On the wilful childless decision.

I read an article that was so compelling that the thought of coming to put up a post here in this long forgotten hole of a blog of mine formed up in my mind.

An immensely intense subject matter, the decision not to have kids. But because people want us to explain, for a variety of reasons. Some feel insecure because if they are going to abide by typical societal conventions, they need to have a certain number of fellow comrades by their side along for the painful ride. Some feel slighted because they are worried you’ve gone ‘cooler’ than them. Some feel worried that you’re going to miss out on something huge in the journey of life because there is no other thing that’s comparable to the love between a parent and a child.

People demand explanations when you do things out of the typical social path. In my opinion, too few people ask, “Why are you having kids?”. (Don’t you feel sometimes that that is the more important question to ask?)

People want an explanation that would allow you to justify your reasons to stay childless, though I am not sure they have the capacity within them to comprehend or understand.

Based on the following quote alone, I can be quite sure this book will be one for the kill.

Those of us who choose not to become parents are a bit like Unitarians or nonnative Californians; we tend to arrive at our destination via our own meandering, sometimes agonizing paths. Contrary to a lot of cultural assumptions, people who opt out of parenthood … are not a monolithic group. We are neither hedonists nor ascetics. We bear no worse psychological scars from our own upbringings than most people who have kids. We do not hate children (and it still amazes me that this notion is given any credence). In fact, many of us devote quite a lot of energy to enriching the lives of other people’s children, which in turn enriches our own lives.

— Meghan Daum, Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids

Because, you see, even though I am pretty certain about my stand to not have kids, I find it difficult to articulate the reasons, which bubble clearly in my mind, to others. I just know myself that I will not be the good mother that I want to be if I were to have kids and I would rather choose not to have kids than to consciously choose to have one just to see if I would in fact be a good mother. See how convoluted that becomes?

I am still in the midst of ploughing through the dictionary in search for the apt group of words that will congregate to explicate the mess of thoughts and feelings that roar through the opinions that are cooking up in my mind. But for now, maybe “self-knowledge” could be the next candidate, except I’m not so certain if it would be the best word to get through to most people. Do most people understand “self-knowledge”? Do most have enough self-knowledge to?

“It’s about time we stop mistaking self-knowledge for self-absorption — and realize that nobody has a monopoly on selfishness.”

— Meghan Daum, Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids

Exposition on this will have to be shelved on hold until I get my hands on the book.

Till then, hold off on releasing your kids on me.

Advertisements

Change.

The new Haruki Murakami website is just extremely nice, considering how the previous one was a sad excuse for a webpage of a critically acclaimed writer.

He continues to roll out new books and it’s making me feel increasingly anxious because I feel progressively incapable of catching up with the reading of his new books. I suppose a part of me will forever associate the reading of his books as being something pivotal in my school days and the coming-of-age period of my life, and now that I am out of school, while a part of me is hesitant to leave him behind, along with the dozens of habits that structured my school-going days, the rest of me questions how should I go about adapting that connection to my self in this new stage of life.

Also, the bus route I have taken for the past 10-odd years to get to my grandmother’s house recently changed its route and no longer goes through the familiar neighbourhood with the endearing places that house the bulk of my childhood memories.

Thank you, Transit Link, for that terrible decision.

It may be termed “progress”, “development”, “advancement”, whatever.

Change is change.

Still a life.

Just to show that I’m not dead yet, I’m still reading things like this and this and this.

Life is life is life is life.

The syntax tree is always kind in accepting boundaries of all kinds.

In the moments when people do bad things, they are not going to be thinking about the moments they would be sobbing in court, filled with regret and remorse at having betrayed the trust of others. Most of them would probably be thinking about how they are going to escape detection. This is why there will always be people who continue to do bad things.

There is however also people who continue to do good things.

This world is this world is this world is this world.

Out of school.

People say they are out of work, out of a job, out of money.

I am now out of school.

How nice.

Sixteen years of formal education comes to an end.

How do I feel about finally being able to put an end to doing homework, trolling through research and mobilising those hand muscles to write non-stop for two hours at those mind-numbing exams?

I don’t feel particularly happy or sad.

I think the best description I can come up with for describing my current sentiment is that I feel at peace with being done with all of formal education. I am glad that I have learnt many, many, many things from those years of listening to both wise and unwise educators. I am glad that I have learnt many, many, many things from having those years of free time being a carefree student to read all the useful and useless crap that I did. I am also glad that I have learnt many, many, many things from those years of experiencing life as a student who has been lucky enough to have had several chances to participate in activities and projects that extended my education beyond textbook knowledge.

And very importantly, those years of schooling have taught me that the most important things in life cannot be learnt in school (also thanks to Murakami for that inspiring quote, who probably got it from somewhere else, someone older than we).

There is all the contention and debate out there about how the education system is placing too much emphasis on examination results and academic achievements, but the truth is parents are the ones who need to be educated rightly about how they should be educating their children. Not every child has the compatible personality and temperament to be able to adapt well and thrive in conventional school environments in order to excel in one-dimensional examinations, while having to juggle the demands of social life, peer pressure, family life and personal development.

It has been a long and difficult journey, the years of schooling that have pretty much taken up 70 percent of my lifetime. In moments when it felt like nothing but failure will ensue, different things saved me. Sometimes it was a sentence I read in a book, sometimes it was a sentence a friend said to me. Sometimes it was this one song, sometimes it was family. Sometimes it was that scene in that TV show, sometimes it was a movie. Sometimes it was a paragraph in a textbook, sometimes it was some stranger’s blog that I chanced upon.

Not every problem came from being in school, but every problem felt worse when one is stuck being in school. Yet, being in school is the one condition that can grant one freedom like no other stage in life, because of the concession and liberty protected on account of one being a minor.

We will never feel like this again, my friends. Cherish the memories while they are still fresh in your mind and note them down somewhere before you can never regain the level of remembrance as vivid as you are capable of now.

As the adage goes, out of sight, out of mind.

Out of school, out of time (to continue being a wilful, noncommittal and unaccountable young being).

It is now time to get to work.

March mayhem.

It is now past mid-March.

Now, before we digress into the perennial riddle of the passage of time in life — the “how did we get here already?!” — I need to direct your attention to some other truly important issues.

I think many people would agree with me that one of the best ways to put age into perspective is to have a newborn enter your life. When you have a zero-year-old tiny human in your arms, it is difficult to escape this profound sense of age in life seeping into your mind.

Apart from her regular cries of genuine need (only newborns have the right to be authentically innocently demanding) that now dictate the airwaves in my house, things at home remain quite peaceful. In fact, everything seems even more peaceful than before, because, apparently, being in the presence of a newborn, who has pretty much no perceivable ability to judge us, makes people go into their most well-behaved mode, what with speaking in mild, gentle tones and trying their best to say silly things to stimulate the baby to react with some form of facial expressions that the adults can then interpret on non-baby terms. Such simple-minded folks we are!

But, honestly, compared to all the horror tales I have heard about babies who scream their heads off deep into the middle of the night, my niece is being one of the most wonderful tiny humans I have ever seen.

I know everyone adores babies for their unworldly cuteness that has yet to be tainted by the nasty dirt that permeates the current state of humanity in this terrible world that we live in today. It is important to indulge in marvelling at their pleasantly clean slate of life, because it puts our overwhelmingly disordered phases of life into perspective. Yes, we have been through terrible things, and life in general seems to feel unbearably shitty every other hour of the day, but, hey, look at how far you have come. You used to be this tiny bundle of defenceless being with blotchy skin and no teeth.

Other than the gruelling vice-like grip over my life courtesy of my final-year research project, I am hobbling through this mayhem that is March considerably fine.

I hope you, my friends, are doing considerably fine as well. Relativity is not just one of the grand theories that the genius that is Einstein came up with. It is one of the core concepts that will help you not lose sight of your perspectives as you hop and hobble through life.

Let us continue Marching on.

Take only what you need from it.

It is always not an easy thing to have to get through the birthday every year.

Because it is a reminder, very tangibly visible, of how much time has passed.

I suppose, by this point, the realisation jars pretty poignantly that regardless of how much older one gets, there is no getting over the profound sense of vacancy that accompanies the passing of each year that we remain alive and living.

This twenty-third year is going to be disparately different from the past twenty-something years, because it is not going to be just another year of going through school and soaking up more of that formal education.

It is going to be a year of terrifying possibilities and terrifying changes.

Once, we were the little young beings whose biggest troubles included fretting over which secondary school to submit ourselves to, wondering whether or not to scamper into that submissive JC or dive in for the adventure of poly, and questioning what on earth should you spend four years in large sophisticated concrete structures learning about. Now, we are moving into slightly larger older beings whose biggest worries are beginning to include the fact that we might not actually have the capacity to contain all the worries that the younger versions of ourselves had the youthful privilege of being blind to.

When you are about to take huge steps and venture forth (or be shoved) further into deeper depths of uncertainty, that is precisely when it becomes exceptionally important to make sure you know where you are coming from.

Remember yourself and remember the kind people who have given you all the kind support that you have received from them all these years, because these are the two groups of individuals without whom you will not be here. Remember to thank them and let them know that you feel grateful to have had shared moments of life with them.

It feels as if the imminent graduation from the last stage of tertiary education marks the end of the first volume in the book series of my life, the volume with a title in the likes of My Growing Years in School. 

From then on, you will be forced to ditch the label of being a kid for real.

All the past years of kidding around are seriously going down into being history.

Obviously it is nuts to think that such mortifying and horrifying changes can materialise in your busy, busy psyche overnight. It is just not possible to sleep the night before, being the dopey naive kid, and wake up the next day, morphed into this mature version of your better self.

It is going to take some time for introspection before going forward.

Figure out some of the piles of mess that litter your past. Put some in the trash for good, sort out the salvageable ones and use whatever leftover youthful energy you still have left, and try to outrun the expiration of those perishables. Gather up those fine memories of yesteryears and the spirited moments of the youthful days past into stacks of cherished reminders for yourself in the future, when you will most likely become dreadfully susceptible to deteriorating powers of recall.

Go forward with less of the debilitating debris that has accumulated over the years and with more of the affecting remembrance of the things, people and moments that have crossed your paths in passing or since time immemorial.

The past is choked with greatness and fear.

Take only what you need from it.

Kids by The Kooks (MGMT cover)

How to find yourself.

It is important to find yourself.

Because it is extremely easy to lose yourself when you live among one of the many million crowds in this crowded universe.

It is also very interesting how the writer of this article, who was writing about How to Lose Yourself, was actually talking about the converse.

A bit further down in that same notebook, I found I had written this:

“If you let your mind talk you out of things that aren’t logical, you’re going to have a very boring life. Because grace isn’t logical. Love isn’t logical. Miracles aren’t logical.”

Barbra DeAngelis said that. And in one sweeping statement, she summed up the entirety of what I’m trying to say here. That who you are as a person is far greater than any which thing you can define yourself as, anything that logic can make sense of, and by releasing your mind from those confines, you find a much deeper, even miraculous, human truth, something that is understandable by awareness, not mind.

– Brianna West, How to Lose Yourself (Thought Catalog)

It is not an easy thing to do, though I suppose that is why it is all the more a precious thing to do. That we have spent huge parts of our life learning about meanings and trying to bear those tedious definitions in mind, and then only to realise that trying to make sense of things is something that inherently has no meaning, because it is not the point.

I think this French poet got it right.

No Need 

by Alain Bosquet

The elephant’s trunk
is for picking up pistachios:
no need to bend over.
The giraffe’s neck
is for grazing on stars:
no need to fly.
The chameleon’s skin,
green, blue, lavender, white,
as it wishes,
is for hiding from ravenous animals:
no need to flee.
The turtle’s shell,
is for sleeping inside,
even in winter:
no need for a house.
The poet’s poem,
is for saying all of that
and a thousand thousand thousand other things:
no need to understand.