Life lessons from the Sun, Moon and the Earth

 

In the times far removed from our technology-driven decision-making, old age was synonymous with wisdom. The halo surrounding the ‘old age’ resulted from the belief that their experience accumulated over a lifetime gives you a kind of wisdom that textbooks hardly cover. Well, if old age gives you wisdom, what about eternity? Doesn’t that make the ‘ancient’ heavenly bodies like the Sun, Moon and Earth wiser than all of us? After all, they have preceded all of us and have been there, doing whatever they do since eternity.

Read on to find out what life lessons you can draw from these heavenly bodies:

Earth

Lesson#1: Discipline

Feeling too lazy to hit the gym? Well, I am sure that if a planet the size of Earth can stick to its routine, you can too. Learn to be disciplined like the Earth. Have you ever seen earth slacking off and extending the day by a few hours; or stretching the year by a few more days or months. I’m sure it does, but even that has a pattern. Every fourth year is a leap year the length of the days varies only on solstice and equinox. No matter what, the earth sticks to its cycle and makes sure that it continues with its efforts, day and night, practically.

Lesson#2 : Be creative and break the monotony

Not all of us can be rock-stars, right? While some lucky people have the enviable jobs, such as the astronauts, wine-tasters or the crew members on a luxury cruise, most of us lesser mortals have to sit at one place for a long part of the day, pushing papers or rattling keyboards or doing whatever our job entails. The truth is that some jobs are inherently monotonous and if you do not have the luxury to toss away that jab ‘because it is monotonous’, you better learn to be creative so that the monotony of your work doesn’t weigh you down.

Remember, the earth came up with leap years and solstice, just to beat the monotony of day and night, 365 days a year.

Sun

Lesson#1: What goes up also goes down

The gem of our solar system, the star of our show – the Sun is celebrated and worshipped because it is the life giving force of the universe. But even the star of our show has to go down. After outshining everything else for a better part of the day, the star fades into obscurity by night, giving way to a humble moon, which doesn’t even have its own light.

So, next time, if you are feeling too arrogant about your talent, wealth or your place in the world, remember even the brightest Sun fades away after a while. Don’t let your success go to your head.

Lesson#2: Dust yourself and rise up again

If you have been down and out thinking about giving up, here is the lesson from our wise Sun- DON’T. It goes into obscurity, defeated by a lowly Moon, but it doesn’t lose hope, doesn’t give up and rises again the next morning; goes through this cycle of defeat every day, only to rise and shine. If Sun can do it and has been doing it for eternity, what makes you think of giving up?

Moon

Lesson#1: Don’t be afraid to stand out

If you have ever been in a situation where you stood out because you were different, and you doubted your abilities, this lesson is meant for you. if the Moon had allowed itself to think who will look at a puny Moon, when there are millions of dazzling stars in the sky, it would have never succeeded in its endeavours. It never doubted its ability to shine and never allowed itself to be overwhelmed by the odds. And see where it got – not only did it get noticed, but also became our beloved ‘Chanda Mama’ and earned a place in our lives, rituals and festivals. Did stars get any of that attention? I don’t think so.

So, next time, you are afraid of standing out from the crowd. Just go with it and give your best shot.

Lesson#2: Don’t let your appearance bother you

Have you seen dark patches on the surface of the Moon? Many people think that they mar the beauty of the moon. But does the moon care? No, it comes out at night, does its job and leaves in the morning. And it is doing an efficient job, soothing the surface of the earth parched by the scorching rays of the sun. Despite its own scars, it makes sure to add beauty to the dark night.

So, don’t let your appearances come in the way of your job. Work hard and try to make a difference. Remember, people might not remember you because of your looks, but because of your deeds.

So, next time you feel low on life, look to the ancient wisdom under your feet or shining brightly outside your window. I am sure you can draw a lesson or two.

(Image source- Thinglink)

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Selling inferiority complex in a tube

In the fast-changing world of television, if there is one thing that has become the face of permanence, it is the advertisements for fairness creams.  My earliest memories of watching television include a commercial for a particularly famous fairness cream, in which a girl asks her friend the secret of her beauty. The friend responds by generously placing a tube of fairness cream in her hands, telling her how that magical tube will turn her skin lighter in just six weeks. While I might not be able to recount any other famous advertisements, this one stuck in my memory due to the perseverance of its theme. Cut to the present time: everything about India has changed except the advertisements for fairness creams – the same stuff that used to be dished out earlier on black and white television is now flung at us through flat screens. Though it is highly imperative to mention here that while the advertisements used to be subtle earlier, they have crossed all boundaries of obscenity and insensitivity now, making it loud and clear that fairness is all you need to be successful in life.

My gripe with fairness creams is that unlike other products, these fairness creams do not rely on their merit to sell. Rather, they feed on the insecurities of people to promote their sales. Not long ago, there was an advertisement where a girl wants to convince her parents not to marry her off until she has achieved something in life. And guess what, a tube of fairness cream gives her the confidence to talk to her parents. These ads turn the logic on its head and unfortunately, reinforce the notion that fairness alone means beauty and beauty alone can take you far in life. Not only is it blasphemous but also sets a dangerous trend for the society. We Indians are naturally brown-skinned people and it is the presence of melanin in our body that gives us the rich tan colour. Most of these so-called fairness creams are nothing but chemical bleaches that can cause skin disorders over prolonged usage.

The physical harm is but one side-effect of the fairness creams. The other side-effect is potentially more dangerous to the fabric of society as a whole. While the desire for fair skin has always been there in India, it has been pushed to unreasonable levels by fairness creams. Today, the market is flooded with products like fairness creams, face washes and even vaginal washes that claim to give you guaranteed fairness with repeated application. Even men have jumped on the fairness bandwagon in their eagerness to look fair. Just a look at classifieds is enough to rile up a fairly reasonable person. How can they blatantly ask for a fair girl in their matrimonial proposal? Isn’t this downright racist? I have personally seen one of my friends’ marriage getting delayed because of her dark skin. And mind you, she is highly educated and working in a highly enviable job. Doesn’t it point to dangerously low levels of confidence in society when its people are ready to latch onto somebody else’s idea of beauty and shun those who do not fit in?

In this scenario, nothing could be truer that John Keats’ lines- beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. What the majority of Indians flocking to buy fairness creams need to understand is that there is no specific definition of beauty; hence, there is no need to try to fit in the fairness creams’ version of beauty which preaches that “fair is beautiful”. Beauty has no universal definition and, therefore, cannot be described in words. For some, what appeals to eyes is beautiful, while to others, what appeals to mind. Therefore, there is no need to beat yourself up for not matching up to someone else’s notion of who you should be.

It’s about time the public wizened up to the sly ways of fairness companies and throw those tubes out the window. While these creams may not lighten your skin tone, they are definitely deepening your insecurities.

That moment

That moment, when clock ticks away and the minutes fly by,

Your eyes are glued to the screen, but your brain acts sly,

Thoughts give you a royal snub and ideas fail to drop by,

The pristine, pure blank page mocks at you, making you want to cry,

You want the music of the rattling keys, but all you manage is a sigh,

That, my friend, is the writer’s block, leaving you high and dry!

 

The immortality of stupidity

 

Yesterday, having ample  free time on my hand, I spent my time browsing news websites which got me thinking about the current affairs of things in the world. Well, that line of thought often leads me to ponder over the question – what has made our world such a volatile place? Every time someone mentions the word world peace, I imagine a rickety wagon that everyone believes should be repaired but passes on the onus to somebody else.

After a few hours of contemplation, interspersed with household chores, I finally had my eureka moment; I finally figured out the cause of human misery – consistent, persistent and the forever immortal ‘stupidity’. Stupidity is the most consistent force in the world that has existed as long as the man himself. Probably,when Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden apple, they loved their stupidity so much that they saved it in their genes for posterity.And the posterity has never failed to do an encore.

History is replete with cases where man’s ego, pride, and ambitions have wreaked havoc with the world, yet nobody wants to learn from history. I wonder, why do we even force students to mug up lessons on history if nobody takes it seriously, anyway? Why go the whole hog and write history books when everyone intends to learn from their own mistakes? The one thing that’s remained constant since eternity is man’s willingness to make mistakes and his determination to not learn from them. This is what causes my heart to bleed.

Every time, I read the newspaper, I get an uncanny sense of deja vu. The challenge of world peace that is currently plaguing the world is not first of its kind; these challenges have always been there, courtesy to man’s ambitions. I think I do recall a time, when a certain powerful nation, a.k.a – the Great British empire, played truant with other countries for their natural resources and became a huge imperial super-power. Of course, the colonized world witnessed a lot of gore and bloodshed to free itself from the claws of the empire. The attempt of the Empire to retain that stature, while the ambition of other power-hungry nations to topple the Crown and earn that status for themselves pushed the world into two life-guzzling World-Wars.  As if those lessons were not enough, the stupidity of the current world leaders to repeat those mistakes is slowly pushing the world to the brink of another, and probably, most lethal world war.

I just hope that there is some cure to this immortality of stupidity gripping human minds, and while I hope that, I also believe that the answer is staring us in the face. History books are not just boring, tepid moral lessons to be mugged up during the exam and forgotten, thereafter. These textbooks contain  wisdom that is written in the blood of the people who refused to learn from their history. And, while we may upturn our noses and believe that we are smarter that our ancestors and refuse to learn from their follies, we may do well do remember that “it is better to learn from the mistakes of others since you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”

Finding my way in the woods

On a lazy day, I like to curl up on my bed, whiling away the hours, immersed in fantasy universe of my favorite authors. During my growing up years, Victorian romance novels were my staple diet of fiction, however, as the years rolled by, I started taking a keen interest in fantasy genre. Of late, I often catch myself drifting to an imaginary world, weaving together the characters in a web of plots and sub-plots. At times, the stories die an unnatural death in my mind, without even seeing the ink; the more lucky ones make their way to the Word file on my laptop before being tossed away.

As frustrating as it is not to be able to develop a premise into a full-fledged story, it is all the more agonizing to  discard a story by the cruel click of ‘delete button‘ on the story folder. Sometimes, my bruised ego and dreams tell me to leave the storytelling to the literary geniuses and save myself the anguish of another failed attempt at story-telling. However, there is a tiny voice in my head that tells me to try one more time. Some people call it perseverance,but I prefer to call it ‘the push button‘ – every time I am on the verge of giving up, this tiny voice reaches its crescendo, screaming in my ears to pluck up some courage and push myself some more. While I am no stranger to failed attempts and heartburn that accompanies them, courtesy of my perseverance, I am yet to learn the art of giving up, let alone mastering it. 

Even if my laptop becomes a graveyard of lackluster stories and under-developed characters, I know for sure that I will never forsake my dream of finishing a book.Therefore, while I toss away a story that goes nowhere, I am equally aware that soon enough, a new world of magic will come knocking on my head, rippling through my imagination. This realization is what keeps the wannabe author in me alive, along with a healthy sprinkling of hope and determination.

Though it has taken years of writing and several more years of reading, I am elated to have finally found my voice.Having often meandered through the multitude of fiction genres, I find my heart  firmly rooted in the fantasy genre. It is one genre that I keep coming back to and that gives me enough legroom to experiment with my imagination. Since realism is ruled out in fantasy genre, the whole world becomes my canvas, giving me the creative freedom to carve my protagonists in my style, without the obligation to abide by the rules of society or popular culture.

Daydreamer and a die-hard optimist that I am, I am sure that my dreams shall come to pass one day. While finishing a book still remains the top priority in my must-do list, I also cherish the feeling that grips me every time I sit down to pour down my thoughts on my laptop. The journey is equally mesmerizing and I know it for sure – even if I fail to make my mark as a writer or get a published book to my credit, I shall forever treasure the journey nevertheless.

Finished reading my new favourite book series and am battling blues. Help!

My life was perfect.I was living in a happy world on a healthy diet of Classic-Literature books and an occasional dose of Young-Adult junk (food). I would often binge on blogs and articles, but I was leading a wholesome and healthy life. And one fine day, my boyfriend suggested me to expand my taste and include fantasy fiction in my platter. I thought that it would be a good addition to my feast of ‘fiction’ and followed his advice. The next day, a brand new The Blade Itself, book one of “The First Law” trilogy found its way to my Kindle. Since that day, my life has been upside down. I could barely remember eating or sleeping while I was reading the first part of the series. Imagine my surprise when I devoured the second and third parts so eagerly, oblivious to the world. Now that I have finished reading the trilogy, I can’t believe that it is over. I keep thinking what if the characters were a little different? What if Jezal had a bit more spine? What if Bayaz had a bit more compassion? What if NineFingers was a little more cool-headed? The outcome would have been so different.

Well, I usually get a hangover after finishing most of my books, but this was my first time with Fantasy genre and I must say I am hooked. I can’t seem to go back to my YA junk diet or Classic Literature healthy meals. Everything else seems plain and boring now. What surprises me that the thickness of the fantasy books doesn’t scare me. I have finished 1200+ pages in less than two weeks. Such is my obsession. I need help getting over this genre. I must confess, with tremendous shame that I am an addict now. I am on a quest to finish all the books in the fantasy genre but I am scared. My mind and heart have waged a war against each other, and for past two weeks, I have been unable to choose any book to read. My mind says Jane Austen is the best healer who would purge the tiniest traces of fantasy genre from my body but my heart is set on the Fantasy genre. I picked up Emma last Sunday but haven’t been able to go past the first ten pages. My whole world has changed. I, a hard-core Jane Austen fan, who used to swear by Pride & Prejudice, have turned my back on Austen and am certainly not feeling good about it.

After a lot of contemplation, caffeine and chocolate muffins, I have reached a conclusion. Maybe, I will go back to my good old days or maybe I will lead a life of suffering, lusting after one fantasy series or the other. But one thing is certain; my life will never be the same again. I might outgrow this unhealthy obsession with fantasy genre like I have outgrown other genres but, I will continue to devour each and every fantasy series in the genre until then. In the deepest corners of my heart, I still have a tiny flame burning that offers me some solace. I know that once I have finished my fling with George R.R. Martin, Terry Pratchett and Tolkien, I can always go back to Austen. After all, she was my first love.

What about you guys? Do you love any particular genre? Did you also get addicted to any book or a genre that was hard to get ? I would love to hear your stories. Please write in the comment box below.

Dissecting the dissent in India

The day begins with violence and ends with one. Anyone who is a news junkie like me must be wondering whether India has really become the land of the intolerant. Is it the news channels feeding the paranoia or is it for real?I feel jealous upon seeing my friends blissful in their ignorance while I simmer at the debilitating affairs of the state. Is being in ignorance good? Is a high dose of awareness bad for your mental health? I have been interested in politics and history since childhood and like to have a say on everything yet the current state of affairs have completely befuddled me. For the first time in my life, I am at a loss of words and don’t know which side is correct. In fact, I don’t even want to know because that is the whole reason our country is stuck in a rut today.Each side wants to prove that it is correct and the other one wrong and that is the essence of the disaster that has befallen upon India today.

Nowadays whenever I switch on the television or read news online, it seems like everyone has an venomous agenda, from the political parties to the media and even the netizens. Abusing has become the new buzzword. Abusing has a new cool name- trolling. What has happened suddenly? Why are people turning against each other? Why is being appreciative of each other’s differences so difficult suddenly? And most of all, why is being rational so out of fashion these days? My heart bleeds when I see even educated people falling for irrational claptrap. I have tried to find a pattern or such an acrimonious behavior and my search has led me to believe that the answer lies in our inferiority complex. Yes, all this fight for superiority is nothing but an effort to stoke our egos. And any person with a measly brain will confirm the fact that you develop an ego to make up for your missing self-respect. When your inner strength eludes us, we seek approval from others and want to be recognized as the stronger one. Admit it, Indians stopped being self-respecting long ago. That virtue got buried along with the ruins of the great civilization of Harappa and Mohen-jo-daro.

Sometime , I feel that Indians who walk the earth today have a hollow where esteem, pride and dignity should have been. That explains why it is so easy to divide us. The trick lies in pampering our egos and stoking our vanity. That is what Britishers did long ago and that is what the politicians are doing in the present time.That is why we threw away our rationality and hungrily latched on to everything that came with a British tag. Which country of self-respecting citizens will berate its own only to embrace the foreign one?That also explains why we constantly compete with our neighbors and take status-symbol so seriously.

Unfortunately, this self-deprecating thought process has been followed for so long that it has been ingrained in our nature. That is why we take offense at almost everything and make everything a matter of our honour. It is this inferiority complex that is a treasure trove of vote bank for the politicians, who further stoke it in the name of religion and caste. Even the news channels, like hyenas, feed on our inferiority complex by serving us news that would hurt us where it hurts the most- ego. Yes, sensationalism and harmony don’t go together. One day, one will beat the other. In our case, harmony has always been like that malnourished child who is doomed in a fight, right from the beginning.

I is often said that India is a paradox. It is a land of complexities and diversities.I choose to believe otherwise. I think that India is divided by only one thing and that is mentality. An Indian is either rationality or irrational. There is nothing else that divides us. The rational ones reason out everything;they don’t fight because they don’t care about superiority or inferiority. For them, humanity is the ultimate religion and they don’t fall for false divides like caste or religion. They know that their worth is not defined by money or honor or, for that matter, social status. They are aware of their self-worth and value it as much others’ dignity. The other section of people in the country fall under irrational category. They will fight for anything and everything to prove to themselves that they are superior. They vie for superiority because their control  is not in their hands. They have given their remote control of happiness in external hands and allow them to play with their emotions. They will let their honor (read ego) be pricked at the slightest provocation and go to any length to show that they are an important cog in the wheel of society. It is a sad fact for India that the irrational ones far outweigh the rational ones and the result is a chaos that is on display for everyone.

Being a firm believer in hope and positivity, I can only pray for that day when Indians will stop fighting each other and instead fight the real-problems together.Having said that, I also know that it is not going to happen all by itself. We have to take initiative and fight this devil of inferiority complex by embracing a rational approach. Rationality and reason are the tools that will guide us through these dark times and will salvage us in case we are led astray by voices that  turn us against each other.