Saturday, June 29, 2013

A promised wait for the Knight in shining armor

We grew up watching cartoons or listening to fairy tales. Cinderella and all those princesses had a Prince Charming. They had their ‘Happily Ever After’ ending. Even in cartoons, Mickey Mouse had Minnie Mouse and Donald Duck had Daisy Duck. Pepe Le Pew, the French skunk spent his days on screen trying to win the heart of what appeared to be a female skunk, but what was actually a female cat. The bottom line is that each character had a special someone in their life. We females grew up with the belief that when the time was right, our knight in shining armor would ride along on his white horse. The men prepared for their role as the knights that rescue the damsels in distress, or so the world is told.

We waited patiently for the day that knight arrived at our doorstep. He never did. Of course, there is a simple explanation for his absence. No matter what stories our parents tell us, knights in shining armor do not always exist. Yet, we grew up waiting for that day and for that person who would fit the ‘perfect suitor’ list. It was one of the many things promised to us.

The movie Monster which stars Charlize Theron is based on a true story, and includes the following words.
Aileen: “Love conquers all.” “Every cloud has a silver lining.” “Faith can move mountains.” “Love will always find a way.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “Where there is life, there is hope.” [laughs] “Oh, well... They gotta tell you somethin’”

Inspirational quotes and various promises are words we happily believe in because it makes life somewhat easier. They make us paint a picture of a perfect world where all our dreams come true, even though it is not so in reality.

You must also ask yourself the question whether your dreams are your own or someone else’s. Our parents often want for us the things they never had. When they look at us, they see the lawyer or doctor they once dreamed of being. Looking at all our parents have done for us, it is okay to sometimes make their dreams come true. However, we should never make them our own dreams. Your life should not be decided by someone else. When someone asks you where you see yourself five years from today, you should be able to see yourself doing what you love, and not what friends or family want for you.

We should look at someone for who they are. However, the image is often affected by what we expect from them. A mother may not only see a child when she looks at her 19 year old daughter, but will also see herself when she was the same age. Yet, despite knowing what it is like to have these expectations that are never met, parents always make promises to their children. My grandmother always tells me, ‘when one door closes, another opens’ and I grew up believing in this. Yet, there will be a day when another door doesn’t.

When waiting for the knight in shining armor, do not wait for a knight in perfectly smooth and polished armor. Look for the scratches and scars. They show the many battles he has faced in life and won, and now he has now chosen to fight for you. Life is not a bed of roses, and only someone who has felt the pain of the thorns is worth your time. You still shouldn’t wait for that perfect person. The chances of the perfect person not existing are quite high.

For nothing and no one is perfect. There is always a hamartia or a tragic flaw. The sooner we identify and accept this in a person, the easier it is to love them.

Friday, June 28, 2013

past tense love

Can you really love someone in the past tense? Is 'loved' real? Or does that love find it's way into the present and thus the future. Do we stop loving people completely? Is there ever a way to not love someone you once loved? Doesn't part of that love always stay with us?

That love may not always be there right in front of you. Maybe you don't wait for their texts or calls or waiting to see them. But that love is still there. That love will always be there. And this is why you must love carefully. For promises can be broken, but love. It can't be undone.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Being Single

When people say "I'm happily single" they do mean they are quite happy to not be in a relationship. They also may mean that no one has been showing any interest in them. Which is fine. Not all of us have people trying to win our hearts, no Secret Admirers or Valentines. Some of us are just meant to be Forever Alones. Except that more often than not, we are to blame for our singlehood. We push people away and give the impression that we are not at all interested.

So I have no issue with being single and I have no issue with people being single. After all how is the heartbreak worth it? <Okay, who are we kidding. It's nice to be liked by someone!>

The real problem I have is how people always assume others aren't single. Sometime back I was part of a conversation I had spaced out of. So I did the whole, nodding and smiling at what seemed like the perfect moments. This went on, until the words, "she has a boyfriend" made my brain go all, "OMG! Your cousin has a boyfriend and she didn't even tell you!" because we were talking about my cousin before I spaced out. So I asked them, "who has a boyfriend?" and they look at me like I'm crazy and say, "you do." Now my random nodding and smiles didn't make things any better. So they just assumed, God knows why, that I was in a relationship.

A similar thing happened with a another friend.
Friend (talking to another friend): She's not available
Me:Why not?
Friend: You aren't single right?
Me: Huh? I am
Friend: *confused look* Hmm!

Two years ago, I was talking with a friend. And he assumed I was taken because of the school I went to. Almost as if, when we turn sixteen or whatever, our principal says, "Look kid, we noticed you are single, and so found the perfect guy for you. If you don't like him, we will find another. Don't you worry, our aim as a school is to make sure all our students are in relationships."

Now of course I feel a bit happy that people assume my behavior implies am not up for grabs. It keeps away any unwanted advances. So does your average not-single-girl rarely text, talk on the phone and always make negative comments about love and relationships?

Then there are answers to, "what makes you think I'm going out?" Once someone actually told me something like, "Oh there's that boy who always comments on your FB posts." Now I don't know much about relationships but I doubt a condition of a relationship is that you always comment on your special someone's FB posts! Get a life, people. Comments and like suggest nothing. I like posts because they interest me, not because I like the one posted it!

There are people who rush into relationships because they are sad and lonely and the only way they can smile again is if they jump into a relationship which won't last that long and lead to more pain!

So males and females, just wait. Patience will either make you meet your soulmate (if they do exist) or they will make you'll cat-ladies. Either way, just stop complaining and assuming. Just wait for the right person. He or she may not be perfect, and what you have with them, whether its like or love won't last forever, but then again, nothing does.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When we pray, we are being selfish

For someone quite young, I think about death a lot. Not the act of dying. Not the how, when or where of death. But death it self. I once planned on writing out "Shailee's Final Will and Testament" the day I turned 21. Now I have decided to have no will. My law teacher told me that even in law, a man still exists after death and this was through his will. So I thought I will specify who gets what. My books, clothes, money and other goods that collect in my life. Then I thought, should I really spend my life planning who should get what after I die? Does it matter if my enemy gets my most treasured book? Does it matter if a man who stole from me gets all my money? And finally, should it matter?

I would be dead. Should I, even after I'm no more, tell what people can have and should have? The first step to not having to worry about what happens after death is to not let things collect. I can't easily give away my things. Books, gifts and soft toys. Clothes I give away easily, and I'm not too particular about money. When I have, I happily spend. When I don't have, I don't ask. Yet, the things I love the most, I can't part with. And this is the kind of this that could make me worry even when am taking my final breath.

Then I thought about the funeral. They are for the living, I read somewhere. Which is quite true. Weddings have stopped being for the bride and groom and are instead for the guests. Why does a man want to be buried in his most expensive suit? Why in a coffin made of the best kind of wood? You are dead, what you wear or what you are burned or buried in will not make you less dead.

Who would I want at this funeral? Not a soul. Some funerals are attended by thousands. Of these, many shed tears. Yet, how many were there during the dead man's last moment alive? Who held his hand as the pain increased? Who cleaned him up when he vomited all over him self? How many were at the funeral having seen a notice in a newspaper?

While death is not something that can be avoided, there's one little thing I would want to do before I actually stop living. This is to truly understand life and the ways of the world. Every morning when I light the same old oil lamp, offer the white flowers and put my palms together in front of a pure white Buddha statue, I say to my self, "May I have the strength and determination to attain Nirvana." I say these words and yet make no effort to seek the way out. I say these words and yet, do nothing but form more and more ties.

This might lead to taking the year off, next year. Sometimes you need to get away to calm your self. And so next year, I will finally do what I love; travel. Maybe study Buddhism even.

Which takes me to something a relative to my grandmother recently. He told her that I shouldn't just get a degree, but do the family proud by getting a Masters. Hearing this made me feel proud and happy for not many dream for other people. Not many hope or wish for others. When we pray, we are being selfish. We pray for our selves. When we hope, we hope for our selves. We connect everything to the one person, who in the end turns out to be our biggest enemy. Because in life we lie to people. But the person we lie to the most is also the one we can trust the most.

Monday, June 24, 2013

On choices, distance and happy endings

Since the connections the mind makes between various things cannot be fully explained, today an empty train heading towards the commercial capital of the country made me think of the decisions and choices we make in life.

We choose to hurt and sometimes, we choose knowing it will hurt us. It isn't easy, looking at a choice you made knowing it will tear you apart. Yet, a voice in your head will tell you that, sometimes, you make that choice because you can't always keep thinking about the future. Live in the moment, I always say to my self. This is what you should do. Don't always think about the consequences. Of course, you can't completely ignore the thought of the future and dig your own grave. But within certain limits, make that choice that makes you happy in the present tense.

Sometimes, it feels like we have a choice, but turns out, we don't. Either someone else made that choice for us, or there never were multiple options.

Of course, the mind wanders. Soon I had forgotten about all these choices and looked at the distance between people. There's the distance in miles and meters. In how many oceans lie between two people. Then there's that other kind of distance, where you are sitting next to each other but it feels like you aren't. Because his or her presence feels cold, and you wish they would reach out and hold your hand, but they never do. Its the distance that can be closed through a hug, or a smile. And its the distance that hurts the most.

Next is love. So I love ice cream. As I told my cousin, if I could I would get married to ice cream. If I had to choose a God, I would choose ice cream. So if I like someone as much as I like ice cream, that's when I know that its time to move away. Which I will do, because till the day I die, I can be quite confident that there will be ice cream on earth. But the people you love, whether they are your parents, siblings, friends, they all leave. They all stop being part of your life, and you stop being part of their lives. And no matter how much money and effort you are willing to spend or waste, those you love will never be there forever.

Happy endings. Some part of me always waited for this happy ending. But I've decided that happy endings don't exist. Endings cannot be happy. We tell our selves this, but endings hurt. So I will remind my self each day that soon the day will come when these people and things I love are no more. And finally the day when I'm no more. And this is what we were always told in Buddhism, yet, I could never accept it. Understand, maybe. Not accept.

Finally a to-do list. A friend told me about two things he planned to do every day. And I think it's time, I had such a list.

The first is two write everyday, which is an idea I'm stealing from my friend. I used to blog daily. And maintain a diary which is now called a journal. So a blog post a day and a journal entry. No saying, "ah! tomorrow would do." And to steal an idea from the Vlogbrothers, I'll have a 'punishment' each time I skip a day.

Second is again stealing something from my friend. It's something my meditation teacher in school always told us, yet we happily ignored her. That is to go through what I did during the day, before going to bed. So each night, I will in a way, sort out the day.

Meditate. Five minutes would do. Just close my eyes, block out the world and concentrate on my breathing. Although in a way, the above is a sort of meditation. Maybe I'll somehow combine the two.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Things I've Learned in the Past Few Days

1. Eat on time. Do not skip meals. And when working, eat whenever you can for you don't know when your next meal will be.

2. Tea is way better than coffee for one simple reason. Tea is comforting, coffee is not.

3. Smile whenever you can. You may not be able to tomorrow.

4. Make the most of each moment count. Especially time with friends and family.

5. If you are wearing a dress, just don't ever get on a bike. Worst idea ever, unless you don't mind exposing your legs to the world.

6. Always carry money with you. Banks are never located at your convenience.

7. Don't trust everyone. Trust some people. Don't tell everyone your problems. Tell very few.

8. Keep your phone charged. Right when there is no way you can charge it all your friends will remember you and want to talk to you.Then when you really need it, your phone battery will be dead.

9. Get a good night's rest. Go to bed early, because you may have to wake up early too. And there's no headache worse than the one you get when you don't get enough sleep.

10. Assumptions are rarely right. Don't base your opinions on assumptions.

11. Reading your own copy of a book is much better than reading someone else' copy. When you own the book, it will be easier to read it.

12. Make sure people know their boundaries. Especially in your life. Do not let people feel too familiar or comfortable with you. Especially those of the opposite sex.

13. Laugh at lame jokes. They are funny no matter what you are told.

14. Don't cry when you can laugh. Start the day by singing happy songs. Even if you can't sing to save your life.

15. Be there for people. You may be busy or your own problems may be overwhelming. But be there for people. They may not return the favor but helping people wont hurt anyone.

16. First impressions are always proved wrong. People you think are kind and caring will turn out to be viscous snakes. And people you think are unfriendly and scary will turn out to be the shoulder you can lean on.

17. Let it all go and spend time doing crazy things, eating junk food. Life is too short to live by rules at all times.

18. Remember things people say. And always listen. Many untold stories hide behind those that are told.

19. Be unique. People may laugh at your outfits and choices. But let them. Be different, but in a good way. Don't try to teach the world a lesson, just be who you are.

20. Learn to tolerate things. Respect the choices of others. Do not criticize when you aren't perfect.

21. Be observant. Motivational quotes might be helpful but sometimes tuk tuk wisdom is just that, wisdom. And you mayn't see it, unless you observe.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Facebook Vegetarians

People fight for many causes, and people love finding various causes to fight for. Usually the fighting does not include guns or knives, but words; written or typed words. Most of the fighting also happens online, on social network sites such as  Facebook and Twitter. Status updates, images and pages are dedicated to fight for these causes while making many others uncomfortable. Further, the fighting is usually about spreading awareness.

The causes of course vary from cancer or AIDS to endangered species and even ethnic differences. However, of these causes, vegetarianism is considered one of the coolest things you could fight for. You are even cooler if you are a vegan.

I have nothing against depriving oneself of meat. Of course if you want to take a step beyond that and deprive yourself of all dairy products, no harm will be done. It may seem a little extreme, but if your diet is still healthy and you are happy, be a vegan. I don’t know any vegans, but I do know many vegetarians. Some have chosen to give up meat later in their lives. Either they don’t enjoy meat anymore or they have religious reasons. The choice was made for some by their parents. They were brought up as vegetarians and do not wish to explore the alternative.

Then there are the Facebook vegetarians. As with most labels relating to Facebook, they too are incredibly interesting people. Status updates constantly remind us of the poor fish and cows that are being slaughtered at that very moment, just so we could shamelessly enjoy a meal. They share images that are simply gruesome to teach all meat eaters a lesson. They preach about the rights of the animals and how we commit the worst possible crime by eating meat.

Of course their fights are limited to the online world; we don’t see them freeing animals that await death. Most don’t bat an eyelid before they kill the mosquito, which after all was doing the one thing she could to feed herself. However, some do bring their battles to the outside world. Sometimes when you go for a meal with a vegetarian or vegan, you get a frown when you say the chicken dish looks good or when you order a fish bun, even though we all know they do not have any fish in them. When the food arrives, both the waiter and you are frowned at. Another frown comes your way when you bite into your food and so on. Some say they do not want you to eat meat while being so close to them, others tell you they have no issue, and yet their body language would suggest otherwise.

While you can avoid meals with your extremist vegetarian friends, their posts always manage to creep their way into your Facebook home page. You can ‘unfriend’ them, block their posts or hide them, yet, not many want to delete their friends over such an issue. So the only other thing you can do is make them feel uncomfortable too. It is always with joy that I put up posts that are anti-vegetarian. Of course these are not aimed at those who happily live with their choices, but at those who want to convert everyone else.

After all, it’s a cycle. Animal eats plant; man eats animal and so on. There is also a cycle on Facebook; friend makes post, argument follows, people agree to disagree, another post is made and the story continues. This goes on regardless of the number of people you block or delete. There’s always a cause to fight for. People always want to be heroes. Yet, as much as they have a right to post, there should be at least an ounce of consideration involved. No one, not even a saint, would want to open their Facebook on a bright and sunny morning to be greeted by images of slaughtered cows and dead birds.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A life with missed presents has no future

“Forever – is composed of Nows,” wrote Emily Dickinson. The past too is composed of nows. It is in the present that you read this, but soon it will be in the past. A few hours from now, you may not even remember reading this. That now which was the present just became the past. The past was once the present. The future, that murky distant unknown future, will soon become the present, someday will become today.

The present is a gift, many have said. You can either make the most of it or try to get through it. You either live or you survive. Sadly, too many forget the present, and immerse themselves too deep in the future.

Ask an O/L student what his plans are. Most would list out each step, pass their O/L’s and A/L’s in a particular stream, finish course after course in some already chosen university and finally work for a pre-decided company. Ask them what they would do if a step does not work out as planned, and many of them will not have a Plan B. They live in the future, as uncertain as it is.

In lower grades school assignments included the terrifying essays on your dream profession. Students wanted to be doctors, lawyers or engineers. Today, the very people who had those dreams are in completely different fields. You can’t predict life in anyway. Nothing is promised. Some find it easy to accept the unexpected. Some don’t have plans, no Plan A or B and they drift along with the wind. They allow let life take them to places. Such people are rarely disappointed by life. They don’t worry about what will happen ten years from now. They live in the present. By doing so, they live each moment to its fullest.

There was a man, old, hair greying. Clothes dirty. His face, unshaven for at least a month. He had most probably lost his senses following a tragic incident, or just due to old age. He had this white, perfectly new soccer ball with him. It wasn’t fully blown up, one side caving in. He kept throwing it up and catching it while crossing the road and then kicked it up with his knee when he got to the other side of the road. It was a gloomy day, the rain clouds taking over. The sight of this man just washed away the darkness. It reminded me that while at 19 I was battling the first steps into adulthood, he, probably in his 60’s is doing something that today’s children rarely do.

He wasn’t looking into tomorrow, or the end the week. He was living that moment. The smile on his face was a proof enough that for him, life couldn’t get any better. We miss such moments because we are too involved in the future to stop for a moment and savor the beauty of the present. We make too many plans for the future. We have too many hopes, and when our dreams don’t come true in that future we had so much faith in, we feel lost and realize what we have been missing in life.

We are young only once, and while attitudes like YOLO-You Only Live Once are often misused, make the most of today. Go do something you have always wanted to; next week you may not have the time and five years from now you will regret not having done it. “It is better to have loved and lost. Than never to have loved at all,” Tennyson wrote. It is also better to have lived and experienced life than to let it just go on.

Don’t keep looking back into the past. Nothing will come out of it. Don’t run into the future. Live in the today you have been blessed with.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Blaming the Parents

Generally girls are thought to be the favorite of her fathers and boys, the favorite of their mothers. Psychology puts forth various arguments to back this or disagree with it, yet, society still considers this favoritism natural. I was lucky to come from a family where neither my brother nor I were favored. Of course he got the larger share because he was the oldest and I was taught this at a very early age. Sometimes it seemed like my parents bought me more things; yet, I know they spend the same amount on my brother.

To an extent they spoil us, Amma bringing us our morning coffee or tea to our beds, washing, ironing and folding our clothes. Thathee too makes sure we have all we need and never says no to our many requests. My grandmother has a huge say in our lives, but she too has never favored one of us. She lovingly looks into all our needs and [lovingly] scolds us for all our wrongs.

So we were never favored. But I’ve seen parents who favor one child in particular. I won’t mention any names, because I’m sure they know who they are. Since this is a time where facebook statuses are held more worthy than actual words, I know a parent who dedicates most of her status updates to one of her two sons. It’s always about his great achievements; well, as great as what an eleven year old could achieve. I haven’t asked the older son how he feels about this, but if I was the one who wasn’t getting a single status mention, I sure would be disappointed.

But I would also be bitter. Now I know another family where one kid is favored. And this isn’t about facebook statuses. This is about out in the daylight, obvious and staring in your face favoring. Of the kids, the parents dream for one child in particular. Her education, life, health and what not. So the other kids, the oldest, in particular, have to fight for the attention of their parents.

Now some parents totally neglect their other children while others merely treat the special one like royalty. Either way, they don’t love them equally and this is not what a parent should be doing. So the children hate their parents or just stop caring about this.

I was once told that the younger sibling is usually more independent as they grow up alone. Parents show more concern for the older child. Growing up to be independent is good, yet, you are being deprived of the most important kind of love needed in life.

So parents happily forget their other children and focus all their love and attention on one. Then later on in life they complain that the others do not care for them or respect them. I don’t think parents who don’t love their children equally deserve any respect.

Looking at how parents further dig their child’s grave, is the examples they set for the young ones. Parents inconsiderately spit in public, litter and cheat in life. Fathers drink and smoke in front of their children and treat their wives terribly. When the children grow up to be substance using, abusive people, the parents say, “we did so much for you, and is this what you have become?”

Sri Lankan buses are usually quite packed. So when a seat is vacant, the mother or father would tell the child to sit, and the parent would keep on standing. When the child grows up, he or she will not offer their seat to some one older. Some times not even to their parents. Who is responsible? Of course, it’s the parents.

I’m not a parent and don’t wish to be one. But I’m a child, and I know how much my life has been shaped by the way my parents treated me. So parents, treat all of your children equally, love them and look after them. Don’t set a bad example, because today’s child is tomorrow’s adult. And they are useless as adults if you do not teach them the right lessons.