Realism Is NOT A Sign Of Defeat

Realism is a light

Knock! Knock!
Who’s there?
I am a realist, a poet and a friend.
The door didn’t open.
I stood there, wondering…did I say something out of place?

I didn’t give up and knocked again, softly.
What do you want?
‘Nothing.’ I couldn’t say a word beyond that.
Expectations? Did I say I don’t have any?

Often I tell myself – expectations are emotional signposts that stunt your growth.

While trying to keep them at bay, introspection pays an unexpected visit…

I know this world is skeptical. I know nobody likes to befriend a realist.

I have been turned away like that a thousand times yet I didn’t learn any lessons.

When I met fantasy, she took me beyond the horizon and introduced me to the stars but their incandescence couldn’t blind me.

Those flights were like lying in a hammock and I could perceive some magnificent hues, relaxing and gathering some fantastic confetti to sprinkle upon my words.

She also whirl-winded through the corridors of romance, riding on the waves of ecstasy but I didn’t lose my sanity. I couldn’t soak myself in the fragrance of fickle-hearted, frivolous love despite its alluring attraction.

When I met mystery, she took me into the darkest tunnels where cobwebs tried to block my vision. Darkness could not hold me for too long as the eternal optimist within me keeps me humored all the time.

Melodrama couldn’t lure me and I refused to be carried away by its teary-eyed hypocrisy.

Thrilling adventures did hook me but their enticement was short lived as my mentor was always breathing in my ear the admonishing words in a firm tone.

Observation and intuition have been my best pals! I still love them.

Realism keeps me grounded. It connects me with people, their emotions and experiences of life.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward 

I met realism very early in life when I was just beginning to form my memories. I remember him clearly standing in the door, with scary daggers in both his hands, reminding me to remain indoors.

He told me, ‘you are a girl in a men’s world.’ This warning developed my emotional quotient and intuition.

He walked with me all the time, threatening to knock me into a drain. One day he did so when I refused to listen to him and jumped ahead to buy a candy.Realism quote

The rebel within me leaped out each time to scratch his face. Some times I did succeed in dodging him but that only exposed my own imprudence.

He revealed to me the travails of life; the aches and the hurts that he gave me steeled me. He acquainted me with the secrets and diktats of my culture. He taught me to pour an embittered heart into a cauldron and ignite it with my words. I grew up with his cues and his decrees became a part of my personality.

An internal rebel, I yearned to break free. There is no doubt that realism can be stifling at times.

Freedom did grace my home and the precious wings that I cherished were spontaneously passed on with realistic values to the next generation.

Realism keeps me focused yet a little dose of fantasy makes a coveted cocktail of poetic delight. Emotions too keep peeping in though I have learnt to channelize them. When I look at my early poetry, completely driven by emotions I marvel at my personal growth and the whole credit goes to introspection.

“Realism can break a writer’s heart,” said Salman Rushdie…such is the power of realism but I have reconciled with him as he has mentored me all my life.

How much of a realist are you?

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

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How To Understand Poetry

Understanding Poetry
Poetry of Mother Nature

 

I don’t remember when I started liking poetry. Probably I was born with it or was fascinated by the lyrics of Mother Nature.

When I walk down my memory lane, one image looms large and that is how much effort one of our English professors used to put into explaining the poetry of Tennyson and Wordsworth. While the latter was relatively easier to understand, the former much more complex and obviously we didn’t like the one who was more challenging.

The real challenges came my way when ‘Paradise Lost,’ an epic poem by John Milton was not taught in the class (or if it was, I must be mentally absent) and even when it was discussed, it didn’t evoke any interest!

While prose can be an effortless reading unless it is stream of consciousness writing, poetry can become quite boring if we are not familiar with its techniques and tones.

Despite the tests and trails, I continued to like poetry and slowly discovered that it is a genre par excellence. It can say a lot through literary techniques, which only an admirer of Literature can understand. I still struggle to understand some subtle messages conveyed through simple words.

I have to read my blogger friend Bela’s poems thrice to understand the undertones that appear enigmatic initially. They also inspire ideas to compose another poem.

Ambiguous ideas in a poem provide a food for thought and chisel your creative skills.

Who has the time and the inclination to read and re-read a poem in this fast-paced world? Only poetry lovers do!

Another lovely friend Sue, who is a poet and a prolific blogger of amazing eminence inspires with her poetry.

Most of my blogger friends are elaborative when they share their reflections on my post. Whenever I post a poem, I get a lukewarm response and I often wonder – is it because of poetry?

Quickly my mind hurtles back, my interactions with teenagers get refreshed, all their expressions, yawns and glances stand before me, bringing those lovely memories of hate-love relationship we had with poetry…when we would try to convince each other why poetry is good or bad and how we could understand it better.

I am not an expert but I have figured out a few ways to understand poetry.Understanding Poetry

How to understand a poem:

All readers have their own approach and interpretation but how imagery is used defines a poem. Can you read between those special words to fathom their depth?

It is better to read slowly. Stop and ponder over at the word that seems simple but abstruse.

“If you’re curious, there is always something new to be discovered in the backdrop of your daily life,” says Roy T. Bennett. Be curious. Inquisitiveness and interest are two important elements that lead to our understanding of a poem.

Poetry can’t be scanned and understood like prose as the former demands concentration, attention and gentle reading.

If you read a poem in a hurry, you would miss the real meaning. Many times words are used as metaphors.

You have to be familiar with most common literary techniques like simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification, alliteration and assonance.

Imaginative flights of poets can’t be predicted, we have to fly with them to figure out their proficiencies.

Critical analysis of a poem reveals the nuances of its theme, undertones and other signals, which remain hidden to a scanner.

Some poems are ambiguous. Probably they relate to the poet’s past or buried memory, which he wouldn’t like to reveal yet, give a vent to his emotions through writing.

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” – Leonard Cohen

Do you like poetry? Do you read a poem slowly?

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

 

 

How Much Of Laughter?

Laughter

Laughter – a spontaneous overflow of fun, a stress reliever, a mood changer, a health therapist…not only provides a cushion to our emotional hurts but also helps us in dealing with the jolts of life effectively.

I have written about laughter therapy to remain emotionally healthy yet it is not listed under the most popular posts!

Why do we forget our laughter skills, as we grow older and resilient?

Humor is the most difficult genre for writers and most of the jokes degenerate below a decent level. That’s why yoga instructors have been promoting self-laughter. Probably Laughter Shows add hilarity sounds for the same purpose!

“The burden of the self is lightened when I laugh at myself,” observed Rabindranath Tagore.

I have been told many times to laugh softly but I always dismiss that advice…how can you decide how much to laugh? Isn’t that weird? I wonder how people can close their mouth and laugh!

I have never learnt to laugh gently as I didn’t want to. The real power and therapeutic effect of laughter lies in what comes from our heart, without any ifs and buts.

I have faced many stern looks of my hubby but did I ever care?

When I laugh…it just goes out loud and clear! Whenever there was a loud laughter in our staff room, our Principal assumed one of those must be me! Once she heard that and came to reprimand but I didn’t happen to be there, luckily! So much for my reputation!

Another scenario, which is embedded in my memory is laughing in libraries, when, as youngsters, we had to face the stern eyes of the librarian and ran out to laugh…such is the power of spontaneous laughter!

This Book Makes Me Laugh Like My Grandchildren!IMG_3861

This book came as a birthday gift for my granddaughter, Athena but nobody paid any attention to it as it said, “Take away the A.” A book about alphabets is considered to be useless in the modern times when alphabets are available in colorful forms, puzzles and each toy sings an alphabet song!

It also appeared to be weird because it had sentences on one page, which could be of no interest to a child of two as most of the books at this stage are pictorial with little stories or rhymes.

The book sat at the bookshelf till one day I decided to read it for my fun-loving grandson who just likes to open books, collects all of them around him and gets distracted within a moment.

This grandma is different, I told myself! No such tricks with me! When nobody takes interest in a book, I read it to myself to draw their attention and most of the times it works. Sometimes I change my voice to convey the emotion and attract their response.

This book caught their attention beyond description! The innovative style of the author is incredibly remarkable.

Each letter is mentioned in such a manner that no child can miss the fun that this book stimulates.

When you take away the ‘A’, BEAST is BEST!

Without the ‘B’, BRIDE goes for a RIDE!

IMG_3866IMG_3865

This book plays with letters in a creative manner to take away one alphabet and create a new word.

It doesn’t just highlight the ABCs but also introduces words in an interesting and humorous manner.Chair has hair!

Without the ‘C’, CHAIR has HAIR!

‘JAM I AM’ is equally funny.IMG_3870

Once we discovered the fun, it became our favorite book and is now read everyday.

When you take away the L, PLANTS wear PANTS.

IMG_3873

The moment we reach this page, we all break into peals of laughter.

We must have read it a hundred times but the fun never seems to wane.

Children don’t wait for humor to laugh…they create their own funny situations and even inspire us to laugh heartily…that is why they are called the flowers of our garden, always lending warmth and fun to our lives.

“A good time to laugh is any time you can.” – Linda Ellerbee

Do you laugh loudly or do you think it is embarrassing? I am waiting eagerly for your answers.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

This is not a book review or a sponsored post.

 

 

 

 

Why don’t I set a target?

books

I know you are surprised and curious! I know you are thinking that targets or goals form an imperative part of our lives and without them we may seem like a rudderless boat, which would never reach anywhere.

There are some targets, which seem inevitable, which are like milestones and refuse to move till we accept them as realities. I know! I too had to honor them but I would call them compulsive cahoots, gnawing at our minds everyday, challenging our abilities and pushing us closer to the curve of compliance.

Setting goals for reading? Really?

What confounds me is setting targets for joy, happiness, travel, leisure and above all reading! I have heard many times…‘this year I am going to focus on happiness’…as if our focus on this fleeting emotion ever wavers!

Setting targets for pleasure trivializes the term ‘goal,’ which inspires vision and success in the chosen field. Unconditional commitments do make us determined but isn’t it better to reserve them for more important achievements?

I have always encouraged my students to set academic goals to reach the pinnacle of glorious pedestal they would like to perch on and many of them have accomplished them.

I have never set a target of reading books, as I believe we read for pleasure, not for meeting goals and invite unnecessary stress. There are many other triggers around us to cause stress.

I have never kept a count of books I have read for all these years. Completing a book and starting another one is as normal for me as changing an outfit.

While Goodreads keeps nudging me to set a target, I remind myself …’If you take a book like a medicine, it loses its charm.’ I had learnt this lesson long ago when I could not read the specified number of books for my Literature discussions! The more I tried to keep up the pace; my concentration grew less and less.

Pledging to read a book within a specified time is like a noose hanging before me, depriving me of all the joy connected with the style of the author and language of a book.

Is it all about numbers?

Reading is not just about numbers and being able to say… ‘I have read 25 books this year.’ It is more about absorbing the thoughts, savoring the words, imagining and connecting with the places. It is a breezy journey to enjoy, not a whirlwind to escape! Quality of reading enriches our experiences, not the quantity.

“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adlerreading-quote

It is more rewarding to read a book slowly so that we can absorb the virtuousness of our favorite character…to drench in the feelings of people around us…so that we can become a part of their world.

Is it about emotions?

Some people don’t get emotionally engaged in a book, they read it very fast, without actually stepping into the realm of fantasy, without identifying with the characters and their thoughts.

One of my friends had this habit of reading the books very fast. Whenever we would mention a book or share it, she would come out with this reply… ‘Oh! I have read that!’ At that juncture of life, as a young and immature reader, I would envy her speed. I even tried to read in her manner but honestly speaking, I could hardly enjoy the book and felt guilty too.

Shallow reading seems to be the norm of the day just to complete the resolution of reading a specified number of pages during the day. If the book is a cheap romance or a thrilling mystery, delving deep into it may be inconceivable but we get out of such books quite early in life.

Reading without any distractions around us – another challenge of modern times!

The other day I happened to be at a hospital, waiting for a procedure of a dear one to be over and to keep my thoughts positive, I had taken my kindle along with me.

I tried very hard to concentrate with chit chat going all around, two ladies talking continuously, exchanging their views on every possible topic from hair styling to cooking!

I had read 20% of the book but I want to start it again for the pure pleasure of soaking in the beautiful words, which got lost in the crescendo around me.

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

Do you set targets for reading? Do you read faster to reach those targets? I am waiting eagerly for your perspective on commercialization of reading for pleasure.

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.

 

Self-deception And Suffering…Do we have a choice?

Self-deception and suffering

Self-deception is nobody’s intention yet we allow ourselves to live in its throes without reflecting or contemplating about it. Probably we don’t have any control over delusionary thoughts.

Self-deception may be therapeutic but only for a little while! The longer we choose to hide behind the lies we tell ourselves, the greater is the suffering.

Recently one of my friends was talking in a very depressing tone. My conversation with her revealed the same old dilemma…letting yourself into the realms of expectations and getting drowned in those thoughts.

Thoughts make us what we are. They guide us into unknown territories of depression, which starts slowly. We don’t even realize where we are going. Nobody steps into the dungeon of depression willingly. It just happens.

Most of the time others dominate our thoughts. We are worried about others – our siblings, friends and family. We try to please them when we are growing up. Failure to come up to their expectations may drive us into those moments of melancholy and loneliness. When we don’t share our frustrations, they get deep-rooted.

Those unresolved issues manifest themselves in the most surreptitious manner. We become controlling freaks and don’t even know it. We live in the world of our exquisite expectations, which are sacrosanct to us. We call them our dreams; we present them in the garb of our love and can go to any extent to get them fulfilled.

The clear victims of those expectations have to be our children as they are the most vulnerable, readily available quarries around us. We try to mold them according to our own thoughts, we try to impose our way of living on them and we expect them to follow our diktats.

We forget that they have their own mind. We overlook the fact that we resented all this when we were growing up. We disregard the importance of free thoughts and when they start taking their own decisions, we remind them of our own expectations from them. Our cravings and anger towards them makes us unhappy but we indict them, we rub it on them so much that they start drifting away.

All children drift away as they are guided by their own aspirations. It is not necessary that they should match yours. We worry more about the happiness of our children, forgetting that nobody can give happiness as a gift. Serenity and peace cannot be given, it lies in self-discovery, in acceptance but nothing sinks in when you are mired in angst, unnecessary worry, which does not lead you anywhere.Self-deception quote

Expectations are the biggest culprits as they let us believe the unthinkable. Mindful thinking can only be possible if the person concerned is ready to think otherwise.

Suffering may be inevitable and essential to understand life but self-inflicted suffering, which comes from thoughts can be avoided.

‘Easier said than done’ is the constant refrain to this advice but the moment we say this phrase, we are paving the way for continued anxiety as we assume that it is difficult to attain that state of mind, which can exalt us from self-inflicted thoughts of being miserable.

“Man’s capacity for self-deception is strange.” – Mahatma Gandhi.

A beginning has to be made and only we can make it.

The choice lies with us because the thoughts and expectations are also ours. Negative thoughts take precedence. Let them. When they have poisoned your mind, it is your turn to rebuff them and replace them with generosity, humility and peace. Nurture empathy and self-love.

Some take solace in meditation, others immerse themselves in prayer and some may even derive peace from the fact…life is like that, it throws up various kinds of painful challenges and it is better to accept them than fight.

Yet we have to fight the negative thoughts, which lead us into self-deception.

Thoughts are very powerful. They create; they shape our lives and beliefs. A major part of our personality is molded by our thoughts. Our happiness and success depends on the quality of our thoughts.

Have you ever felt entrenched in the maze of your thoughts? Do you live in the world of self-deception?

Thank you for reading this. Please add your valuable reflections, they are much appreciated.

If you have liked this article, please share it at your favorite social networks.

Balroop Singh.