Saturday, 5 August 2017

The tyranny of tradition.

We, human beings, have an enormous knack for making things. We are the great grand inventors of some of the most marvelous wonders of the present times. We are such great creators, that at times we take immense pride in that very trait being the harbinger of our superiority. Surely, given how much we have accomplished in the last handful of decades itself, heralds a lot of mirth. However, there is something that we do even better than we are in making things. And that, folks, is making up things! While the things we make do consume a lot of our time and dictate most of our lives, it's the things we make up, that make up for the idyll. 

Money, God, law; they're all mercenaries of the bounty that we have come to gift ourselves. As grand as these concepts may sound, having deloused us out of our disheveled unorganized past to our glorious institutionalized present, these are no better than mere ponzi schemes. Throughout our lives we fight for triviality. We need everything to be linked to something material. If we give a small service, we need money. If we sense any trouble, we need legal indemnity. All the time, all the while, we are looking for a solution that culminates into something tangible in the form of money, or a legal writ, or a verse from the holy books for that matter. But so naive are we, that we don't know that the final quest of these tangible elements, inevitably ends in one of the many made up elements. The one I want to twaddle about today, is tradition.

Tradition is a very ribald vice. It's inherently baseless, but is often concomitant with other baseless entities like God or maybe the institution of marriage. Tradition, unlike other intangible imaginations of mankind, is under a level of protection. In that sense, tradition will only be questioned, after the first layer is questioned. For instance, the concept of voting, which is a tradition in a democracy, would only be questioned after the ideology which this democracy follows, would be put to question. People will always attack the upper and the much stronger layer, encapsulated within which are the much more feeble seeds of tradition. There is a reason why traditions have come to assume this sanctimonious status. 

Ever since we're born, we're enshrined with the facets and applications of traditions. Long before we become capable enough of knowing what god or money is, we are asked to respect and venerate both, and we see everyone around us doing the same. As a result, vicissitudes of tradition, soon transform into various learned behaviors. Later on, courtesy of these learned behaviors, we develop an incessant meretricious craving for making the traditions thrive and prevail. During the course of our lifetimes, some traditions do succumb to the winds of change, but the basic element remains the same. And thus, without even once being questioned, traditions keep going on. In certain rare cases a society may decide to abnegate the outer shell - the larger phenomenon, but traditions are by and large protected because they are much more a part of our subconscious psyche, than they are of our conscious belief. 

Now you must be wondering what's wrong with traditions. Well, the thing that's wrong is that traditions get stronger with time, if they are followed, and their outcomes are never questioned. One very interesting thing to note is that traditions are much more fragile than the belief or the concept that covers them. The very simple reason for that is traditions are dependent on a human agent carrying them out. The Mayan traditions ceased, but the Mayan religion can still be found in their books and architectural edifices. Traditions are weak, because they need actions or they need to be imparted through instruction pleonasms. However, traditions, as long as they exist, courtesy of being ubiquitous, reign supreme over everything else, and thrive. So one day when the world blows up, we'd realize we were following the wrong traditions. But till then, as long as the tradition is being practiced, it continues to live.

One very quirky thing is that from the perspective of the outsiders, traditions are often questioned. However, just like questions on the outer phenomenon, questions on traditions too are dodged. The nemesis of tradition can only come once and there can be no resurrection because traditions, once they cease to exist, either because the humans who kept them alive were wiped off, or because they became a minority largely by the virtue of those traditions, are completely gone. Traditions can never be brought back because once the commoners do realize how vile and full of turpitude they were, they're more than willing to disparage and abjure them. The outer cover, say religion for instance, on the other hand remains strong enough to be passed on despite the foibles, because it has been questioned or tested before as well, and it doesn't need mere humans to keep it alive. 

The above makes traditions both preposterous and jeopardizing. We do know that some tradition is wrong but so deeply ingrained within us are the seeds of fortitude to keep them alive, that we are willing to sacrifice any questioning or beseeching of morality on the altar of conscience, just to keep the tradition alive, because we were simply told to! Consider this. A woman from a sect or a community, who has seen since her childhood members getting married within the community as a tradition. Now even if she grows up to fall in love with someone from outside her community, and even if she has seen many members of her community in the past not deriving any happiness from their marriages because they followed this tradition, she will still go on and do that, because she has been programmed to keep the tradition alive!

Tradition is like a ticking time bomb. It may be woefully wrong since the beginning, but it is considered both mordant and even contumacious to question the same. It, by the very virtue of it prevailing, is given a holier than thou status, and being put at a pedestal beyond all approach of being inundated with questions. Amid the large menagerie that our societies have become, traditions continue to keep us in the dark, and to give us that panacea, which is just a placebo otherwise. Traditions give us this belief that we are larger than just our corporeal composition, and just to cajole ourselves in acceding to that, we let traditions dictate everything, right till them time they destroy us, and destroy themselves in the process. Such is the tyranny of tradition.  

Monday, 5 June 2017

The benign addiction in being a loser.

The concept of losing not only holds very negative connotations, but is even disparaged at times for what it brings along with it. In the present times, the honor and dignity of a loss, have not only been denigrated, but losing as a whole is no longer even considered an acceptable outcome. People will tell you to a battle, and would just expect you to win. You must be wondering what gibberish I am talking, and many would have even considered the possibility of leaving the post. And you should! But what I have to say today, has to be said. 

Losing is not about the state you witness when you're not winning. There's no black and white to life. You'll see your feed flooding with quotes that inveigle people about getting over their losses, about only winners being the worthy occupants of this earth. The way winners self-aggrandize, is now being portrayed as the only acceptable way left to live. Like if you took part in a battle and lost, there's no chance in hell you can look up again till you've scored a victory. But ladies and gentlemen, this is not how it always has been. 

The way times are changing, and the way winners are assuming the rostrum by asserting their natural right to it, losers can just mark the sidelines. Winning is concomitant to the grandiloquence coming from the former masters of the game, while losing is attached to the caricature of a whimpering ruffian who never got his shit right. Everything we ever hear or see only accentuates this. Even Darwin's theory of natural selection corroborates the same. And why not? Everyone who has ever lost has retired to a grotto of sordidness and soliloquy, while every winner has gone on to hit the home run. But no one ever bothered to look back a loser, and see how he feels about the defeat. 

Yes, most losers wouldn't even admit to the loss and would spew cliches about getting it right in the next go. But what about the losers who played knowing this was their last shot? Has anyone ever gathered enough courage to go back to them and see what they have to say about their loss. And what about the celebrated loser who is on his way to being knocked out with no scope of him ever competing again? Wouldn't he be too lugubrious, and too entrenched in his eternal consternation? Or wait, why should I bother about him. He is a reprobate who shall never even listen. In our minds, we are either too apathetic about him or her, or too apprehensive. But truth be told, that person is not as mawkish as he looks right there! 

Oh yes, that person is no longer in the state where he or she could consciously recall what went right or wrong. That person is ostensibly too inebriated in the benign addiction of being a loser. This sounds crazy, but yes this addiction does exist. Why am I referring to this or addiction or why I'm terming it benign is immaterial. Let's just look at what this addiction is about, instead. 

You know, there are a few people who lose because they weren't prepared and so they knew they'll have to pull themselves up and fight again. But then there is a coterie which comprises of fighters who just do their job - to train! They just keep doing their chores and what they expect of themselves to do. In fact, they're too busy doing what they always do, that they don't even have any time for any contemplation or benchmarking. They're so engrossed in their duties, that they don't know when they were transported from the training ground to the performing arena, and when they were knocked out for that matter. Truth be told, the addiction is not of losing, but of doing what they really find to be the only purpose worth striving for. 

People have many ambitions and many dreams they truly cherish. But this breed is monomaniacal. They're so much into their trade, that despite them knowing about their deficiencies and shortcomings, they'll somehow wheedle themselves to the playground again, even if they're mocked and lambasted after every loss meted out to them. What looks to the outsider as a rebarbative lunatic, is actually a frantic who is just too much into something. These people are too impudent towards the outcome. They're not worried at all about what repercussions it shall have on them. They're just in it for the sake of being in it. After all, what's life without a purpose. And while their defeats can take their shots away from them, their purpose still prevails. The purpose of staying addicted to doing what they're doing, even if it means being addicted to losing! 

If you're still with me, let's bring some examples into the perspective. Nikola Tesla. Throughout his life, he was harangued and scoffed at for being the 2nd best to Edison. Even his death was a deplorable one with a carping man dying in seclusion in his hotel room which he had come to perpetually occupy. Or Alan Turing for that matter. He was arraigned of going against the laws that dictate terms on what is considered a natural and acceptable sexual union, and yet he willingly submitted himself to the cause of helping people out, even when they made his life a living hell. 

I saved the best one for the last. Now this one might be platitudinous, but it's more germane to be honest. The classic case of the unrequited love! A person becomes so besotted and enamored by someone else, that he not only loses sense of what's real, but even inveterately denies all possibilities of his beloved being already taken. He is in love, and he believes it his is solemn job to keep the love alive. Any considerations on how he is supposed to achieve course correction if the beloved is seen with someone else, is beyond the scope of what he finds deft. In fact he becomes this adiaphorous man with no regard to how the society or his supposed beloved treats him anymore. To the world, he is a loser who couldn't get over him being played out, while to himself, his job is to remain addicted to the benign addiction of love, which to him means more than paltry coquetry. 

There is no merit in the fact that such a recluse has an acceptable way of leading his life. However, there are cases when an addiction is beyond reparation. That's true for malicious addictions like that of liquor and meth, of course. But this benign addiction of getting defeated is the most extirpating of them all. Not only is the person being expunged from inside, but he is addicted to to it, and in a rather trenchant way is even oblivious to it. Truth be told, any addiction when it has crossed the threshold, has already claimed much already, which this person may not approve of, but which is never going to come back nonetheless. The most important thing being how he used to be. Yes, the loss of identity is the biggest of them all, and beyond that, there's not much left to lose. So hence ladies and gentlemen, this was the story of a man suffering from this benign addiction of being a loser. The addiction no one would talk about, but an addiction that exists.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The battles I've lost.

There's a lot that changes everyday in our lives. The OOH ads near your building are taken down, the headlines of the newspaper change, the one odd pal in your neighborhood leaves and so on. We witness all these changes as a passive observer. We even take a note in our subconscious mind, but they're all so jejune. But hidden in these vacuous changes is a truth, which often escapes our attention. In fact while this truth is furtively hidden in every chapter we're taught, this dictum seldom receives the attention it deserves. The only truth that shall ever prevail is change! 

A lot has changed in my life, and for some reason it is only today after so many years, that I feel like taking a note of it. Why? Well recently something pretty big happened. Not big to the naked eye, but gargantuan given the impact it shall have on my life. For 3 years, something had become an innate part of my life. It had suddenly assumed such a pivotal position that I could always aim for it everyday. All of a sudden, my lackadaisical demeanor had left and there was a new me all over. 

For some context, I have been a very wayward and apathetic guy throughout my life. I was the typical iconoclast no one could really relate to. To be very honest, even I didn't see myself amounting to much. Like a vapid litany from the church, I was just a stream of actions after actions, all falling haplessly apart in the longer scheme. There was no routine, no structure and no purpose. And then suddenly something changed. 

In this post I'll not mention what that thing was. However, I'll enunciate what it really meant to me. The thing, or the event I shall call it from hereon, made me realize that there is a method to the madness. Haven't you heard the platitude - God has a plan. Being an agnostic, I never really discredited god, but I didn't have much in my quiver to corroborate for his presence either. So yeah, this kaleidoscope of light was quite a phenomenon. Not something I had the privilege to experience before. 

In the blink of an eye, my actions became more organized and life became very euphonious. My apathy from the past, which was often quite an odyssey to reason with, had now given way to consideration. I suddenly became a much better human being. From a drab, reticent and garrulous person, I had suddenly become the debonair. I was seeing sense in living out, rather than considering it as a mere formality. The event was numinous and the effect palliative. It seemed like after 24 years of a dismal and laconic existence had finally given way to surfeit of human emotion. Little did I know then. 

There have been many battles that I've fought in my life, not because I wanted to but because I had to. From being an infant born with a right clubbed foot, giving pangs of tribulation to my parents right from the word go, to the profusely sweating boy who was always sick, to the confused schoolboy who just went blindly with his career choices just because the society deemed so, to the professional who was again a rather apocryphal placeholder. I never chose any of those battles and even defeats could only annihilate a small chunk of me. But this event, not only gave me a lot of solace, it also gave me a battle I chose to fight. The battle to ensure this event was not evanescent, but permanent. 

I've been fighting for three years now. I've learned a lot during this course. For the first time, just a single event had made such a profound change in everything. This entire event and the entity linked with it, came across as being so sibylline, that I decided to reify their status by making them a mission. So this was my first conscious battle. I knew the odds were stacked against me like they did in many battles in the past as well, but boy did I have to fight this one. 

Like a bewailing hermit who didn't know the trade, I have cringed and cowered against myself to stop. I kept telling myself this was not the battle for me. However, the unperturbed stoic in me told me to keep going and so I did. On the way I had many hurdles, some which I could nip over, and some which extirpated a part of me at many levels. I didn't realize that not only was I fighting a tough battle, but the fact that the battle was expunging my identity from within!

I did not have much in the form of an identity either. All I had was a random set of events which helped me get to whatever maudlin position I was. However, that excuse in the name of identity was all that I had. It was all that I could garner throughout my life. So during the course of this ravaging battle, I slowly and steadily eschewed all of it. What came of me was a socially acceptable man, but what ensued behind was a larceny of all that I ever was. 

Of late, as expected, I've lost the battle. What's more vitriolic than the loss is the fact that I was just destined to. You're raised on this planet with maxims of hard work. You are told that if you stick to your morals, you'll get everything you ever need. And I duly vested my faith when I fought this battle. The defeat was excruciating, but the toughest part was knowing that even a win would have been Pyrrhic. For a shred of momentary glimmer, I chose to traduce my own history. Whatever modicum of a man I was, there was a certain set of experiences that defined me. Today, as a loser when I try contemplating them, I can't even relate to them anymore. 

A period of 3 years ha just passed by, withering away in the tempest of change almost every hope I had from this first battle I chose. I've walked out conquered, but I've also bore the brunt of my own alter ego from 3 years ago, having a guttural laugh at stepping into a battle I was bound to lose. We all have to fight in our lives. For our people, our opportunities our standing, but there is a fight everyone is in. We as human beings don't have much control over the purview of how battles progress, but we do have dominion over the battles we choose. I chose my first battle and I've lost. And now all of a sudden, there are no more battles left ahead of me. This, my patient reader, was my miserere for all the battles I've lost!