Beauty as a Force

I recently read on a blog an article called Beauty will save the world.

It was an article about how beauty though maybe not directly, but in the long run is the thing responsible for in fact ‘saving the world’. This article was so beautifully written and executed that it got me thinking of the role beauty plays in our lives.

Beauty can be found in everything. It is present everywhere, concealed in the everyday occurring of our lives. It is present in each glorious sunset and sunrise, in the magnificent thunderstorms, the glistening of water, the tantalizing breeze. It’s in the cell phones in our hands, the key board at my fingertips, the newspapers in our laps- for in these creations I see the beauty in the minds of their inventors who were able to dream, visualize the nonexistent and create from scratch. There is beauty in the world at large, in the ability of people of different cultures, ideologies and mindsets to communicate, to alter each other’s circumstances and lives subconsciously, to coexist every single day, every single time we step outside the house,

Beauty itself does not contribute to our daily survival. Law, medicine, business, engineering are all commendable professions needed to sustain life. But that’s just it. They merely sustain. The ensure existence, mere survival. Beauty however on the other hand, ensures progress and evolution. Creativity is the sole force that propels our world forward. And people create when they are inspired. As writers, we know all too well that one does not simply wake up inspired. Inspiration must be found, sought out either inside or outside; it must be found in beauty.

For me, it is not the brush strokes or the contrast of colors or anything of that nature that inspires me when I look at the works of art by artists like Picasso and Michelangelo. Rather, it is the painting as a whole, the passion, the vibrance, the story, the beauty that serves to inspire me. Artists, be it of any kind, are the makers of society. They take on the role of creationists, they picture that which does not exist, except in the individual’s mind’s eye. They transcend the pit falls of ordinary thought in whose snares the average man falls victim and instead immerse themselves in a world of their own, a device of their own creation. They dare to take on the role of God and create anew. And these creations of theirs are what we call art.

It is by looking at the art, or the ‘creations’ of the Greats that we ordinary people get inspired, inspired by their beauty. When we witness something so magnificently beautiful a lust is awakened within us and we too feel the urge to create something just as beautiful. Beauty inspires beauty, it ignites the dying embers of innovation,  it instills creativity and dares us to think beyond what we know. And it is by daring to think outside the box that new things are created- new methods in medicine, new programs in technology, new theories and amendments in laws. If it weren’t for beauty, there would be no evolution. Generation after generation would be blinding repeating and mimicking their ancestors and the world as we know it would continue in this monotonous pattern.

So here’s to us artists, the creators of the unseen, the flame-bearers of our generation, the illuminati, the driving force the propels this world forward. For in the end, it is indeed beauty that will save this world.

Expectations.

Expectations

We’ll all heard it, every single day of our lives. If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried. This implies that trial without failure doesn’t exist, that failure is inevitable. So then why do we yet try? Why do we brush ourselves and get up every time we fall, knowing fully well that we are just setting ourselves to fall again, knowing that we are setting ourselves once again to be subject to the judgmental eyes of society. Why do we put ourselves out there and expose ourselves time and time again to pain? Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different outcomes. Then why are we prone to keep trying every time even when it hurts so bad?
Everyone has expectation from you. They may not say it, or even know it but they do. People always sum you up, maybe based on the first encounter, or maybe based on a lifetime of knowing you. By summing you up, they set the limit for your standards, what they expect you to do. Expectations are like a most likely scenario you may say. And the only thing everyone of us wants is surprise them and go beyond those expectations, surpassing their boundaries. We all like to think of ourselves as hardcore, and so we push our limits and keep pushing until it hurts. Because who doesn’t want to be a hero? But more importantly, because we can’t bear the be the subject of their scrutiny, their judgment. The look in their eyes when they hear the result of our labor. The look of disappointment and anger in the eyes of parents and well wishers, of judgment in the eyes of new acquaintances and of sympathy in old,and that of tempestuous glee and contentment in the eyes of our competition.
And so we push, on and on past the pain, fatigue, insecurities, doubts and anger. We keep pushing. Because the biggest expectations come from within, the impossible standards we set for ourselves just to prove… prove what? Prove that we are as good as anybody out there, that we are extraordinary, that we are worth something. And who are we proving this to? You may blame it on society but that’s just an excuse- a facade to hide behind a shadow of lies.  Because in reality, we are proving this to ourselves, proving so that we may sleep peacefully at night.
And so we keep trying, because there is a force that drives us. This force may be influenced by many external factors but ultimately, it comes from within. We try because we know we can’t live with ourselves if we don’t. We try so we don’t die with regrets, a life full of ‘what-ifs’. We try as hard as we can and pray to God that this time won’t be the same as all the others. We keep trying.
So here’s to expectations- the sole force that drives this world forward.

Computer v/s Books

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers- Charles. W. Eliot

The Computer or the Internet to be more specific is very much like television in that it takes time away from other pursuits, provides entertainment and information, but in no way can compare with the warm, personal experience of reading a good book. This is not the only reason why the Internet will never replace books, for books provide the in-depth knowledge of a subject that sitting in front of a computer monitor cannot provide. We can download text from an Internet source, but the aesthetic quality of sheets of downloaded text leave much to be desired. A well-designed book enhances the reading experience. The Internet will never be able to deliver the feel of holding a book, the roughness of the pages, the sweet smell of freshly printed paper; the shiny, glossy, untouched cover or the crispness of the new pages. Convenience is another thing that puts books above computers. The easy portability of the book is what makes it the most user-friendly format for knowledge ever invented. The idea that one can carry in one’s pocket a play by Shakespeare, a novel by Charles Dickens or Tom Clancy, Plato’s Dialogues, or the Bible in a small paperback edition is mind-boggling. We take such uncommon convenience for granted, not realizing that the book itself has undergone quite an evolution since the production of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 and Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623. However, intimacy I feel conquers everything that I have mentioned above. The Internet will never be able to deliver the feel of holding a book, of owning your very own book; knowing that you are the only one who will read this copy, the secret thrill that joy brings, that this book is yours, and yours only.
Feel. The feel of the book provides half the joy of reading a book. The computer will never be able to provide the feel of the book-the rough texture of the page as you thumb through the book, the feel of the adrenaline kicking in, high lightening all your senses as you turn the page of your mystery novel, the pages of the book sticking together because of the sweat from your cold, sweaty hands as you clamp the book tightly in your excitement, the feeling, once your lost in a book, seeing the images in front of your eyes as though you’re watching a movie, completely unaware of your surroundings, even unaware of when you are turning the page. The computer, how ever developed it may become, will never be able to come even close to replicating such a thrill. Can you imagine clutching the cold, metal of your laptop in the spur of the moment rather than the rough, warm pages of your book or slamming shut the screen of your laptop rather than the cover of your book, clutching it to your chest and rolling around your bed when you don’t think you can bring you’re self to see what written in the next line?
Convenience. The book, unlike the computer, is hassle-free. Just purchase a book, out it in your bag, and you can read it whenever you want- one the train, on your way to work, on your coffee break, when there is an extraordinarily long advertisement break going on on V or even when you are taken over by insomnia at three in the morning . This, however, cannot be said for computers. In the case of computers, not only do you have to carry the heavy laptop itself, you have to carry all the various plug-ins and cables. Then comes the job of finding an Internet outlet or a Wi-Fi zone for Internet connection. Then, just when you’ve settled down, and more importantly just when Harry lowers his wand and stands defenseless against Voldemort and his army of Deatheaters or when Robert Langdon stands holding the fate of the entire Vatican City in his hands with the container of antimatter, what should happen but the battery dies and no amount of yelling at it and frantically pressing the power button will bring it back before you reach home and charge it for a good half-hour, leaving you tearing out your hair and cursing it in agony.
Intimacy. Owning a book, being able to see it laying around your house, complete with ‘doggy-ears’ , being able to open it and start reading it immediately without having to wait for your computer to boot up first, being able to see the stain marks from where you were eating Maggie Noodles while reading because you couldn’t get yourself to put down your book, even for a minute and your mother was shouting at you for making the food cold and have that sense of nostalgia come rushing back to you, that’s all part of the experience of reading a book which I feel nobody should be deprived from. While reading the book also, I don’t know about you, but I would rather sit in the comfort of my own bed, snuggled down under the covers on a cold, rainy day listening to the soothing and some-what sound hypnotizing of the rain against my window than sit focus-straight staring at the computer screen till my eyes start watering or be at some coffee shop such as Barista amongst a bunch of strangers, being watched and constantly interrupted by the waitresses asking if I would need anything else while I was reading.
Books provide a bridge to the past, to all of those who have gone before us and have left us the wisdom accumulated by their life experiences. Books have that magical ability to bring the past to life through the words of those who lived in years gone by. If you want to truly know history, you must read the actual words of those who lived it, unabridged and unrevised by today’s proponents of political correctness.
Books are also companions in a way that the Internet can never be. The author speaks to us directly through the pages. We hear his or her voice. If the story is compelling, it will become part of our own mentalities and provide us with an experience which we will have had through the author. We will have known what it was like to survive a concentration camp, or live the life of a great actress or statesman or musician, or suffer climbing Mount Everest, or rejoice in making a great scientific discovery. Each of us has only one life to live, but we can vicariously live a great many other lives through books written by other human beings. That is why the power of the book can never be replaced by the Internet.
That is not to say the Internet is any less than it is. The Internet, as it continues to grow, is certainly one of the most remarkable technological developments in the history of mankind. Its ability to connect us all with the entire world is what makes it so extraordinary. For example, you can read the morning’s headlines or weather reports in Australian newspapers, explore the subway system in Buenos Aires, or locate a long-lost friend in the U.S. if he or she has a telephone. Through email you can communicate with anyone anywhere who also has an email address. You can even discuss the latest book you’ve read.
But will the Internet ever replace books? Not on your life.

Songs of Ages Past.

The Songs of Ages Past.

So I just spent the last 2 hours with my mom and older sister listening to songs from ages past. Is it just me or are Dean Martin and Engelbert Humperdinck just the sultriest men alive? The grace, the suave, the attitude, the strut is all part of the package. They are the definition of the very word dapper. Their voices however seal the deal. Men like these are conclusive proof that a good voice and a microphone is all you need to make good music. No lights, no effects, no smoke machines- just good-old pure, raw talent. It’s at times like this when I wish I was there to experience the 50’s all the way to the 80’s in its full varsity sweaters, high skirts and milkshake glory. Yes, it was also the time of segregation and yes, there was a nuclear arms race ranging through the world back then but though today’s generation may have have surpassed them in the political sphere, with musical legends like that dominating the scenes back then, they put today’s music industry to shame. Our generation has heard once too often of those Saturday Night radios shows, when entire towns and cities would shut down for hours while everyone glued themselves to their radio and stereo sets.Ranging from The Bee-Jees and The Beatles, to legends like Tom Jones and Simon and Garfunkel, each artists seemed to outdo the other. Their lyrics, among other things are probably one of the key differences between the music of the ‘Golden Ages’ and that of today. Their lyrics are almost pure poetry set to tune, transcending beyond the average talk of heartbreak and relationships that the music industry of today so wholly exploits, and shedding light on the fears and hopes on man, the very essence of humanity. Maybe not all songs of that time do this, but this definitely stands true for the majority of them.

Take the song The Sound of Silence sung by Simon and Garfunkel for instance- this song with its intricate descriptions in the lyrics set to a soft, almost eerily ethereal music that compliments it just so, can literally paint a picture, complete with a setting to the very last detail while also capturing and emitting an emotion, one that this writer is unable to put in worlds, all through a 3 minute song.

I must stay true to my generation and in their defense say that many a songs today also speak of such worldly truths but with all due respect to the music industry of today, I would have to say that songs of today fall drastically short in both material and melody and the heart of this 16 year old girl from India today shall forever lie in in the sublime era of the 50s.

“And the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls..”
– The Sound of Silence
by Simon and Garfunkel.

The Phoenix

Powerful wings,

Blazing tail,

Gripping talons,

The fire-bird set sail.

With one beat of its wings

It rose up high,

It soared up in limitless sky.

He rose up where the world was his,

A Master of this World he is.

He conquered all boundaries,

Crossed the sky,

Played with Death,

To yet not die.

He feared no body,

He was neither predator nor prey.

He raised his head to the sun and sailed away.

Letters to Juliet

The young man rubbed his gloved hands together as he paced up and down the intersection in the park, blowing puffs of ‘smoke’ into the chilly morning air. Over in the distance you could hear the children shouting playfully as they skated over the frozen pond and the morning song of the canaries. He looked over the corner again, waiting for her to come. Then, he heard the sounds of footsteps. His head immediately spun to the crossing of the intersection where all the paths merged and he waited for the body making those sounds to appear, his breath caught in his throat. Then, the body of a jogger wearing track pants plunged into view and, plugged in with headphones, ran by steadily. False alarm. Steady, he told himself. He couldn’t get so excited every time he heard the sound of footsteps or else he was going to have a coronary by the end of the day. He knew she would come; now it was just a matter of waiting. Taking a sip of his coffee to help calm his nerves, he settled himself on the opposite bench from where he had a clear view of any person passing. As he sat on the bench he noticed the words ‘Joanna and Jack forever’ craved into the backrest of the bench roughly as though it was carved there by a pocket-knife. Joanna. The sight of her name caved next to his made him feel emotions that he had not felt in a long time and as waves of sadness and nostalgia crashed over him, he bit down his lower lip which had now started to tremble just to prevent himself from having an emotional breakdown right there in the middle of the park. This is place where they had come right after their first date and sat there under the dark night sky scattered with stars which seemed to shine as bright as the gems on the Queen’s Crown on that night. Never had he seen the sky so brilliantly lit with thousand of stars, it was as though they were glowing more brightly especially for the two of them. And as they had sat they, drenched in the moonlight, he had remove his pocket-knife and carved in their names on that bench, so that this day they had spent together would not ever be forgotten, as a memorial of their time together. He remembered the secret meetings they had in the dead of the night on her balcony, how he used to scale up the tree outside her bedroom and knock lightly on her window and how she would always greet him with that heart-winning smile of hers. They used to joke that they did it better then Romeo and Juliet. But then they got careless; and caught. The ruckus her father had created awoke the whole neighborhood in the early hours of the morning. Her father’s disapproval was something the both of them had expected but not to such extremes. By the end of the week, he had her shipped off to convent. But it would take more than that to break the bonds of a love that had grown so strong in such a short period of time. They were star-crossed lovers, they were destined for each other and nothing could ever change that. They wrote letters every week and he came to visit her every month when she snuck out to meet him. One week, in the middle of February, 2 months after she had been sent to convent, she broke the news to him. She was pregnant. She had noticed this last month but had restrained from telling him for she was feared his response. To his own surprise, his response was one filled with joyousness and excitement. He wasn’t scared or angry or even apprehensive. He was only thrilled. After that he had visited her more and more often, almost every alternate day. But he had yet missed the first special moments of his daughter-her first kick, her first punch, her first movements. He had immediately started looking for work-he wanted to be able to support his family. He had only been 21 at that time. He worked during the day and went to night school, his future plan being to get a more respectable job. He needed to set an example for his child. But that reward never did come, he had never yet seen his daughter. She was sent straight to the orphanage and the same day Joanna was shipped away to her aunts in England where she was watched like a hawk. After that, he lost all communication with her. 20 years later today, these wounds yet felt fresh. He ran his fingertips of his rough, work-worn hands over the carving in the wooden bench and tears glistened in his eyes. The sound of footsteps jerked John back from his day-dreams. Then, he saw her.

“Dad?”- those are the first words he heard come out from his daughter’s mouth. She looked at him with her mother’s eyes. Oh! How he had missed the gaze of those azure eyes upon his! Her voice was music to his ears and he found himself speechless in front of her. But she didn’t need words. She just walked right up to him and wrapped him in a embrace so possessive, like she never wanted to let go. And he didn’t ever want her to. And this is how they sat till what seemed like forever, his little girl in his arms. And what is her name you may ask? Her mother chose it as a memorial of their times together: Juliet.

The Unbreakable Vow

This is just a short story I had written about two years ago when I was about fourteen. Let me know what you think, I’d love any feedback  (:

The Unbreakable Vow.

The old man arrived at the poorly lit Coffee Shop as always, at 7AM on the dot and took his customary seat in the last cubicle on the left in the corner; right next to the hat-stand as he sipped his usual coffee-a double cappuccino. He read the morning paper with a frown on his face, muttering to himself as he turned the pages. His wrinkled skin looked like crumpled tissue paper and his brow was, as always knit together as though he was constantly in deep thought. As he folded up his paper, he took in a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the freshly ground coffee and listened to the symphony of the coffee-machines at work. He sat there, from dawn to dusk, watching the people come and go, listened to the amiable talks of the customers and the occasional argumentative conversations of the businessmen. But all these noises fell on deaf ears. His eyes saw but didn’t register the people entering and existing the café. His gaze never shifted from the door. He had eyes only for one person. He knew she would come, she had promised. And he was yet to see her break her word. He would wait for her, right there, in the coffee shop right off the corner of Broadway Street, right there in the last cubicle on the left in the corner, right next to the hat stand, sitting in the same spot where they had first met, first fallen in love, first kissed. This was the spot where he had first asked her to be his and his only, to be his to love and care for, to provide and protect, for her to be his wife. And when she had accepted his proposal with glittering, tear-filled eyes, this was the spot where he had experienced for the first time complete happiness and contentment. It was on this spot where he realized that he didn’t need anything else, not wealth, not fame, nothing else but her. His heart yearned for no materialistic pleasures, he had no love for them, and he never had had. He remembered how he felt in her arms, as he inhaled her sweet, tantalizing smell of lavender and how he felt an air of serenity and tranquility overcome him and how he felt himself lost in her embrace. He remembered the heartrending day when she came running into the coffee shop, her face red and blotchy and her golden hair streaming behind her, her red-streak marked hands covering her face. Sobbing inconsolably, she told him about her father’s response when she had finally gathered up the courage to tell him she was engaged. He has always known that her father didn’t approve of him put he had never thought that he would take such drastic measures. That was the last time he had seen her before her father had her shipped away to England to live with her aunts. That was the day she had promised him she would come back for him and they would be reunited, right there in that café. A sudden clattering sound as the mountain of trays came crashing down onto the clumsy waiter jerked him back from his voyage down memory lane and wiping a tear which had rolled half-way down his cheek in a rough, hasty motion he once again turned his attention to the front door. Nothing. The sun set and another day came to pass but his hopes didn’t die and his belief didn’t falter. He had her word and that was enough.

The next morning he awoke with the sun. The day was clear and not a cloud was to be seen in the resplendently azure sky. The birds’ song seemed to rekindle the dying spark in the old man’s heart which now raged like an inferno within him, warming him from head to toe. He smiled for the first time in years. As the bell above door tinkered as he entered the Coffee Shop, he was hit with a scent that he had almost forgotten. It was the only scent that could set off a raging lust deep inside his heart. It was the smell of lavender. He lifted his eyes and with bated breath, raised his gaze toward the last cubicle and saw that it was already occupied. A woman sat there alone with her back to the door, her fingers nervously intertwined over her coffee mug as if she were waiting for someone.  And then, as though she sensed his presence, she suddenly went completely still. Then she turned around and her eyes fell upon him. He wordlessly made his way through the café and came to stand in front of her and though his heart was singing praise to the heavens at the top of its voice, he found himself tongue-tied. There were no words to describe this moment. And such they stood for a whole minute, neither of them wanting to say a word lest it destroy this perfect moment. At last, they old man found his voice. “You came,” he managed to croak, is voice full of pent-up emotion. She looked at him with eyes full of love and longing and said in a voice that thrilled every fiber in his body, “I gave you my word, didn’t I?