Monday, April 11, 2005

A Little Magic

Golf is really not my game. There really are only two types of people: those that play golf and have discovered the true benefits and depth of the game, and those that think the other group is fat, bored, and too unimaginative and snotty to develop a more genuine pursuit.

Well, so it's not my game.

But the universe definitely had something to prove on that Sunday. And choosing golf as its shocker of the week was a good choice; that brought in that element of surprise and unexpectedness along with the usual shock-value.

16th Hole, Par 3 of the Augusta Master's, and Tiger Woods was just off the green (but not close) after his first shot. What happened next was simply unbelievable. He chipped the ball (is that what its called - not frump or something?) completely away from the hole, to what looked like some obscure part of the green that is usually reserved for squatting or whatever.

Okay seriously, the next few seconds were astonishing. The ball skipped happily away from the hole, then landed, rolled completely in the opposite direction (i.e., back towards the hole, dummy), curved around here and there, paused (for a while, I might add) to take a bow at the precipice, and then neatly dropped in.

To put it mildly, it was phenomenal. For that brief flicker of a moment, I developed the deepest respect for the sheer mastery Woods possessed over his calling, a touch most of us can only dream of as regards whatever we may choose to do. Without a doubt, it is that sort of magic we ought to aim for in our own lives, having now been clearly shown a glittering example of just such conjurations.

And though I have since left those elevated clouds of warm appreciativeness and am now back to the decidedly cooler climes of cynicism and bitchiness, I must still admit that on that day, Tiger Woods came in first by far - in all our books.

Logic, believability, and poor Physics came in a distant and disappointing second. Bravo, Tiger.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Inspiration

Now and then, a song comes along that changes your life forever. There is very little I can say about Echoes that will truly describe the culmination of feeling and sensory bliss that accompanies every visitation of that particular masterpiece. A description will do rank justice, but I will forgive my own lyrical shortcomings as an admittance and acceptance of the brilliance of my subject.

There are parts of the song that force the dispatch of all regular activity - no time to see or breathe; there are parts that gently float across your ears in evanescent waves, hidden softly beneath more prominent refrain. And the words are simply magic.

Never have I had better reason to push my consciousness to its outer boundaries, each moment forcing complete submission to the pursuit of sentient absorbance. As it builds, moment after moment of cascading genius create the universe around you, a universe simultaneously extant on planes of hope, faith, mystery and beauty, deeply woven and wound into a startlingly bright tapestry that is, somehow, complete.

And it is this completion that we all aspire to each day. We long to be freed, to be touched, to be inspired in some way that will allow us to rise above ourselves and become the purest incarnation of our own potential, unclouded by the darkness imbued in our souls from years of living in doubt, fear and insecurity - years spent as shells of what is truly beautiful in every instance and every thought.

Echoes gives me just that hope. And it does this in a way that is unlike any other. The meaning of the song, or the notes that are played only convey a set meaning, and while brilliant on their own, are only part of the picture. It is the realization that such expression was even created that leaves you shocked and gasping for air. This is where the beauty truly lies, for it forces us to appreciate it not for what is says, but for what it is. And this is where it reflects, in such honest and humble gratitude, the life that created it.

As long as humanity continues to bundle its thoughts into such glistening beacons of promise, our paths shall always be bright. Look ahead, look above, and you shall see the light that shines on, for us.

Below are the lyrics for the song. Read them - and believe.

Overhead the albatross
Hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
An echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine.

And no one called us to the land
And no one knows the where's or why's.
Something stirs and something tries
Starts to climb toward the light.

Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me.
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand
The best I can.

And no one called us to the land
And no one crosses there alive.
No one speaks and no one tries
No one flies around the sun....

Almost everyday you fall
Upon my waking eyes,
Inviting and inciting me
To rise.
And through the window in the wall
Come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning.

And no one sings me lullabyes
And no one makes me close my eyes
So I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky....

Friday, April 08, 2005

Love, Ideally

I am a sap. A complete and utter blithering mass of pliable emotion.

So I watched Love, Actually (again) today and had to admit its sheer brilliance. A minute, before you begin to look all patronizing and scoffy at my lack of intellectual fortitude. It wasn't the way the characters were loosely tied together, or the light banter that bounces spiritedly through. It wasn't even the complex emotions presented in that unmistakeably British mix of under-statedness and steel-under-linen.

It was the pure and idyllic display of single feelings, showcased by single events, all flowing through a colourful kaleidoscope of social dynamic.

There is a clear method here. Blatant chutzpah to cover for softness, and firm restraint to replace powerful passion. This dichotomy of expression is undeniably human, and we commit such, well, I was going to say errors, but scratch that - We perform such wonderful madness every day. It is very real, and very not-funny most of the time. Without a doubt, though, it is special.

The movie itself is idealistic in its expression. But strangley, it is reality that it ends up being so ideal about. Insecurities are abandoned by sheer clarity and rationality of thought. There is no need to be equivocal or diplomatic when everyone around you has no need for it.

Love is that clearest of expressions, unambiguous, unfettered and true. It comes bound and gagged in a Pandora's Box of doubt and fear, unfortunately. There is, however, a way out.

We ought to take ourselves just a little less seriously. Laugh a little more at our own silliness. It's good for the soul, and it sure beats the crap out of any of those soul-searches or profound regurgitations that we use nowadays as a substitute for a good, hard whack. It's a wonderful, mad world out there, and it is intrinsically honest. If only we were willing to live that way.

Let's get real, actually.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Brother

::
It was the middle of the afternoon,
and the world was busy outside.
We mouthed the words to each other.
The smiles were small,
but filled the hall.
In that moment of marginal sight,
we knew it was ours, my Brother!

The laughter was no usual feeling,
but a reflection of akin soul.
If ever there was insufficient night.
As brothers in alms,
we feared no harm:
we pulled together from the hole,
and burst out into the light!

A distance spreads now, as frost,
and casts misunderstood smiles.
Is that frozen moment all that's left?
The swan has sung,
the past is hung.
Thoughts fall aside with added mile,
abandoned, aimless, and bereft!

Silent in the comforting dark,
together in the deafening wave:
that picture floats upon my hopeful eye.
If I were to run,
will the dream be done?
Or come back and stay
'til in such bliss, we fly!

Fear not, child! The day will come,
where we beat not this darkened dirge.
I hear the song again, at last.
We will pay our due,
some in plenty, some in few.
And come morning, we shall emerge,
to forever outshine our glorious past!
::

Skin Deep

Hindi movies are absolutely awful. It is simply torture to sit through one and watch people embarrass themselves with such ease. It's almost as if the plane of the TV-screen has reduced humanity to just that, a flat and uninspired collage of mediocre emotions and mindless frolic.

There was a time, I suppose, when the advent of a motion picture was 'art' in some form. I don't claim to be one to recognize it in that form (frankly, my concept of the very term art is highly suspect, but that's another story). However, it is clear that in its current disfiguration, we are destroying not only what is a wonderful expression of human creativity, but are forcing and forging our own regression to a plane of such low depravity.

That is not the story either.

She has often been called the most beautiful woman in the world. Lithe, frail, vulnerable and ethereal, Aishwarya Rai has been the object of mankind's hope for perfection; a terrible burden, but one she willingly assumed, I suppose.

Too much has been said about her beauty and qualities to warrant another recount. Better to focus on the present. Over time, the lady has proven herself to be a most insipid and plain human being. Doubtless, millions would claim indignance at such notions, but critics all round have gladly outpoured their views on what are (quite clearly) her many shortcomings.

She doesn't even look all that great anymore. A little dumpy, an obsessive dependance on heavy make-up, and a repertoire comprising a single expression ("Look sad, Aishwarya" - Slightly raised eyebrows, widening eyes, and a poor excuse for endearment around her mouth and cheeks; "Look hopeful" - same; "Look shocked" - same; you get the picture).

Aren't we glad?

Finally, the unattainable has come crashing down. We can all breathe easy now - the beauty has faded. And clearly her complete lack of acting skills only proves that she is not worthy of our worship. I'm not sure if that permanent jaded look in her eyes these days is her own admittance of defeat, or her clarity in preceiving that she was destined to fail at her cause.

Mankind does not want to be saved, or given hope, or partake in any such heroic notions. In so many walks, people have emerged that have flared briefly, showing us all the way. One by one, we fought and won over them all, scratching and breaking them down, slowly and surely, to a shadow of what was once pure magic.

Comfort is the power to criticize, to demean and to undercut these special bearers to a level that is, well, ours. We revel in their failure and find a deep, perverse pleasure in their inability to be perfect. And when they are finally down and out, we look shocked at each other in such disbelief that we could have been let down so badly. How can we have faith if our heroes keep deserting us in this flippant and altogether selfish manner?

Hindi movies and Aishwarya Rai have done nothing to forge our regression anywhere. The weapon we yield is the most dangerous and depraved of them all - the power of the pedestrian. Every little spike that threatens to stretch us into one further dimension is smothered firmly, and we remain, as ever - a flat, uninspired collage of mediocre emotions and mindless frolic.

Friday, March 25, 2005

"I was 21 years when I wrote this song..."

It's funny how far in the distance that song seemed to be when I first heard it. It was that unattainable future, exciting and bright. Although the song is intended to point out the inevitability and (to take it too far, I think) futility of life, it usually made me feel hopeful in seeing that it was to be a while before I needed to worry about my time running out, or worry about anything at all.

That fleeting moment would bring comfort and some warmth (plus a small sense of smugness at those that were beyond that point, and clearly, were on the Reaper's 'To-Do' list). Things, of course, are a little different now, having since crossed that dreadful threshold out of childhood.

This is the only song I know that one can truly 'outgrow' in the most literal sense of the word (with the exception of 'Staying Alive', naturally). Soon, I will be an old guy singing that song, and it will undoubtedly come out with that mix of reminiscence and melancholy typical of those frozen in a time that they sorely miss. That's grossly unfair. Simon (of Paul) ought to have been more careful and foresighted. Do a bunch of folks already contending with aging, sagging, and other devils really need this upbeat little ditty about how we're all gonna die soon???

Couldn't he have simply said "I was 25 years when I wrote this song..."? That way, I have, like, forever to get there. Oh, well.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The First Steps

I walk a little slowly now. This new land seems a little dark, a little intimidating. No one knows yet that I am here. A slight sense of foreboding and excitement begins to crawl up my spine, tingling.

I take a breath and take my first step across the threshold into the rest of my life. The light is blinding and I squint in its sudden flare. The air seems clean and fresh.

I could do this. I really could.