Addictions

Addictions

Addictions in our lives exist in all forms – whether we realize it or not. It may be the more serious and dangerous cravings for drugs, tobacco, alcohol,  caffeine or even gambling. We may also be addicted to soda, certain kinds of food, television, PC games, gossip, movies, internet, reading, writing the list goes on. But whats dangerous about any form of addiction is its slow creep over your character – day by day it becomes more and more central to your life. We may not feel it or we may imagine that we are making a deliberate choice and can easily give up such habits (a common refrain of smokers and alcoholics) but the hard truth is that, most of the time we can’t spend a day without them.

I have seen many smokers, over-confident about their self-control, declaring with insolence how they can give up smoking anytime they want. Only to sheepishly grin and reach for pack after pack. The problem here isn’t just the health issues of these substances whatever they maybe. For me the greater problem is the degeneration of the mind – the weakness of the spirit which becomes a puppet of inanimate objects. And in that sense, a person addicted to reading has as much compromised his freedom as a drug junkie.

And if you see the common theme that runs through almost of the items/activities I mentioned is that they give us a relief. A relief from the mundane, flat cliché of real life. They provide us a cave for us to hide in where we can imagine our lives in a different light. Tobacco/Alcohol/Coffee give a temporary euphoria. Drugs make us hallucinate. Gambling allows us to build castles in the air. PC Games/Internet/TV immerse us in a virtual reality. Reading/Writing feed & help us express our imagination. But all the same, they help us to walk out of the real world of flesh and blood. And the more time we spend in our dungeons of our minds, the more we like it and with it comes a dislike for our actual state. And in our hate and fear for reality we dive deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole.

And we get owned by these habits. Our waking lives become the dream and we imagine our dreams to be tangible and possible. That is my beef with anything that tries to make my decision for me. The internet is a great tool I use almost every other moment of my waking life but it is a tool, not my life. I love whiskey but I don’t stumble through life in a drunk stupor. I love the smell of gourmet coffee and aged tobacco but I have never needed them to keep me awake. I love to read but I prefer to look out the window when am travelling.

The intent of any belonging is to enrich our lives but the moment you feel you can’t live without it – is the moment you need to discard it right away.

“The things you used to own, now they own you.”
― Chuck PalahniukFight Club

If a smoldering  roll of paper with some dried up crushed  leaves, is the high point of your day – is that really a life you are living?

Cliché  - To Avoid It Is   To Define It

Cliché - To Avoid It Is To Define It

How can we define a cliché? The word itself is a cliché. To avoid using cliché is a cliché. To actually like a cliché may not be a cliché or maybe it is.

With 4000 years of history and a seven billion population what are the chances of something, anything to be completely fresh and new?

Why a spider was the greatest thing in Chicago?

Why a spider was the greatest thing in Chicago?

Looking out from the 96th floor of the John Hancock building, my discovery this time in Chicago, was a spider hanging from a single silken thread 500 meters above the ground. For few minutes – the majestic skylinethe vast lake, the huge crowds inside & outside faded out of my focus.

I was watching this tiny creature swinging in the fierce wind of the windy city and spinning its web. And I wondered how it got up there? Were there more like it?

Googling revealed a fascinating story of spider infestations on top of the skyscrapers. Some of them crawl all the way up from the road to the top – almost 500 mts. Some others form a small balloon/kite of web and allow the wind carry them to the top. They like it up there.

 

The upward wind draft along side the tall buildings carries a large number of insects which get trapped in the webs contributing to a unending, varied buffet for their hunters. What amazed me more was how did the damned spiders know all this would happen? Chicago lies in a great plain – and I doubt if these insects knew any of the air dynamics near tall structures.

These new buildings were completed in the last 100 years – a tiniest smudge in the vast canvas of time. And yet Nature diligently learnt how to make the best of it. And these artificial man made hills that we call skyscrapers are already part of an ecosystem. In its dark humor, it has turned the tables and in a way we built all of these buildings to serve spiders better.

Reading more, I was equally fascinated to learn that birds were using cigarette butts to line their nests since the nicotine acts as a natural insecticide and protects their babies from infections and increases immunity. 

Makes me think. We may think we are the most superior beings on the planet and deem ourselves distinct from the vast multitude of other mindless creatures. In our arrogance we destroy and kill other species and perhaps irrevocably damage the planet. Or maybe we just think so. Whatever we do, “life finds a way“.

If the whole history of earth was compressed into one day, humans have been around for just over one minute. Here is a graphical representationof what I mean. There has been multiple cycles of destruction and reconstruction of the planet. Maybe in this light, we are just toddlers throwing tantrums and nature like an old genial parent lets us do what we please. Since a child’s tantrums hardly amount to anything.

 

Where Are You From?

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Where Are You   From?

Let’s pause here for a moment.

This has been a very common question in life – hasn’t it? And yet the answer is seldom straightforward and always changing. The answer changes based on who is asking and where are they from. It changes based on where you are now. It changes on what you want other people to think of you. Sometimes it can be offensive labeling you as an outsider. Other times it can be endearing when you realize the person asking might also be from wherever you are. But if you have lived in few different places in your life, it can be just plain confusing.

So…where are you from?

Do I want to know your city of birth or where you grew up or where you stayed for 10 years of your life? Or do I just want a country or even a continent? Why do I even care? What does that piece of information tell me about you and your life? Or is it just a conversation starter?

But seriously where are you from?

You are an African.

It doesn’t matter if you are one girl from a state of 27 million people – I know who you vote for.

It doesn’t matter if you are from a country with 9 different time zones – you love Vodka don’t you?

You live in a country with a hugely complicated racial makeup and history and which is almost a miniature of the world in its complexity but you like cowboy hats and you love guns!!

It doesn’t matter how south of Texas you live – you must like spicy food.

No matter who you are of the 1.5 billion India – I know your job.

Doesn’t life become easier when you stereotype. I wasn’t asking where you are from – I was asking who you are and you just answered it with a word. Thank you!

But what I actually meant was where are you REALLY from?

100 years old national land purchases, 300 year old famines, 1500 years old wars, 2000 year old invasions or 20 million year old mountain formations have more to do with who you are than your personal interests and education and experiences.

I will admit perhaps all these stereotypes would have had some meaning even just 50 years ago. Information wasn’t that wide spread. Interaction among countries and cultures was minimal for the common person. Such a person may have been somewhat similar to his or her parents or grandparents. But mass media and then internet has very effectively broken down these baseless human barriers. And along with the barriers the stereotypes has to come down.

Where are you from?

It should be an impossible question to answer since there are very no natural walls in the world left. We have scaled every mountain and sailed across oceans. And country borders are just that…country borders for ease of governance. They are not really cultural checkpoints anymore unless you are unfortunate enough to live in some hardcore dictatorship like North Korea. We are encouraged from childhood to think of ourselves as citizens of our country not just from a district or a state. Isn’t it time we apply the same logic to international borders?

Anyway – where am I from you ask?

I am from everywhere. So are you. We are from everywhere.