Feb 2, 2012

Any colour you like

"Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it."
-- Ann Landers

We human beings are natural clingers. We seek comfort in the knowledge of the familiar. While it is a popular and definitely true that success comes to those who hold on, long after others have given up, there are also times, when you may simply be hanging on because it is a safer, more convenient option than accepting the truth. Contradictory? Yes and no. While on a superficial level it is all but possible that a ‘formula’ or a strategy that worked at a given point of time be undertaken again and again, for success, the truth is seldom as simple. Holding on can get you success at certain times, but it can also thwart your success. Holding on may, in most cases, get you what you have been trying to achieve, so desperately, but it can also blind you from what could possibly be bigger and better things that may be waiting right at your doorstep. It’s the classic case of settling for the “good”, when there is the “best” waiting for you.

Sometimes, some of us hold on, simply because we are afraid of the unknown, clinging on to the known, the safe waters is the easiest option. Some hold on, because they cannot give up on something- anything! And sometimes, and this is the hardest, we cling on because we truly, with all our heart, believe that it will work out. This is the hardest, because, despite our best intentions, we refuse to read the writing on the wall; we prefer to not understand that this will not work out. Hard to be in this situation, when hope is all that we have and yet it seems like the best option – better than the unknown.

And then, there is the other side – the side which prefers to give up all so easily. You haven’t met those? The ones who would rather look the other way because this is too much stress or because this is too demanding. The ones who would much rather walk away from a relationship or a situation than hang in there or try and work it out. Got what i mean? The ones who believe in finding a new path where they see a curve in the current one. Don’t get me wrong, while our traditional values will scream that this is a very shallow and superficial manner in facing a situation, truth remains that some of these “walk-aways” have been the brains behind a few inventions in history and even the less famous of these “walk-aways” live happy lives as they believe they have chosen the best lives, without waiting and struggling for the good to show up! Makes sense?

So how does one choose? How does one understand the key to this discretion? Of the eternal balance between holding on or letting go? While there may be no right answers to these, there sure could be certain pointers. Given that most choices are half chances and that the success rate, no matter what you do, will always be a good 50%, there remain no right or wrong answers and definitely no generalisations. Priorities differ, expectations differ, attitudes and perceptions differ. But what remains is the power of choice. Most of us have te right to make a choice- to hold on or to let go. What we forget is that we can choose and that making a conscious, aware and discrete choice with responsibility is what seperates a successful choice from the rest.

After all, as is said: “Life is the sum of all your choices.” --Albert Camus

Have a choicest life ahead!

P.S: i am not selling anything – ANYTHING and neither preaching. Just thinking aloud.
P.P.S: the title of this post is an Instrumental from Pink Floyd's Dark Side of Moon.

Feb 1, 2012

For the love of the 'B' Word!

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
-- Marcus Tullius Cicero

Truer words have seldom been spoken. Being an innate bookworm, I find it rather hard to digest when I hear people say that they don’t enjoy reading or are not too fond of books. Given a chance, i would like to believe that most of them are closet readers; but knowing that the reality is far from the same, my next bet would be to shake them hard and ask – are you mad?

I, for most part, just cannot imagine a life without books! The best memories of my childhood have revolved around me reading, from English textbooks to Tinkle, Chandamama and Amar Chitra Katha. Books were my refuge! They gave me siblings i wish i had, entertained me to bits on days, when my parents were busy with life, gave me friends, i knew i never had! They made me feel much cooler about myself than i may have actually been. I was never an outdoorsy person, and books complemented my nature completely.  Most evenings i would be holed up with a book in a corner, waiting for my dad to come, when my mom would literally push (yes, you heard it right, push!) me out of the house to go play! Boy, would i be one pissed kid who would march off, only to return a couple of minutes later under the pretext of being thirsty or having to visit the restroom. Nothing would make me ‘play a game’ over reading! My mom tried her best, but soon gave up all hopes of encouraging me to do anything requiring any kind of physical activity. (But that’s another post)

So books it were! My companions, my friends, my besties! While Alice in Wonderland was completely relatable, as I had an imagination as vivid as hers, Nancy Drew was the coolest girl i knew. The Malory Towers tales made me secretly wish for schooling in a hostel. Life in these books was beautiful, neat and eventful. While my school life was full of Enid Blyton and the World and Childcraft series, my college life introduced me to P. G. Wodehouse. Yes, possibly this introduction was a little later in the day, than what most children start reading it, but it was my pleasure, nevertheless! What a brilliant author! My fascination for reading improved tremendously in college, thanks to a very well stocked and vibrant college library, which housed classics and contemporary alike. So Wodehouse, Dickens, Laxman, Arundhati Roy and Jhumpa Lahiri were all lapped up in equal measure. Here again, most of my friend circle preferred Sidney Sheldon (and boy, was he a rage!), i fell in love with Archer’s Kane and Abel. While completing my CS, John Grisham became my preferred author. His usage of legalese was something that I could increasingly relate to and which made his books very interesting.

My love story with the books continued long after i completed my graduation and professional studies. With the increasing exposure to management and economic books, non-fiction became the new “cool” thing that caught my fancy. Sure, it made me a “geek” overnight, but non-fiction brings with it, a charm and with the right amount of inquisitive mind, it can get you to think and see things and situations in a manner, erstwhile rarely perceived. Books made my life interesting.

And then i met H. I love H, and one of the things which made me gape in awe of him, was his interest and command over some brilliant economic and non-fiction writers. Ofcourse, later he told me, that he wouldn’t be able to complete an Atlas Shrugged (by my absolute favourite author – Ayn Rand) or a Ken Follet, he could read possibly every non-fiction book there could be around. Oh, also additional marks were given for our mutual distaste of CB Novels and all those new-age English authors, which both of us find extremely childish and boring.  Some of our best dates have included coffee shops, bookstores (how i absolutely love them) and books. The most romantic thing he has done for me, prior to our marriage also involved a book!

Anyways, before i digress again, books have always played an extremely important part of my life. They have been the one thing which keep me going, which provide me with space when i want to escape from the realities of life, yet sometimes they are the ones which give me the strength to accept certain inalienable truths.

I think the entire process of my attachment to reading began, with a certain incident in Bangalore. My family was vacationing at a relatives home and I was in the first standard (age 5). I managed to read the entire headline of the TOI at one stretch, and boy, were my parents proud! I don’t remember anything else that gave me as much happiness as that moment did. They were beaming, tortured me to read it a couple of more times, in front of all relatives, et all (the typical shin-dig!) and that was encouragement enough – after all, i was the coolest kid on earth! (at least in my head). 

This journey i believe is going to be a never ending one. Within 2 months of shifting to my new home, i have already created a stack full of books (Thanks to the Crossword sale) and discovered some wonderful authors (Haruki Murakami – wonderful and beautiful – together!!). Seems like, finally, someday, the dream of having a library of my  own, would be true!

P.S: I never lend, so don’t even ask.
P. P. S: I don’t buy the pirated editions either, so yes, this hobby does leave my husband feeling a little lighter! I tell him, this is a substitute for exercising :-P