To A Stranger by Walt Whitman

In this poem, Walt Whitman uses verse to put forward the idea of universal connectivity. He talks about a stranger, being exceedingly vague in his description of the person.  He leaves the complete identity, right down to the gender of the stranger, ambiguous and open to interpretation, hence effectively  widening its scope to encompass all of humanity.

Something about the stranger strikes a spark of remembrance in Whitman, who is suddenly overcome with a sense of vague nostalgia. He proclaims that his path has undoubtedly crossed that of the strangers before, a long time ago in a previous life. He recounts fondly the wisps of a memory that he is able to recollect, of a time where his and the strangers lives have intertwined. According to Whitman, in the haze of a memory, he relives the time when he and this stranger had been inseparable, recalling affectionately how they had grown together, from boys to men, having shared beds, food and milestones throughout that life.

He muses on the absurdity and misfortune of social norms which prevents two willing strangers from interacting with each other. Due to this unwritten manifesto of society, Whitman knows that it is not in his destiny to approach the stranger, who was once his better half and is left with the comfort of reminiscing their journey together in solitude.

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.

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.