I look at my daily calendar,
And feel a sense of closure
When I see that there just two leaves left
To tear off, with the passage
Of each day.
It then occurs to me
That it’s only we humans
Who seem to thus divide Time
Into compartments, and mark
Endings and beginnings.
Time flows continuously in Nature:
The days, nights, weeks and seasons
Follow each other at the same pace.
If I can let go of my need
To compartmentalize Time,
I need not think of what’s ending
And what’s beginning.
Taking stock of my life
At regular intervals
Is not a bad thing to do.
So yes, I will tear off the two leaves
Left on my daily calendar.
I will hang up a new one,
And watch the progress of the new year:
See it slip past, day by day,
Much as the old one went,
And the ones before that.
Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’
I look at my daily calendar,
I read something, nearly every day, on the desirable quality of excellence. In whatever I do, I am told, I must strive to excel. I must hone my skills at that particular activity until I am excellent at it.
I want to present a heretical point of view. I don’t propound this point of view as applicable to everyone, or indeed, to anyone but myself. But it’s saved me a lot of tears, so sharing it.
I am interested in quite a lot of things, and have been lucky enough, in my life, to pursue many activities. Let me list them…academics, languages, music, art, writing, quizzing, theatre, photography, nature/wildlife, heritage and history, travel, getting groups of people together, teaching…and so the list goes.
Yes, indeed most of my interests are pursuits to which I’ve devoted a long time. I’ve tried to attain a reasonable proficiency in what I do.
But…I don’t feel the need to excel. And here’s why.
The margin between proficiency and excellence may often not be wide…but it can be very time-consuming indeed. And I have found that when I strive for excellence in one particular activity, I have to neglect several others.
So over the years, I’ve decided that I would rather have enough time to pursue these interests instead of setting some aside for excellence…in any case, I will not be able to achieve excellence in more than one or two fields.
Striving for excellence can also often be frustrating, with the sobering realization, after much time and effort has been spent, that my level is that of proficiency,and excellence will be beyond.
So..what is wrong in my being reasonably proficient at many activities, instead of always wanting to be the world’s best in anything? I will never, indeed, top the world in any field, because there are always going to be others who will be far better than I in that field.
More and more, as I age, I see the comfortable joy of being good at several things and enjoying doing all of them, rather than frustrate myself in trying to excel and still find that I am not much further up the ladder.
And I notice this in many people I see around me…that they are good, very good sometimes, in several things that they do…but they need not be earth-shakingly good at it!
I therefore adhere to my happy state of reasonable proficiency (and fairly high ignorance sometimes!) in my several interests, giving thanks for being able to enjoy all of them. Excellence in one field does not give me as much happiness as being good in several.
What are your thoughts on this?
I tear off the leaf of my daily calendar.It’s a habit that’s a long-standing one… for many years, I always asked my sister in law, to buy a “rANi mutthu” daily calendar for me (I was superstitious..the 2 years that I bought one for myself, I lost my parents, and then again, once, when I did this, I lost my brother. Now, I’ve lost a lot, including the superstition, and I buy my own.)
At the start of the year, it’s a fat, thick wad of papers. It represents the future..unknown, yet to be experienced. There are hopes, there are fears. There is speculation on what may come to pass…or not.
Then, the leaves slowly start dropping. No, it’s not fall, it’s just the daily tear-off.
This year, there was a big hiatus from June to November. I came back from a visit to Scandinavia and the US, and tore off a huge chunk of the future-that-had-turned-into-the-past.Since then, it’s been pretty much a leaf a day, except the visit to Delhi which lasted a week. (I should have got my sis in law a calendar when I went, but it hadn’t come on sale yet.)
Now, the piece of cardboard has just a few leaves…dates….attached. Detachment…when I detach the leaves from the calendar, why don’t I also practice another kind of detachment? I should let the past go. Missing my grandchildren so intensely that it hurts…missing things from a past life that will never return…why do I allow these unprofitable thoughts? Attachment must drop from me, as the leaves do when I pull them off the calendar.
I will go out in a day or two, and get another calendar. Soon, it will be time for this baby-fat Murugan to go to the recycling, while another one will smile at me, over another stuck-together-with-cloth-and-gum pile of 365 small sheets of paper, that tell me the date according to the English and Tamizh calendars, tell me the auspicious and inauspicious times of the day, the “star” of the day, the time of the lunar month, and mention which south Indian temple has what festival….and also what festival it is for several other religions, as well as leaders’ birthdays and national holidays and Hindu festivals. For example, today it has the picture of C Rajagopolachari whose birthday it is, and a Santa with balloons to denote Christmas.
My daily calendar…an unobtrusive yet essential part of my daily life. Tearing a page off usually means that twenty-four hours have gone by. What have I achieved? What have I thought? How have I treated others? I do not always introspect…but I am doing so now, when there are just a few leaves left.
Let me muse on the way this year has gone, as time creeps past, and the leaves fall from my mind, and my life, as well as from my calendar….
Children reached out
For the shimmering colours
Of their future
That their own elders
Would burst that bubble
In the red glare of a bloodbath.
Nothing will remain now
But the memory of their innocence.
Slaughtered where they came to learn, to grow.
Agony, incredible pain,
In the hearts of their families.
What inhuman beings are these
Whose hearts hold so much anger
And hatred, that they can kill children
In cold blood?
Every child, to me, is like my little grandchildrn, chasing dreams, with happiness and hope..
I went for a walk today, and was awed by the size of the highrise buildings all around me in Gurgaon, Haryana…now a suburb of Delhi, the capital.
As I climbed back to my sister-in-law’s 19th floor flat (boast, boast…I can do 19 floors after an hour’s walk!), it suddenly occurred to me, as I crossed the 7th floor, that I could take a pic of the view from each floor and make it into a movie. So here’the 7th to the 19th floors:
I saw a few garbage collectors doing their jobs on each floor; I didn’t photograph them out of sensitivity…I don’t think they would have liked it.
While on my walk, I saw this incredibly tall fire-fighting crane:
It belonged to the DLF Firefighting Service (apparently each Phase of this residential complex has one, this is Phase Five)
I imagined a firefighter, high up on that small platform on top, going to the rescue of residents in apartment buildings, quite high up.
Then, I found something that I didn’t have to imagine. A speck on the building opposite me caught my eye.
Can you see the window-cleaner?
I zoomed in:
Dangling by that rope (though it seemed a safe piece of equipment, it certainly gave me vertigo), he was busy with his work:
I walked home, musing that those in “high places” in the pursuit of their jobs or careers need not always be the object of our envy. I salute people like this, who take up “high-level” jobs where they live with danger every working day, and take it in their stride.
A thread about cross-dressing, trans-genders and homosexuality prompted a friend to write the following mythological/religious reference on a mailing list:
Just consider the following:
1. Shiva cross-dressed as Ardhanarishwara
2. Arjuna cross-dressed as Bruhannala
3. Vishnu, not only cross-dressed, but actually “crossed over” as Mohini, had an affair with Shiva and produced Hariharaputra/Shaasta/Ayyappa.
4. We have a tradition that Aravaan, who was Arjuna’s son was expected to die in the next day’s battle—-such was the prophecy. Aravaan was asked as to what his last wish was. He wanted to marry. No one wanted to marry a person who was going to die the next day. Finally a transvestite/Hijra volunteered. That is why Hijras are also called Aravaanis. There are Aravaan temples which are visited by Hijras and others.
5. Many male Krishna-worshippers, even today cross-dress as Radha and worship Krishna.
6. In the 1500-year old Jambukeswara Temple at Tiruvanaikovil near Tiruchirapalli, even today, every day at noon, the priest cross-dresses as a young woman and performs the puja to Shiva.
7. Sakhi and Sakha are all traditions with enormous homoerotic content and are considered entirely legitimate.
8. Khajuraho has sculptures depicting both male homosexuality and lesbianism. At least our ancestors did not feel these were “dirty” for the temple atmosphere. If they are dirty, it is only because the dirt arises in the mind of the beholder.
In fact, cross-dressing, pursuit of androgyny, homo-eroticism, transvestite identities etc. are so common and frequent in Hindu traditions that they do not even call for excess comment. Arjuna, who is one of our great heroes, exhibited signs of bisexuality, cross-dressing and a refreshing androgynous personality. He was known as “Sabyasachi” because he was ambidextrous and could shoot arrows from both hands. The term also captures his inherent androgyny. Quite cool, if you ask me.
My take on homosexuality/lesbianism:
How on earth does it matter who we sleep with, or not? The people we are are what matters. I too have several friends of a different orientation; when they told me so, my response was that I was waiting for the day when it would no longer be necessary to make these statements at all.
Especially in our repressed, hypocritical Indian culture, where even heterosexual activity is so frowned upon, just imagine how tough life must be if one has a different orientation (it’s been proved that this is genetic and not a cultivated choice.)
We can be in denial, as we seem to be often in denial of there being child molesters in so many Indian families. Or…we can accept an aspect of humanity that has existed as long as humanity does. Believe me, as a naturalist, I know that such behaviour is common to other species too. If we remove the moral tag from so many things….smoking, drinking, non-vegetarianism, and others…we would, I feel, be happier people ourselves, accepting those whom we meet for what they are.
I have several friends on both sides of the spectrum, and the good friends are good friends NMW…No Matter What!
When D’s uncle and his partner (they’ve been together for 20+ years now) came to attend DnA’s wedding, we were rather apprehensive about whether they would face whispers and sniggers. But on the other hand, my friends seemed to perceive them as people, and everyone got along so well!
One of my gay friends in Bangalore laughs about the fact that landlords are so against letting an apartment out to a young man and a young woman, and unthinkingly let their homes out to two men or two women.
Let’s just meet and interact with people as people, and not go by the bodies they inhabit! And let’s remember…love is so precious and rare to find in this world, let’s not scorn it because it may come in an unusual garb….pun intended!
We pay a lot of homage
I’ve been watching a music video.
I see the packed halls;
I see the roaring cheers.
It makes me think about the road to this place, Success…
The gigs in small towns, the half-empty places,
The wondering if, after all,
One has the staying power
That, allied (or not) to talent
Could reach that elusive goal….Success.
The road that leads to Success
Can often curve, imperceptibly,
Into the blind alleys of Failure, too.
Success and Failure are like the two faces
Of Janus; one looking forward into the light,
The other, fading into the dimness, the darkness,
Of oblivion, sinking away into the numbers
That are described, in racing parlance,
The efforts that lead to Failure
Are no less than those that fetch up at Success.
I feel for those who end up at the wrong destination….
The music video that brought this on:
We may exist for a minute;
Our size may be minute;
But, in the little time it has…
The fly is iridiscent,
It brings life to the metallic shine.
The casual passerby
Takes a second look,
And stands, transfixed
At the shimmer of colour, and shadows.
When the leaves leave
And the fly flies,
The memory of the fleeting moment
Remains, etched in the mind…