My intentions with this blog are not to impress you with my grasping writing style or sophisticated vocabulary. I simply want to communicate my observatons and ideas. I hope you can relate to it, and i hope even more that you start to believe in it.
by Radhika Mathur
i lay awake.
I know smell is supposed to be the strongest sense to bring back memories anywhere from your youth to childhood days - “smell memory”, right? I’m completely in awe of this phenomenon and have experienced it working its magic many times before. Once when I was waiting to cross the street in town, it had just rained and it smelled like Delhi in the monsoon seasons. I was immediately brought back to the pale leaves glued down to the rough Indian roads by water droplets, the hot tea, parle g biscuits and how I felt to be in a place that I could call home. Another time it was the purple flowers that grew at the edges of the garden in the house I first lived in. The slight yellow right in the middle and the winter mornings when my mum wrapped me in a big blanket and put me in the backseat of the car as she drove my brother to school. It wasn’t safe to leave an infant child at home even for an hour in Delhi. What I’ve always questioned is not the power of smell memory, but if music can evoke the same nostalgia… and more? Certain songs will never fail to bring me back to my past no matter what I’m doing at the current moment. I could be running, on the train to college or just having lunch in my dining room. A song can literally make me stop and drag me back into the same emotional state in the memory that the song is associated to. Though songs can not bring me back to childhood times, I feel the memories they do evoke are stronger. It is not only the weather or my age, it’s everything in between. What I was wearing, doing, thinking but most importantly feeling at the time. I do believe the music itself deserves a lot of the credit if I’m to claim that my emotions enable memories to become vivid, because it’s no surprise that music is emotional. That being said however, even if in the memory a sad song was played whilst a friend and I laughed, that would be conveyed accurately when the song were to be played again. I guess what I’m saying is that Smell Memory is no doubt powerful and can bring us back to times we can’t picture in our minds without the scent, but a song can bring us back to a state of mind we may have intentionally left behind, which for me can’t compare.
So I’m going to do it, I’m going to attempt to write about the one thing every single person in the world constantly strives for. This post is happening mostly because though Happiness is a common goal, it’s one of the hardest things for me to work at consistently. I’ve heard many different views and opinions on how Happiness works, where it comes from and how to achieve it. Through over twenty years I’ve finally come to realize and can share with full confidence what my take on the subject is. For me, Happiness is a choice. This stems from my view that situations and experiences are objectively only so much, the rest is what you take from them. You can either laugh about something and move on or take it to heart and get upset. I’m not saying that either of them are right, I’m saying it’s your fuckin’ choice to feel however you want. Maybe you don’t have a choice in the matter and your first instinct is to start crying - well fair enough! But how you deal with the situation after that, and how you feel when you reflect on it is in your hands. You can stay bitter or let it go. In the same way, I feel being happy is also completely up to you. Whenever I sit down and fully assess everything I’ve been given, it blows my mind then I think about people I know who have less and yet they seem to be so much more content and generally happier in life. I don’t get it, what am I doing wrong? Why can’t I just be happy all the time? Especially if I’m saying I believe that it is a choice - so why don’t I choose to be happy? So I’m still trying to figure out this part… Maybe it’s just my personality to be more pessimistic and cynical about life, who knows? I do however know things which make me happy. Extremely happy. Hanging out with my good friends and chatting late into the night. Immersing myself into a creative project and seeing it through ‘til the end. Doing something nice for my parents. Going on a holiday where I feel I can breathe clean, fresh air… etc etc and the list goes on. So this post doesn’t really have a solution really, it’s more just a thought I’ve been struggling with and trying to figure out. Maybe soon I can find more of a balance and achieve a healthy level of consistent happiness in life. What’s happiness to you? Are you happy?
For those of you who know me, you may know I love the song On Melancholy HillI by the Gorillaz. For a few of you who know me quite well, you know that this song is especially special because of the real life Plastic Tree that stands in a house that’s a part of my view from my window. Maybe you don’t exactly know the whole story (that I’ve concocted in my head) but let me give you a quick overview. So when this song came out I associated it with a palm tree growing in some independent house’s front lawn which was covered in electric blue christmas lights. So you know what I mean right? It’s a tree covered with plastic and thus it’s a plastic tree - simple isn’t it? However, why it meant so much to me was because of everything I associated with the tree. It was a stressful time when this plastic tree became a part of my life, I was in the midst of I.B, I was dealing with failing friendships and general unsureness of my future. Every now and then in the late hours of the night when I was up finishing homework or researching universities I would look to my left out the window for a breath and there it was - the only thing seemingly alive when everyone and everything else was asleep. It was a glittering blue blur that grasped my attention and I found myself day dreaming about my ideal future. On an unrelated note, I was studying philosophy at the time and found myself finding peace in life when I attached meaning to inanimate objects. This electric blue light that draped the palm tree was turned on twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Though in the day time this light was dim and barely visible, if I ever did happen to glance over at it and focused I could see it shining very, very subtly. This Plastic Tree brought me comfort and a sense of ease, as if no matter what happened at any time of the day, there was something consistent out there just for me. As time went by, life changed and one day this light was gone. The Plastic Tree was gone. I walked past the house a few times and the tree was there, but there was no light. Eventually I moved countries but every now and again I would find myself thinking about the Plastic Tree, hoping I’d find the same comfort in my new surroundings. A year later I moved back and lights were back on. However, they weren’t the same electric blue anymore, they were darker, sharper and accompanied by four other plants which sported a pale pink light. Now when I look over, out my window I don’t feel the same way, I wouldn’t even call them plastic tree’s… they’re just plants with lights thrown over ‘em. I don’t know why exactly they don’t evoke the same feelings in me, maybe it was a phase I grew out of… maybe I built up what the Plastic Tree really meant to me in my head. All I can say now is that there will always be some sort of light out there, maybe it’s not what was before - but there’s something. It’s different, but there’s something. Nonetheless, I will never forget the way the Plastic Tree made me feel, the calm it brought me, the (dare I say?) hope . Up on Melancholy Hill there was a Plastic Tree - when you were here with me.
The Plastic Tree.
It is rare for a pessimistic person like me to experience moments where I fully feel and completely believe that it will be okay. In the past year I would say that I’ve experienced this clarity and peace maybe… four times? Five times maximum. Anyway, today was one of those days. It’s almost unnerving because suddenly this bubble of misery that I have justified through my pessimistic view of the world pops… and my brain is like… wow, I think it’ll actually be okay. Maybe it’s just me, but realizing you’ll be okay is a scary thing. You’re all of a sudden pushed onto the other side where the rest of the world is happily going about their day. It’s disorienting, you’re in a new place and for a second you remember that you’ve been here before. When you were much younger, and when everything wasn’t as complicated. Personally, I like not to get too excited about these moments (surprise surprise!) mostly because there’s a chance of it being a false alarm. You know what I’m talking about right? When everything in life has been going pretty shit… then one day you start seeing things in a new light and BAM! “Oh what? Everything is actually okay!” Two hours later… “Oh wait I still feel just as shit as before”. This being said I’m not going to take away from real moments of feeling ‘okay’, I mean if the one I felt today wasn’t real then I guess I wouldn’t be here writing this. When you know you know, and that’s what’s so special about it. It’s real… “Oh wait, if this is real.. then things will get better… wow”. However, any true pessimist who undergoes these rare enlightened states will know to keep it on the down low and to not make a big deal out of it. Because though things will become better in the future they’re still shit right now, and the idea of life being okay is exhausting ‘til the day, it is.
I wrote 10 draft emails in the past two months. They weren’t to addressed to anyone, in fact no one’s name was mentioned at all apart from in my last and final draft. I don’t know the exact reason I’ve written them. Maybe it’s about not being able to say things you feel - maybe it’s just a form of closure. What I can say for sure is that there is some comfort in it somewhere. Most of my blog posts are basically analyzing human nature as I see it and applying it to different situations, and I feel like this is probably the most important one, so listen up. People need to be heard. It’s just how we’re wired, we can’t survive alone, we can’t be happy alone and we as a race need an identity and a voice. I know this is beginning to sound a little pretentious but bare with me. You have feelings about how the world is, about how people really are and most importantly about if whether or not you’re generally happy in life. You want to share this, no matter how introverted or shy you are. You want to be heard and you want to express yourself, it’s just in our nature. Even if you don’t get anything out of it, even if it doesn’t change anything. The human race itself is a tiny blip in the entire lifetime of existence… and so our lives are almost not even real.. and it that little time we have we want to prove that we’re alive, that we feel. Maybe that’s what my blog is about: look world, I feel something, listen to me please. Point is, my drafts were basically this, they were to someone I didn’t know or for someone who wouldn’t listen. But technically, I said whatever I needed to, it doesn’t even have to be heard by another human being, ever. It has left my head and entered the tangible world (or intangible should I say) that is, the internet. I feel a little bit of closure now, like okay I can take a breath. I did something, I said how I feel. It’s out there now, go find it.
The weird thing about feeling like shit is how its not even about you. When I feel like shit, I expect it to revolve solely around me, for it to be MY problems and MY feelings. But it almost never is. When I feel like ‘shit’ I become extremely moody, irrational, irritable, unreasonable, annoying to be around and a complete bitch basically. I feel miserable, hopeless and depressed. But who does this really affect? The people around me - friends and family, and in turn me. My parents get mad at me for being so moody and comment on my ‘tone’ which ends up making me feel worse, and alas there forms a perpetual state of feeling like shit. It just multiples and they end up blaming you! You piss them off, they also feel like shit which again bounces off you and before you know it your personal shittiness has spread like a virus. I could go on and on about the ripple effects of your shit induced behaviour but I think you get the point. You start feeling guilty that you made others drop to your level, ruin their mood and interfere negatively in other people’s lives when you didn’t intend to. There is no justification for what you’ve done and you fall deeper and eventually surrender to the feeling. You want to make it better, but what about YOU?! You were the one who felt like shit, the bad things happened to you and now suddenly it’s your job to make things right between everyone. In your state of misery you have to go around apologizing and who consoles you? No one. This is not fair, you’re left where you were but just more exhausted and frustrated with life. It’s interesting how everything seems to turn around on the one’s who suffer, but there’s no choice, friend. I’d say that you should avoid trying to feel shit but I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the eye if that was my advice. All I can say that’s plausible is that I hope you can learn to control your temper, to just hold on that one second longer before you lose your cool. Not only will you stop the birth of the shitty cycle, but also hold the rightfulness of feeling like shit. It’s YOUR day! Don’t let anyone steal your thunder.
A couple of years ago I found a single seed by my window pane. I didn’t know how it got there, I didn’t know what the seed was for, but I was excited. It was novel and the curiosity of what it could grow to become was something that intrigued my teenage mind greatly. I planted the seed in a handmade clay pot and made room for it in my garden, I knew this seed was special. I could feel it in my bones.
Day after day I tended to the seed and it slowly started growing. I had never seen a plant like this before. The colour, the smell and most of all the way it made me feel: free. Who would’ve thought I’d randomly find a seed to a rare plant by my window? It was like an adventure, as if “coincidences” were really things that were meant to be. I liked this idea, I liked this adventure.
I didn’t tell many people initially but over the course of a few years I told my closest friends, they were all envious of this unique part of my life. They said no one else had something like this, something so beautiful and rare. So I cherished it even more everyday, because I knew it was something great.
One day I came home late at night and sat by my garden, I looked over to my plant and noticed a tiny flower. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was the most spectacular thing I had ever seen, dark blue in colour and shining under the starry sky. From that night on this plant began to feel like a part of me, something I took everywhere with me in spirit, something that gave me hope and reminded me that beauty still existed in the world. Years went by and the plant kept growing, with numerous flowers flourishing in a variety of mesmerizing colours.
Over these years I got extremely used to this plant in my life, I needed it and it was my source of inspiration. It was the closest thing to me and I loved it more than I ever knew I could love something. So anyways, I come home one day and make my way to the garden like I usually do, but this time I notice that this plant had begun to wither. I quickly gave it water and took extra care of it, but day after day it’s condition only got worse. I could feel it slipping away from my hands, from my life. I did all I could and honestly,I thought this plant and I had a connection, really.. I did. I was disappointed in it, how could it do this to me? This wasn’t fair. It wasn’t long before this plant, my baby, completely withered away and died. I cried, I cried, I cried. No one around me could understand what was happening, they said I was crazy for feeling this way for a non-living thing.. but it was life too, no? So I preserved the remains in a children’s over-sized book. Eventually, my friends realized the corpse of this plant was haunting me more than it was doing me good, so they got rid of it. They said it was for the best, but between you and I, sometimes I wish that the seed had never landed up at my window, so the possibility of me losing something which made me feel more than I could bare wouldn’t exist. I know I should probably look on the bright side, but I feel cheated, I feel robbed. No one has the right to steal this away from me, it’s mine! You think I’m crazy, I know. But that plant changed my life, and now it’s gone forever. I want it back.
I Got Cheated and Robbed.
It’s all I have