Link It To Yourself

I think we’ve lost our link with our past.

I think we’re subconsciously made uncomfortable by the unfamiliarity of everything around us, and that has been stressing us out.
See, most of us old enough to be reading and comprehending this grew up in a very different time. I don’t just mean this in the sense that we weren’t burdened with responsibility then, but also that we lived in a very physically different time. Most of what we were and had as kids is preserved in memory or is lost. Due to our carelessness, what physically remains of our memory may no longer conform with the fading, hazy images in our heads. The link is lost, we’re now spiders on Mars. We’re out there in this alien world with no friend or anchor, and there’s a storm headed our way.

When we were kids, we’d think of piling leaves that fell during the storm, and then jump in them.
We’d think of making snowmen and snow-angels in the remnants of the snowstorm.
Now, we’re thinking of the hours we’re losing, of safety (naturally) and of how we’re gonna lose WiFi signals in the storm.
By choice?
We’ve completely forgotten about what the kid would say, and there’s no one – no physical link – to remind us.
How lonesome must it be to be born an adult. How sad must it be to only recall high school education and life lessons, a few blurred faces, a few painful memories that can’t be forgotten, only because it’s so easy for the good to slip away?
When people generalise and say that schooldays are the best of ones life, but on trying to recall can only see the blood dripping down their nose, wiped on their hands from a run-in with the school bully, where did the peaceful days go?
(For some people though, these memories of being knocked around too, are a part of their peaceful blissful childhood. Don’t ask me. It’s all in comparison, I suppose!)

Often our scars find ways to manifest themselves in our lives. That ugly patch on your knee from when you fell off the bike that taught you to stand up again, that you always remember, that reflects even today in your corporate leadership. All those lessons that made us what we are today.
In between those lazy, slow shutter shots, the good was but a ghost wash, 0.1 seconds of your 6 second shot: but a minute frame.

With no one to remind us who we were, we truly born hardened— for where does the past exist but in the memory’s eye?
Manuscripts read in the present are not the past. History read today is something that has only begun existing for me in the last 24 hours – no matter that I have wandered the very lanes I read about, for it was a different time and hence a different place then.
We can only paint the walls of life with experience, and memory is all that can fill our brushes.
But when the winter freezes your paint pots and makes the paint inaccessible, you are back out there in the cold, with no warmth of remembrance to light your fire. Your hearth’s turned to stone, and you now begin your new stone cold, heavy, yet empty life, because the flesh was hollowed out and you can’t remember what it even was.

Eventually, you grow used to your new life and forget about feeling hollow, but something remains, a small, nagging voice of the back of your head – and even not knowing what it is, it invariably stresses you out.

Many a time we want to give in to that voice – we begin the hunt, but we are wandering aimlessly because we don’t know what we’re looking for. We can’t remember, actually. Often, we can’t even come to terms with that. The void grows larger and blacker.
We then tried to fill this void with “success”, and what we call our “drive” we often can’t pinpoint the source for, when what we’re really looking for all along is the cause, the thing that ripped open the void in the first place, the missing link that began the vicious cycle.

Some of us have been able to pause and identify our situation, I dilemma – there is something missing, that we are searching for.
We hold onto that so tight, build it up for such a crescendo, hold it so high, but we are prone to miss it. We may dismiss it.
We fail to realise that it is really such a small thing – we can get hands on it, don’t you gape in disbelief.
We fail to realise that what we are searching for all our lives is not a high unachievable ideal. It’s so small, it is in our grasp.
It’s the little link we’re searching for, the physical reminders, any reminders of the days of old when it was easier.
It’s hard when half our links have been destroyed – by us, no less – and the others are locked in trunks and attics, out of sight, out of mind, or do not resemble our memories anymore.
With a digital variant replacing all we had as kids, we are truly surrounded by a cold, bright, harsh, blue-lit world, and we don’t remember who we are.

I found an old Hotwheelz helicopter a couple of months ago (when I had meant to write this post, but procrastination kept winning), and an old miniature pack of cards I’d had as a kid, under a pile of mess.
(The mess? Completely normal.)
I swear. I was enraptured.
I’d seen the helicopter around a dew times before (I’d never had the heart to get rid of it because it was a favourite of mine), but just seeing it wasn’t exactly a trigger.
I realised memories are not so much about watching a movie in your head.
I picked up the chopper and ran its wheels over the floor, turned its blades some, listened for that spinning wheels sound.
Now I was really there.
I wasn’t watching my kid self play nor did I “see” our old house or whatnot— but for fifteen minutes, I was little me again, new time, new place, but I had the old attitude again, and for a while, I lost my responsibilities.
(Yes, you’ve guessed right if you did— it was before a test!)
I can’t say I was better connected with my past self or anything like that, nor did I have a sudden ‘Eureka!’ where this blissful experience would help me ace chemistry no sweat, nor make up for my then-large sleep deficit.
(I had days when I was crashing in the corridors. I may elaborate on it later.) But it was something to think about, somewhere to hide, for ten minutes, maybe the breather I needed, we all need, to regroup and soldier on.
What do you say, is it our own private T.A.R.D.I.S., our last link with the lost world?

(P.S. I know what this looks like, but I did not just spend six pages (my drafts are mostly physical) secretly advocating for hoarders or messy rooms. Nor does this change the fact that my messy room, and mum, will catch up to me someday. Sigh.)

The Black-and-White Rainbow That Music is Becoming.

Millie makes her way out of the stuffy Tube and weaves into the crowded streets of London. It’s been a rough day and a tiring ride home, but she’s doing fine, now.

Twenty minutes Underground with the white wires going into her ears, blocking out the noise of the crowds, replacing it with the pristine voice of her favourite artist- she’s got her daily fix of music.

It’s nothing new. From the wandering blues musician in the early days before recording technology to the kids furtively guarding their vinyl collection to the twenty four hour radio to the anywhere-anytime streaming, only the platform has been changing. The music itself, has been a definitive part of human history ever since Homo sapiens discovered that shouting in two different pitches could sound good.

For some, music has been part of their unwinding, de-stressing, relaxation therapy. It’s motivational for some. It’s a form of energy, of expression.

And it has influenced the course of human history.

That’s what makes traditional music such a force to reckon with.

Ever since oppression has been known, protest has been too.

And protest has invariably found itself manifested, to some degree of other, in the music of that time and place.

The folk protest songs of the sixties, complete with the Dylan’s and the Baez’s, come to mind.

Patriot songs in any freedom struggle, national anthems, preservation of ethnicity in the form of niche instruments and distinct music, are all, in the end, a link with history, a link that mustn’t be destroyed.

One reason for this is that freedom was not always, well, a free commodity. This makes the worldwide struggles to lift us all up to a state of being equally free and unoppressed all that more unforgettable, and here music has played its part, in a different hue and shade in every part of the world, but there, because to fearlessly open your heart and sing out loud has always been an expression of freedom.

Protest through music lives, even today.

In light of these deeply rooted, meaningful, varied links, to simply paint the entire world with the monochromatic wash if standardised ‘International music’ (most of which, ironically, is American alone) is to do injustice to the history that has shaped our very state of being, today.

The Māori haka dance.

This isn’t an attack on International music, however. Even monochrome, after all, is bit one of the many colour schemes employed to make the colours of life more vibrant. The emphasis here is on the importance given to each.

We can’t disregard the traditional music of a country, a state, a time, for sure me standardised computer generated generic (which in history, would come to mark this digitalised ago, nonetheless).

The trick is to hold up both without comparison, one representing our present, and the other, our past, and incidentally, our future.

Still in the Dark?

It’s now been twenty seven years since a walking legend, a cult leader, a “spokesperson for a generation” (as he hated to be called), a way of life for many people who felt just the same as him, grunge rocker Kurt Cobain, had died.

While the music, the attitude and mentality that he and Nirvana had, and the grunge legacy they established speak for themselves, the grey area emerges when things come a bit closer home and personal: the equation between Kurt Cobain and his wife, controversial Hole rocker Courtney Love.

Let’s chalk things out in very brief:

Kurt was a volatile person going down the path of destruction.

Courtney was a volatile person headed down the path of destruction.

That’s all it was.

Courtney hung on longer than Kurt, and that’s all there is. Kurt let go, while Courtney persevered and is somehow still here today, 20 years later.

It seems to be that some people vilify Courtney for this very reason. That she stayed on, and is alive, while Kurt petered out. Some suspect she had something to do with Kurt’s “death”. Because Kurt was the vulnerable, sensitive candle flickering in it’s last flames, the smallest nudge the wrong way from the wind could set it off. Apparently Courtney, however similar to Kurt, was made of stronger stuff than wax. And it’s as simple as that.

Many don’t see it that way.

Let’s flip the situation, hypothetically, and reassess.

Suppose it had been Courtney who’d petered out, while Kurt had somehow found the will to live.

Somehow, I feel that Courtney would never have been the martyr legend that Kurt became. The same anger and suspicion some have for Courtney may not have been there for Kurt. Courtney could never have been raised to the legend Kurt was. And is that simply because while Kurt was the fragile, vulnerable man, done in by the evil woman who supposedly wanted to leave him and was “thinking of” cheating on him anyway, Courtney the biblical Eve leading the man down the path to ruin?

I try to imagine a scenario where a vigil would have been held for Courtney Love. I try to imagine people talking about what a fighter she was, what a hypocritical world she fought and rebelled against. I try to think of where people would shake their head and say, what a shame, Hole’s first album was almost out, and she gave up… Always was such a flame in a wind…

But somehow, that’s not really the scene that sets in naturally, does it.

What I really imagine is, ah, that was bound to happen, she lived too dangerously for her own good. Poor Kurt, left like that to raise his two year-old daughter all by himself, could it ever have lasted? (No, I don’t recall Courtney getting that concern from anyone.)

There are even some, who think Courtney so crude, they may have said, good riddance, or something on those lines.

Courtney was just someone who happened to be involved with Cobain at a point in his forever uncertain, low-melting fuse box of a life. Many say Kurt would have taken his life at some point regardless. That after so many failed attempts, he simply had this coming. Some close to him will even point out that Courtney’s presence may have prolonged Kurt’s life this little bit.

But tell that to those who subconsciously hate Courtney because she was a woman who stood up and made some noise in a man’s world. She may not have always been right about everything, but she was strong when it mattered, and she had it in her to give it one more shot.

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Stickler.

(P.S. I am still a big Nirvana, and a Cobain fan.)

(P.P.S. The reason I don’t believe Courtney had Kurt killed lies in simple psychology, for those still unconvinced. Because no matter how different individuals may be, basic psychology still applies to almost all humans.

It’s been more than 20 years since Kurt Cobain died. (This year would have been his 50th, had he been alive.) Those many years can do some serious damage to people. Suppose Courtney had done what they suspect. Doesn’t one suppose that she’d think of it at times, and over the years, the guilt would have grown? She lived to see their daughter’s face everyday, the living legacy of Kurt Cobain; how could 20 years of living with it not have broken her down to the point where she’d have to tell someone? Confess to the world? It would be a tortured existence! If she really had done it, she would have confessed in three, maybe five, maybe ten years. It’s been twenty years. By her standards, Courtney Love is in fine mental health. She didn’t do it.)

Today in history: 8/1

While as of right now, our timeline seems to be moving in a linear fashion, for human legacy, the same has never been further from the truth. We live, in fact, in a multi-layered world, temporally speaking, where the past coincides with the present and the future, reminiscence along with aspirations and hopes, with living in the moment. Our history is the foremost and vibrant reminder of the vast and varied quirks of the minds humanity has borne in the past, the great legacy we will leave behind for a future, whether of another species, or our own.

Hence, it only makes sense to celebrate the process, the great journey humanity has undertaken, one important date at a time, by occasionally looking at the significance a day may have had, though years, decades ago, and still manages to hold it’s place in time.

Today in history, 8th January:

8th January, 1947: David Bowie, one of the greatest rock and roller of all time (named in 2016 as the best by Rolling Stone magazine) was born on this day, way back in 1947, in Brixton, south London.

8th January, 1935: King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley was born, in Tupelo, Mississipi.

8th January, 1942: Leading theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford on this date in 1942.

8th January, 2016: ★ (Blackstar) the 25th and final studio album by David Bowie was released by RCA, Columbia and Sony among other labels.

Although, in the end, as someone said, it’s not about having time, it’s about making time, just as it’s not about learning history, but making it.