People want to believe that life is good. That there is hope. And promise.
So when you tell them that you are okay, they want to believe it. Sometimes, they need to believe it. Because that lets them believe that they’ll be okay too.
Much used. Much abused.
It hides when you don’t know what to say.
It hides when your heart is screaming something, but you don’t let yourself say it out loud.
It hides your opinions, melting you into agreeable agreement.
It hides whatever you want it to hide.
I’m OK, thank you for asking.
I’ve looked at the past for a long time. Not long enough, and yet… Long enough.
I’m not ready to look at the future. Except for cautious sideways glances so brief that the brain can’t catch up with what the eye sees.
Forced to exist in the present, I’m not really sure what to do. It is a little scary, and a little thrilling. It has also forced the question – where did I live earlier? I know I’ve never lived in the future. No grand dreams consumed me, not every step I took was to lead me down a predetermined path to a predetermined goal.
That left the past, and the present. And that is where it got a little confusing.
The past has always been my happy place. Good memories bathed in a golden glow that probably made them more beautiful than reality, and bad memories with angles softened till there were no sharp edges – and enough soft haze to blunt out the pain. This is not to say that I don’t have painful memories. It is just that those are more like memories of memories. Enough distance to make it not hurt.
And the present? The whole “living in the moment” bit has never been my thing. But is “the present” bigger than “the moment?” I hope so. I’ve almost always been happy with my circumstances, never looking back on past riches (whether real or perceived) with regret or a sense of loss. Maybe just a little wistfulness. I’ve never really mourned lost friends. Out of sight equals out of mind. Or lost opportunities. Might have been great but this isn’t too bad either.
So, then, what? Where? Am I just floating along on the clouds? Is any part of my life real to me? Or is it all just dream-haze?
Listicle. A hot new word I learnt at my hot new job. What better way to celebrate a new job, a new city, and, hopefully, a new phase in the life of my blog, and, even more hopefully, a new phase in my life, than a new type of blog post? Well, honestly, I can think of a few but mentioning those here wouldn’t really go with the flow, would it? So much better to ignore that thought. So here is my first ever listicle – 10 Reasons I Hate Being Told I’m Pretty.
- Because I don’t really believe that I am.
- Because it brings up the thought that I’m not really pretty, and that makes me a little sad because I like pretty things. Of course, if I had to choose between pretty things and functional things I’d almost always go for functional, but pretty AND functional doesn’t hurt, right?
- Because it makes me feel like I’m pretending to be something I’m not, somehow fooling the other person into seeing something that doesn’t exist. Why? See point No. 1.
- Because any time I do believe it, it makes me blush.
- Because I’m uncomfortable being judged for something I have no control over.
- Actually, I’m just uncomfortable being judged.
- Because I have a problem with labels. “Hey, pretty girl!” or “Hey, Cool/ Smart/ Loving/ Intelligent/ Wise/ Funny/ Caring girl”, I’d just rather do without the label.
- Because despite point No. 6, if I had to pick a label I wouldn’t go with pretty. Wise sounds pretty good (unless it is used sarcastically), as does funny (unless it is used sarcastically.) Hmmm… maybe there is a point there after all.
- Because I’m scared of stereotypes, even as I recognize their necessity. And the “pretty girl” stereotype isn’t one I am comfortable with.
- Because prettiness fades. And I’m scared of what happens when it does. If all you see when you look at me is pretty, what when the pretty no longer exists?
- Because deep down, I’m just a shy little girl, who, suddenly, for one moment, wonders if she is a princess after all.
The truly beautiful soul will never know its own beauty, never be comfortable with its own praise, never believe in its own greatness. It will resist, even going so far as to reject, what it deems to be undue praise, even that which is far less than what it actually deserves.
No soul can be deemed beautiful unless true humility forms a part of it.
A soul that shines brightly as the sun must needs be blind to it. This is one area where self-awareness should fail. It is not for you to see how brightly you shine, it is for others to wonder at, and respect, and love, and aspire to.
You don’t know who you are. The intensity of your glow is untempered, your heart untainted by any thoughts of greatness. You are one of us. And yet, you are so much more.
Your essence brings light to the universe.
“To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful, too.” – Victoria Moran
I’ve wondered, a lot, about what people see when they look at me. I wonder if they see the mask, I wonder if they see the holes in me, I wonder if they see my soul.
My thoughts, as always, centered on me.
But what do I see when I look at others?
When I see you, do I see your soul? I don’t know, but I’d like to think that I see more than the shell around you. Just as every word one speaks carries the echoes of every word that has ever been spoken, so does every glance at you carry the weight of every experience we’ve had together, every thought I’ve had of you, everything I know about you. The faults, the cracks, the things about you that glow brighter than the sun.
Look beyond. Look within.
See, if you can, what lies inside. Heart. Mind. Soul.
And there hope to find something beautiful and precious and rare.
A beautiful soul.
A chameleon, cloaked in the colours that surround
Changeful, unconstant, too easily swayed
Taking from others, what it then offers back to the eye.
What hues are its own?
From 8th standard right up to M.A., regardless of what was or wasn’t on my syllabus, the night before an English literature exam, time would be devoted to a very special ritual – the reading of an Austen novel. It wasn’t a good luck charm, but it did help me do better on my exam.
It’s very simple really. I find that my words and my writing style (dare I be pretentious enough to say that?) are very easily influenced by the words of others. I don’t know how it is for other writers (again! The vanity!), but I do write in borrowed tones. And for a literature exam, I felt I could do no better than to borrow from Austen. Once, before I had fully realized the power of influence, I went into the exam hall with Robin Cook on my mind. Never again did I fail to follow my ritual and give the proper guidance to my words.
Just as Austen shaped my prose for so long, so is Shakespeare tempting me to break into verse today. While even the spirit of Shakespeare can’t teach me iambic pentameter or how to rhyme in fourteen lines, modern verse is not beyond me. Shall I give in to this persuasion and attempt it?
I do have to say though, that the idea of writing in borrowed tones brings up an important question for me. Like the chameleon mentioned earlier, if all I am doing is a reflection of others, where then, is my voice? If all I do is echo the masters, then where are my words?
I’m back in critical theory class. Thinking about writing being shaped by the reader. But it isn’t just meaning – the consumption – that is influenced. The very act of production is shaped by the reader as much as it is by the writer.
A conversation yesterday about diary-writing, an intensely personal and private form, turned my thoughts towards the need to define the reader. A private diary, by definition, ought to be written only for self-consumption. And yet… can we ever be sure that no eyes but ours will ever pass over that page? I vaguely remember something about one of these cocky British writers of the post-Industrial era saying that diaries were actually written for posterity – a way to influence how one was remembered. And a way to make money – for someone – off one’s own death.
Regardless of what you are writing, how do you do it without picturing the reader? Whether it is the guy/ girl you have a crush on, your fans, your mother, this old man you once met on the train, or just simply yourself. Writing is a dialogue, between you and your reader. S/he lurks in your mind, looking over your shoulder, critiquing even as you work.
So tell me then, who are you talking to, today?