Friday, 21 June 2013

The Eternal Masochist

Love is a funny thing. They say we never choose it- who, or when or even if. And I suppose they’re right. Choosing who to fall in love with, is probably like choosing your favourite flavour of muffin. You don’t decide on it. One day, you take a bite and you just...know.

Then again, the choices we make are nothing if not reflections of the people we are. The old ‘Opposites attract’ adage has been disproven both by science and society over time, and the new ‘Love is your recognition of the values you hold highest in yourself’ has taken its place. While not too many people know who Ayn Rand is, everybody has an opinion about her idea of love.

Until a very short while ago, I agreed with her wholeheartedly. I still do, really. I’ve just gained some perspective on what she said, recently. Not all values are those we hold dearest in ourselves. Were we exalting all our virtues and burying all our vices, we’d all be prouder-than-ever obnoxious offspring of the legendary Narcissus. While Rand’s characters may be unapologetically proud, the real world functions a little differently. Even the proudest of us, have something we look back on with a cringe, something about ourselves we’re still finding the answer to, something that sets us apart- that we wish, didn’t.

I have long maintained that intelligence is humanity’s- and my- greatest gift. It is all I’ve cared about, and perhaps all I will. When I was very young, someone I held in very high stead told me that the only way to truly judge, and be judged, is to use the human mind as the first and only parameter. I listened. Today, it is my only rule. And somewhere along the line, in my quest for knowledge and answers to quench my curiosity, I forgot about the more primal, the softer aspects of humanity. People became dispensable, the few people I loved took a backseat, and they didn’t matter if they didn’t have ‘the brains’ to be in my life. All more or less harmless changes in the grander scheme of things, particularly because I wasn’t very concerned about these changes.

What the realisations did lead me to, however, was a larger question. What is most important to you and, therefore, what you will look for in love, may be your favourite value- but not necessarily your greatest. And in looking for that one person who secures that value and nourishes it- are you also nourishing the part of you that requires to be killed?

We all know that love is supposed to make everything better, and sunnier and lighter. But not all love is like that. Sometimes, the best kind of love, the one you can’t live without- is also the kind that pushes you to the edge of sanity, makes your head swim and you wonder why you haven’t left yet. But you know the answer- and it is, you can’t. You can’t get rid of the low- that’s so low, it’s the best high you’ve ever had. Of the maddening uncertainty, that makes you confused, annoyed, frustrated and so, so aroused. Of the times you want to bury yourself in the ground, to hide away: but don’t, so you can feel the kick of the happier times.

We're all masochists, at the end of the day. Someone may inspire the sadist in us from time to time, but when all's said and done, we never really feel alive until we feel pain. It is that pain, that feeling, that se sentir vivant, that we're drawn to.
The strangest thing is- we all do it. It’s not just victims of abuse. It’s not just married couples. It’s everybody, and everything. Love for a friend, for a spouse, a child, a book, music, the stage, a painting- even the muffin that tastes like heaven until it oozes chocolate sauce all over your white shirt.

It’s all love, all over the world- it tends to treat you this way. Like you’re a disposable. And you only feel that way until you leave, with the intention of never coming back. And at that moment, when you turn around, you feel that pit in your stomach- see your love crying for you and run back- arms open, ready to do it all over again.

Who decides, then, what love is healthy and what isn’t? You do.  If you look closely enough, you’ll see the fine line that runs between roller-coaster and just plain unhealthy. What you have to decide, though, is if you want to draw it. And when you do, where do you draw the line, beyond which anything is too much? And then, there is always the kind of question that’s simplest to ask, and nearly impossible to answer- the kind that contains both the question and the answer, but has enough dimensions to serve as neither. And the special question of the day, is-

What if someone who brings out the best in your mind, also brings out the worst in your soul?

"All this time I've blamed you. For pulling me into the dark. But I was wrong. It was 

me who brought out your dark side."

-Blair Waldorf.
Gossip Girl.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Letting Go

Some of the best and worst of us go through life looking for something we never seem to find. The validation of those around us. We seek the reassurance that the person we are turning out to be at every point in our life is the one that those around us approve of.

We all have those friends, segregated into groups and kept there for when we need them. The school friends- who your parents know and love, who will always see in you the five year-old girl who blossomed into the confused, awkward teen and then barely saw you again. The puberty friends- who you met in junior college and tuition classes, who saw you when you were in your famous pseudo-confident, I-have-a-personality phase. The college friends, with whom you do all the illegal things you’d never, ever tell your school friends about.

And that’s where they stay. In their own little shells, ready to be called on when you need advice in their specific areas of expertise on your life.
Through life’s thicks and thins, through the ups and downs and the pretty much regulars, they’re there. To witness your circumstance wind, ebb and flow, changing you into the person you eventually become.

Then there’s that moment, that only very few of us have the privilege to step back and realise we’re living. The one where we realise, that all the people we concern ourselves with on an everyday basis, who we think about so often, who we pretend hold a place in our lives- don’t matter. What’s more, we always knew that. They never did matter. That all the chattering, the gossip, the mindless meeting was just that. There was never anything more to it. Because we realise, that in the struggle to be ourselves, we forgot how little we cared for the opinions of others.

There’s them, and then there’s us.
Us. The ones who once tried to fit in, gave up, realised they were better outside of the social arena, fought stereotypes and then grew up one day- suddenly- into the kind of people who never cared enough for stereotypes to fight them. Our victory was in finding the truest version of ourselves that we could possibly find, distilling it to its simplest form, and spending the rest of our lives staying true to it.

Somehow, we realise that the validation we spent some of, or all our lives looking for, is never what we wanted. We wanted that validation for ourselves. And we lose grip on all the people we surrounded ourselves with, who we kept close by like safety blankets for when we were confused and disoriented. We don’t need them anymore. They’re not who we’re living for.

And that’s when we find our real friends. The ones who tell things to us like they are. Who are disappointed in us, not when we let them down but when we let ourselves down. Who, when we lose clarity, determination or objectivity, become those virtues to us. Who speak to us in our own voice and somewhere along the way, help us realise that they were somewhere inside us all along.

Who remind us that, once in a while, you really will find someone who can look at you through your own eyes. That you chose a life of living for yourself, by yourself, and that you must always remember why you made that decision.

Because a true friend to a person who knows he’s better off by himself, is a friend who knows that adding value to one another is the essentiality of a good friendship. Who doesn't need to be told when to be there, or what to say, or how to say it- but somehow ends up doing everything right.

At the end of the road, when we find our real selves, in all our clarity, they are the only ones that stay with us. They are the only ones that matter. They are the only ones we want.

As for the rest- we just have to let go.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Women and Lingerie

Had Superman been a woman, boy, would he have had problems. Every morning would have been an endless supply of doubts and frustration. What underwear should I wear? Is it flattering? Is the colour okay? I can't wear red underwear ALL THE TIME! Everybody will think I'm a giant bore! My god, this cut makes my thighs look like Hercules'! (Although, I suppose, saying that to Superman would mean paying him a huge compliment. But you get the picture.)

Even though women seldom- if ever- wear their lingerie on the outside of their clothes, their problems make  Superman's hypothetical ones look like molehills before mountains. (Even though being stuck with molehills could very well be something some of us may have to deal with.). Every morning is a Pandora's box of revelations, unanswered questions and self-annihilating "discoveries", as we like to call them, but know, in saner and more secure moments, that they are just baseless and pointless fears. (I think.)
Either way, lingerie is the single most important component of any woman's closet. Irrespective of whether or not somebody is going to see it. Everything matters. I mean everything. Name it, and it's relevant to the grander scheme of lingerie-buying, and morning-to-morning What-Lingerie-Do-I-Wear-Today decisions.
Any woman who is reading this, shaking her head and saying "Psh. Not me."- Liar. You know you care. I don't need to tell you that. Go out and buy yourself a nice new bra in your favourite colour, and tell me that it doesn't make you happy.
All the men who are reading this- well, I don't know why you are, really. Although it's always nice to know you're working on understanding what women care about.
I'm all for the 'each woman is unique' thing, but this is the one, I repeat ONE common thread that binds us. Like the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. Except when I say pants, I don't quite mean pants.
Good lingerie can make or break your day, really. We all know that. Men- you too. I know you're thinking about it. If you sit down and make a mental checklist of everything you think about when you buy a piece of lingerie- any piece of lingerie- underwear, stockings, corsets- whatever- you'll know how the things you consider are nothing like what you consider when you buy a shirt, or a pair of pants. Not even a pair of shoes. (I'm not a fan of...well, shoes in general, but I do understand how important they seem to be to a vast majority of our kind. And by kind, I mean gender.)
You look at a shirt in a store, and go: "Huh. It looks great. Where will I wear it? If it's only going to make me feel nice once in a while and I won't get use out of it, what's the point? I don't want to buy one shirt that'll make me feel special thrice in my life, instead of three shirts that I can wear every three days."
When you look at lingerie, you go, "Why should I buy this? It may be relatively inexpensive, and it may go with everything, but does it make me feel special? I don't want to skimp out on the expenses, and buy three irrelevant *insert whatever you're buying here*, instead of one great *insert previous term again* that makes me feel like the queen of the world."
Of course, we obsess about IDIOT things while we're at it. I don't say idiot because we shouldn't be obsessing about them- I'm fairly sure I'm obsessing about at least one of them right now. I say idiot because there really is no end to the obsession. Things like, "My bra and my underwear don't colour coordinate exactly. What if someone notices?! What if the next person who sees my underwear, thinks I look like a clown, because my top half and bottom half are differently coloured?" Of course, not everybody has this particular problem- some of us enjoy a little colour under our clothes. To hell with matching, we want the clash. Fair enough. But not to worry, there are lingerie-related problems for all kinds of people, irrespective of colour, caste, nationality, lalala. How about "I have that date today, but I'm not sure if he is going to see my lingerie today, so maybe I should bring out the lace, just in case. But the lace underwear is UNCOMFORTABLE. Maybe I should put them in my bag, and excuse myself and go to the washroom, and change them, and...". And while these worries are universal, both in their occurrence and pointlessness, there are far more pertinent things to do, whilst shopping for, or choosing what lingerie to wear every morning. Bikini waxes, panty lines, love handles (I always wondered why they had anything to do with love. Isn't that supposed to make you fitter? Anyway.), ill-fitting bras, those damn clasps that insist on popping open when you're sitting in class and minding your own business.
Damn this lingerie business, and bless it, too.
I don't think men have such pressing problems. Boxers or briefs, sounds like the most intensive problem they're likely to have. And, from what I've been told, they're more thankful for lingerie than you are.
In fact, as a friend told me a while ago, "We don't care if you don't match. We don't care if you're wearing neon (Ooh!) underwear. It doesn't matter. We're just happy we got to see your lingerie, at all."
Sounds fair. Of course, perhaps there are boundaries. Like I'm fairly sure this:

Is not the same as this:

But thank you, anyway, gentlemen. You make our

All in all, lingerie is like chocolate. It feels good. Always. On a bad day, it lifts you up. On a good day, it perks your euphoria. A Victoria's Secret catalogue may make you feel like shit, but going out, buying a good pair of stockings and rolling them on can make you feel like Mrs. Robinson in five seconds flat. And we all want to be Mrs. Robinson. Don't deny it, now.
That's her, in case you were confused. If you don't know who she is, go find out. It's worth it, I swear.

I remember stumbling across a couple of articles, that said "The colour of a woman's underwear speaks volumes about the kind of lover she is." To that, I say, balls. A woman who owns pink, black, red and nude underwear, is not schizophrenic. She is just smart enough to know, that when she is out shopping, her choices are not based on whether she wants to be loved tenderly or primally, but which side of the bed she woke up on. And besides, no lingerie is boring unless you want it to be.
What's of greater import, however, is that the magic of lingerie lies in it's ability to seamlessly settle into your personality, and make you fall in love with yourself. Not to mention, make some-lucky-body else fall in love with you. It could be mysterious, bold, flirtatious. Anything you want it to be.
Of course, I could blabber about this forever. It's one of those profound, yet fond subjects of discussion.

It's all about drawing the line, really. Panty or otherwise.