I have a problem,
I am in trouble.
A gnawing fault,
ready to split under my feet,
ready to swallow me whole.

Should I be worried?
Is there a point?
Can faults be joint?
I can sit and cry,
lament my fate and decry,
this cruel cold world.
That I live on the surface
of a die, absolutely fair,
to everyone apart from me.
Should I curse?
Nay, what good would that do?

I refuse to sob today.
Perhaps it should have been,
that a few tears yesterday
were owed.
I should have grieved then,
when I first saw them signs,
of where this was headed,
a disaster in the making.
Should I have stopped then,
in my efforts to make amends,
and philosophized instead,
on the nature of things,
the futility of ambition,
and other drunken conversations?
Must I have stopped working,
halting progress, and preventing
today instead of causing it?
Nay I say, that too seems
a path doomed, a luxury,
afforded only in hindsight,
but not true to the soul,
of one that does not believe
in quitting prematurely.

Perhaps I should have,
paused the day before yesterday,
when I had but begun.
Nascent that the project was,
it was easier then perhaps,
to pity its meager existence
before it had become this
monster of giant import
I now face this day.
Before I had time to get,
attached to the possibilities,
and dream a future with it.
Isn’t caution the medicine
of wise men against suffering?

Nay says the voice of reason,
speaking through the depths
of time past and lost.
Nay it says, you cannot
always lament a thing’s demise
before it is even born.
This is no way to live a life,
this is no way to armor,
your heart in doubt and failure.

Perhaps I am thinking about this
in the wrong way.
When should I be worried?
Not now, that the disaster has occurred.
Not yesterday, when it could be
yet prevented.
Not certainly, the day before,
when the sky was still blue,
and the sun still beamed in my face,
blinding me to the oncoming storm.
Not tomorrow, when I shall be too
busy fixing the world,
and putting my pride back in place.
And not the day after when,
this problem would surely seem,
trivial before the new ones
I would have then acquired.

Ask yourself, dear reader.
Truly, when is the time?
To worry and fret and complain,
about all of your troubles.
Before, during, or after?
How is one to take time off,
to lift one’s head from work,
from the unending task of
improving oneself,
preparing for failure,
and improving some more?
Why, should one lament
the eternally lamentable?

What this is

This is not my life
This is not my dream
These are not my words
This is not me complaining

Things are not as expected
Expectations do not line up
Fairness is to be abandoned
Chance to be accepted

Embrace the chaos
This is not the time
To say, nor cry, nor whine
That this is not my life

More was needed
More was tried
More I got
But at more the cost

Fuck causality
Screw the universe
It won’t pause
While I contemplate my existence

This is not my place
This is not the dream
This is not my form
This is not the solution

Yet by my own hands
Is this false life built
How then to abandon?
This, mine integral part?

If not this, then what?
If not thus, then how?
Would that these lofty words
Solved my problems for me

Would that these burning wounds
Healed by mere ideas
Would that the hollow tasks
Filled life with meaning

But to idly hope is worse
Than to un-idly work
Day and night
Night and day

Amidst toil and sweat
Amidst the lack
Of freedom from chores
And fears and futures

Would that this freedom
Were mine to breathe
But willing does not make it so
And hence I go on

Living, breathing, eating
Working, toiling
Screw my realities!
I shall blow them sky high!

Unbidden Nostalgia

(an exercise in bad poetry… Part 2)

The unbidden nostalgia,
of unwelcome stories,
about events half forgotten,
listened to with a smile
forceful enough to hurt.

Brims to the surface,
from the marshes of my past,
the stench is from the rot,
from when I buried it there.

I’d mutilated these memories,
to make it easier to lie.
A twisted version of reality,
that I could live by.

To Lie in Anger

(an exercise in bad poetry… Part 1)

There was rage.

Hot, boiling, poisonous.

Anger that wanted destruction,
unimaginable ills to befall,
total, uncompromising fury,

Orange with fire,
blindingly bright.

But also dark.

Dark and ugly,
building beneath the surface,

‘Coz there was no vent.

Bound in silence it grew,
corroding my insides,
killing my life,
till it was almost easier,
to convince myself,
I wasn’t just angry about,
I was angry at.

But being angry at,
was a lie.

A lie I told myself,
to make peace with hate,
to channel my disgust,
out instead of in.

But lie that it was,
it returned to bite me,
eons later,
when I was unready.

The lie exposed,
my hate perished.

And try as I might it,
it still felt bad,
to hate at,
instead of about.

An Alternative to Non-Attachment

Non-attachment is preached as a solution to all of life’s problems by a number of people. Let it go. Put it behind you. Forget and it’ll get easier. Give it time.

But this advice, though well-meaning has always felt antiquated to me. This might have worked in an ancient time when the Buddha could preach about eliminating the root cause of suffering and being detached and holding no expectations from the world. But in today’s high-achieving, fast-paced culture of perform or perish, this recipe fails at being implementable and has just become something we tell each other.

How can one work without having aspirations? How can one assert themselves if they always let go when they really shouldn’t? How can one improve one’s life without being attached to it? How can one honestly preach detachment as the cure for heartbreak? While I do not wish to rule out the possibility that letting go might work for certain people in certain situations, to me personally the strategy rings hollow and impractical.

Is there an alternative to Let it Go? I submit that there is: Set it Down. I have tread on this path for the past year now and I can testify to its effectiveness; my shoes show lesser wear, the burden feels lighter and I have even learned to enjoy the journey at times.

So what does setting it down mean? Indulge me a few bullets to punch holes into the sorrows of existence:

  • This path acknowledges that everything in life has its proper place.
  • Your job is to assign things their place.
  • You are the one who gives meaning to the things, people and memories in your life. Use them as you will, when you will.
  • A beginning step in setting things down is to get organized.
  • Setting down tasks: Are there too many things you are supposed to be doing this week? Is the list giving you sleepless anxiety-ridden nights? Don’t let it go, set it down instead. Write these tasks on paper (or electronically), assign times and create schedules. It makes a huge difference!
  • Setting down thoughts: Thoughts that are weighing on your mind are a drain on your productivity. Set them down in a Journal, in a poem, in a drawing (or a blog post).
  • Setting down memories: It is good to remember what your worst failure felt like. Don’t try and erase that memory. Set it down. Revisit it when you need courage. Remember that that thing happened but you’re still here, still trying to be better. And that’s what matters.

The philosophy of setting it down is letting me make more out of life than I knew possible. It treats every event as a learning experience and allows you to put it aside to recall as needed. It does not discard; it does not discriminate. It lets you set down your burdens in a place of warmth and security, so you can carry on living.

Ser Brienne

Brienne of Tarth is my new favourite fictional character. There is a lot to say for her bravery and her tragic love life (for the record, Brienne and Jaime ♥️ forever). But today I want to talk about her truthfulness — a trait that sets her apart from every other character in the world of Ice and Fire.

A failed princess

At every encounter with the heroes and villains that populate Westeros, we are reminded that she is the Lady Brienne of Tarth. But from the very moment we meet her, she is neither ladylike nor in Tarth. She is a far from home among men who throw her title at her as a taunt instead of an honour.

A failed daughter

Lady Brienne carries the guilt of failing her father Lord Selwyn Tarth by first, not being a boy and then, ironically, by being too boyish. Her appearance and lack of grace make it hard for him to marry her off to a suitable groom, putting Selwyn’s entire legacy in jeopardy.

A failed warrior

While Brienne is undoubtedly skilled with a sword and shield, she has never had the opportunity to prove herself on a battlefield. The War of the Five Kings began and features several glorious battles before it ended. And yet her circumstances always prevented her from taking part in a single one of these battles.

A failed Kingsguard

Even when Brienne the Beauty succeeds in getting appointed to Renly’s Rainbow Guard she soon after face failure in the form of a dead Renly with nothing but (false) murder accusations to show for it. She fails at her sacred charge to protect her king and (in the books) has not yet had the chance to exact vengeance.

My point: the Maid of Tarth fails a lot. And I mean a lot lot because these were just her failures up to A Clash of Kings. And there are 3 more books of such sad and unfruitful deeds. But there is one virtue that she embodies better than most: Truthfulness.

A true knight

The true Brienne is not a princess or a daughter, or a warrior or a lover. She is one thing above all else — she is a knight. She is truthfully to the path an ideal knight must tread. Just like a true knight, Lady Brienne is always on a mission — be it to protect her king and give him her services, deliver Jaime to King’s Landing, or find the Stark girls. She is an Oathkeeper (hence her namesake weapon of Valyrian steel). She shows immense loyalty to her lieges and always protects the innocent and the powerless (while also battling a bear with just a wooden sword). She is rebuked each step of the way but she continues to tread on.

Brienne is lesson for us of the modern world. We are often like Jaime — driven by some misplaced notion of glory, wanting to be knights without paying the price. But it takes a Brienne to show us that true glory is achieved by being truthful to your mission, truthful to our selves. It is not easy being a knight, but she puts in the work. And hence, even though we have witnessed many knights — from Sers Hunt to Lannister, Dayne to Selmy, Thorne to Bronn, and Clegane to Payne to Mormont — there is but one true knight in all of Westeros and that is Ser Brienne of Tarth.

New-Age Hippie

  • Firefox instead of Chrome, Opera or Safari.
  • Like reading books and articles on a tiny little 5″ phone screen.
  • Prefer ebooks to physical copies.
  • Expect favourite books, music, news, television shows, movies and porn to be accessible online for free.
  • Grad student. Math.
  • Linux. Windows is disgusting.
  • Neither own nor plan to own any Apple products. Disagree with their non-customizable product designs.
  • Reddit. Facebook is too pretentious. Snapchat? What’s that?
  • Youtube. Because CGP Grey. And Nerdwriter. And Brady. And Destin.
  • LaTeX, for everything.
  • If audio then podcasts, if podcasts then history, if history podcasts then Dan Carlin.
  • More time spent on Google and Wikipedia than all other sites combined.
  • Stackexchange over Quora.
  • Poetry over prose.