Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Judging oneself

Writing after long on my blog, so I think I will first beg pardon for not giving it much attention for a few months. I don't think reasons are quite necessary (this is my blog, after all :D), so I will avoid mentioning them too. What I will do now is write about a particular thing that has been on my mind all this while: myself. For the first time, I want to put the proverbial pen on paper (you get the proverbial bit, don't you?) and write about myself unabashedly, and honestly, for that matter. I wish I could write from a third-person perspective, like Sir did, but no, I think that will cut out my own views about myself, in a way perhaps inexplicable to the common reader. I cannot think of myself, about myself, through the eyes of somebody else; because that somebody does not understand why I do certain things the way I do, or why I think something the way I do, and you get the drift... (Though, that is not to say I completely understand myself. ah well, just read on, if I have not bored you yet!) However, I can assure a few things: (1) I am as virulent a critic of my own follies, as I am proud of my abilities/achievements (2) My opinion is as unbiased as possible, and (3) Sometimes, my views may border on insanity, so that should not come as unexpected! Another small thing, I won't write down in numbered points henceforth-- do not ask me why.

So, the first thing about me is that I am ordinary. Strange that I should begin this way (and all my previous self-descriptions begin in the same way too!). Matter of fact is that I don't say this just to be a bit modest before everybody, I believe in it. And somehow this is always the first thing that comes to mind when I ask myself for a self-description (those "then really, who am I?" moments). The funny/confusing bit about this point is that I sometimes inherently know that I am not acting the way ordinary people do! Now now, these self-realisations aren't really self-assured pats-on-the-back. They're more like "so okay, sometimes I can stand out from the crowd just because I feel like doing so". Those moments/incidents do not make me proud, they just give me some dollops of reason justifying my existence.

Second thing, I am a self-questioning, and quite often, self-doubting person. I often do not know how I am going to react to a particular situation, plainly because I have known myself acting differently in similar situations on different occasions. Sometimes, I don't even know if I am going to do something at all! Call it whim, if you will, disorder too, if you wish. Which is why I do not have a fixed routine in my day-to-day life, and in the bigger scheme of things. I am pretty sure that adherence to a strict routine would nearly kill my ever-so-volatile spirits-- which wants to do something only when it knows that the job is going to give it happiness/satisfaction. And I can say all this only because I have tried out the other side of the fence too. I have, on multiple occasions before (and at times, even in the present) done things just because they need to be done. The end result of such compulsive action has been almost uniformly the same: lifeless, unenthusiastic (even a few blogposts of mine bear witness to this fact: browse through them carefully, and you'll spot the ones with ease!). This ceaseless self-doubting and self-questioning does not end with action and reaction, though. It extends to the way I look at my own self. But, more on that at some later stage of this post. Let's move on now.

If the reader hasn't noticed it till now, let me spell it out: I have several inherent dualities (or ambiguities, if you want to call it that) in my character. So much so, that it is impossible for me to track down which particular facet of my character is active when (shades of Heisenberg's principle?!).

I have felt, though not completely understood, love. Love that is completely spontaneous, liberating, mesmerising, invigorating, a gush of emotions that flow through your self making it feel well, happy and exalted (maybe I can't describe it any better). Something like what Roger Daltrey sang about in The Who's cathartic Love Reign O'er Me. And yet, I have also felt so completely loveless at times-- just a void in me, nothing that I could feel. Love has given me both serenity and restlessness. Only one other person and the one above us all know how much I have searched for peace in the labyrinthine mazes of the all-encompassing emotion. That search hasn't yet ended, though it sometimes is put on hold indefinitely, and then resumed-- I believe soul-searching is one thing that will go on and on, anyway! So, I've put all my hope and belief in God, and wait for Time to tell me (ah, yes, borrowed this phrase from a favourite Nick Drake song :)).

Now that I have spoken about both love and myself being ordinary, let me say this: I find it sometimes strange and amazing, and often feel quite grateful that there has never been any dearth of people who have showered their blessings and affections on me, especially since the onset of self-consciousness. Even when I least expected love or care, I've had a few people who have unconditionally given me those treasured things (some teachers, a precious few cherished friends, and even some people who knew me for a rather short period of time). It sometimes makes me feel so happy, sometimes a bit ashamed of my own self-- do I really deserve all this? A friend keeps assuring me that I do, as for myself, actually do not yet know. The best part of it is that all this affection keeps reminding me that I need to fashion myself so that I can become deserving of it. *Did I make sense here?!*

Which brings me to one very important thing that needs to be written about: happiness, and its opposite. As with every other thing, I can't quite assure myself if I am inherently a happy or a sad person. Because, I am often quite melancholic and depressed (some think for no good reason!)-- little things I notice (and a lot of others can't, or don't) make me feel quite sad. On the other hand, I can get quite cheerful and happy suddenly (again, for no good reason, it seems to some!) on certain days just because I feel like being so. Yeah, I am mad, and I make no bones about that! Somewhat interconnected is the question of my temper, which is as volatile as my mood. With time and a lot of self-control (and because I have grown up more or less alone, without people to share my emotions with), I have successfully curbed my extreme anger (of which only I know). So even if I am not in the best of spirits, one sees me cool, quiet, and generally averse to speaking. Though, it is worth admitting that I have not been able to completely control my anger-- if disturbed while I am in that quiet stupor, I may just explode for a brief moment before calming down (I detest these moments, and without fail, I have begged pardon for being rude on every occasion these outbursts have taken place, that is, as far as I can hark back and remember).

More dualities coming up: intertwined with the question of happiness/sadness, and my temper, is my emotional strength (honestly, I don't find a better alternative for "strength" at the moment). Only a few people know this, but I am emotionally quite feeble. Those who know me, and know me quite well, can judge my mood by a single word I say or a single twitch of my eyebrows. I am that transparent! I cry, perhaps more than girls (yeah, have your laugh, if anyone of you is reading), though not in the "I can create a pool of tears" sense. Just a silent outflow until I feel quite light. Funny that at times, though not always, I don't myself have an idea of the reason for crying, just a inextinguishable urge somewhere to empty my mind of some disturbing thoughts. All of this is not without reason, though. Having grown accustomed to, perhaps even comfortable with, confiding the deepest of my thoughts only to myself (like several others who go through emotional crests and troughs, I do not maintain a regular diary-- for fear that someone may actually discover it some day, I don't know when. The mere idea of someone knowing my deepest thoughts without me directly selecting him/her for that purpose disturbs me, since I know that there is a dark shade to my self too, a dark shade I prefer to keep private, you could even say trapped inside me!), I am naturally more prone to emotional upheavals. Which does not mean that I actually leave all work aside and retreat to a dark corner of some room-- in fact, I am quite a master in being seemingly so happy and contented outside while something keeps on constantly gnawing away in me. I won't lie, I often wish I could just lay off the whole burden and tell someone I trust (there are people whom I deeply trust, that I can assure myself and you too!) everything I feel. But then, it dawns on me that if it would help me somewhat, it would be a whole load for the one who shares-- and hey, even my closest confidantes have their own lives to live. However, little bits and pieces of my heart, I do share now and then with those whom I care for, and who, I hope, care for me too. Funny I should say all this, and then add the next bit-- but someone else's (I mean anyone of my confidante's) emotions I am always glad to share, in fact, sometimes I positively hope that a few people open up and make themselves comfortable in confiding to me. Nope, not saying all this because it'll earn me a few brownie points for being deeply understanding and caring-- it is just that helping someone in any way makes me happy, very happy. So happy, in fact, that I can forget the troughs I sit in (that has happened on occasion, so I definitely know what I am saying).

Ah! Since I am talking about understanding, caring and loving, let me take the liberty of saying that I do care, love and understand, at the very least, those who I deem worthy of it. Thank God then, for I am not Severus Snape! :D I hope everyone who is reading takes note of this: being inherently shy and tongue-tied, I cannot, simply cannot, express to all the people I love and care how much they mean to me. I wish I could say something unabashedly admiring, lovely and appreciative about certain persons, but I always fear someone or the other may cynically misunderstand it to be flattery or thoughtless, meaningless exaggeration of one kind or the other. Yes, I give two hoots about what others think, but this is where "others" get the better of me.

A hostel room-mate often says that I am in the habit of judging people by my own standards, which may well be good or nasty, depending on what you think about me. I cannot pass any judgement on this aspect of mine, just thought I'd concede this point openly here.

I think, that is one thing I nearly always do. I wish, and certainly hope, that I break free from the shackles of laziness that so cripple me at times-- all my own fault too. I am just too whimsical at times, you see. By the way, this reminds me that my tastes and interests are as whimsical, if not more (I thought initially that I'd label them "eclectic", but eclecticism is not to be used lightly, especially when it is me who is the subject of discussion). Before I wind this up, just one more thing to say: I have tried out various things in life, and already have a fair idea of what I really enjoy doing. I have no concrete plans for the future (shades of caprice again, you see!) though I have rough sketches of what I would like to do-- and believe me, that is one long long list. Do not know if life will even afford me the time to do all I love to do, but hey, I at least know something a lot of my contemporaries don't-- the path to happiness! Following my heart through the myriad mazes that encompass it, playing around with light and darkness, solemnity and frolic, ecstasy and melancholy, work and leisure, everything and it's opposite. I embrace life as it comes-- with all the complexities and the quiet, simple joys of living.

Since duality is a running theme throughout this post, it is quite apt for me to end on a note that strikes that chord between opposites yet again-- remember how I mentioned my fear of baring my heart; lo and behold, I already have!


Twisha Mukherjee said...

You know what, something about you has changed. There's a difference in the WAY you wrote your previous blogs, and the WAY you've written this blog. This is certainly a better way, because, you interact with the reader much more, with question marks and exclamation marks and so on. I don't know, if NIT changed the way you think, i.e. the way you talk to yourself, or the way you express, i.e. the way you talk to others. But, something about you did change.

Kaushik said...

Where the Mind Matters

The marvelous tapestry that you have been able to weave – with the delicate, soft, strands of your emotions, being within your ‘self’ inveterately, but, as if you can see beyond and from without, unraveling the wisps and warps of your mind-map, with wondrous, probing eyes and again with a detached amusement of sorts, and quietly knitting them together in a tautly spun weft, has left me agape!

There are moments when unfolding of such superb ‘mind-mechanics’, fresh and pristine, has to be enjoyed/perceived from a distance with an ecstatic awe and this is what I’m doing at present after an enthralling read of your post! Often, you know, a person’s mind’s eye is a real opener and throws light to venture a peek into the inertness of so many foggy corners of our mind too, (an inexorable connect builds up when an acutely felt experience in one's individual private domain becomes a seed, a rarefied filter, as it were, of an enduring collective lesson) as I’ve never tired of confiding to you all, my dear!

Love & Regards
Kaushik Chatterjee

Anonymous said...

You understand yourself, Sudipto. And, likewise, you’ve read yourself bit by bit; fold by fold. Leave alone “capability” of it, few of us can summon enough courage to read ourselves. Because “self”, I believe, isn’t about what we do, or what we like to do, or what we’ve experienced in our lives.

Though simple in looks, “self” [myself, yourself, itself, ourselves…] is an utterly ambiguous term in sense, signifying that we are alive. “Self” is about a lot of “abouts”: about that which we show and that which lies underneath; about that which is beautiful, electrifying – an ecstasy beyond words – of which we are conscious but haven’t “known”; about what a Boggart would turn into if it would face us, or what a Horcrux would take the form of if each of us were to be Ronald Weasleys; about the dreams we see and the nightmares we have; about tunes and songs we don’t want to sing and about those which we always want to sing; about faces we remember from the past and are held back by them momentarily; about numerous streets, corners and corridors that merge into each other; about why we say “no” and “yes” and nothing at all at different questions poised by life; about why there are lies and truths, tolds and untolds; about the lamb that lies within the tiger and the tiger within the lamb; about wordlessness; about the existence of the theorist, the poet and the actor in one person; about the fear of a mirror; about dimensions we believe in and we don’t – the Almighty and the ghosts; about inertia and ambition; about the mother/father, the sister/brother, the baby, the friend and the lover in one person; about the gaiety, the life, the pang, the pain and the death in one person; about nothing-at-all sometimes; about the sky, the tree and the river in one person; about the beggar and the giver in one person; about sanity-insanity, maturity-immaturity - a sensible comment and a crappy one; about dualities and severalties --- and, as I said before, about a lot of other abouts…

Sayan Datta said...

You are a fine writer Sudipto and a finer person. For me Sudipto, with the kind of monotonous existence I often think I lead, dealing with philistines of all ages day in and day out, it was nothing less than a miracle to able to see so much light in a Human Being again. Your friend is right - you really do deserve all those accolades. Just stay the way you are; that's all I can say. Maybe you are destined to do great things in life. May God always be with you.
Sayan da

Suvro Chatterjee said...

Preserve this essay. You will be be truly bemused to read it twenty five years from now!

Sudipto Basu said...

I feel so full of words now-- there is this unmistakable feeling inside me to say a lot of things in gratitude to all who have commented, and yet, I do not have the words to speak. I think I need some time (not much, I assure) to figure out what to say, till then, hope a paltry 'thank you' will do! :)

Vishal Kumar said...

Apologies for reading your blog after so long.

As for the write-up .. Is it me you are talking about?

Moreover or less i find myself in this write-up. I reckon that will suffice for now.

And i will second Survo Sir.

i will like to quote one quote by Richard Bach..he says like.. "i don't need to meet my close friends, i know them by their work"

Madan said...

Well, well, this is the first time I am reading your blog. Very interesting, I have met someone who analyzes himself more painstakingly than I do! :P My view is that happiness is not a pursuit though it is commonly referred to as such. It is a state of being and being happy is entirely in your control and cannot be "attained" in the manner of reaching a destination. You can have all that you once craved for and yet be deeply unhappy; you may a pauper with no worldly possessions but you may not have a care in the world. This is the ultimate secret of man's existence and it is best that though we may be aware of it, we never actually unlock it for if every man were happy with his lot, there would be no innovation, no discovery and no progress. It is too late to question whether any of these above mentioned things are required at all because human civilization owes itself to these and man does not know any other way to live. In a nutshell, it is your, my and everyone's lot to be unhappy and discontented for various motives; cherish it, it is at the root of human existence.

Signing off,

ze funk :P