May 10, 2006

Dream On

After two days of being lost in a sea of XML, XPATH and XSLT, I think it might not be a bad idea to resurface on my mostly-ignored blog and post whatever that comes to my mind. I should warn you that there is no particular destination that I am aiming to reach with this post, nor am I looking to make a point. This is just a slice of thoughts from my exquisitely mixed up mind. Read on only if you have time to kill in plenty.

Since life has been pretty good to me of late with a significantly reduced level of self-induced drama, I thought it might not be a bad idea to sit back and take a look at the road ahead and the immediate concerns in my life. And surprise! I could not come up with more than two ever-prevailing themes: career and loneliness.

Of the two, work has been pretty good, especially if I could ignore my own impatience and extremely high expectations. I want everything to happen, at the best levels, like overnight. Which, obviously, does not happen, leading me to wonder every third day if I am any good at all. But yeah, two or three more years of this and I would want to do something different.

Sometimes I think I’d eventually want to build something big and successful, become unimaginably rich in the process and then give away most of it to people who actually need it. Other times I want to throw away all of what I have now, go to a remote place, find my own little peace and write down a lot of things that I might not even show anyone. Is there some way by which I can do both and be the happiest man on earth?

On the personal front, I have always been a weirdo, with different tastes, preferences, opinions and aims than most people I have known. I did not grow up wanting to be different; it is just that at times what the rest of the world was doing just did not make any sense. At a younger age, I used to argue passionately over the things that caused this senselessness. If I remember right, I think I also used to believe that you could make a difference if you wanted to. That makes me laugh now.

But I could never figure the reasons for why I was different, if I actually was different at all. It was never the case that I was exposed to a lot of people who used to step away from the norm. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was probably because I had practically brought up myself. The only things that keep you any meaningful company then are the different people you conjure up in your own mind.

There are no real value systems to speak of then. The imagined world becomes a huge canvas that you can paint into landscapes and characters more palatable to your own sensibilities. The chasm between that and the real one gradually drifts so far apart that what people actually do and mean stops making any sense after a while, nor they carry any import. They are just there, like an appendage, while the fantasy lives on your own mind.

But I have digressed. Yes, the loneliness. The first time I fell in love was when I was 17. It was amazing and somehow it pains me to realize that I’ve never felt that way in the relationships that I have had after that. Even though I was the one to put an end to it, some four years down the line, since it was not going anywhere, I was only pre-empting a ‘no’ that she was having difficulty telling me since I had just about made it out of my first brushes with the absolute pointlessness of my life. But, to my credit, I could not have tried any harder in it or done much more and she had already gone beyond her limits in trying to keep me propped up. We were just evading the inevitable for as far as we could.

The second relationship. It started as fling; at least we had convinced ourselves that that was the case. I could not digest the fact that relationships could take life in a fling, she could not understand why it could not be so. Two similarly stubborn people getting together is always a bad idea, especially when your respective approaches to the same concept are diametrically opposite. I kept denying it, while she tried endlessly to convince me. Much heartache and tears ensued, mixed with the first chapters of my latent heartlessness. It could have ended better and I knew better, I just chose to ignore it.

The third relationship. What do they say about people who never learn from past experiences? Back in fling land again and that too with some vengeance. Faces, bodies are an indistinguishable blur. I am working nights and running rapidly through different people during the days and somewhere along the way, in the background of a major personal disaster, one of them, known rather famously as ‘friendships with benefits’, turns into familiarity.

Instead of contempt, it bred convenience, with the constant tolling of the warning bell that this was not meant to be, in the background. She moved in with me for close to a year. It was a case of extremes. The things in it were really good, while the bad was the worst. The bells were ignored; I gave up practically everything else that was important to me. I knew I only had a short lease on that life and had to take in whatever I could at that point.

Somewhere along the way, convenience turned into comfort. In fact, too much of it and we all know how know too much of a good thing can be bad. Many an honest conversation later we decided to call it quits when the going was still good. It baffled everyone who knew about it for various reasons. I laid out my escape plan, stuck to it and made my way through, even if it was a struggle.

Which culminated in the fourth relationship. Rebound, stupidity, wishful thinking, intolerable cruelty – you could rightly accuse me of all those and still not be done with it. I must have broken all sorts of records for being insensitive with that chapter of my life. Looking back, I don’t see what I was trying to achieve other than to mess up someone nice who did not need anymore of that in her life. But that’s the bitch called hindsight; she’s never there when you want her around.

Then there are the many friends, with whom my emotional involvement is never a comfortable equation. Somehow, I seem to take great pleasure in stretching the limits of the emotional connections that are made and if you are looking for stability in life, that is not just the route to take.

The trouble is that all of the above is every bit a part of me. I can only walk away from it all at my own peril. The foundation stone of any relationship is a weirdly pure element of selfishness. You need to have something to take in it, failing which it becomes charity and those don’t survive for too long, nor is it fair on anyone involved. If my selfishness commands such weird and infeasible conditions, is it any wonder that I do wind up being alone most of the time?

Even otherwise it is not that easy. I don’t look like a million bucks, I don’t have a million bucks and my job won’t ever earn me a million bucks. Those three not being there dents the desirability quotient in my case considerably. In other words, it is only another weirdo who can stand by me and survive me, if I were to be just myself and be happy about it too.

I’d love to say that none of the regular stuff like marriage and family bothers me. It does, especially when you have parents who don’t leave a single opportunity to hint that somehow my marrying would make them secure and healthier overnight. I would also love to have my wedding, not a grand or lavish ceremony, but by a beach, surrounded by just a handful of people, facing the wide blue ocean that would open out into eternity.

I can almost hear the chorus of voices shouting out loud “dream on!” Bring ‘em on.