In Defense of Murakami

What I’ve felt about this author since forever. Put perfectly in this post.

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On vulnerability and otherwise.

I am the kind who doesn’t stay at one place for a very long time. The kind who hates discipline, unless it is self inflicted. I belong to the generation who aren’t acquainted to things like staying at one job for a very long time at a time where saying ‘ I don’t know’ is an acceptable response. Our relationships are as inconsistent as we are, and even the most sorted ones in my generation, didn’t intend to be the sorted kind.

In the recent times, I have rediscovered a few things about myself. This rediscovery has been because of multiple things. But I think two things that have changed me are leading a team at work and responsibility (rather increased responsibility) at the home. While my juniors make fun of me for being extremely calm and patient, I have realized that I am actually very calm and sorted in the head. While my team has screwed up more than once in a major ways, I have never been able to shout at them. Exception of one really extreme incident. While things at home have been consistently difficult, the only thing I manage to do consistently is not panic. At the personal front, a boy was a real jerk to me and what did i do? I shut him out for a few days, let him apologize, told him he was being a jerk and moved on(or I am trying to move on, to be honest). The reason I am writing all of this is not self appraisal or arrogance but the fact that I am realizing at what cost do I do this.

On most days when extreme shit happens, the kind that pushes me over to be visibly and openly angry, my reaction is to shut down, sulk or cry it out. Anger makes me cry. Being so calm most of the time means that when things go wrong, things that are beyond my control go wrong, I literally emotionally break down. My first instinct being – running away from it if I can. But I often can’t and it means facing shit and being open about the fact that how emotional it makes me.

Recently I came across a video that spoke of power of vulnerability. I have always been the kind who was never afraid to be vulnerable. As much as I appear otherwise, I always know how the choices I make are making me vulnerable. Many a times, I believe too much and let myself fall into some very visible traps. These are times when I know I am going to hurt but I still let go for one reason – if i don’t how will I find out otherwise? Being defensive about being emotional does very little. If you don’t give people a chance, they would never surprise. If you don’t get emotionally involved, how the hell can you care? It is not possible to be emotionally detached and yet be involved in something.

Sure, times like these, when I have too much on my mind, too much stress to deal with and some very difficult decisions to take, the only thing I don’t like about myself is just exactly this. The emotionality of everything around me gets overwhelming and the only thing i want to do is run away. The more emotionally involved you are, the more hurt you feel. The more it hurts to walk away and the more difficult the decisions become.

When I look back at short stints at workplaces, relationships that haven’t worked out, friendships I have walked away from, there is a pattern. The minute I felt I was all in and not appreciated for it, I have walked away. Or the minute I felt that I had given all of myself and the other side hadn’t returned the favor, I turned and left. Without another thought.

Is it ever the right reaction to things? I don’t really know yet. But I am trying to find out. Because sometimes walking away in peace isn’t an option and staying calm isn’t a reaction. There has to be a middle ground, even if it means compromise.

I am not being mean, I just want to move on.

A couple of years ago, in a fit of anger, I deleted some people from my Facebook friend list. A few weeks ago, a guy I have known for a long time acted like a jerk so I deleted him from my Facebook list. It appears, throwing people out of my life  or just ensuring that there is limited contact with them starts by ensuring that they are no longer connected to me on social media. May be because it is my job or because I have always been an internet addict, getting in touch with me is easiest through the internet. Whatsapp and sms closely follows. But this disconnecting tactic is something that caught my attention yesterday during a conversation where I was quite unknowingly defending my actions.

Why are these people no longer a part of my Facebook friend list? The simple reason being I don’t want them to know what I am up to. I don’t want them to know where I work, what I work as, who do I hang out with, who am I seeing, what do I drink, what do I watch etc etc. No matter how much and how consciously I avoid putting up my personal life on Facebook, a lot of it inevitably ends up on Facebook. Friends tag, I share whatever I feel is worthy, I spend at least 15 minutes on it everyday for personal use. What goes on there, is a clear window into my life. And these guys don’t quite deserve to know it.

No wonder it becomes such a matter of ego and pride when someone gets deleted from someone’s ‘friend list.’           

I envy the generation before mine. For them, a break up actually meant a break up. Saying goodbye actually meant goodbye. It didn’t mean, lets wait for a few weeks before we add each other again or unblock each other. They certainly had a few more choices. And moving on didn’t mean offending someone. 

I want a contradictory love

I want to have an utterly pointless conversation at 2am. Sleepy, sweet nothings about life and love. Feel some warmth from far away. Get cosy in my own blanket. Dream about you, think about you and wake up thinking of you.

I want to plan a meaningless things. Stuff that will never happen. Vacations that will stay imaginary, evenings that will only be a dream. I still want to plan them, I want to dream because it means dreaming of you. And you are wonderful to dream about.

I want to be. Wake up, walk, talk and do nothing. Just be. Not think of to do lists. Not wonder if you are thinking about me. I want to know you are thinking of me. I want to breathe in you. Be you. Feel perfection. Feel love. Just feel happy. And sad. And ecstatic. All at the same time. Because you are that. The one thing that makes me feel. The thing that takes me away from my daily mechanical jargon, my analytical mind and need to be perfect.

I want to do so much and so little. All of it together. And nothing at the same time. But above everything else, I want all of this with you. Only you can make me feel sane and insane, all at the same time.

Into the wild

Into the wild. The tragic story of Christopher McCandless who went off to Alaska to never return. A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends started quoting the movie on Facebook quite frequently. A few months ago, I was asked by my friend to watch the movie. I remember starting it and switching it off for some reason. I think it just wasn’t the time to watch it or read it yet.

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So when I did watch the movie, I was struck by a very different kind of melancholy. It may be stem from the fact that I could understand that boy although not agree with him. The need to push ones limits, look for some of truth, any sort of truth, to find some sense, literally some sense in what happens around us all the time, to know and understand that there is a power beyond us, call it nature, call it God, which is so much easier, so much purer, so much more beautiful than what we’ve seen in our entire lives put together – is a thought and a want that would haunt anyone of us, anyone of us who has dared to question self and the core reason of our existence.

The book illustrates so many more youngsters who have done the same thing. What connected them? What made Jon Krakauer feel so empathic towards a soul who is just cursed and misunderstood by so many people? It is probably the knowing that at an age, all we desire is the need to know is that the world is much more and much greater than us.  That all that is wrong and will wrong in our lives is miniscule and probably irrelevant compared to it. May be it is the need to know that there is some that is still untarnished and untouched. Something that just….still remains pure.

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For some of us, dealing with imperfections and moral defects in those around us is much more difficult. Our desire to make things perfect, overpowers our ability to be humane and compassionate. It becomes very easy to judge, forget that we too may make mistakes sometimes and sometimes imperfection is a sign of being human.

May be I connected with that boy, only because I know how difficult it is to see those who we hold to high moral standards err. To know that we lead and we will continue to lead an imperfect life. I just wish he would’ve realized that before he made fatal errors and returned to world to tell his tale instead of Jon Krakauer or Sean Penn having to do it.

It is not personal.

On a rate of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, advertising will always score very low when it comes to job satisfaction. And by job satisfaction, I mean a feeling that assures you that you are doing something good, for yourself and others. In fact, I had read a study a couple of months ago that clearly stated this. Most people in advertising, aren’t the most happiest. It is very rare that I have come across someone that is truly passionate about it. Or really does think that advertising is a profession that does some good. It is absolutely no wonder that earlier generations never thought of advertising as a worthwhile career. Why would anyone? What is it that we do at the end of the day? Sell stuff to people. And sometimes entertain them. What good ever comes out of it?

I was recently asked if I had a problem or value clash with working for an alcohol giant. It was exactly the question I had been struggling with since I started working for the brand. I drink.  But I don’t drink like most people. I don’t drink to get drunk. I don’t have need to be high or every time I have some alcohol, I don’t look for being high or drunk as the end result. In fact, lately, drinking is something that doesn’t excite me at all. Am I marketing alcohol directly? No. I can’t even do that legally. What am I marketing? May be a lifestyle. May be a bit of greed. Am I okay doing that? I’m not really sure. I think I can never be sure.

If I am someone who isn’t sure about my profession to begin with, how can I be sure about a brand? I have nothing against alcohol. But I do have something against alcoholics. So I don’t think the brand is an issue here. My issues are with larger things. Like values, beliefs and existential stuff. Like what exactly am I doing with my life?

I think being confused is an intrinsic part of our lives. I think I am someone who will be confused about things even when I am old and grey. So this doesn’t really bother me much at this moment. It is something I will figure out with time and experience. But there is a question that I do need to address right now. And that is what do I want out of the job that I am doing right now. If I have to earn and this is the only way I know how, what do I do to ensure that I am not as miserable as I have been lately.

To start with I don’t want to feel like I am fighting a battle everyday and I’d like to do what I was hired for. I like writing. And everything that has to do with it. As long as my life revolves around it, I am happy.

I think I have passed the age/phase where being at work like a workaholic was exciting. I love work even now. But I also value having a life. This is something only a lack of a (personal) life can teach you. The value of it. I don’t want to work like a mad person anymore. I want to enjoy work. I want to value it.  Not treat it as a job. Not that I ever have but I think that is where my problem lies.

Everything I do is personal to me. And that is what makes me so passionate about work. But when it becomes personal, everything that goes wrong in that sphere also becomes personal. Every win is personal and every loss is personal. And that is what causes this deep unrest every time things go even slightly wrong.

Learning to disassociate is a long and tiring process. I repeat this to one of my team’s junior writers every day, it is not personal. Nothing that happens at work stems out of personal vindictiveness or negativity. At least most of the time it doesn’t. I wish taking my own advice wasn’t so difficult. And I wish I had someone repeating this to me when I was as young as her. It is not personal. It shouldn’t be personal.

Reassurance?

One of the good things about reading Thought Catalog is that you get to know that you are not the only one who self-destructs. It is sort of assuring when at the end of another year, when I feel that life is completely different but it is still the same. Like most things I say when I am emotional and slightly pissed off, this doesn’t make sense. But that is exactly how I feel.

A monumental year this has been. So many things gone awry, so much effort put in to ensure that as the year ends, life is not falling apart. But it may not be falling apart but it is still somewhere stuck.

I didn’t want to go back to drowning myself in work. I wanted to work on myself. Be happy, healthy, try to be accessible and friendly, instead I have done exactly the opposite. I have found a job that consumes me. Leaves me nothing for me. And I enjoy it. I was born like this, I think. Programmed to be a workaholic. Because being anything else would probably mean that I’d have to confront my other demons. I am better off this way.

I’ve never been good at relationships. Any sort. I don’t do the nice thing. I don’t do the secure happy thing either. I am the kind who believes in silent confrontations rather than angry outbursts, the kind who believes in the good although the obvious is right in front of me, the kind who refuses to let go when things get difficult but is icy cold even when things aren’t, the kind who is not accessible and is very easy to let go.

I’d rather not open this can of worms. I’d rather drown in work. Disappear in books when I have the time. And read Thought Catalog to know that I am not alone.