If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?
Even if reality is full of hurt,

Where dreams turn dull and ambitions turn to dust.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you desperately need an escape

Because in this world there is no place for hope.
If you’re​ happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you’ve lost track of the last time you smiled or had a hearty laugh

When the tears in your eye were only of pure joy.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if the world around you pulls you into abject misery

Where men become beasts and lose all humanity.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you’ve lived through terrors untold

That no person should ever have to see.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Even if you never want to wake up.
If you’re happy in a dream, does that count?

Illusion

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The downside of Walter Mitty (Mental Health Awareness #4)

We have all come to know and love the harrowed, milequetoast of a man by the name of Walter Mitty. Be it through Ben Stiller’s portrayal of him in the movie or through the written word of James Thurber, we have all taken an unusual amount of delight in his escapades from the real world, especially from the browbeating of his overbearing wife.
For the uninitiated, Walter Mitty was an avid daydreamer to the extent that he hallucinationed about his daydreams. From a war-time pilot, to a world renowned surgeon, to a roguishly carefree murderer, Walter Mitty became all, albeit in his own mind. He  took no time in creating an Imaginary, idealized, heroic persona of his meek self at the slightest of emotional triggers.

We have all laughed at his antics. We have also sympathised with the poor chap when he invariably got pulled out of his reveries just seconds before his moment of glory. Yet, behind this obsessive facet of the character lurks a deeper, important issue.

It is imperative to not overlook the fact that his daydreams were vivid with great detailing, idealized, to the extent that in them he became the exact opposite of himself, and, lastly, lengthy. Furthermore, on reading between the lines, it becomes quite easy to see that he was a depressed, lonely soul, isolated from most wordly and social interactions.

This isolation and substitution of social interactions with daydreams portraying a glorified sense of self is what I want to bring to your attention today. Coined as Maladaptive Daydreaming (MD), this mental illness has highly debilitating effects on sufferers. Spending hours at a stretch inside a dream, while real life continues, people ailing from MD lose their grasp on reality. While inside a dream, they are oblivious to the passage of time in the real world. They might also not be able to identify their emotional triggers and not be prepared to face them, thereby spiralling into dreams at the most unexpected of times. There have been instances of patients who’ve kept on walking till their feet bled because they’d started daydreaming and did not realise how long it had been. Thus, in effect, it is quite easy to lose oneself if you’re suffering from MD.

This is precisely why it is necessary to spread awareness about this Mental Health issue so that affected persons or their well-wishers can get the required help. I believe every person is beautiful in his or her own right and no one should have to feel so down in the dumps that they have to end up imagining a better version of themselves, a better life for themselves, better friends, better job, better everything rather than actually working towards it. Let us make sure no one gets subjected to such abject misery.

(This is post is a part of my regular feature on Mental Health Awareness. I have previously written on the importance of disseminating awareness on mental health issues here, on depression here, on anxiety here and on self doubt here. If you like and support my efforts in this venture, please share and spread the word. I shall be eternally grateful for this act of kindness on your part. Thank you 🙂 )

He said, she said.

He said, “I’ve never been asked out till now.”

She said, “Oh that needs to be rectified right now.”

She said, “So, will you go out with me?”

Perplexed, and taking it to be pity, he said, “Sure, let me know when you’re in my city.”

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p style=”text-align:justify;”>Confused at such a cryptic response, she thought she did not stand a chance.
Angered at men pestering her, he said, “Use my name to ward off unwanted advances.”

Saddened at getting just the use of his name and not the man in question, she said to herself, “Maybe this is it, this is all I get”, and took no other chances.

One day, never having been in love before yet heartbroken by the world in a myriad ways, he said, “If only a girl would tell me, you know, I’d be the best guy out there for her!”

Holding him to his word and daring to take the plunge, she said, “I am here, you know, and you’re​ everywhere for me”.

Finally, he said, “I love you, undoubtedly and unconditionally”.

Softly, she added, “Irrevocably”.

There are ups and down, highs and lows, happiness and sadness, and then there’s them.

He says things that calm her fears. He says things that wipe her tears. He says her problems are his to bear.

She says he won’t ever have to be alone. She says after him there can be None. She says to her he is her home.

He said, she said and then there was love.

“In a time of destruction, create something.” ― Maxine Hong Kingston

I read somewhere that the outcome of chaos can never be predicted. The only certainty it brings is the Devastation it leaves in its wake. A profound statement leaving little scope for refutation. Nevertheless, I do believe that it fails to hit the nerve. Leaving aside mathematical algorithms for predictions given a set of variables as well as the nature of the Chaos Theory, more popularly known as the Butterfly Effect, I would like to propose the following interpretation of the nature of chaos.

Apocalypse, Mahapralaya ( Great Dissolution – Sanskrit) are just a few names bestowed to the coming of the end of the world, all stemming form and resulting in chaos. Similar analogies are found throughout the world in forms of various legends and myths.

However, if one removes his mind from the immediate after effects of chaos, a bigger picture comes to light. As readers might be aware, according to Greek mythology, chaos was the first thing to come into existence. Next, and quite possibly out of chaos, came everything else.  The devastation brought forth by chaos is not the be all and end all. Chaos lays the groundwork for building things anew. You destroy something to rebuild it in a better way. Sometimes it is the need of the hour to put a stop to renovations and patchwork jobs and to just demolish a structure for a better one to rise in its place. History is proof of that. Everyday occurrences bear testimony to the fact. Look around you, isn’t this what is taking place everywhere?

I know what I’m saying is not a novel idea. My intention is only to drive home the fact that destruction is not always a bad thing.

So this is for all bleeding hearts, all broken hearts, all hopeless hearts. Have strength and rally forth..because it might feel like the end of the world today, but it is only a harbinger of better things to come. Do no cry over the shattered pieces of your life if you cannot put them back together right now. Take a step back, analyze, assess, accept the chaos, embrace the destruction, and start building your life again. For there is one thing that is more than certain at the end of the day and that is human resilience.

“We are linked, not ranked”

The exceptional Gloria Steinem implored us to imagine we are linked, not ranked. Granted she was talking about the commonalities shared in the origins of all races, castes, gender and humanity in general, I believe her statement raises another profound thought.

Imagine a world where someone’s gain isn’t measured by another’s loss. Why do I have to lose for you to win? Why do I have to fail for you to be Successful? Why are you so vain that you are only able to cherish your accomplishment by comparing it to other’s misfortune?

We are linked, not ranked. Why cannot one man be conferring a value to the sum total of humanity while another man contributes a different value. After all, it isn’t the conservation of energy that’s in question here. This isn’t a balance sheet. We are people, not numbers or columns of debit and credit.

Imagine a world like that, sounds exactly like the one I’d like to live in.

Of mountains and burdens

“These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb” – Najwa Zebian

Who amongst us has not felt the weight of the world laying on our fragile shoulders? Oh Atlas, I wish you could see how many kindred souls you have!

It is time to jettison all the extra burden that we have self-imposed on ourselves. Yes, self-imposed. No, no, you heard me right.

I agree we live in a fiercely competitive dog eat dog world in present times. No one is spared from an ever present, all consuming pressure to perform. Right from toddlers participating in fancy dress competitions in pre-school, to high-school students scrambling to be popular and cool, to suicide attempts on failing entrance exams, to attaining promotions over all other colleagues, the list is endless. Expectations from parents, from the world, peer-pressure, everything demands of us to excel, to be beyond Successful. There is no scope for failure. One could ask what prompted me to call the burden self imposed when we are obviously straining under the impositions of parents, peers, society and the world at large. Well, the answer lies in the difference between your perception of success and failure.

If you have attempted something whole-heartedly and to the best of your ability, leaving you with no regret, no “oh I wish I had spent just one more minute on it”, then you, my friend, have not failed, irrespective of the result. Let no one tell you differently. You are more than the sum total of your accomplishments. You are more than what your parents dreamt for you or what your peers are doing. You are what you are.

Allow me to tell you then that all the burden and pressure you’re experiencing is just your fear of not appearing competent enough in the eyes of others, the fear of failing as per the definition prescribed by them. Let go of that fear. Trust in yourself. After all, you’re the person who knows you best.

Define your own success, define your own failures. Assess your own self. Because, the mountains that you’re Carrying, you were only supposed to be climb. Shed them off. Make the climb easier. Be the bear, from the popular children’s song, that went over the mountain to see what he could see!

It takes a village

Privacy – Its no secret. Its just none of your business.

India, a place where the patriarchy, and more often than not, the entire society, blatantly comes out to judge a woman by the clothes she wears. “Exposing” skin is considered a direct manifestation of the Western thought. Believe me, following the west is the worst thing you can do here bar none.

So much so, society has even stooped to the level of justifying rape and eve-teasing by proclaiming that the victim was asking for it because she was revealing skin, i.e., she was wearing short skirts or, briefly stated, modern clothes. Trust me, no one is ever asking for it.

There is even a hashtag doing the rounds on twitter called #NotAllMen, I kid you not. This is a supposed feminist stand taken by the male gender in the country, proudly declaring themselves as beacons of morality since they are not indulging in the rape culture. Hence, not all men.

Simply put, the problem of rape in India can be easily redressed. As can be surmised by the prevalent circumstances highlighted above, not all men rape and a women is basically asking for it by wearing provocative clothes. This brings us to the obvious solution. Women, cover yourself.

If you show a patch of skin, you are readily giving up your privacy. You are declaring your consent redundant. You are inviting rape.

One can then posit why girls cannot mind such a teeny tiny thing.  Why are they still brazen enough to step out of door attired in such a manner. Why can they not take a Simple measure to protect themselves. Its just so baffling!

Its because even burqa clad women are being raped. Six month old infants are being raped. 70 year old grandmothers are being raped. So you see, the clothes don’t matter. Nothing matters..and herein lies the crux of the situation.

We, the women of India, are living in a society where a woman was shot dead in a bar because she dared to refuse to serve alcohol to a man after hours. SHOT DEAD. This man’s official defense in Court was that he was provoked. His defense was that he has been brought up in a male dominated society where men have a superior status and a woman’s refusal is a direct hit to his manhood. He has not been conditioned to bear such an atrocity. Poor man. Of course he had to shoot the woman. How dare she refuse a man!

Do you think in light of all this, a woman’s privacy matters? her consent matters? And no, there is no such thing as non-consensual sex.

It takes a village to raise a child. There is something very wrong with the psyche of a society that moulds a child into a monster. The sooner we realize this, the sooner can we treat this pandemic. Do not tell me she was asking for it, do not tell me not all men rape, do not tell me she is characterless. Do not preach morality by donning a holier than thou mantle. Get your hands dirty to clean up the muck. Tell me that what lies beneath a woman’s clothing is not a secret, its just none of your business.

For everyone who’s a bit of a fixer-upper

Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost sight of my purpose. Everything appears bleak and dreary. I feel devoid of all focus. On such days I’m also inexplicably lethargic. When there’s no point in anything, why bother, is how my brain tends to rationalize. However, social media brings me face to face with how well others are doing. How they have what I yearn for. How Successful they are when I’m just sitting here being a loser. Even how I’m never going to be as good as everyone else. For every such day, I would like to pen down the following message for myself. I’m also posting it here in case it can be of use to a kindred soul.

“Don’t pity yourself, babe, and I don’t know why you do that either. You can’t pity a person that knows how to feel in today’s insensitive world. And I think that’s the only fault, as such, which can be found in you. Although from my point of view, that’s not really a fault. Others also have times when they feel what you’re feeling today but somehow they are able to push it aside and hanker on. You, on the other hand, need to pause and let that feeling get over before getting back to doing things. That’s not being lazy or useless. That’s just because you feel and you think. And that’s perfectly okay. Because when it comes down to the wire, I’m sure you’d do whatever you set your mind to. You’re fierce like that. I love you.”

Too much coffee, not enough pancakes.

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It is baffling to observe how the human mind, usually quite ensnared in rigmaroles, can also perceive things in a profoundly abstracted manner. Case in point, I read a novel that spun a yarn of shadow hunters, faerie folk, werewolves, demons, angels, battles, hunts, and, above all, a bond of friendship that surpasses all kinds of romantic love and a fierce love for family that would make a man risk everything else. Yet, what stuck with me was this innocent jest made by a character, “Too much coffee, not enough pancakes”.

Yes, too much coffee, not enough pancakes. Metaphorically, isn’t that what the world is all about today?¹ There is just too much bitterness and too little sweetness and fluff to counter it.² Boiled down to brass tacks, the hatred and violence doing the rounds is too painfully disconcerting. There is always a disaster waiting to occur. Opening the newspaper every morning, I am not surprised to  see headlines shrieking of bombings, terror attacks, mass shootings, air strikes and generally, people being killed all over. Not dying, in a natural way or by an act of God, but being mercilessly slaughtered. And for what? I am none the wiser. So I glance through them with eyes that have long forgotten to widen in shock at the depths of human depravity. What piques my interest is the number of deaths that occurred this time. I subconsciously end up ranking the previous day’s travesties in order of number of kills. The indifference of such cold calculation fills me with dread as I look back upon them right now. I am horrified with how desensitized I am becoming. Me, who was too often chided for being overly empathizing. To think my old man was worried watching too many crime shows was what would end up doing this to me! I cannot help but laugh at his misplaced concern.

I wish it was as Simple as the phrase I read. I wish the world had just enough pancakes. Maybe a handful of waffles and a tad of maple syrup thrown in for good measure!

¹Even though this was not the context or even an interpretation of the dialogue as written in the book.

²Disclaimer: This post in no way belittles my undying love for bitter, black  coffee.

P.S.: For those wondering, the book is called Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. I would recommend it to those who love reading fiction, fantasy, mystery magic and wars. Read about it here.

The Topsy Turvy-ness of a Young Life

I am 24. I have a decent paying job, I can comfortably meet my expenses and I literally want for nothing at the moment. Yet, I am not happy. There is a constant, nagging feeling that this is not it, this is not all. There has to be something more. Something more rewarding. I take to the internet to find what I really should be doing. I have always harboured a love for reading and writing. So I decide that’s a perfectly good place to begin with. I should write. Write for my own self for a start. Mystically, I am uncharacteristically tongue tied. This would be a good place to tell you that I’m a particularly garrulous young woman. Nothing stumps me. Then why should what I love doing leave me at a complete loss. That’s when the enormity of the situation strikes me. And I know, I will wake up tomorrow perfectly contented with my job and go about doing it in a satisfying albeit mechanical manner. This one day burst of passion having ebbed out (the nagging feeling very resolutely pushed into a corner).
The Conundrum of human nature in all its glory, people. The constant lust for the extraordinary yet the inherent desire to hide within the comfort of the usual, known, humdrum affair with life. This realization instills in me a new found respect for the people who threw caution to the wind and dared to plunge into the void without a safety harness. They have successfully resisted the human urge to abhor change and have removed themselves from self inflicted shackles. It is immaterial if they succeeded in their pursuit of the new, it matters that they pursued. Have courage yet, all ye young hearts and try to break free. Adventure is out there! (In the words of a favourite Pixar movie)