(A) Man’s (Poetic) Search for Meaning

“Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of a man :
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain, —
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds in the river.”
A Musical Instrument, Elizabeth Barett Browning
 
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Well, Now I am!

 

It’s been quite some time since I have written anything. Long enough for some people to question if my writing skills were dead, or for some even to ask if I was dead.

Its been a tough few months, and honestly, my willpower and ability to write have been in a downward spiral. As I write this post, there still remains a lingering that this too will be consigned to the darkness of the folder called “Unpublished Drafts”. Frankly speaking, what spurred this post was a late night jaunt into the world of Messrs Shelley, Browning and Whitman and a conversation with a friend at a wedding who asked me to start writing again.

I’ve always been fond of Poetry, the credit to which belongs to one of my teachers back in Class 9, and a textbook called ‘Wings of Poesy’. Those pages were my introduction to fantastic work such as the Forsaken Merman by Matthew Arnold, The Eve of Waterloo by Lord Byron, Ozymandius by Percy Bysse Shelley and my favourite, A Musical Instrument by Elizabeth Browning.

I still remember, one of the first poems I memorized was The Brook by Alfred Tennyson. A poem that I learnt as a rhyme, it gave me a comforting image of a flowing brook going past my house at night, slowly putting me to sleep.

Sleeping has been difficult over the last few months, so much that I’ve been listening to white noise for hours on youtube in the hopes of falling into sleep. Predictably, the sounds that I choose to hear are that of a flowing river or a brook, because it comforts me and lulls me into a false sense of security that’s often broken by rays of sunshine entering the window in the morning.

So, why have I quoted Elizabeth Barett Browning at the start of the post? Well, simply put, I feel like the Reed that Great God Pan moulded into a musical instrument. A reed that grows nevermore again, as a reed with the reeds in the river.

It’s a beautiful poem about making of a musical instrument. I tend to look at it as the shaping of life and destiny. A Life that’s been punctuated with more disappointment than achievements, more sorrow than joy and more hate than love, a life that’s still to make the music that the great God Pan envisaged when he carved out the musical instrument from the reeds in the river.

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I Want to break free!

Mysore has been difficult for the last Year and a half. The four walls I call home are also the four walls that seem to be closing on me, all the time. So, as you’d have noticed in my previous blog posts, when the going gets tough, I turn to books, in the hope of finding some joy, some fear and even some magic. Recently, I finished reading a fantastic book by Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”. His work is based on his survival in Auschwitz. Frankl’s work formed a cornerstone of Psychotherapeutic Treatment, and how do people go through difficult phases of their lives in a quest of finding some meaning in the overall scheme of things, and in life. I’ve somehow found the study of grief fascinating as well. Maybe my morbid thoughts also have to do with the kind of stuff I’ve been reading of late, but things that do not explore the darker side of the human psyche rarely make good writing.

The darkness in us is not only confined to poems and books, but in games too, with this clip from The Last of Us probably being the only bit in a game that’s almost brought tears to my eyes.

People generally know about the Five Stages of Grief as researched by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, arising from her work with terminally ill patients in the 60s. From Denial (“No, this can’t be happening to me!”) to Anger (“Why me? What have I done wrong?”), to Bargaining (“If I stop drinking so much, my relationship will mend itself!) to Depression (“I cant do this anymore, so why bother?) and finally to Acceptance (“Whatever happens, It’s going to be Okay”), this model speaks about what people go through when losing a loved one, coming out of a difficult relationship, or simply, dying. It’s so surprising as to how something as complex as Human emotion can be broken down into five stages, and dissected to be studied like an experiment. How being human isn’t about individualism, but about being just the sum of a few parts.

So, coming back to Elizabeth Browning and the great God Pan, its just that life changes you in ways that are unimaginable, and as we see people change in front of us, I’m left to miss the wonderful people I knew, and their imposters that I come across these days.

But all said and done, maybe its time this blog comes back to life. To wind this up, I’ll leave you with a few words by Pink Floyd (and the song, if you wanna hear it!)

 

“I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life”

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