“Oh where do we begin, the rubble of our sins.” Does this line ring a bell? That’s from the song Pompeii by Bastille. Even if you haven’t listened to most of their albums but somehow you’ve managed to listen to this one song, your life will make sense. There’s adventure in each stanza, brilliance at the break of each line. I wish I could keep writing about the goosebumps their music gives me, or that their songwriter is a rad human being. No. That’s not what I want to write about on this dark and grey morning. I don’t mean to talk about the morning in a negative light. There are cracks and holes from where the sunlight is streaming through. That’s hope for you. And that’s exactly what hope looks like. We are all talks and essays about demons, the monsters that haunt us, the ones that eventually kill us, not literally but in a way that we lose a zeal (?) for life. I hope that’s not utterly sissy that I used the word zeal. It’s 10th grade textbook English. What are we all on this morning? Meat suits packed into a tin box. (I’m travelling in the metro). There are more people standing than are sitting. The ones standing are akin to hawks hovering around a carcass from the day before, that the lions have put out as leftover food. Everyone in this dynamic tin box is in the lookout for a place to sit at. Amongst this morning rush, there’s a little girl here who’s not interested. She’s not interested in the space to sit. She’s standing right in front of me nonchalantly. She’s looking at everyone as if all other humans are all but crazy. She can form that judgment. We all form judgments. She holds the pole inside the train and moves around it, just entertaining herself with it. Everyone here is either on their phones with whatsapp, Facebook, news etc., or just silently gazing at people and judging them. Most of the people I notice are looking at the little girl. Why, you may ask? Because she’s covered from head to toe in scars. Scars from a burn. I wouldn’t make assumptions as to how she came upon those scars. The answer may end up being more painful than I can ready myself to take. Though it’s beautiful to see how her mother has a protective hand around her while she’s chattering away incessantly, telling her stories all the while swinging around that pole. You can see the look in people’s eyes that they pity this little girl. “Oh so sad”, “that must be so painful” etc. Maybe this little girl has forgotten all about the pain. Maybe she never felt any. That’s not my area to make assumptions about.
That’s a ghost of ours, collectively. The ghosts of our judgmental selves. “Oh where do we begin…”
Where do we really begin? Amongst trashes that our ancestors have left, forming the same mind sets, the same opinions, the same assumptions that everyone around us and everyone before us made. Truly judging each other. The Japanese have more than 5 words for the arrogance that shines through us. English has one. That’s a major problem with the English language. Even for a word such as love, we have an all encompassing meaning. That means romantic love, sexual love, love for things, love for family. Everything gets included in this one word. I cannot segregate the love I have for my partner differently from the love I have for the sky and space. Anyway, I’m not doing wordplay here.
What I just want to present to you, is presence. Being present in a lecture, while someone is sharing something with you, being present in every moment. We get so swayed away by everything around us, we have access to too many things, while we don’t focus on one. This happens within families, within marriages, within our basic strata. It’s hard to get away, trust me I try so much. Eventually we always get drawn to things as physical beings rather than curious beings. Do you notice how in a public setting everyone is so bored staring at their phones, scrolling through the mind numbing feeds of someone else’s toilet routines or whatever. It makes me cringe to think that so much of life (not just human) around us is getting wasted, plants, trees, birds, sweeping noises of the wind, no one really bothers unless these sounds get incorporated as an app right? That’s just how we are. Or how we have become. My maternal grandmother tells me stories about how back in their days, distractions were so minimal, they’ve managed to keep themselves sane in this present day and age. My grandparents have no inkling about how smartphones work but they do know quite a bit about how to grow healthy plants and make long lasting pickles and jam. I might say right now that I don’t need a phone, I’m going to keep myself happy with a Nokia 1100, but that’s just me lying to myself. I’ll miss out on sending selfies to my partner(that’s the only selfies I can do), and I’ll miss my phone.
Just will yourself to be present, in the least way possible. Then move yourselves up to present yourself more to situations. Eventually what you’ll see in yourself would be the most beautiful thing you may have ever come across. It’ll be the gift of your own sound to your body. The gift of knowing yourself.