If a tree falls…

IF A TREE FALLS IN THE WOODS AND NO ONE IS THERE, WOULD IT STILL MAKE A SOUND?

Yes I know, the age old ethical conundrum isn’t exactly worded like that, but in effect the question stays the same.

The beauty in the question is that it makes you realise how subjective everything is, even science. One of my physics teachers would say that it makes a sound but not a noise – noise being a subjective judgement. Another went on to explain that when the tree falls a part of its kinetic energy is transferred into vibrations and it was only when these vibrations came into contact with a sensitive membrane like an ear-drum is it interpreted by the brain as a sound. Of course hands would shoot up and we would ask unnecessary questions like – does it have to be a human brain? Could the birds and animals hear sound? What if a person was deaf and he could not hear it but his friend could? Anything to disrupt the class!
Then Quantum Mechanics comes along and gives us the Observer Problem. Basically this means that as all events are essentially random, we can’t be sure they’ve happened until they have been actually observed. Forget the sound, now we are questioning if the tree even fell!
Sometimes the answer could change with technology. It was only a few years back that the Pioneer spacecraft recorded the sound of interstellar space. No one had ever heard that before. So would that mean that the sound of interstellar space only occurred for the first time when the Pioneer went up, or has it been there all along and only now did we have the technology to hear it?
The philosophical debate would take an altogether different direction. Just because we are not there to bear witness, does it mean that the event never occurred? If a person is blind, does it mean there is never a daytime? Or say, if we are unaware of somebody’s suffering, does it exist? We can only be aware of it if they tell us or visibly exhibit it. So maybe the tree made a sound, cried out in pain, and we just were not there to hear it. Or maybe pain is an altogether human emotion and does not exist unless there is a human to experience it as such.

Was the final answer yes or no? I am still not sure. To quote the great Forrest Gump, “I think that it may be both.”

Of course there is also the possibility that we misunderstood the question entirely and the point was not whether the tree made a sound or not. The all-important point was that the tree fell.

There is this crazy site getodd.com which comes up with a few crazy ‘alternate facts’ and here I stumbled upon this long explanation on “human stress syndrome”.

Even though plants do not show any changes to the naked (or lensed) eye, when a human is in their presence systemic biological changes have been discovered that have grave effects on plant life when a person is within 300 meters. This effect is called “human stress syndrome”.

I wouldn’t laugh this off. Maybe it’s not factual. Or maybe we haven’t yet got the tools to prove it. But when you consider the havoc that we have wrecked on the environment with afforestation and climate change, I really would not be surprised if we were giving the plants PTSD.

socsbadge2016-17


Written for Saturday Stream of Consciousness prompt wood/would

The Dance of the Fierce

She stood there proud and tall, defying the wrath of multiple foes.

The furious wind whipped past her, around her, striking her repeatedly, gnawing at her quivering body, entering the crevices of her arms, heaving and thrashing, whirling her around mercilessly, mocking her whispering adieu.
Above, a thunderous grey sky glared down, blinding lightening flashing across its grim face like a great scornful laugh, daring her to rise up to the challenge.
Hard rain, like kamikaze fighters, dove down upon her at frantic speed, sweeping off the earth from under her feet.
It was an uneven unfair battle but through it all she danced like a ballerina. Whirling and swaying, holding her pose for a fraction, as though waiting for applause, then bowing deeply before resuming her mad dance.

And what a wild dance it was…

On and on the battle chant played escalating towards it crescendo of glorious death. She twisted and twirled, taunting the skies, taunting gravity. With each recoil his fury built, his rage battering everything around into grim submission. Even the once proud sun retreated awkwardly behind a grey curtain. The onlookers quivered in apprehension, the creatures of earth fearful of the warriors of the sky, rooting for her in trembling trepidation.
Yet she stood, elegant and fierce, the graceful challenger in this vicious battle, dignified and defiant amidst the carnage of her injured and decapitated companions.

On and on she danced…

Until finally, like a bawling toddler who had exhausted his tantrums beating his fists against the bosom of a firm mother, his mighty wails subsided into occasional sniffles, the mighty wind sulked and stalked away.

And still she stood.

img_4211

Hakuna Matata

Bear with me while I rant
Of the things I can and the things I can’t…

This morning my son referred to some great mathematician and lamented that he was not a genius like him, to which I casually responded that it wasn’t necessary to be a genius. He looked at me funnily.

The thing is, I’ve received variations of this look several times.

What’s my goal in life? I dunno. Be a decent person, bide my time till the trumpet is blown. Do I regret quitting my job? I regret the circumstances that led to that decision, but I’m not heartbroken about ‘wasting my education’ or ‘not contributing’ to the world. What am I passionate about? Nothing really! If truth be told, I don’t even ‘feel’ that much. Doesn’t the state of the world move me? I’m still parked on my arse, aren’t I!

Yes, I’m an unremarkable person leading an unremarkable life.

But why the hell do I have to be apologetic about that. Why do people look at me strangely just because I am self-aware enough to know that I’m ok being complacent and honest enough to voice it? Why do I have to engage in passionate discussions and empty platitudes when I’m not actually doing anything to fix the problems? ‘Be the change’ does not always have to be a movement, it could just be a ripple. I pick up my garbage, I make my mom’s friends laugh, I’ve taught my son right from wrong, and I try my hardest neither to judge people nor to hold them to unrealistic standards.

When my time is done, I may not leave the world a better place. If I can just leave it no worse than I found it, I’m all right with that.

Hakuna Matata may not be a realistic life motto, but I sure as hell am gonna try.

socsbadge2016-17


This post is for Stream of Consciousness Saturday

Missing

anna

I miss the girl who found everything funny, who would squeal with delight, giggle at her own imagination, and burst out laughing, raining spittle and joy, and not be able to stop even when tears streamed down her face and snot gushed out of her nose.

I miss the girl who charged down the road and into a neighbour’s house because they had a cool swing or because the dandelions danced real pretty there, without ever having noticed the fence or the sign that says keep out.

I miss the girl who played hopscotch with stolen chalk and the sun beating down, oblivious of dust or decorum and impervious to tans, who didn’t care for time until her tummy started rumbling.

I miss the girl who splashed in the puddles, played ball with dirt, let the wind ruffle her tresses and sometimes screw up her face and stomped her feet even though tantrums don’t look pretty.

I miss the girl who never needed to read the signs, who gave hugs with abandon, who spontaneously professed love and who believed without a doubt that the prince and princess lived happily ever after.

I miss the girl who when given a choice between a gold coin and a kitten, chose the silly scruffy cat every single time.

I miss the girl who was me.


Image downloaded from pininterest.
An illustration by William Papas for a most charming book titled ‘Mr God This Is Anna’ by Fynn

I believe in Magic

sunrise

Yes I believe in Magic.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not referring to the conjurer, that I believe is a beautiful marriage of science and art, which is indeed magical if you really think about it, but I am referring here to the magic of creation, time, love and above all else, the magic of the human mind.

No, I do not believe in mythical creatures. Once again I am not talking about unicorns or aliens. I’m talking about the human fallacy of imagining someone as totally perfect or completely flawed. A perfect man (or woman or child) and is just as much a mythical creature as an evil one. Everyone has their shades, and it is these shades that make us magical.

Magic is not fiction; it is in symbiosis with reality, in the sights, sounds and smells of the world we live in, in birth, in evolution, in growth, in flora and fauna, in the tingling laughter of an infant, and even in the intricacies of the urban jungle. There is magic in the power of love that enables us to experience great joy over even tiny gestures, that motivates one to undergo immense hardships and toil to bring happiness and peace to another, which prompts one to sacrifice himself for another, and which soothes with just a touch. There is magic in the power of hope that carries a battered woman through life, a refugee across the border, a man adrift in a lifeboat the will to hold on, and a nation the strength to rally. There is magic in time, in its powers of healing, in its slow percolation of wisdom, in its miracle of growth. More marvelously, there is magic in the human mind, in its ability to dream, in its perseverance to transfer that dream into reality, through the power of inventions, through the sheer strength and grit of labour, or even just by projecting those dreams onto paper and celluloid, thereby taking us along with them through miraculous quests and fantastic adventures, or just gifting us with a little peek into that magical mind. There is magic in the force of human speech which can rouse, calm or regale the entire world.

So when a magical creature tells me in his magical way – yes we can, make our nation great again, good days will come, I say, O Yes.

socsbadge2016-17


Written for SoCS

Word Prompts used: Mythical, Percolate

Photo Challenge: Magic (sunrise at the beach)

One must see with the heart

tltweek42

She loved the smooth texture of the pillars, the sharp edges, the ins and outs, the recesses just enough for her to fit her body and be a part of the maze, the feel of never ending; while the trapped wind played with her wild tresses and whispered many a tune in her ears. Her feet would glide and slip over the soft moss, ever so often stumbling across a slug or disrupting a march of ants, while her probing fingers entwined with curtains of cobwebs.

Her sisters thought her crazy for spending so many hours in the drab, creepy place, for they had never experienced the corridor as she had; because when you can’t see the colours, you can feel and hear all the hidden beauty.


Written for Sonya’s Three Line Tales
photo by Jace Grandinetti via Unsplash

Dream with a pinch of reality

Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become, your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be.
-James Allen

I have heard a lot of parents and inspirational speakers reiterate this quote. Child psychologists keep harping on how we should always encourage our children; shower them with praise, set high expectations because children usually perform up to their parent’s expectations. Tell your children that they can be whatever they want. But I don’t agree with this thought entirely.

I would rather tell my child

You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end.

It is good to dream lofty dreams, just as long as those dreams are grounded in reality. It is necessary to encourage you child, ‘encourage’ being the operative word. Don’t give them false hopes. Praise your child, compliment her work but don’t inflate her ego.

We bring up our children on stories with happy endings, where anything is possible, where a little fish called Nemo, despite his limited swimming abilities, manages to have a series of adventures/misadventures and return home safely, where the rookie car Lightning McQueen, the crop-duster plane Dusty, and the snail Turbo win the race (defeating faster and more experienced competitors by sheer grit), where the princess always gets the prince.

Children, brought up in a feel-good world, imagine they can be anything – an astronaut, a scientist, an Olympian, a film star. The next Steve Jobs or Ambani. That’s natural and that’s nice. But as parents do we merely humour them and say – “of course, you can be anything you want.” I think not. I would rather say, “Well that sounds great. But remember, achieving a dream is hard work. You must plan and work towards it.”

When he was very young, my son wanted to become either a Formula 1 racer or a fighter pilot. I had to gently break the news to him that with his ocular problems, that was not a realistic dream. Naturally he ranted at the injustice of it all, but soon directed himself towards becoming a nuclear scientist, a more plausible dream. With this dream as our goal, we sat down and drew up a road map, he had to excel at math and science, he had to develop certain skills, etc. Along the way he lost interest in becoming a nuclear scientist, but his love for science remained. He worked hard and excelled. Today he can certainly aspire to become a scientist.
Of course his father would have rather he became an athlete. We tried out a different sport every summer trying to find ‘his thing’. He enjoyed his summers, but eventually his father had to concede that sport was not ‘his thing’. As a parent he had to accept his child’s temperament and cease projecting his own dreams onto the child. Just because he loves playing soccer with his friends after school does not mean that he could have become a national player by sheer hard work and grit. Talent, genetics and temperament play a decisive role.

The dangers of blind encouragement are two-fold. Unrealistic plans lead to a waste of time and money. When a student who gets average grades sets her mind on say, medical school, other more lucrative and realistic careers like human resource management or business, are left unexplored. Even worse, if they don’t achieve their goal, they feel shame and guild and are overwrought with a feeling on incompetence. The logic goes – If I could have become anything, and I didn’t become that thing, then I have no one to blame but myself, and I am a shameful loser. Anything else that they do thereafter is a compromise and they are never happy.

Help your child understand what will make them happy and help them pursue that state of being. There are many paths to that goal. Tell them that they don’t need to chase after a ‘job they love’, rather find a job that they can grow to love. Not everyone can make a career out of what they love. It’s just as well to have a career you can respect and a hobby that you love. The eventual goal is self-happiness.

Encourage your child to have lofty goals, but let them know that in addition to self-belief, it’s going to take sensible planning, a pragmatic approach, years of hard work and a lot of patience. Teach them that there is no such thing as instant gratification and that failure and work-arounds are an inevitable part of the journey. Above all else help them understand themselves.

It may be painful to be the practical dream-crusher parent who bursts their child’s happy bubble, but it will be far more painful to watch your child loose her self-esteem, because as adults we know – We cannot become anything that we want to be.

Perspective

 Tiny, Large, High, Low
It’s all in the perspective
You see the imposing structure
I marvel the mind’s directive

There is structure in symmetry
There is beauty in its negation
Be free of preconceived notions
Indulge in passionate admiration

If you’re above, I’m tiny.

img_0814

If I’m above, you are.

img_0774