Perfection is Ugly!

You knew
You knew (Photo credit: James Broad)

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No, that’s not a typo, it reads exactly as it should. Beauty is imperfect, natural and spontaneous; everything else is just the opposite. Perfection comes out of an assembly line from a lifeless machine, each product exactly like it’s predecessor. A masterpiece is unique, has soul, its flaws make it even more valuable and it doesn’t get better than a human being.
Show me anyone and I can point out a million faults but what always intrigues me are the quirks. As a writer I am always seeking out the nuances that distinguish a character, my heroes are always the least brave and the dysfunctional. The only common trait they have is the willingness to learn from their mistakes.
It was probably a self-absorbed writer who remarked that creative people are like God, breathing life into ideas and colours. As lofty as the comment is you can’t deny that artists share the mindset of God. We celebrate the flawed, the broken, the lonely, the meek and the humble. There is always so much depth in the songs of the broken hearted and the mirth of a man well versed with misfortune is heart warming, not to mention inspiring.
So what’s with the fascination with perfection that has got the world all twisted? Why does beautiful only mean flawless? When did our definitions get so limited and shallow? Why should handsome only mean muscles and a defined jawline? When did acne which meant that you are now officially a teenager, become a symbol of shame? Freckles used to mean cute but now a concealer promises to hide it. People on the heavier side used to be known as jolly and large hearted, today even Santa is a size zero. When did we get so insecure that being natural meant foundation, lip-gloss and mascara?
The human mind and heart are instinctively tuned to beauty, the real kind. All the bright colours, the glossy lips, the darkened eyebrows and the bronzed cheekbones are so perfect that after a while they begin to look ugly. Have you ever had a friend who always wore glasses and then switched to contacts? Do you remember seeing them for the first time and remarking that they looked different and that you liked them better with spectacles? I have two beautiful little angels and they love to play with my makeup, they climb on chairs, reach for my lipstick, colour themselves silly and then run to me asking, pretty?
No, a compassionate heart, a genuine smile, a hearty laugh, kind words straight from the heart, soulful eyes; these are the things that are pretty and warm my soul. Masking all that with paint in a bid to be perfect is what kills the human spirit. I am not against makeup, in fact I love to experiment but I can step out with out any on and not feel uncomfortable. I apply makeup because I like it and not because I am defined by it. It saddens me that there are some women who are uncomfortable in their own skin. Who told them that they are not beautiful or that beauty only means looking perfect, all the time, and every time? Like a wise person once said, you maybe one among a million but for that special someone you are one in a million. That person will find you beautiful even when your hair goes grey and wrinkles cover you entirely, because beauty truly is in the eyes of the beholder. Try to remember that when you look into the mirror next time.

Meditation, or is it just me?

meditation

This musing is a reaction to an article about another blogger’s journey with vipasana mediation. 10 days of doing nothing but sitting 12 hours straight, in an attempt to still one’s mind. As a blogger and writer the whole purpose of stilling one’s mind is beyond me. I am like the NASA probe searching for a thought wave, constantly on the prowl for some illuminating thought that I can transcribe into words. My mind is a podium for unceasing debate, in the words of René Descartes,

I think therefore I am.

Even as I sleep my mind is in constant chatter, my dreams are more tangled than Shakespeare’s web of lies. I am always on the Internet absorbing news, ideas, latest research, discoveries and constantly analysing theories. I relish religious discourses where I can logically defend my faith. I am constantly scouring anti-Catholic sites, assimilating all their objections and I try to find valid answers to all their contentions. If there is a point that I cannot clarify then I thrash it out mentally and devour religious literature until I find the answer. Offcourse, all this goes on internally, I never voice my opinions publicly, for me religion is a very personal matter and not for public debate, which brings me to my point, I love to think.

Unfortunately there are days, mostly when I am on a zero sugar and low carb diet when my mind just goes blank. These periods that I dub as writer’s block which are more like thinker’s block are the most boring and depressing episodes of my life. No thoughts, no emotions, no adrenaline, no reaction, just empty space, floating through a void; most depressing. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to be in that state! It’s like dying; at least it’s for me.

Oh the joy to be alive, to feel emotions that cause your heart to pound, the blood to rush into your veins, to experience your head throb with anger or excitement. Why would anyone want to give all that away, even for a nanosecond? As a religious person I know that there are times one should be still and listen to the Lord, but for me that is usually when fear or trouble crowd my existence, which is very rarely. Usually I am in an animated discourse with the Lord about this and that, or I am usually bugging him for an answer or just in awe of him. Stillness is not a prominent feature of my religious life and the Lord hasn’t led me to doubt my journey.

As I watch my 4-½ year old, run wildly around the house chasing an imaginary animal, whilst screaming at the top of his voice, I can only smile and say, “yeah, he takes after me!”

James Bond was a class act, these guys are pathetic!

Cover art

I’m angry, really palpitating, shaking mad! The nerve of some people, serial womanisers, Casanovas, call them what you like, I call them scumbags. Facebook is crawling with idiots looking out for ‘lonely, married women’. I am a PR professional so I get a lot of friend requests on FB and I usually accept it without a thought, it’s social media you can’t exactly have privacy issues! I have a separate one for friends and family where I post pics of my kids and have extremely strict privacy settings. On my PR id, I got contacted by a jerk asking me to ‘start a friendly relationship’, assuming that he mistook me as single I wrote back saying that I was happily married and mother of three. He still wrote back, an extremely long email detailing how wonderful he is, an excerpt below:

I Don,t like to play games or people that play games , i have nice heart, clear mind, very romantic, very warm Hearted, loving and caring, loyal and well behaved, from decent family, i am into many things like traveling, computers,gardening and many other things.

I’m a straight forward person, and i want to build nice friend/relationship which will last long and never ends with someone kind and nice and honest, committed and loving I’m not a materialistic person and i am always after nice hearts.

Currently i am working on a contract ,but I can move and travel, i am sure that you will like me more when you meet me. the type of woman i would like to meet she should be,caring,honesty ,understanding,loving,truthful and have a sense of Humor……I will love to know somethings about you.

After nice hearts? He is loyal and from a decent family, really? I wonder which families train their sons to prey on vulnerable women and ‘play games’? Some people are just down right, morally depraved! For politeness sake I haven’t copied my response to him but I can assure you my language was quite colourful. Normally I’d brush it aside but what got me seething mad is the ‘evil’ intent and malicious nature of the man. Here is an excerpt form his previous email initiating the ‘looking for a wonderful woman’ to which I promptly replied that I was married.

What a nice and sparkling smile.
I Read your profile,It is my pleasure to contact you, Am searching for a sincere and trusted Woman of God that will teach me the way of God and i believe in God you
will be the one, when i stumbled on your profile.I got entangled in that wonderful smile, couldn’t stop myself from saying hello. Please always wear that smile.

I wonder which ‘God’ told him to contact a married woman, the God of Casanovas maybe? Why would a married, woman of God, start a relationship with another man? Is it just because I accepted his friend request that he assumed I was, ‘lonely and looking for a companion sent by God?’ It enrages me to think that there might be so many genuinely hurt and lonely women out there, looking for the ‘the one’ and all they get is a moronic excuse for a human being.

What about all the elderly, widowed, lonely single women, they would easily fall for this kind of crap, thinking it was genuine and straightforward. I despise people who like to prey on vulnerable and lonely people, it’s just so wrong. How can these people live with themselves? Is it all just a game to them, to play with a woman’s inner most hopes of love and a life with someone she cares about? How does someone get over a trauma like that? If you know anyone who has gone through this, I would love to hear about it.

Where have the villages gone?

A joke from my husband over a delightful dinner with friends got me rattled into a passionate speech about our loss of village culture and the impact it has on our youth. My husband, a perpetual toastmaster, had us all guffawing with his jokes when one particular ‘joke’ plucked a nerve.

A 1960 versus 2012, Johnny helps himself to some leftover firecrackers from guy Fawkes and blows up a wasp’s nest.

1960: wasps die

2012: bomb squad arrives, parents and siblings taken into questioning, Johnny charged with domestic terrorism… the details are a little lost on me. This set the pace, but the following one really touched a nerve.

Johnny falls down while playing and hurt his knee, Ms. Mary (I think) his teacher gives him a hug and helps him up.

1960: Johnny goes on to become a great football player.

2012: Miss. Mary is charged for inappropriate contact and subsequently dismissed from her role as teacher and Johnny is made to undergo five years psychological counselling and ends up gay.

 

While I understand that this world in not safe and the threat of sexual child predators and terrorism is very real and as a mother of three I appreciate the social concern to protect the vulnerable, but I cannot condone the extent at which this protection has exceeded. While this is a rather extreme portrayal of the current political correctness culture and government national security protocol, it might end up a reality in the not too distant future. Our continual ‘evolution’ towards a more socially, morally and culturally policed human race will no doubt be our undoing.

 

Is it really wise to replace all acts of humanity with a cold and distant politically correct decorum? To incarcerate every juvenile mistake with life debilitating consequences is taking things a little too far. I remember how as a child while walking down the street I would come across an old ‘aunty’ yelling at the town rowdies, “stop your tom foolery Johnny or I’ll be dropping by tonight to have a chat with you father.” Johnny would immediately stop his ‘actions’ and sheepishly apologise and even help aunty with her shopping bags.

Everyone knew everyone and cared about each other. The grand Aunties and uncles had implicit authority to reprimand youngsters on sight and parents had no choice but to take responsibility for their young. No foster homes just the community pitching in to help whichever family was on the brink of collapse. I remember making rounds with my mum to visit some strange family just to inquire as to how they were coping with some terrible loss that was alien to me.

Peacemakers abounded at every alley and gossipers who kept track of everyone’s whereabouts in a strange way policed the morality of the youth and vulnerable adults. The politically correct stalwarts of 2012 would be appalled at the dictator ship attitude of the grand aunties and uncles, the blatant disregard of personal privacy of the gossipers and the social norm accepting such behaviour. No, it was far from perfect, nothing human ever is, but the village community spirit reinforced humanity in each and every one of us. We were subconsciously programmed to forgive, harbour love for our neighbour, concern that had to result in action and to always expect to be judged, all this invariably strengthened the resolve to be good. The only draw back being that the social authority figures, your grand aunties and uncles, had to be decent, caring individuals. They could ruin lives and breed disharmony if they were anything short of decent humans. However, there was an invisible control, public support that prevailed only for decent individuals keeping this prominent role out of reach for undeserving individuals.

The dawn of the 21st century destroyed the village community spirit, with the death of the last grand Aunty and uncle began the slow and painful death of humanity. Horrific incidents of abuse, rape, and molestation became the norm instead of the exception, freedom is unbiased, and it can free both the victim and the hidden predator.

Freedom without morality is the advent of hell on earth. The demand for political correctness and liberal thought gave birth to the impersonal, irrelevant and absolute disregard for the community spirit. Blind justice cannot and should not replace compassion, mercy and forgiveness. Robots and even animals can be cold, cruel and indifferent, only humans have the ability to sacrifice, motivate, help, and most importantly forgive.

Evolution is not about being politically correct and culturally tolerant, it is about inspiring greatness, practicing humility, serving mankind selflessly and learning from suffering. In the past, our medieval ancestors, glorified the honourable and venerated saints; today we debase these heroes and saints as liars and charlatans, insisting that it is very human to live to just to satisfy one’s needs and do as one pleases, a human birth right.

Often, as I visit an aged or lonely neighbour, I am asked what joy could I possibly get from such an interaction. I cannot put in words the sense of comfort I receive when I engage with the elderly, listen to their sincere advice or hear of their wonderful anecdotes. It’s the only time, apart form when I play with my little children, that I actually ‘feel’ human, connected of sorts with some great cosmos. Perhaps this is what is missing from all those troubled youths or those suicidal individuals, the inability to feel belonged, cared for and part of this great human race?

Being Human

There is a lot of talk about humanizing the web, of doing things with a higher purpose than just for monetary reasons. It reminds me of the new age phase when every body was heading to the mountains in search of nirvana and a better life. I remember huge sales of ‘gone fishing’ posters and signage. As an impressionable collegiate, I too was swept away, convinced I was an author of the human destiny. Youth is an elixir that can drown the human mind and soul into believing ‘passionately’ any reality one can possibly conjure, from aliens to time travel.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing unwise with that line of thinking, quite the contrary, it’s too good. In utopia this would definitely be the norm not an option, but our world is steeped in debt, misery, depression, corruption and permanently on the brink of a global meltdown. While some brave and evolved personalities might argue that this is the very reason why we should strive harder for the greater good, I choose to interject.

Just like drug addiction treatment where medicines are given to supress withdrawal symptoms while detoxification, customized to individual needs; a global mind shift requires such an approach, just putting on the brakes can lead to chaos and the resultant disarray would be far worse than the existing quandary.

Humans are complex individuals and needless to say the world with its multitude of individuals, each with his or her personality, mental ability, culture, circumstance, morality, background, experiences, perceptions, inclinations…. deserves a lot more deliberation.

Unless this global mind shift is carefully thought out and worked upon, diligently for decades if not generations to come, it will end up like the last phase or the one before that. Evolution of the human mind and soul often comes at a great price and a struggle that endures time itself. To change global mindset that has been established over thousands of years, mostly through wars and massacres, will require more than just motivational speeches and articles.

Jesus Christ died on the cross to show mankind how to love and today, almost 2000 years later we are still clueless, even many of his disciples, Christians, fall short of love. Yet, there are a few stalwarts of the faith that every generation try to reignite the passion and further the dream, a world full of love. Take away the cross and there would be no such movement that not only reshaped the world but also shook mankind out of its barbaric lifestyle.

Most freedom struggles have been achieved though the sacrifice of heroes and the united conviction of the country. A global mind shift will require nothing short of the same, blood, sweat and tears, the only combination that works. 

The power of why.

“But why not?” asks my 4 year old, doesn’t matter regarding what, it’s his classic reply to anything that I tell him not to do.  “Please stop eating grass!” I yell out. “But why not?” is his quick reply.

As I drone about the dangers of eating herbaceous plants, not to mention poisonous weeds, he flits to another activity. At 4 he is curious about anything that moves and catches his fancy, already he has deciphered most of life’s riddles (or so he thinks!).

As I walk him to kindergarten and hear him talk I am amazed at the labels he has generated. The adventure playground, that’s a playground that caters to older kids, is ‘dangerous’. ‘Office’ is where people go to when they leave our home, even if they dropped in for a visit on their way shopping. The police would catch you if you crossed the road without adult supervision! What’s more hilarious is to ask him what happens if the police ‘caught’ you. “You shouldn’t be naughty so they won’t catch you.”

He obviously hadn’t worked that out, his little mind was too innocent to work out the nasty stuff. However, it got me thinking, so this tendency to label, to work out how things work, to make sense of the ways of the world is an innate tendency.

A 4 year old from a loving family, vigilant parents, protective community, and a safe neighbourhood has a need to work out his boundaries, a strong urge to keep himself safe, and the resilience of ‘but why’.

So it got me thinking, why do we have this need to figure things out, is this what makes us human, the power of ‘why’? Rebellion is birthed by why and it is the fundamental force of change for many a government, dictatorship and evil regime. Discovery, invention and evolution all trace their humble beginnings to a simple why.

Why do we question? Why can’t we let things be or like so many of the new age gurus drone on and on, stop worrying about what can not, is not and will not. The reason is plain and simple, we have been engineered to use our brains, as proposed by René Descartes, ‘Cogito ergo sum’, ‘I think therefore I am”.

The ability of thought is fundamental to possessing consciousness, and until the day we die we will do two things, breathe and think. I doubt whether we can choose to do them, in the sense that when we stop doing them we will be essentially dead (physically or mentally), we can however, choose the type of breathing or thinking.

So I hope that my son never stops asking why, as annoying as it may be currently for I know that it is the hallmark of our human spirit. It probably was the reason Adam and Eve got banished from the garden of Eden, for they couldn’t help but wonder why they weren’t supposed to eat the apple.

Hmm, perhaps sometimes we should just let things be?

Utopia or so we think!

The concept of utopia is so appealing to the higher intellectual self, an ideal community or society. However, what is ideal? World peace is ideal to a United Nations peacekeeper but for a mother of 4, ideal is some quite time from the kids.

It is an insult to mankind’s complexity to resort to common denominators or labels. No two individual’s are alike, so how can the metrics used to study humans be so simple?

Every individual is a composite of emotions, experiences, mindset, personality, social upbringing, etc. Two individuals from the same gene pool and brought up in the same family can be so opposite that it forces us to rethink our tendency to categorise.

Life is the biggest factor in our personalities, our behaviours and our general outcome. A hardened criminal after a life shattering experience can completely transform, reinforcing the idea that life cannot be pigeonholed. Life is dynamic, exciting, educational, transforming anything but predictable. So how can outcomes from interaction with it be quantified?

Isn’t the adage, ‘one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure’ witness to truth that there is no ideal? Humans are continuously evolving thus changing the dynamics at play resulting in a very fluid concept of ideal.

Utopia, just like perfection does not exist, its all a matter of perception. What does exist is our obsession with what is not. There is a hidden discontent that is ingrained in the mind of every living human. It is this subtle thought that all is not right that drives us to constantly improve, change, build, tear down and rebuild.

We as a race have been seeking some sort of ‘utopia’ in our lives, our homes, our families, our social situations, our world, our planet and yes within ourselves. It is what has driven us from being cave dwellers to landing on the moon, but our search doesn’t end there.

No, I have no answer and anyone claiming to have one is delusional. All I have is observations, thoughts… no answers.

A can of Worms

Humans, the variety amazes me! It’s the varying levels of morality and honesty that amazes me. Having had close and often painful experiences with the worst kind has led to the penning of this article.

I was brought up with a very strict sense of right and wrong and like every human I have been less than faithful to that code. What raises my eyebrows and makes me gawk, is how some people have a very opinionated demure towards everyone but themselves. While they are vitriolic in their comments about the failings of others, they seem to think nothing of their own actions.

Even saints don’t measure up to their standards and yet they blatantly lie, manipulate, insult and hurt anyone in their orbit. Every action is justifiable to them when they are the perpetrators. Standard rules of etiquette, decency, and morality just don’t apply to them, and yet everyone else’s gesture, dialogue and sometimes-even timing is analyzed and ultimately condemned.

Hypocrisy to such a degree would not bother me, given that I believe in every human’s basic right of personality. What does get under my skin, so to speak, is when they act like suffering souls wronged by one and all and take advantage of another’s kindness.

Yes, I happen to be that gullible soul who chanced an encounter with such a morbid personality. A friend of seventeen years, whom I met during college, lived in the same hostel for three years and later kept in touch through emails and phone.

She entered my life and straight into my home as a torn, wounded and wronged woman trying to pick up the pieces of her life in a supportive and loving environment. I cajoled my husband into providing her employment in his business while I helped her heal and rediscover her strengths.

Within the first fifteen minutes of her arrival sparks of her personality began to “fly” straight into my eyes, frightening me. There were episodes of, “I do not appreciate anyone telling me what I can or cannot do. I know what I am capable of and I will not be told otherwise.” This was in retaliation to a negative response regarding her query of finding employment in her field.

I swallowed this outburst as a defensive mechanism of a woman suppressed for far too long by an overtly negative, faultfinding, and belittling mother. I placated her by rewording the negative response with lots of praises for her abilities and highlighting the zero demand for her profession.

What was mostly startling was that she had wormed into my home by portraying her self as jobless, broke, miserable, helpless, and almost suicidal. The person I met at the airport was arrogant, selfish and was constantly complaining of how she had to give away her precious belongings as she had excess baggage! Never mind that we paid for her ticket.

The next few days saw her snapping at me with caustic remarks whenever I tried to make her cease her wallowing in self-pity and constant complaining of people and incidents.  She was forever trying to impose on me how bad her life had been and how lucky I was. Even God was not spared from her list of wrongdoers. She had a firm belief that she was good, God and the rest of humanity was bad.

She slept late and woke when half the day had passed, a thyroid condition I was told. Makes her tired, sluggish and disrupts her sleep cycle. Forever on her laptop checking her mails and Facebook.  She spent her time earnestly watching and monitoring everyone’s activity and criticized him or her for every word and apostrophe.

Needless to say my husband had her packing after she decided to enlighten him of his faults with the rudest of dialogue. Especially after she cleared the air that she did not accept favors and we were not to think we did any by providing her free food, boarding and a job!

What really got me pondering was whether she did indeed have a mental condition as she so convincingly claimed or was she a case of an exceptionally well-read intelligent woman mimicking the symptoms? I would love to hear what her therapists had to say in the matter.

This incident really opened a can of worms for me. It got me questioning a whole set of notions that I had come to live by. I was brought up old school, spare the rod and spoil the child. My father had overdone the smacking to the point of abuse and this made me a fervent advocate of sparing the rod.

I believed, at least until I met her, that people with issues and difficulties were to be loved, appreciated and gently encouraged to aspire to overcome their obstacles. Now, I am beginning to question this lets be accepting and sensitive attitude.

It is obvious; she was a conniving, manipulative and downright selfish woman who was clearly taking advantage of this belief of mine. Who is to say there aren’t others doing the same and not to mention the scary fact that those with genuine issues using this as an excuse to live off the generosity of others?

I am not generalizing that every one claiming to be disadvantaged are crying wolf or taking advantage. Neither am I stating that we should revert to the old school method of discrimination. What I am trying to figure out is what is the best course of action, if any? How does one weed out the fakers?

I was born with severe dyslexia, I remember writing backwards, jumping sentences whilst reading, always getting my math’s sums wrong as the numbers danced! My mum believed a good smack would make me write, read and learn straight. Every day was a nightmare with my screams echoing down the corridors of our building with neighbors dropping in to tell my mum to ease off.

She didn’t and today I have a degree, double major in Chemistry-Biochemistry and my ambition is to become a writer, an impossible achievement and ambition for a dyslexic.  I still can’t catch a ball, or ride a cycle, or drive but then again my mum didn’t think these were important.

I have a wonderful relationship with my mum and dad; we just don’t talk about the past. My mum even took a year off to stay with me and help me raise my three kids. Of course I had to keep reminding her that I didn’t want them smacked, even though it’s good for them.

This incident with my friend has thrown all that into the bin. Her parents never laid a finger on her and always “droned” on as to the reasons for being good. If we could swap homes, I wonder how we would have turned out. Would I be able to get over my dyslexia? Would I have a degree? Or would I have turned into her, using my disability as an excuse to be lazy, and turn into a leech?

Would she have, given her intelligence, become a highly educated and successful professional, a woman of integrity and character? Would the roles have swapped, with me scrounging off her? Given my propensity towards the easy route, I mean I did never master the art of catching a ball or riding a bike and now driving. More troublingly am I the best parent for my kids? Is my pacifist, loving and nurturing attitude going to turn my kids, already brats, into lazy, unhappy and selfish adults?

Life is all about choices, whilst some are born with the desire to succeed no matter what disability, disadvantage or obstacle, the rest of us like sheep tend to lead passive lives. Some are motivated out of this lethargy, some like me are smacked out of it and some are angered (when discriminated) out of it.  Except for the ones who are motivated, we all have issues of hurt which when counterbalanced with success eases the sting.

I always wished that my parents had been gentler in their upbringing and secretly nursed a bruised heart but after this episode I don’t want to change a thing. If that is what it took to keep me from becoming her then I thank God and especially my parents for my past.

I enjoy walking with my head held high, being a woman of integrity, having a sense of accomplishment and self-worth. I am proud, not arrogant or boastful, of the fact that I have lived life as an equal and never used my dyslexia as an excuse in school, college or work. I must admit it is gratifying never having to mention it, because I am so much more than that. It doesn’t define me, hard working, helpful, God fearing, loving and sincere is what defines me.

What threw a wrench in the machinery of me is what kind of parent should I be?  I am grateful to my parents and I love them but do I want to become them? Even a toned down version makes me shirk in fear. Which highlights another question, is it about the kids or me? Do I choose my parenting style purely out of love and concern for my kids or is it for my own ego? After all a hard and strict parent rarely gets the love and admiration of a loving, anything goes type.  Raised by emotionally distant parents, makes me crave for love and I enjoy the cuddles and kisses I get from my kids. Am I using my kids to fulfill my needs instead of doing it the other way around?

Like I said, I have been pondering……………