I reached a hole in the light, an oblivious paradise,

Where the powers of uncertainty dwelled freely,

Where I could be one with the darkness and fear and mystery.

Home.


To most, the dark is a place

Where there are demons older than trees

But I am not one of those people,

‘Cause the light was never meant for me.


-Udita Gowdety