My wings are unclipped, now. I can see my wings spread. I think I can fly.
“If you haven’t forgotten how to,” her inner voice deliberately reminded her. She can’t go on and give her a little speech now. She is cheaply optimistic. Naively driven. To fly. To let go of everything and just fly.
The last time she could fly was in her cage. She never knew who got the lock of the key. All she knew was she had to practice fluttering her wings before she forgot how to do it at all. Her cage of sadness was unlocked, rather dissolved, a while back. She couldn’t tell how or why. She was out in the air all of a sudden.
She considered building her cages back. Maybe erect them loose in case she regretted their existence. Because freedom smelled like a trap more than a locked cage. The air suffocated her being. The possibilities drove her wild. She, yet, didn’t know how to live in the open after living in the shadow of all the eyes that have been gazing at her. She killed them all. She drowned them in her sadness. Maybe that’s why her cage dissolved. Pain never disappears, it abides in others.
After a while, she went back to her cage. She never left it, to be enitrely honest. She never built the bars back either. In her imagined reality, she was still in the cage behind the bars. Truly enough, they existed for her. No one gazes at her now. No one is there. She is truly alone. Whether imagined or real.
But, today. Today is a new day. She can see her unclipped wings. She can see herself soaring beyond the heavens. She is neither happy nor sad. She is just optimistic. And she burst her imagined reality into disperse.
Her inner voice yelled, “You can’t fly, you can only flutter.” But these efforts are proven useless. She thinks she can fly now. It is just a matter of time before she discovers whether she can or not.
Recently, I had a long argument on a particular perspective of Art with a friend. Since the discussion was over the phone (which I am deeply grateful for), it ended in an open bracket with neither of us giving our intended conclusion. At least on my part. The question on the table was whether every piece of art can become a source of moral guidance. Or a true reference of a principle we would like to acquire. I would say, definitely not.
Passion, emotion, and an analytical mind make a grand combination for curating any work of art. The magnified effect of one of the three might result in unscrupulous work. Or unfinished thoughts, at times. However, maintaining the balance among these three might be the hardest venture one might take upon. Balance is a quest we are always intrigued by, after all.
This is exactly why, more often than not, art might just be reflective. We might find the heart and soul of the artist without having any didactic principles for ourselves. It is, sometimes, the analyzed perception of oneself as viewed critically. It might be full of jest and a kinder judgment, at other times. It could also be romanticized, victimized, and lack of true self-awareness. One must not forget the uncanny countereffect of the perils of self-reflection, anyway.
Anyhow, can we ever give a single definition for art? Can we say this is an art, but the other is not? On what standards, really? If art is, just, reflective, can it still be art?
In the 19th century, there was an art movement called Aestheticism. In short, the mantra of the thought was art for art’s sake. It glorified art for what it is. Beauty. A caricature. The leading artists took away the weight of having meaning and implications to appreciate and muse over the work. It might seem like they appropriated the definition of art for their cause. But how can that be a crime since we all do it for whatever greater cause we assume to have? Hated by philistinism believers and those who are disdainful of intellectual or artistic values, the movement was replaced after all. Some even called it a cult for beauty. However, as one reflects on this form of art, there is undeniable significance it can bring to our current trends.
Nowadays, we find many people writing, painting, mixing, or recording themselves to relieve the sore feeling they are experiencing. And I sometimes wonder if the final fate of art is becoming a vent of our emotions and turmoils?
This is why I would recommend having a reflective art journal. A notebook. A note-taking app on phone. Any writing or doodling device one can afford to have would do. For one, jotting down your ideas would help correctly track the train of thought one has. It is, sometimes, hard to distinctly understand the intended meaning if it is not further reflected upon. It is also helpful to differentiate the exaggerated versions from the realistic part of it. Having this process would prevent a hasty publication without a good look of a self-critic.
By no means, I cannot judge or acclaim whether that is an art or not. But I would assert this: Perhaps one must carefully analyze and speculate whether every vent is a work of art. For the deep respect I have regarding art I, to the very least, wish to hear a critically challenged perception of thought other than a shallow observation of any incident. Although we, as humans, are cursed to be more than biased (on our emotions) in our utterances, a few things might help to refine our works like that of a reflective art journal. Otherwise, one is doomed to be a slave of a cacophony of undifferentiated voices leaving art at the mercy of jest and unworthy status.
For me, still, art can be a reflective summary. If one can find a guiding principle for life, wouldn’t that be gold? But I don’t suppose we must always find a prescriptive rule of law for life.
The aim of life is self-development. To realize one’s nature perfectly – that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. They have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to oneself. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion – these are the two things that govern us. And yet –…I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and completely, were to give to every feeling, expression to every thought, reality to every dream –I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse of joy that we would forget all the maladies of medievalism, and return to the Hellenic ideal – to something finer, richer than the Hellenic ideal, it may be. But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives.
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray.
As I am rereading Oscar Wilde, I am fascinated by his philosophical taunts on every single page. Self-development always baffles me. I try to give in and forget it for its entirety. I, sometimes, yield to its intriguing aspects and denote myself to understand my progress in it. However, till the day I die, I don’t think I can completely comprehend why it exists. Or why it keeps baffling me.
It is, yet, amusing how our lives are dominantly governed by fear. According to Wilde, here, we are afraid of ourselves. And because of that, we have forgotten our aim, he connotes. We constantly preach to ourselves that we are to face our fears more than anything. And ironically, we are deprived of life itself because of it. The ambiguity is not lost on me. How can life have a single aim, anyway? If that would be the case, how can it be, just, self-development? That I cannot precisely answer. But I must, at least, incline that self-development has a somewhat significance, if not great.
Self-development is witnessed by self-reflection. The reflections we conclude from time to time help to allude where what is. Or how we come to who we are. Given reflections are not just banters we express when overwhelmed.
“Experience and age will teach us wisdom, I hope,” says my pen pal friend as I was challenging him about his recent outbursts and vivid self-reflection. We have had this feud going on for a while about whether one should share his immediate reflections with the entire world. And if so, would not that be a true manifestation of our uncontrolled rage? Our untamed youth? I argue. But he adheres to his statement that he is open to gaining wisdom as time goes on. For him, this is part of his self-development. And here I am sufficing Wilde’s theory of how fear is a menace to my existence.
More often than not, I am afraid of my thoughts. At times, it is because they are far from what I have been taught since childhood. Some other times, it is because I intensely feel I am irretrievably lost. I am also afraid of my entire existence. It scares the bejesus out of me when I start to think about my own beliefs. It contorts and edifies my ego when I learn something new about myself. I get ashamed of my reflections after a while. (I am even afraid this might be one of those times). In short, I am truly afraid. I do not think courage was ever my friend. And my soul, oh my soul, is truly starved. Of what I cannot say. But I have been of acknowledged of my unsatisfied hunger. A bellowing scream. And unfiltered drive that keeps being ignited.
Belief, for instance. It is, perhaps, a hunger for my soul. A hunger I do not know how to satisfy. It beckons me, mostly, because I do not know anybody who is freed of it. I wish not to have it because of being fearful of not having it. But it keeps marring my self-development or reflection on a greater scale. I am not an atheist. Nor am I a fanatic. I do not reckon I am an avid believer. But, since no one is exempt from belief, (Unbelief is a belief, anyway), I am a sort of believer. My belief is not surmised. It is not a result of shallow construction. It is not truly bounded, either. It is just part of my metaphysical existence. It, sometimes, dominates my epistemological significance. My belief, perhaps, begins with an existent skepticism. It, then, flounders and bribes (sometimes) consume my entire being. As hard as it seems to decipher, it is not hard to consider. It is not a complicated knot. It just is.
Here is my consolation, though. “But the bravest man amongst us is afraid of himself. The mutilation of the savage has its tragic survival in the self-denial that mars our lives,” says Wilde at the end. In this paradoxical presentation of fear and courage, my true fear of myself is, after all, bravery.
I suppose I am happy, as well. Across the myriad of sadness, An unsorted kaleidoscope of fickleness, Amidst the converged painful thoughts and memories, I am doomed, nay, destined to embrace, My imbibed happiness. For however long it may be, Once or twice, or just sometimes.
If it weren’t for the loss of accuracy, An exact equivalence for what is what, A mere loss of definition, I would have certainly known, Rather than suppose, Or pry and wonder.
Nevertheless, today, now, here – I reckon I am in vigour. In undaunted revere. For I can see beyond the despair. [For now, perhaps]
We tend to suppose our sadness, For we live in the wrong subsistence, From the life, we have always craved, The kind we were deprived – We are deemed to have supposed, That we are truly sad.
Living beneath the cathartic influence, Wallowing in feigned caricature, We, certainly, suppose Our sadness, not the bliss. The agony, not the trance.
Then, again, we wonder.
What is happiness, anyway? Is it a mere state? Or a reversed alternate? An alternate we haven’t yet met, Or confronted? Is it devoid of pain? Or is it a life with no fear? Is it, perhaps, a way to condone, The miserable trifle we live in? Or a struggle to console, Our troubled soul?
If it wasn’t for imagined reality, This unconquered world of felicity, Could we have to borne our sadness? If it wasn’t for the hope of better days, Could we have held on to the absurdities?
Whether we denote a definition For the true state of elation, Whether true enchantment Lies in the next exit, If it wasn’t for this expectation, The assured belief of better times, How else would we have settled for our sadness? Our collective griefs? And the desolate fry of our days?
We suppose we are sad, To forfeit the weight of the blue ballad, To transcend beyond the horizon, Far better reality than we have condoned.
Come, beneath the sky full of stars, For boulevard at night shines. Come, to awash all the sadness, For this night is full of bliss. Between the noise and the silence, Amidst the chaos and the repose, Let’s shred away the stings, The stress and the bad omens, For the light never fades, The sparkle brightens, Our thoughts synchronize, For memories are engraved, Moments are captured, In the static slice of seconds, Life, truly, exists. A life that never dies!
We know not ourselves, do we? For every moment we think of To have known ourselves, To have it all figured out, We meet the un-luminated abstract, Unexplored fright, Untamed rage, Unconquered wit, And sometimes unrealized fact. For every moment we dared to have known, We subdue and retreat, All the way back to the start!
When the music thumps in my head, The wind blows across my face, And for once, I forget the world that bickers, And I rise to iridescence. That’s exactly when I – feel – incandescent. Unyielding to the magnitude, Emboldened to press through, To reach of the infinitude, And erase the feels of the blue!
If I swore an oath not to write, If, by any chance, I consent, To no longer inscribe, I must have found a way to my heart. A key to my chaotic head. Or maybe, I had just forfeited To the wages against myself, The battles roaming in my mind, And the wars of my everyday strifes.
I’m agitated to write, Yet in solicitude by not. Rushed to spell it all. At once, to say it all, Yet contended to hide it Altogether beneath the shawl.
Know Thyself! This is, perhaps, the most often-heard quote when it comes to self-development and growth. Not that I am against these ideas. For one, these are inevitable fates one must endure as long as he lives. And, more importantly, what doesn’t grow, rot.
I, in any accord, do not wish to rot. So, I would like to configure this path to whatever is there for growth. As fancy as it sounds, the quote “Know thyself” makes it hard to believe whether it guides us to the complete enlightenment we all seek rather than an ulterior form of vanity. Before exploring this perspective on vanity, let us consider how we can know ourselves for one moment.
For starters, what are we really? I am here asking a metaphysical question to understand what my fibers are built of. I am not at all curious about how my physical body took its current form. How would that help me anyway? I am here. Now. And unless my desire to destroy my being get the best of me, it would be in vain to try to advance that research. Yet, my question is not an easy argument to settle. How on earth would I know myself? The abstract build of my being? The realm of my reality? How can I identify the constituents I sacrificed for the sake of conformity from the ones I chose to adhere to with audacity? Is there any authentic side of mine left? Or am I the result of the builds and constructs of my surrounding?
Given the hardship of my questions, I hope my reader would forgive my shortcomings in answering them. I am even wondering which part of me was inquiring about all these questions. (Because I am as well trying to avoid vanity of my own).
I have been told, as inevitable as growth and change are, vanity is also the risk waiting at every corner. And knowing thyself is a virtue, while vanity is a curse. Now, this does not help to make the quest any simple. At any moment I am unlocking this box of my unknown and unexplored self, it is more than probable to find something of use. I sincerely hope that all I would find is not rubbish. Yet, if I found that one valuable thing in me, would not I be closing the gap between me and my vanity? While becoming awake and more conscious of oneself, how can one utterly avoid the ultimate vanity?
For me, the two are faces of a single coin; Enlightenment and Vanity. Every day is everybody’s first day in life after all. Despite the mundane repetitions and cycles, the newness of the day poses a great challenge when it comes to enlightenment. That is a little relief, honestly. The unending quest for enlightenment will, perhaps, impede us from falling from vanity. But tiny bits of ourselves we get to learn from the days are still the mothers of vanity we conceive in every moment. Try to keep the virtue while fighting the vice. Or just wait on the edge of the coin protecting thyself from befalling on either of the sides. In any case, know thyself. At least, sometimes.
My mind reeks Of the unprecedented thoughts, And accumulated resentments and regrets. I do not recall the blemishes, I have scrounged all over the surface. I do not repress, Every inch of my fiber, To squeeze all the goods, And to banish all the bads. All I know is, All I can smell is, How my mind reeks!
On the brink of existence, I embrace. In the bane trial of survival, I pry and follow the trail. In a mere coincidence, I wish to see consistence. And then I realize, It is a tell-tale I impose on myself. A story I wish to tell, But not a life I care to have.
Young and restless, they say. Reckless, at times. I do not think anyone would argue otherwise about this label. Whether young or old. In my recent read, I indulged one of the literary masterpieces of Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises. As a member of a generation of post World War 1, Hemingway calls that generation “The Lost Generation”. His label was to suffice the fall of the societal structure, the spread of brokenness amidst the community, and the dire trial of escaping pain due to the impact of the war. Escapism was governing the realm of the people to erase the horrors or at least to fade the bold carves. Alcohol, literature, jazz, and even sex were not enough shields to sustain the escape. Here is the wonder then: if “The Lost Generation” was born a century ago, what would be the best description of this generation? A generation that has suffered two grand wars and so many follow-ups? A generation born of a cracking structure? Deeply broken and wounded. A generation living at the edge of despair. And above all, keenly talented in denying the existence of anything. What would be the best title for us, then?
The angst is not a mere fantasy. Nor a made-up thrill to justify some acts. The angst buried beneath all the young is the undeniable reality. So much so, it is usually reflected in a premature reaction toward everything. Too much rage. Unbalanced concern when not required. Unyielding stubbornness for partially understood matters. The unnecessary responses sought into the unrelated causes are the sole reason why we might be an enigma as a generation.
There is also the ungiving quest for freedom, societal structure, customs, principles, and values. Not everyone might inquire about these questions in a similar way. But, one way or the other, the quests are the weeds we cannot avoid nor destroy. This, in the biggest sense, leads us straight to the depth of confusion. It makes us second guess and question every single move we make. Is this proper? Should I be happy about this? How should I feel? Can anyone tell me what to do or how to feel? Why should anyone be entitled, though? Am I in trouble/in the wrong here? And then, all these questions accumulate to form a fine line of denial. The closing statement becomes everything[my life] is off the record [as if we have spent many years living in this world]. The ultimate destination is, then, a raw confusion: What am I supposed to do now?
What am I up to? What should I do next? What should I believe? Should I even believe? Am I dreaming? Am I conscious? Have I started living? Or am I yet to start to live? Why am I like this? How did I get here? And when?… And so much more questions firmly establish the raw confusion of the young along with the narcissism borne out of individualism. After all, what would a lost generation produce if not this?
Sooner or later, the raw matures. And this raw confusion illuminates that being young is not equivalent to being invincible. The recklessness will see to the end of its indestructibility, anyway. Life breaks us apart. Time, along with life itself, mends us as well. As the days keep piling up like trash paper, we are forced to realize life moves on even if we don’t. And the confusion clears up as we move along. Or so it tries to fade away.
I let my mind sleep, -Breath, At least sometimes. Whenever encountered With feigned minds. The gullible and the cowards. I let my body float, Harness, at least. Not by arguing for sophistication, Not by giving in For the collectively programmed wants, And desires. I. Just. Let. Go. Roam through the minutes. Hours. And I caress my enraged soul And tell my heart That time is not passing me by, ‘Cause I fly While I pry. And I do not cry. Nor fry I choose to entreat, From that brain of mine And I let the moment sly For my soul to get by.