Narrow

This January, I set out to trek in a city named Sikkim, in India. For my acclimatization trek, I went to the old capital of Sikkim that was situated at quite a height. It was a foggy day through and through, and the views on the trail amongst the tall trees were breathtaking. Once I reached the sanctuary, I walked around a little and explored the area. I came across this quaint little path whose end looked ambiguous in its entirety because of the fog’s reign on the air. As I stood at the start of this path, trying to capture the ethereal beauty in a single picture, I had an epiphany: This path was life.

Or well, a perfect metaphor for it. Life doesn’t come with full visibility, and every time you try and look into the future, it turns foggy. However, even though you can only see faint silhouettes in the fog, it looks gorgeous. I realized that the same spot might not have been so special if there was no shroud of mist over it. That life is exciting only when you don’t know what’s coming next. There have been countless stories and plays written on how when someone tries to get their future predicted and lives by it, it ends up in a miserable failure.

The first example that had come to mind when I stood there was that of Macbeth, by Shakespeare. The witches that gave him his first prophecy told him ‘All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Glamis. All hail Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor. All hail Macbeth, that shalt be king hereafter.’ This one ambiguous prophecy that seemed to shed light into the dense fog of his future drove him to the point of murder and into an insane frenzy of ambitiousness and sprouted in him a deep desire to know more. We humans, when confronted with knowledge about the future, seem to lose all rationality in the face of being tempted with one-upping fate. So, when Macbeth went to the witches, scared, for his second prophecy, he didn’t stop to think and he let the witches lull him into a false sense of security, which is exactly what we do.

They said that ‘Be lion-mettl’d,proud, and take no care, Who chafes,who frets, or where conspirers are. Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him.’ He believed he could never be defeated because that is what he wanted to believe. I realized that we humans were not given the ability to prophesize because we can not handle it with the grace it requires. It would drive us mad and change our very natures into ambitious, power-hungry monsters (and we’re enough of those as it is). It showed me that maybe life is foggy because we need it to be, and that the narrow path of life is hazy in the distance because that is the only way it will remain beautiful and awe-inspiring. The slow lifting of fog is the best way to live, and trying to hasten the clearing of the haziness to achieve useless clarity can only ever result in the haste blowing up in our own faces, because as they say: Haste makes waste.

*In response to the Photo Challenge ‘Narrow’ by the Daily Post <a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/narrow/”>Narrow</a&gt;

 

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The World of Sounds

A tornado of noises
surrounds me, devours me.
A storm of sounds
envelops me
and forms a cage from which
my thoughts can’t escape.

People, all around me
Who pelt me with meaningless words
and expect me to lower my walls
To stand, armed only with my silence
and defend myself against their blows.

This world, this age, this time,
Is for those who speak
For those who talk.
Silence, is lost here.
The ones whose thoughts
are so loud within
that their voices go quiet,
are unwelcome here.
Out of place and unnoticed they go,
Seeing all, hearing all, and knowing all.

But, in this world of sounds,
What the loud ones don’t realize
Is that silence speaks the loudest
And that sometimes,
Silence is the most deafening of all.

The Difference Between Shyness and Introversion

If you’re an introvert, meaning you get energized by alone time and love reading (not an exhaustive definition), you will have come across at least one person whose challenged mental faculties have led them to describe you as ‘shy’. If you haven’t, great! I envy you already. But for us other less fortunate souls, I know it feels nothing short of a personal insult even though it may not have been meant that way. Shyness implies a lack of confidence, which is NOT what introversion is. I can not emphasize this point enough. Introversion is having an inner mental life so rich that you don’t need much external stimulation to enjoy yourself. It is not social ineptitude, or arrogance. It is merely choosing to travel inwards instead of making small talk. I don’t know why society makes it seem so wrong, really. Quoting Susan Cain, ‘Solitude matters. And for some people, it is the air they breathe.’

Children who are quiet or who read instead of talking and shouting with their classmates as labelled ‘shy’ or ‘quiet’ and encouraged, sometimes even forced, to participate more in group activities. *Shudders* Don’t even get me started on group activities. I mean, I’m all for co-operation and teamwork, but there are times when you just have to do things alone! Everything can not be a joint venture or there would be no entrepreneurs. And the teachers and the parents of such children who constantly feel the need to enhance the social stimulation that the kid is exposed to are harming them rather than helping them. Our society has gotten so addicted to the idea of groups and teams that we have forgotten individuality. There are so many people who suffer from a low self-esteem because they haven’t discovered who they are. In this mad rush for collaboration, we have overlooked personality development and fed ourselves to the monster of conformity.

All of this ‘groupism’, in my opinion, has led to peer pressure. I have classmates who are extremely confident, even dominating, in social settings and yet I know for a fact that they are not capable of climbing down two flights of stairs alone, let alone sitting or eating on their own. I find this extremely sad because I think that the first best friend that you should have is yourself. One must be capable of sitting for hours and hours alone in their own company; thinking, reading – and such times of deep contemplation in solitude are the highlights of my normal day most of the times. This is not to say I advocate against being with people in general. I can not consider my day complete without talking to at least one of my friends, and talking to others gives me the release that I desperately need after thinking on my own at times.

All I’m saying is that this mad rush for teamwork needs to be paused! Children who prefer books over loud, boisterous people shouldn’t be made to feel like there is something wrong with them for feeling so. Introversion is a personality trait. If these children and the rich, inner workings of their minds aren’t encouraged, they will conform. They will conform and put on a facade of extroversion, even though they won’t be very good at it, and lose their true selves in the process. These selves might get buried so deep under the heavy layers of social expectations that society imposes that they may not resurface ever again, and the child will lead a life feeling unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

So, as an introvert who loves this facet of my personality and feels every other introvert should get the opportunity to feel the same (after all, about 47% of people in the world are introverts), I ask you to look around. Find the introverts in your life, and give them their space. If some day, they choose sitting at home instead of coming out with you, don’t attribute it to their dislike of you or their moodiness. They just need to recharge. If a person chooses to read instead of coming and joining your ‘gossip time’, let them. It is their way of enjoying, and they need it. If you identify yourself as an introvert, don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to social outings when you just need a cup of coffee and time by the window. If the extroverts around you find it selfish or weird, let them. Be you, be true.