Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Its been a while since I posted something and it is definitely not because of a lack of interesting things to write about. The pace of my life is increasing and exciting things are happening all the time! In the midst of all this it is becoming increasingly difficult to find time to indulge my oldest passion, reading books.

I heard about this book while reading about Christopher Mc Candless a.k.a Super Tramp on whose life and death, the movie Into the Wild is based. The book describes the author’s experience with staying in the woods, relatively insulated from civilization and people, fending for himself and living by the barest means possible. It was a book which deeply resonated with me.

Living in the wild with little separating us from the elements which shaped and sculpted us. Without all the ceremony, pomp and wasteful superficiality of society. Time that would have been wasted on going through the tedium of the every day life of an average guy devoted to study of books, nature and self.

The whole book actually poses just a very simple question. What is it that you really want from this life? Are all the things that you are doing right now really helping you achieve those aims? Aren’t we a little too distracted by the toys and trinkets that society dangles in our faces to realize that the price being paid for them is the pursuit of a deeper and more self-contained contentment? Do we attach enough value to self-cultivation and independent thought?

There is one whole chapter dedicated to Solitude and I simply adored it! When we are among friends or in a crowd we tend to think and act in a particular way. But, those same guys when left alone tend to become altogether different people. I have always thought that one must not restrict oneself to only one mode of thinking.

On the whole I found the book to be highly stimulating and thought-provoking. Also, the language of the book creates a strong impression of scholarship and erudition. This is not at all surprising considering the deep and varied reading of the author.

Of course, I did not completely agree with all the things in the book. But, I could see that the truth of the writing depended on the person reading it.

I am someone who believes that we as a species and as members of a terrifyingly lonely system of life in this vast universe have a duty to dream big and work towards a greater destiny than simple self-satisfaction and inward reflection. We need to work as a team for a future that will thank us for our efforts. I started getting these ideas after reading more books on popular science, especially those by Carl Sagan. What is the approach that most makes sense? Feel free to share your thoughts here!

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Happiness only real, when shared

Today, I was on the bus to Bangalore and they put on the movie Salt and Pepper. No matter how many times I see the movie, I always become terribly touched when I see the ending. I have watched other movies with a love story in them, but I don’t think I really cared about them. Most of the movies I have watched have guys “falling in love” with a girl at first sight and then running behind them until they decide to take pity on them and do them a favor by returning the love. A lot of people tell me that girls think differently and that they should be treated with sweet words and flattery to gain their company. That they value self-destructive gallantry over deep respect for self and others. Sometimes, I have seen girls play to this image that junk stories like these create.

Just to provide an example of a story with everything I hate, I want to give a summary of Tanu weds Manu. In the movie, the Hero (if that’s what you want to call that pervert) sees an extremely pretty girl passed out from alcohol lying on her bed. He immediately falls in “very very deep” love with her. He then proceeds to systematically rape and mutilate his self-respect in an effort to win her heart. By the way, the girl has the absolute worst character that anyone would want in a person. She is so stupid she can’t see through the controlling love of her parents and has chosen to rebel against that by getting into destructive and shallow relationships. She is rude, crude and unsophisticated and I was hard pressed to try and find something good about her apart from her looks.
Eventually, she has her eyes “opened” to the true love emanating in self-pitying rays from the pathetic, beaten-up-dog-like eyes of the hero and decides that she should change. Hurray! Another victory for True Love! The movie just made me sick and left me wondering whether shit like this influences our society and shapes expectations of male and female behavior.

Salt and Pepper was a truly different movie and it made me realize why I hated most of the romantic movies. In that movie, love(the one that touched me) does not happen in an instant. It develops slowly through a shared passion, through shared interests. Two people realize what it is that is missing in their life and come to see in steps a possibility for happiness and fulfillment that they never thought possible before. They enjoy doing similar things and have interesting hobbies and passions. No one begs the other person for attention or interest. It happens naturally as it should when people who are meant for each other meet.

The woman is not just the pretty person being impressed by the skill of her admirer. She is a person with talent, ability, character and a soul that longs for understanding company. The guy does not feel the need to have his ego massaged the right way. The girl does not want to be continually told that she is pretty. She is just as impressive a personality as the guy.

It was a love story that involved personalities, not just faces and dancing and singing. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Maybe, that is how you are supposed to feel after watching such a movie. Maybe it is a longing… I have always been a very passionate person and I love sharing stuff with others. That is why I bother to maintain this blog and talk about everything I know to  everyone. It makes me feel happy when even one person listens to me and tells me something in return.

I can imagine how awesome it would be if I were to meet a person who is also opinionated and passionate about what she does. I always dream about the how exciting it would be to do something together and come closer through that.

After all the disappointment and the torture that the guy and the girl go through, after struggling with their deepest insecurities, they finally meet each other and realize just how happy they are. I have a deep longing for solitude and a slightly anti-social tendency. After watching the movie, I got to thinking about a movie I had watched – Into the Wild. We or at least I, always try to get away from everything and everyone thinking that by cutting ourselves off we are avoiding disappointment and heart-break. By getting out of the misery and pain that society is we will find peace and satisfaction. At the end of the movie, before the protagonist passes out, he manages to scribble down

Happiness only real, when shared.

Christopher McCandless/ Supertramp

Yeah, I guess that is true. No matter how accomplished or how skilled or how self-sufficient we become, there will come a time when we want to share and seek help. It is fundamental human tendency and battling it is useless…