You must have played ludo

You must have played Ludo. It should be right up there with cricket as our national game (yes I know our national game is hockey but I choose to ignore that meaningless piece of information). Ludo is so much fun. You throw dice and make moves without the slightest control on the dice or the faintest sense behind the moves. Then, if you win, you claim that you are a great player; that you played with strategy; that you know the tricks of the game. And if you lose, you state the facts. That it’s a game solely dependent on luck and there is only an infinitesimal portion of the whole thing that you can even remotely affect. That’s why I love Ludo. It is just like life.

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Weather is beautiful

Clouds are building up. People seem happy whenever we get a cloudy day in Pakistan. However, people in colder countries hate such weather and are all smiles on a sunny day, a prospect that depresses Pakistanis or natives or other countries with the same weather. So, maybe the key is change. Humans enjoy change in weather and hate monotony.

There are also those that look at weather more seriously, like farmers. Their emotions for rain or sun depend on their crops. It depends solely on whether the crops that they have worked so hard on, need rain or sun at that specific time.

Interesting! When we have worked hard on something, we hope and pray and try for whatever is best for our ultimate aim. But when we don’t give a shit, we just enjoy change.

Finally I understand why we keep voting for PPP in one election, the Sharifs in the next and follow that with a welcoming grin for the armed forces. We like change and we don’t give a shit. Get ready for Imran Khan.

Life, its meaning and purpose

Why are we so obsessed with issues that are either too obscure to warrant any sort of meaningful discussion or too large for our tiny minds to comprehend? Why do we feel this urge to keep discussing things like what is the problem with Pakistan, or what is the meaning of life, or what is happiness or what is love or is media a blessing or a curse et cetera? Isn’t this absurd when we have much more pressing and much simpler issues that need our urgent attention? Issues like how to get to work in time and how to keep our expenses within our means or how to ensure that we get enough exercise and enough vitamins and enough proteins etc.?

Could we be suffering from some sort of a superiority complex? Have we read too many books or heard too many intellec(chawals) on TV so that we are now under the false impression that our foremost duty is to think of solutions to the issues plaguing humanity since before we were born?

I don’t know for sure but I have this strange idea that we must keep our focus on ourselves first. Maybe, the fact that the garbage from my house is daily thrown on some open plot is much more pressing for me than the environmental pollution being caused by the industries of the western world. Maybe my habit of gossiping should be more of a concern for me than the impact of media on national mindset. Maybe my aversion to reading has far greater significance than the low literacy rate of Pakistan. Just maybe!

My issues are more important because if I ignore them, no one else will do anything about them either. My issues are where I should start. Shouldn’t your issues be where you start? Maybe such a start will put me in a better position to think about the larger picture. The larger picture is also made up of small parts, and I am one of those parts.

Where are the people

Where are the people who want to be something? Where are those who want to constantly improve? All I see around me are people who are desperately trying to justify whatever they are or whatever they are not. People who have achieved something keep saying things that have only one aim: to show that there success was not a fluke, that they actually deserved it. Of course there are also those that go to even greater lengths trying to show that it was actually a fluke, this type seems apologetic for being successful or rich. And this habit of theirs convinces more people of the opposite of what they are trying to prove.

On the other hand, those who have not been able to do much or be much in the world keep insisting directly or indirectly that it is not their fault. They spend their time either trying to show that they were victims of bad luck or some conspiracy or trying to establish that the ones who did succeed are nothing more than flukes.

Where are the people who want to keep trying, keep improving and not give a shit about whether their success or failure is justified? Where are those who live rather than spend all their life proving that they deserve to live and forgetting to live in the process?

What is Conscience?

What is conscience? I feel it is simply a feeling, or more appropriately an idea. An idea of what you want yourself to be. An image of the kind of person you aspire to become. Pricks of conscience are mere signals that what you are doing is not a step in the right direction; it is not helping you achieve your aims. Maybe that is why some people cannot bear the guilt after having had a glass of wine while others can drink whole bottles daily and not feel a thing. Maybe that is why some of us cannot imagine hurting a fly while others actually feel proud after having bombed a bus full of kids.

Isn’t it obvious that we have clearly misunderstood the concept of conscience? We have taken it as some sort of an absolute put into our hard disk by God or some accident of nature. What if this was not so? And I firmly believe it isn’t. In that case we have to first remove this misconception, then most importantly, we have to groom and improve our conscience to make sure that the idea it has of what we should be, actually makes sense. Only after that can we trust our conscience and go on to do whatever appeases it and refrain from whatever causes it to prick.

Alarm

The word alarm comes from French, A l’arme which meant “to the arms.” This was a call asking soldiers to get their weapons in preparation of combat since an attack by the enemy was imminent. In modern English too, this word generally signifies a need for quick action under a threat. Synonyms for the word include appall, dismay, horrify, scandalize, alert etc.

Common phrases like “no cause for alarm” or “no need to be alarmed” show (though we all know it already) that alarm is not a very pleasant state. It is a state of panic caused by the presence or the perceived presence of a serious threat that makes humans act quickly, without wasting any time in thinking or analyzing. The only decision to be made in such a state is fight or flight.

Now look at our lives. We, of our own accord, start our day with the ringing of an alarm. An ‘Alarm’ clock is a necessity. Hence, we start the day in a state of panic, rushing through our morning rituals under the clouds of anxiety, in a state of fear of getting late or something else of the sort. We spend our whole day in this manner. So much so that we have gotten used to living in panic, anxiety and ‘alarm.’ Right until the time when we go to bed, still under threat from some unknown enemy, we live under the impression that we have to act, without having any time at all for thinking or analyzing.

Is it surprising then, that complaints like anxiety, depression, midlife crisis and other mental illnesses and sentences like “I feel afraid for no reason”, “I am always anxious”, “I yearn for a moment of peace and calm” and the like are so common?

I believed

When I was in the kindergarten, I believed in the tooth fairy. As I grew into a school-going child, I realized how silly I had been to have such a belief. I was also a little bemused by my elders who had put the incredible notion in my head and then had gone on with their lives without the least bit of remorse for making an innocent child believe in a thing that they well knew to be non-existent.

As a school-going child, I believed in concepts of justice and honesty and that the whole world operated under a wonderful system and that governments of the world were working hard to maintain peace and ensure prosperity for the population. As I entered college, I realized what a load of crap all this was and I was irritated by the teachers who had instilled these beliefs in my head and then had gone on with their lives as if these were the most obvious truths imaginable.

When I entered university, I started believing in a world that had gone wrong and which could only be rectified by hard work and persistence and a concerted, untiring effort of the youth. I believed in a great future since everyone wanted this country and the world in general to rise from the depths of rottenness and reclaim the heights it was destined for. I believed in a future that would be built on our sacrifices. But when I entered practical life, I realized that people on this planet were not only unwilling to bring about a change, they were completely unaware of the mess they were in. And anyone who attempted to change the state of things would invariably be confronted with the worst kinds of problems created by the very people that he was trying to help. I was annoyed with all those who presented such a rosy picture to me and did not give any attention to preparing me for what was coming.

Now I am in practical life. I work and I try and I fight. But I don’t believe in anything with too much fanaticism now. Nothing is what it seems. Now I don’t believe, I work and I try and I fight and I live.