Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Unbearable Heaviness Of Fame

What happens when we read something by a famous author? What happens when we listen to music by a famous musician? What happens when we look at a painting by a famous artist. Do we read, listen and look in a different way?

I was listening to a musical written by a famous composer, I mean Mega fame not the normal fame, an icon so to speak. I love the work of this person, I am an enthusiast and a vehement follower of his fifty or so years of work. But this particular musical did not do it for me. I was trying hard to find fault in myself, I thought to myself maybe I was listening at the wrong time, maybe I was not good enough, musically, to get it, maybe I need to listen more and give it time to digest it. But all failed. After days of giving the benefit of the doubt I discovered that it is basically a regurgitated version of previous works, a salad of pieces from many different musicals he has done in the past and whatever new ingredients he used were lame. I was also listening to a song by an even more famous singer and wondering if a young emerging artist performed this song what would the reaction be? Would we skin them alive for such mundane lyrics or would we give them a chance?

It is funny how when someone really famous does something below the level of excellence and perfection we call it experimenting or a new direction. We give them all sorts of excuses, maybe they are older and wiser and know better and it must be us that are not up to the challenge of understanding. Would the same abstract painting be given the same respect if the name on it was unknown? Would we treat the same music with reverence if the artist was an obscure name trying to break into the circle of “names”? Would we give importance to the same design if the name was different? Or do we call silly art, abstraction, and bad design a new trend and uninventive silly music experimentations towards a dialogue with the soul etc….

How far would we go with the philosophical labels?

Just wondering.

Maybe the approval of the masses and the hype of the media to any particular person does affect us and our impressions become jaded. We lead ourselves to believe that our conviction about a person is ours and not imposed and we even start to dictate to our senses what they should be doing all alone.

Just an example, how would you be reading this blog if I was X?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Ego Tango

He says right you say left, he says up you say down, red, blue, black, white. What is it with our egos. You have a big ego you are judged and given multiple adjectives, you don't have one you are labeled as a door mat. So how in the world do we act?

Why is it that our first impulse is to jump at someone that thinks differently. Why do we take it as our job to discredit them and try to enforce our own opinion and emerge as the winner of the great title of  Mr. Know It All.

I tend to be a person that listens, a lot, I do have my own firm opinions concerning a few topics, but that is about it, only a few. Generally I listen, discuss, if interested I might research more. I have also learned to allow my self the freedom of changing my mind to the opposite side of the spectrum in the light of new information. That could lead to views that I am someone with no firm standing, but so what. Years ago I was labeled as an opinionated person, I used to have strong opinions about most things in life, but that mostly came out of ignorance. A few close people whom I love and respect pointed it out and I decided to take a deeper look at myself and tone down what they saw as rigid judgments. And you know what they were right, so I trained myself to listen more and pay more attention and I discovered a world that was magnificent, a world I would have never known had I remained a Mr. Know It All.

Our egos, whatever the definition of an ego is, do get in the way and sometimes trample our thinking. I think once we get over our primal instinct, to win, we would discover a world previously unknown to us, a world so rich and fun that has no need to emerge as the winners of anything except knowing more and knowing deeper.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bad Memory

“Happiness is good health and a bad memory”

Ingrid Bergman

Yes Ms. Bergman, I totally agree. I wish we came with a delete button.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

To Happytize Or Unhappytize

I started this blog and decided on the name on a day when I thought it was up to me to happytize or unhappytize life. I thought I would grow in the process. You know, when you write something down it becomes clearer, you put your thoughts down on paper (or screen in this case) and suddenly you start to see things in a different light, especially when there is the possibility that someone might actually read them, and this is not exactly the most secretive place to hide a diary. So out of fear of being ridiculed you try to think in a clearer manner and be more objective, kind of a 3rd person way of thinking. So I thought I would become my own third voice. 3rd? God knows there are many more yapping around in my head most of the time just one voice short of being diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.

Yes, I do have all these voices, but not in a bad way at all. I think we all do except we either ignore them or try to appear as if we are so centered that we have only one, sometimes we even lie about having all these voices so as to preserve our image from being tarnished by others trying desperately to muffle their own voices within. I do believe we all have so many voices and the variety depends on how many people we want to impress, how many we want to guide, how many we want to rule, lead, follow, love, hate etc.. I believe we are made up of a collection of characters and voices that do not always coexist happily, hence our ability to happytize or unhappytize our lives. Apparently it all depends on which voice is in command and doing all the talking or what the voices are saying to each other in any moment. If you are blessed they are all singing a beautiful accapella and that is when we feel happier.

Anyway, back to the point, I thought this blog would help me articulate and organize my thoughts. It did not. In fact it only made me question more. A friend always comments on how I always ask questions when I write, which I did not notice until he pointed it out. Maybe to me that was the natural way of how things should be, to always question and to always have several answers that you can discuss with yourself or others. Nothing is finite and no answer is absolute, everything can be viewed in a million different lights.

Maybe the minute we start taking things as is, when we start to believe that there is just one answer for things is the minute we close our minds off and hang that “be right back” sign on our horizons. It would be a pity, so I will take my chances of being viewed by whomever as someone without a stand for the sake of being able (or hoping) to know more. Maybe with knowledge comes more understanding and then with more understanding more compassion and after that less analysis that might open the door for more happiness.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Walk To The Bookstore

The house was built in the 50’s, not exactly a mansion but a grand house by the standards of the times. The area was quite empty then with only a few houses built, it aspired to be the new elite area of the city. Even I remember when I could see all the way to the outskirts of down town. Over the years the aspirations of the area were never met and it developed into this middle class area with a mixture of the grand houses built at the beginnings and the later not so grand houses built to accommodate the middle income families that moved in. In recent years it has been slapped in the face with ugliness and haphazard building and silly arrangements of shops that sell nothing anyone wants.

Grand or not, it was my favourite area. It was were I formed my most beautiful memories. The memories that I recall when I want to open that valve to let happiness pour in. Last night I went there, alone. I walked all the way to my grandparents’ house and took that road that opened up all the vaults in my memory banks. The strange thing was that I did not see those memories in my mind’s eye, I was almost literally transported there. I stood in front of the house, a silly looking school now, and I heard grand dad calling for his tea, and I could smell the Jasmine tree that is no longer there and I could almost touch the grapes that swayed and shone above us like beautiful chandeliers.

It would be 3 in the afternoon, my grandparents would retire to their bedroom for their afternoon siesta and I would take the money that my grandmother gave me, the equivalent of $1.5 (which made me rich) and start my walk to the bookstore. It would be hot in those summer afternoons and I would walk under the big shady trees whenever possible, feeling the singe of the sun whenever I walked into it’s pools shining in between. There was a distinct smell for summer, or perhaps it was my young nose starting to form it’s own memories of smells and scents. Along the way I would see the same people I always saw on these bookstore treks. The woman that watered her plants, the young man washing his car, the older man in his tank top and pajama bottoms reading the news paper with his Turkish coffee cup placed on the ledge of the front porch. All the porches at the top of the front stairs  looked the same with the same plants grown in the same pots and some in olive oil tin cans. Finally I would reach my destination and there I would feel that the whole world opened up for me and gave me a big hug. It is the end of the week when the store received all the new issues of Batman, Lulu, Superman and Mickey Mouse comics. There was also the monthly issue of the five adventurers (any Middle Eastern readers of the same age group should know them) and if that was the weekend when all came together then jackpot!

I would pay the owner of the book store hurriedly unable to contain my excitement a minute longer. The back trip would take much faster, I would want to run back to my room at my grandparents and get into that mental frenzy of not knowing what to start with. Not knowing which comic to start reading I would read the first page of each one. The room with it’s high ceilings and windows shaded by huge bougainvilleas would be cool, the linen bedspread felt cool to the touch and I would spread my comics all over it relishing the feel of it and relishing my coming few hours of utter bliss. You see, there, in those hours I was the only one in the world, I had everything I needed, I was alone since my siblings would be at home, so no interruptions, I was the only child, the spoiled one, I was King of the world. I would start to read, and very slowly. I wanted to keep the moment, I wanted to taste it and experience it to it’s fullest.

Maybe that is why I still cherish reading, maybe that is why when it is close to bedtime I start to feel happiness washing all over my soul in anticipation of the coming hour or so of being in bed with a good book, it never failed to make me feel good. Now when I want to feel better I just visualize myself with a book and that takes care of the gloomiest days.

Last night I went to bed but did not read. Last night I could only dream of my grandparents and thank them for giving those moments to forever hold.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Common Sense

“People die of common sense Dorian, one lost moment at a time. Life is a moment, there is no hereafter, so make it burn always with the hardest flame”

From Dorian Gray the movie.