Educated

There are books that insist you do not shut them till they are finished. There are books that cause you so so much grief you are just not able to move forward another page because they are going to take away something from you. Some books grant solace, some joy and some make you part with something of yourself.

Tara Westover’s “Educated” is all of these and then more. For want of a better word, this is one of the most unbelievable books I have read in a long time.

Its a memoir of a young girl and her struggle to get an education inspite and because of her circumstances. Its story of Tara Westover, who was raised on the mountains of Idaho by parents entrenched in mormonism. A father who spent his life stocking food and ammunition for the ends of the days, scared of the Illuminati, who would corrupt his children if he sent them to school and trying to stay away as much as possible from the government scanners,to not even have birth certificates issued for three of his youngest children.

Its story of unshakeable belief in “Gods pharmacy”where everything from chopped fingers to third degree burns to minor injuries are treated at home by Tara’s mother, who is a reluctant midwife but cures people with her herbs and salves and later proclaims to diagnose diseases by the click of her fingers.

This story breaks your heart with the violence both physical and mental, of a broken family on the edge of lunacy and mania. A mother who turns a blind eye on her son beating and abusing his sisters.
A father who forces his children to take unimaginable risks with their lives and limbs in his junkyard ,with his hare brained schemes.

One is appalled at the way this family functions where car crashes and burns are taken lightly. Pain is accepted as punishmemt for wrong doing.

After every such episode I wanted to drop the book because it made me livid and amazed at how this is possible in a so called developed nation like America. But the curiosity to know how Tara gets out of that world got the better of me.
She does manage to get an education on her own gumption and hard work inspite of have never seen the inside of a school.
This story is about a girl conflicted by her faith, her love for her family and her desire to move out of the shackles of that same family and faith without breaking her bond with both.
Her inability to trust anyone, her naivete and her fear of her brother has been portrayed in complete honesty to the point of self degradation.

It is one of the most brutally honest books that I have read.
The beauty of words, the poetic flow of language, the interplay of guilt, loyalty, love and shame juxtaposed with her desire to get an education make this memoir, although a story of an exceptionally different and difficult upbringing may resonate with every reader in some way. Its not really different, a young girls gift of education to herself inspite of the odds.

Tara Westover’s book is for people who love words, who seek new stories and who are courageous.

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Morning musings

Its early morn
there’s a nip in the air,
Something has changed,
The arms lock themselves in an embrace to keep the chill away.

The leaves have turned brown
Like parchment of some long forgotten ancient text,
Whose wisdom is now spewed forth by a new age guru.

These dry,golden leaves waiting to be stepped on,
To be dusted from the path of eager humans
Who have goals to achieve,places to be.

By rough, callused hands of weary men,
Who have seen it all.

The birds have come out
The francolins, the barbets,the bar headed geese
All showing their presence through the lens of a keen eye.

Experience walks slowly alongside vigour and vitality
Some slow steps some ruthless crushing of whats beneath

The sun takes its time
To step out from behind the clouds

Slowly it peeps in through the dense foliage

In bits and shards
Streaming its warmth
On faces turned pale.

The glow enlivens the soul
Its going to be a good day

The information sabbatical

So its been nearly a month since I last picked up the papers to read. I had stopped watching TV news few years back, when the news channels turned into World Yelling Organsiation where truth was measured by how much you could raise the decibels. Honestly, I never missed it. I started getting all my news feed from news apps and some really well written blogs.

Last month I decided to take a complete sabbatical from news in any form and stopped reading the papers and uninstalled all the news apps on my phone to see if it caused any waves or turmoils in my life.

Well day one I thought it would be tough, I actually assumed i would get withdrawal symptoms( if that could be possible).
Nothing happened!!

I did not miss any earth shattering bulleteins, I wasnt ostracised for not knowing which politician is embroiled in which scandal, who took kickbacks, who married whom, who broke up with whom. Not a single day have I felt the urge to pick up the papers or read about the going ons.

Although in all honesty I do miss reading the obituary and horoscope columns,because its good to know all your friends are still alive and how your day is going to be.

But seriously I have had the grand revelation that too much of information is being disseminated and we homo sapiens can’t get enough of it. Although how much can our brains process and use in a constructive manner is still grey territory.

Its a blood bath out there with every media house trying to be first on the scene or breaking it to you first. I seriously fail to understand how the quality of news telling has taken a backseat to who was there first.

It doesnt matter, because as one of the wisest people I know told me, what is truly important or you need to know will filter down to you in some way or the other and that actually happened.

I was such a sucker for current affairs that I would actually think if I did not know my current affairs well I would not be considered intelligent or conversation worthy. So I would devour whatever I could on what I thought I needed to know to have a conversatiom with learned, equally informed and knowledgeable people.

Nothing changed. I can still hold my own in conversations and feel awakened by realising how much time we devote to knowing about stuff which is of absolutely no consequence to us. Its just being fed to us for private gains of interested parties.

I think it is also a part of minimalism to have only the relevant information filtered to you and remove the clutter of over information in your mind.

Most importantly it made me happy.
Having said that, I would not like to live in a cocoon but yes I don’t really want to spend my beautiful mornings reading about things that make me agitated, enraged, disgusted and sometimes simply sad.

Tsundoku

I have a pile of unread books staring at me,pleading please pick us up, Touch our crisp white pages. Feel our words on your tongue, on your mind. Let us leave an impression on your old, weary soul, although after reading Richard Dawkins’s God Delusions I,unfortunately for all my religious upbringing, have started demanding proof of the existence of the soul. Having said that, I love the word soul because for me it reflects that part of me which is mine, which is my ethos, my voice, my heart and brain all rolled into one.

So, tsundoku is a Japanese word which means a pile of unread books.

https://googleweblight.com/i?u=https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsundoku&hl=en-IN

Now I have been searching for a word which means the urge to buy more books even when you are still going through tsundoku or are in a state of tsundoku, whichever is grammatically or politically correct as the case may be.

So I am compelled to keep on revisiting book selling sites for updates on which books to buy.

And do these sites know how to lure a book addict like myself!!! They just show me exactly what I want to read. It’s actually eerie how well big data algorithms can read my mind on when precisely I want to read a book by Thich Nhah hanh or Yuval Noah Harari or good ole John Grisham.

Its an incurable addiction to keep on adding books on kindle or hard copies and feel happy that for the next few months I have so many books to read. But so many is never enough as soon as a new book by one of your favourite authors is released.

The joy a new book gives surpasses every other joy in the world at least the material world

No gems, stones or sapphire

Or any designer attire

No luxury cars

Or meals at five stars

Make my heart soar

Just the black ink on paper

Is all it takes

To make this bibliophiles heart rise steeper

To a place that is the whole world

Yet belongs to her in those pages

With stories of ages

And courage and mystery

Pain and history

One life is infinitesimal

For all the books I want to read

Endless greed

Happens to all of my creed

We are a tribe apart

The world would be a better place if every child had a book to start

Its time to return to my nook

Awaits me is a brand new book.

Happy reading folks!

Stop thinking, just do

“Put on your thinking cap”.
” Think this through”
“Have you thought about it? ”

Oft repeated phrases we are accustomed to.Yet their are some of us who get the exact opposite advice.

“You think too much”
“Stop thinking too much”
“Why do you always keep on thinking? ”
And then some more.

Well, I have been accused of being an over thinker infinite times and today morning a picture uploaded by a friend set me thinking,(well I have already made it clear I do think more than is normally required).

For sure we dying breed of overthinkers ( most people pledge to be so busy that they have no time to think) suffer more, hurt more and cry more.

The reason we create scenarios in our mind that may or may not come true, (on most occasions they never come true) is probably our own insecurities about ourselves and maybe a deep rooted fear of what could happen.

Surprisingly overthinking is always negative never related to positive outcomes.

I mean seriously, can’t I for once overthink happy thoughts, loving relations with no strife etc.

Now here is the problem. How does one stop if you know you need to stop thinking else you are falling deeper and deeper in an abyss of your own dark thoughts from which there is no redemption.

But you have to give it up for us overthinkers, our creativity and imagination in thinking up scenarios could put the climaxes of any hollywood film to shame.

Another side effect of overthinking is the theory of assumptions. We are usually quite sensitive and overtly conscious of our behaviour and looks, which makes us assume that whoever we interact with has an opinion about us. Talk of reverse narcissism.

Doesn’t help now does it?

So how does one get out of this vicious circle of assuming, thinking, fretting, going ballistic and then assuming and thinking again.

Meditation is supposed to be quite effective, but then that is not everyone’s cup of tea. For some people removing themselves from that situation or people helps though not for long. So the best thing to do is actually do some thing. Find a passion, pursue a hobby, take more responsibility,clean the crystal, iron the clothes, go for a run anything that keeps you focussed on the work in hand.

More importantly traverse a frontier that scares you. Go for it, scale those heights, run that marathon even if you are the last one to cross the finish line. You can’t stop thinking unnecessarily, some of us are build that way but you can choose your thoughts and train your mind to come back to the present and live in the moment.

Lastly, build if not more atleast one meaningful relationship that can hold your hand and tell you “stop thinking”.

To be whole you need less

Live simply. Less is more. Clutter smothers simplicity breathes. Minimalism. We think of all these phrases and words as new age mantras, although they have been around for centuries now. Our ancestors were minimalists. Their wants were few and they lived contendedly with what they had. I use the word want because our wants take us away from a simple existence to a complicated conundrum of things, emotions and desires.

It becomes mandatory for some of us, rotating in the same social circles to never be seen repeating an outfit, bag or accessory. If you are a celebrity you are mercilessly trolled for being seen in the same look. Silly really, don’t you think? But some of us are trapped. We keep on acquiring and accumulating and painfully trying to remember what we wore the last time to a lunch with our friends lest we repeat it and face hell’s fury.Having been there and done that I know how tiresome and time devouring it is to decide what to wear.

So we keep on filling our homes, our wardrobes,our lives endlessly with stuff we could easily have done without and then we joke about it, ” Oh you know, I have no place to keep things at home. My husband says on our next anniversay he is going to buy me a new wardrobe but where am I going to keep it? ”

Our need for social approval and acceptance has made us slaves to consumerism at its worst, frightfully compounded by the easy availability of whatever we desire at the click of a button.

In earlier times, shopping was an art. You went out to the market, perused through wares, chose what you like, haggled a bit feeling like a victor when you managed to squeeze a little discount from the shopkeeper,counted the money, paid and came home. It was such a delight to open one’s shopping bag at home, show to your loved ones, caressed the new buy, savoured the touch, the smell of it and saved it for a special occasion. Sometimes you took time to decide. In todays world somehow that luxury of “I’ll sleep over it” is lost. We seek instant gratification, we make up our minds too fast and then of course if I don’t like it I can always return it.

Minimalism is good for your pocket is how most minimalists try and convince you to set on the path of buying less. But what if I have deep pockets and I truly don’t care ,or I am a great believer of shopping therapy as a means to help me through whatever is wrong in my life.

I think minimalism is a journey with small steps. It’s not just about saving money, its about an attitude of acceptance to not be affected by my surrounding glitz. It’s about trying to find my peace and happiness in doing things rather than buying things. It’s about having the largesse to give away what I don’t use even if I spent a fortune on acquiring it. It’s about believing in onself and ones own light to shine brighter than repeating my clothes. It’s a practice to tune your mind and body to want less. To think twice before swiping that card. It also means to be creative, resourceful and use that to recycle and reuse.

Once we remove the clutter from our homes be sure to feel clutter free in your mind too. You ll feel lighter, happier and calmer. So the next time you think you need a new pair of jeans just reorganise your wardrobe once. I’m sure you’ll find hidden gems there.

Simple and profound living lessons

There are books that make you alive again. There are books that reach some places of your mind that you had swept under the mundane living you have accustomed yourself to over the years. They make you yearn for places you want to see, for places you never wanted to leave. They bring out the wanderlust in you. They bring out the solidity of home in you.

Ruskin Bond’s “A book on Simple living” did just that and much more for me.

Its a simple book with profound life lessons brought forth by the master of words, in his inimitable style blending them with the simplicity of the hills, the richness of nature and his special humour.

We know these lessons, we all do, yet reading about unrequited love and minimalism through his words just cloaks these thoughts in the fragrance of petunias, growl of wolves and the exquisite meanderings of an old cat.

His love for nature, for old memories , for flowers inspires the heart to pack a bag and travel to his Dehra. Reading the book is a walk through verdant trails,lurking streams, humble pastures and meeting seventy year old women who climb trees.

This book is a log of Ruskin Bond’s notes from his life in the hills. Its not preachy. Its just a simple nature loving person sharing bits n pieces of his life with you and inspiring you to somehow leave the contraptions of city life and find joy in the little things that are overlooked in our quest to be more, acquire more and know more.

Its time to disconnect from the world, from all our gadgets and watch the raindrops hit the window sill and the swallows peck at morsels and smile and read ,because that is what makes life worth living.

I reccomend this book to all lovers of words, nature and life.