Powering your way through life

Got up late today. Thought it was going to be one of those lazy, unproductive depressing days. But guess what, I decided to just push myself to go for a jog. And though I couldn’t cover my usual distance I still had a good workout. Got back home, had a nice shower and awesome breakfast and got two calls for doing gigs. For those of you who don’t know me I am a singer who quit her job recently to get into music full time. I’m hunting for a job again now but pursuing music remains my number one priority and today just turned out to be a lucky day.

I believe in this sort of thing. Good things and bad things happen in a flow depending on our state of mind. If our state of mind is of positivity, happiness and gratefulness, good things just start happening and we start feeling lucky. And when we feel lucky we get lucky. And the vice versa is true too, which is why some days we go from feeling hopeless to finding and getting new reasons to feel hopeless. But I don’t want to focus on that today.

I want to focus on the fact that I have two gigs now. Definitely getting more and more opportunities for getting into music professionally.

So much for starting the day positively. I think working out every day is probably the best thing I have done for myself recently. It is difficult sometimes. To wake up in the morning and find the energy to leave the comfort of your house. But when you do it you find so much more energy. And that one act if pushing ourselves first thing in the morning, kind of sets the mood for the day. You feel more organised and disciplined, not to mention energetic. And obstacles don’t bother you as much because you are able to power your way through.

So moral of the story for today, work out work out work out, preferably outside the comfort of your home.

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Escape 2

As I climbed the stairs, I became acutely aware of the fact that this was a date, not a casual networking meet where the guy flirts and I try to keep it business. I had agreed for this one to be a date and that made me feel conscious. Did I look ok, was my hairdo looking awkward. I was split into one cold and practical person who thought this was just a casual meeting with a musician who she really wanted to connect with and another person who was looking forward to a date and wanted to leave this person with good memories about her.

As he walked towards me to greet me I froze because I had to recondition myself to be warm and friendly and not cold and distant. I was expecting a quick friendly hug but he wrapped his arms around me and held me close for a second and I was pleasantly surprised by the hug and by myself. Usually hugs make me want to push away the person and build a wall that he must not cross. But this time I didn’t feel repelled at all. It didn’t feel like I must just tolerate and get past the hug for the sake of politeness.

And so that night I genuinely smiled and felt amazement at this warm and positive person who seemed to be wanting a casual emotionless relationship for fear of emotional investment. Yet his actions showed warmth, respect and a desire to have something more meaningful with someone than just physical intimacy. There was no false flattery, no manipulation or deceit nor direct comments on physical desires that I had seen so far. He seemed to have little experience with the ways of someone who wants to have a casual fling with a girl.

And so I genuinely smiled and felt positive and didn’t hold myself back. We spoke about music, he shared his story of how he learnt to play the keyboard in his childhood and when he started to feel good about it, how he learnt to play with two hands in few days’ time because he got a second chance to play in a college band after getting rejected once, his relation with his parents, things that are important to him, how he respected my decision to leave my job and take up music full time, how he thought I could improve my singing. We spoke a lot about music and we wouldn’t stop talking. There were hardly any pauses. What I didn’t realise then was I was getting quietly impressed by his determined nature, his proficiency in music, his sense of affection towards his friends and sense of responsibility towards his parents. At that point of time all I noticed was some feelings of amusement at how he kept affirming that we had spent so long talking without realising the time so it meant that we had a good date and how he was surprised by my choice of location for the date/meeting. It seemed to have overwhelmed him and his fear somehow amused me because I considered myself immune to being affected by feelings.

As we took a walk in the neighbourhood of the restaurant he asked me if he could hold my hand and I laughed. Who asks. My ex would sort of just make our hands subtly bump into each other and suddenly hold it tight. And I would get pleasantly surprised. That warm memory of holding hands was somehow very special to me and since we broke up I would pull away when someone would try to hold my hand. But my ex was no longer special and this guy had asked so politely. You don’t discourage when someone treats a girl with so much respect. I was used to people who spoke of respecting the girls in their lives yet their actions showed a sense of entitlement and dominance. The irony made me laugh though I shyly said yes.

“Why did you laugh when I asked?” He enquired as we walked side by side holding hands.
“Because you asked. I’m not used to it.” I replied simply. It was hard to go into complex explanation. It didn’t seem apt for the sweet moment we were having.

“Don’t worry. I don’t have that kind of feelings for you. I just find you physically attractive.” Despite myself, despite things being already clear between us, my heart sank. So he didn’t find me attractive as a person. As a person I could be anyone it didn’t matter to him as long as there was a possibility of physical intimacy.

“You smell good. I guess I am being upfront but this is how I am. I find you physically attractive. There was a moment there when I wanted to kiss you.”
I smiled.
“Can I? Can I kiss you?” he asked.
“No.” I said. The thought of kissing felt too much suddenly.
He didn’t protest. No expression of disappointment. No subtle attempts to guilt me into saying yes. Usually I would’ve given in to guilt and distanced myself later. That’s me. I play my part obediently in a show run by the opposite person without asking questions. And one day it gets too much and I close the book without warning. This is what I was used to. It allowed me to remain a cold unattached observer able to walk out the moment I chose to do so. But this guy was treating me with respect while simultaneously telling me that I as a person meant nothing. Why did I not protest? Why did I not speak my mind? Because I was confused about what was hurting and what was endearing. And I was afraid I would say something that would drive him away. After getting abandoned once I had carefully made sure that I would never be the one getting abandoned, I would be the bird that flies away when she chose to, not the other way round. Never the other way round.

I booked a cab and literally wanted to run away from there before I said anything to ruin the beautiful night. As I was taking leave he hugged me and yet again it felt so warm and safe. He held on a second longer and kissed my forehead. I looked at him surprised and he looked away with a slight smile that he couldn’t hide. And yet again that exposed his pure affectionate side that I found so endearing.

As the cab drove away I closed my eyes and held on to that hug and kiss for as long as I could. Because I knew from experience that it would not last forever. Did he know he had shown affection and respect to a person who had only experienced lust, deceit, force and violation? There was only one other person who had done this before and he too had changed when the break up left him with feeling only hatred and occasional longing for physical intimacy alone. Did he realise that he had stirred emotions in a heart that since then only smirked and felt disgust when men expressed their emotions for her. It was hard for him to understand. But it was getting difficult for her to dismiss him and forget. That made him dangerous. Beautiful though that night was she knew that he had opened some doors she had locked away forever and she didn’t have the freedom to just fly away when the time comes. So she had to escape now before it was too late.

Yet Again?

I felt stiff and cold. I walked upto his cabin once with the intention of entering but at the last minute I changed my mind and walked past the door. My face was flushed red even with the thought of facing him. Then I saw one of his subordinates walk in and I got the courage to go in. At least he wouldn’t be mean to me when other people were around. I went inside with the documents. He looked up from his phone and mouthed, “What?” very casually.

I found myself at ease suddenly. But I did not respond just nodded my head. He finished his call and asked me again, “Yes?” I was prepared for curtness. He was going to be curt and rude. Who likes to be treated like a stranger after such a close friendship, who likes to be ditched? His ego must be hurt. He must be trying to find ways to get back at me. “I just needed these issues closed, the Principal was not happy with the explanations you have provided”, I said, showing him the documents in my hand.

He looked at the documents for a while and asked for a few clarifications. I explained what the Principal had said. He did not react defensively. He didn’t stretch the matter. Only said, “Ok, it will be done. I may not be able to go the college today, but you will get it by the end of the day.”

I managed to smile and say, “Thank you!” and he replied with a polite nod.

I came out of his office lost and confused. This was not what I was prepared for. In fact this was so……invalidating. Almost like I would have preferred if he had been rude to me instead. Why was he so nice and polite and cooperative when he had every reason not to be? All these months I kept away from him, I had made this mental evil image for him and reminded myself everyday of what he had done to me. All the betrayal, all the hurt, all the horror and helplessness. The anger I had felt at him for putting me through so much trouble and fear. The numerous times I thought about hurting him. And yet today he seemed like a nice humane person. Was I then wrong all this time? Was he indeed a nice person?

I couldn’t hold myself back anymore. After having broken contact from him for so many months, I finally messaged him on my own, “How can you be so nice to me?” I texted.

I wanted to tell him that it confused me. If he was evil he should act evil, not be so sweet and cooperative. But I couldn’t tell him that. After a while he replied, “Because I love you. I did something which was not right. You showed me the right path and an opportunity to correct myself. I respect you for that. One rarely comes across such people and I am happy that I met one.”

I felt warmth and relief. But on another level I felt unsettled. Because he couldn’t be a good person. I had good reason to believe that before. The reason still holds. But I felt the hatred for him vanishing. I actually felt respect for him. But couldn’t this also be pretense? As always, maybe he just knows the right words to show that he is a good man.

I don’t know. I wish I understood. This is just another of those times when I fail. When I fumble in judging people because my heart believes and trusts easily. Each time I fall prey to it but this time I decided to write about it. Let’s hope now that I will hold on this time till my mind is more rational and I am sure about what I am doing…

Escape

It was full moon. Summer. Around two in the night. The air was still. Outside the trees stood dark and still, an occasional light breeze stirring a few leaves, but you would notice it only if you were watching since a long time. 
And the longer you watched the trees, the more convinced you would get that they had life, and secrets. They knew, they understood a lot of things. But for some reason they preferred to be on their own, watching from a distance, pretending innocence. 
The moon shone into the room through the open window. She sat there at the window, her head resting on the palm of her right hand, elbow on the white marble window sill. Her left hand hand half hanging out of the window as if to catch invisible raindrops. In the silver moonlight, her skin otherwise dusky seemed pale and white. She sat like that in her room, door closed to shut her for the time being from what went on in the rest of the house. Her eyes watched the shadow of the leaves, on the ground three floors below, through the gap between her fingers. She was a girl of twelve. 
Outside her room the voices had ceased. There was no more shouting, no more noise of breaking glass, no more whining. She felt heavy. Something inside her wanted to sob bitterly, loudly, wail through the quiet neighbourhood. But she sat still. Willing the tears to come. The sob struggled up her throat but got lost somewhere on the way before it could reach her eyes. The tears wouldn’t come. 
And she continued to sit there. On the surface, her face looked calm, though her eyes glinted in the moonlight, giving away the rage that she felt within. Her eyes were now focused on the palm of her left hand. They followed the pattern of lines on it. A dark line ran down from the top left and stopped somewhere before it reached the bottom right. She couldn’t stop looking at it……………… 
Fresh red blood trickled out as she finished drawing a shallow slit over the line with a blade. She bent her palm a little to feel the pain – the thin red line was slowly dotted by small drops of blood till it was transformed into a thick uneven line and blood trickled down the side of her hand. 
At the same time, two little drops of tears trickled down the sides of her eyes as she cringed in pain. And then she wept. Softly. Once she gasped loudly for breath. But she shut her mouth with her free hand to stifle the sound. Allowing herself only to wail softly. 
For a long time she let the tears flow out noiselessly till her eyes were finally dry again — and the blood had stopped soaking the handkerchief she held against her palm. 
Then she hid away the handkerchief that she would dispose off later, pulled a blanket over herself and shut her eyes to get some sleep before another miserable day would begin.

(I have reposted this from my own blog at blogspot http://www.itsnevertheend.blogspot.com)

The Distorted Learning Curve

Today I noticed a lady at my workplace looking really tired and worn out. As general courtesy I asked her if she was all right.

“I am fine,” she replied, “just that I didn’t get to sleep much last night. I had to work on my daughter’s school project; these kids have so much to do. And I had completely forgotten that she had to submit it today..”

“You mean you made your daughter’s project report?” I asked surprised.

“Yes, these children are given a lot of project work these days; I don’t know why they give the little children such difficult work. It is such a headache for parents!” she said disapprovingly.

“But isn’t the project meant for the children. Don’t you think you should just let her work on it?” I tried to reason with her.

“But she is so little. How will she know what to do?” She asked perplexed, as if that was an answer that was understood.

“No what I meant was, let her use her head, let her try something on her own. You can help her but let her do the work. Let her work on the project at her level of understanding. It doesn’t have to be the best, but she will learn something isn’t it?” I tried again.

“Yeah, I know got what you are saying, but all other children make such wonderful projects then the teacher will give her low grades.”

“You mean their parents make wonderful projects.” I smiled and said. She smiled back. “That’s how it is dear; there is so much competition at such a young age!”

I just smiled and said nothing. I realized there was no point reasoning. The whole thing was wrong at so many levels.

What was the child learning by watching her mother complete her project for her and taking credit for it in school? The project in my opinion was well meant. It would have pushed the child to think; maybe she would have spent some time struggling over it. May be she would have come up with useless ideas or pestered her mother with lots of questions. May be this particular project would not have turned out fancy but she would certainly have used her brain a lot. Don’t these parents know that a child’s brain is still developing a lot till the age of 7. If she uses the creative part of her brain at this point, she will certainly be very creative when she grows up.

But here, all she really learnt was how to copy the best stuff off the internet and stick them together on paper, take credit and be appreciated. In fact she was not even doing that. She was just watching her mother do all the work. How would this child grow up to feel capable? She would always grope for someone to help her out when faced with a tough problem in life. She would never be able to think that she should sit and brainstorm for possible solutions, because since her childhood she has been taught that she should ask someone else to do her work when she can’t do it on her own.

But is the mother wrong. I think she is, but let us try to understand the situation from her point of view. She didn’t want her child to take a bad project report to school. Why not? May be because she didn’t want her child to feel left out when all others were submitting fancy projects. Valid. But wouldn’t the child learn from what she saw and come back and think of better ideas for her next project. Isn’t that the process of learning? Isn’t it more important that you help your child back on her feet when she falls instead of not letting her walk on her own for fear that she may fall? But the mother can still argue that the school teacher would compare and give the child low marks. Then the child would get used to getting low marks and will never strive hard to be the best. But isn’t this the root of all evil in education system? Striving for marks and not learning!!! Why should there be marks at all at this age?

And competition? While I am personally against the spirit of competition at any level, others may not agree with me, which is fine. But competition at this age? When children should be focusing on learning, understanding, improving, thinking creatively and not limiting their thought process to getting good marks?

Sadly that has become the state of child development today. Instead of helping our children become capable and confident, we teach them to live superficially. We teach them to give value to marks that are a representative of their intelligence as against learning the hard way that may fetch them low marks but will make them much more intelligent.

I think the education system must work on spontaneity. Don’t ask the children to get the work done from home. Ask them to spend more time in school and give them on the spot assignments. Let them roam freely in school and come up with ideas. Let them experiment with their color pencils and crayons and make clumsy drawings. Let them fiddle with paper, scissors and glue and try to make anything they want. Let the older students look through books in the library and search for their answers. Let them get curious, let them come to you asking for answers and wanting to learn ways of doing something. When you teach them now they will remember the lesson for life. That’s the way anyone would learn. Let the parents not worry about the child’s marks and position in the competitive world at least till the age of 11 or 12. Let the child develop his intelligence and not his stature. Once you have taken care of the intelligence I can assure anyone that the child will take care of his future. Because this child would be trained to tackle problems not by knowing all the solutions in the world, but by his ability, and more importantly, confidence of being able to find a solution when he needs it.

I wish parents and teachers understood this. I wish I could do something that would show people how important this is.