The curious case of the two most important words


Janis Joplin has always been one of my favourite singers. I absolutely adore her voice. This love for her (and certain other people), is what lead to one of my previous posts on rockstars (The Forever 27 Club). But today, the curios case is not about any one of those (Though I’m sure I’ll be back with more posts on musicians. Oh! They’re just too fascinating). Today while listening to one of her songs, Me and Bobby McGee, one sentence really struck a chord somewhere:

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose

And that really got me thinking. I mean, isn’t freedom really important to us humans? Right since we’re kids, we’re taught about a million kinds of freedoms. The Indian Freedom Struggle, the American freedom movement, the French Revolution, we’re taught about the fundamental rights we have like the freedom of speech, freedom of religion, we’re taught about individualistic freedom. And aren’t we always trying to achieve it, through our own different ways? We often resort to religion, to meditation, to alcohol, to drugs. We fight with our parents for that freedom and name it “the generation gap”. All in an attempt to escape reality. To be free.

But what does it really mean to be free? If we didn’t have any ties with anyone or anyone to bother us with, we won’t have most of the miseries. Can we really be free when we are always tied to something? Doesn’t this line really drive home the point of freedom? I think it does. Absolute freedom is a myth.

Moving to the next aspect of this curious case, I’m gonna talk about Into the Wild, the movie based on the life of Christopher McCandless. This brilliant movie has one of those phrases that leave you thinking for hours:

Happiness only real when shared. 

Makes absolute sense, doesn’t it? I mean I don’t even have to think twice to tell you that it’s true. We’re always looking for stuff to share with people. Anything good or anything bad happens, you’ll just run to those near and dear ones to “share” it with them. To laugh about it, to cry about it, to celebrate about it, to hate something  together.

But what does it mean to combine these two things? You can never be absolutely free unless you don’t have anything left to lose. And you’ll be happy because you’re free. But you won’t be really happy unless you have someone to share it with. And you don’t have anyone to share it with because you don’t have anything or anyone worth losing. So in essence are both absolute freedom and absolute happiness huge lies?

Maybe. Maybe they are. But I know one thing for certain. I’ve been happy and I have felt what freedom is. I’ve been happy when I am with my loved ones, with my parents, my friends. Yes, we’ve all had our differences. And yes, at times I have been miserable. And at other times, I’ve made them miserable. But isn’t it a part of the fun thing called life? Won’t it get a little drag if all we did was be happy all the time? I think happiness will lose the position of the most sought after thing among humans.

And as far as freedom is concerned, according to me, freedom is in being what you want to be. Freedom is in loving the people you want to love. Freedom is in accepting people because you love them irrespective of what they stand for.

Because the trick to living a fulfilling life is, I think, in finding a balance between the two. Finding the right equilibrium between being free and being happy. Because all we wanna do in this world is be happy, isn’t it?

 

Image courtesy: http://www.whatype.com and “Into the Wild”

 

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The Forever 27 Club

Music for me is life. It is what lets me breathe. I can’t imagine living without music. It is what gets me through those tough days which occur more often than I would prefer. It intrigues me. Especially the art of making music. Appreciating it, I think, is an easy job. You just have to sit there with your headphones plugged in and listen and like whatever it is that makes you feel better. But composing, I feel, must be a Herculean task. I mean how do people come up with such brilliant compositions is beyond my grasp. I have always been fascinated by musicians, their lives, their stories. I find a different charm in them. Among all of them,I have known about this one intriguing tale called The Forever 27 Club for quite sometime now and today I’m gonna talk about that.

The Forever 27 Club is basically a group of musicians that all died at 27. And there’s a lot of them. I mean, yes, people of all ages die all the time but according to a survey I read there is a spike in the number of musician deaths at 27. It is sad and fascinating at the same time, isn’t it? To name a few legends, we have:

  • Robert Johnson (1911-1938) – Blues Singer
  • Brian Jones (1942-1969) – Founder of Rolling Stones band
  • Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) – Musician and Singer- Songwriter
  • Janis Joplin (1943-1970) – Singer and Songwriter
  • Jim Morrison (1943-1971) – Lead singer of “The Doors”
  • Kurt Cobain (1967-1994) – Founder and lead singer of “Nirvana”

The Forever 27 Club

I know a lot of people have written explicitly about it. And I’m just a fan who has tried to read as much about it as I could. But what saddens me is the fact that most of them would probably have lived lot longer lives had it not been for their lifestyle. Their precipitous behavior is what killed most of them (And in cases when it didn’t, they made sure that they killed themselves.). I mean , thinking about it, what do you feel must be lacking in their lives. Why is it that most rockstars just end up being the reason of their own death in spite of the fact that they are famous, they are loved, people are crazy about them, they earn a lot (If you ignore the fact that some of them still manage to go broke!). And above all, they are all God-gifted with the one thing that most of us rock fans would probably die for. It is heart wrenching. It is sad. And above all, it is inexplicable for someone like me. The reason why these people were so screwed up. Was it the search for happiness? Was it over-thinking (I think that tends to happen to smart people)?

I think what makes them do what they do is the fact that they do not find the meaning or the purpose of their lives. They are just these crazy, highly talented, weird-ass artists with these crazy drifting souls that don’t let them come to peace with themselves.  Otherwise why would Jim Morrison pretend that he had no family? Why would Janis Joplin be that rebellious kid she was, wearing men’s clothing and short skirts? Why would someone like Kurt Cobain kill himself? Better to burn out than fade away? Really? Not something that I can come to terms with. I remember this one line I had read:

“The only thing you can truly control about life is your own death at your own hands”


I think what they do is just another human attempt to find what they are here for. And they fail. And then they resort to alcohol and drugs and eventually killing themselves in their search. And as far as the age 27 goes, I think that is just another one of those fascinating coincidences that this world is full of. They were just these drifting souls looking for happiness, because all we want to do in this world is be happy, isn’t it?

The Queen

After a tiring day at work when I got back home yesterday, I was at a loss as to what to do. I decided to catch up on the movie that I had left halfway quite a couple of times. The movie was Stephen Frears “The Queen”, Best motion Picture, 2006. It is quite a watch really. And more so because of its subtlety. No violence, no hugging, no kissing, no crying. Just those silent scenes that pass and still leave you loaded with emotions. (Well, you can’t expect any more, considering the fact that it is based on the British royal family. I had once read this somewhere: “The British royal family are allowed to hug only dogs and horses.”)   The beauty of this movie is that it makes you wonder about both Princess Diana and Queen Elizabeth and all that they stand for. At one moment you really are on Princess Di’s side and the next moment you sympathize with the Queen. It makes you wonder about what would it be like to be in their shoes.

Never seeing eye to eye, even in the picture

There is not much that I remember of Princess Di’s death. After all, I was just 7 then. The only thing I seem to remember about it is Princess Diana haircuts that were oh so fashionable then. But I don’t think it ever looked as amazing as it did on the Princess. She was a woman of style. Beautiful, elegant, generous, loving, warm-hearted. She was what Tony Blair rightly described as “The People’s Princess”. Apparently Princess Diana was the first English woman to be named princess by marriage in three hundred years. She was a role model to the people of Britain, an idol of philanthropic work who influenced, helped and nurtured millions of people across the globe. She was also a little crazy. Attention-seeking, as a lot of people would describe her as. But these are the superficial facts that we know about her. Have we ever considered what made her do all the things she did? The affairs, the love of paparazzi and even the philanthropic zest. I think it all emerged from the basic human urge to be cared for, to be loved and above all, to be understood. Once in an interview she was asked if she would ever be the Queen. She said she wouldn’t but that she would like to be the queen of the people’s hearts. And that is exactly what she was.

Now coming to the “queen”. Firstly, Helen Mirren has done a superb job. The role of the queen is not an easy job.  In the movie, yes, but more, I feel, in real life. She is always coming out as a strong, tight lipped, shrewd, disciplined, maybe sometimes a little snobbish woman, unrelenting of anything that doesn’t follow the “book”. Yes, it does sound annoying, especially to my mind. (For me anything that doesn’t bend the rules for change is old fashioned) But the movie, for the first time made me think of her perspective. She has been brought up with the fact that she is “Godsent” for the people. To look after them, to take care of them, to advise them. I think its quite natural for someone from her generation to not understand what Diana did. To believe in the monarchy, to try to do what she thought was right. Irrespective of the fact that the world is new, the people are new. They are changing every moment. They are changing what they want, what they have and what they would like to have (Yes, they are three different things.). It is like the generation gap that we all have with our parents. We know they are different, they know we are different but still we can never find the point where we can meet. But she did. The Queen did, when the Princess died. And that is what made me feel for her.

They are both strong women. Women of power, however different the kind of power is. One who rules one of the strongest nations in the world and the other who ruled the hearts of the people of that nation. They were both correct, for their own good.  They are both “The Queen”, in pursuit of happiness in the only way they both knew. Because all we want to do in this world is be happy, isn’t it?

Satyamev Jayate!!!!

We are a country that lives on bollywood!! We need our “stars” to endorse everything for us, right from underwear to shampoos to phones. Especially us, the people who were born in the 90s. For us there was no Doraemon or Shin Chan. We had to make do with the Salmans and the Shahrukhs. And oh, I loved them all!!! But now that I’m 22 and have seen the “World (Movies???)”, oh how much I despise the likes of Ra One and Dabangg!!!! I pity their lameness, their tackiness, and their ummm…. bollywoodness (Is that a word??? Well, there should be!!!). But there is still one man for whom I’ll never lose my respect. He’s a perfectionist, an intelligent moviemaker, an amazing actor who gives exemplary performances one after the other. Yes, I’m going to talk about the one only Aamir Khan today. More specifically, his show that everyone is talking about, Satyamev Jayate.

When the program started, I was wondering if it would just end up being any other talk show. But I was wrong. I think it was an intelligent attempt to address one of the vices that torment Indian society. It talked about female foeticide in a detailed sort of way that you can expect Aamir to come up with. And believe me, the statistics are shocking!!! The sex ratio has apparently lowered to 914 girls for every 1000 boys. But what is more shocking is the reason this is happening. It’s us, the humans. With our intelligence, our technological advances, our sophisticated machinery and the most important of all, our qualified doctors, we believe that we have the right to decide who lives and who doesn’t. It numbs me, and I’m sure the rest of us too, to think about those women who are tortured because they carry a girl in their womb. As I sat there with tears in my eyes, watching those three women (One of them actually had her face bitten by her husband because she delivered two girls!! I mean how horrible is that???), I couldn’t help but wonder the extent to which humans are capable of inflicting atrocities on one another. I remember reading this sentence once by this philosopher (I can’t remember the name!!! Aargh!!):

“Think of the worst thing you possibly can. Someone, somewhere has already done that”

As hard it is to believe this, I think it’s quite true. And believe me, I was horrified and I felt like screaming out watching that woman with her scarred face. How would any man, though not carying the child in him, even think of doing that??? How can a woman who herself has carried a child at some point of time or other, kick her own granddaughter down the stairs??? How could those doctors, who we entrust with our lives, be actually responsible of killing unborn girls and still live with it???  How could we be so ruthless, so heartless???

And then someone told me to look at the positive side of it. To look at the fact that those women fought back. To look at the incredible human capability to face, to overcome and to survive. To even decide to become independent after so many years of living a sheltered, protected, dependent life. To respect their guts. And the guts of all those who believe that change is possible, that change should begin with them. Its very easy for all of us to sit back and watch it and write about it but extremely difficult to actually make the decision of getting up and trying to bring about a change. If we can’t do that, let us at least take a pledge today that we won’t be those humans, that we would never decide who lives and who doesn’t, that we would love whoever that comes in our lives equally and try to make this world a better place to live. Because better place means happier lives. And all we want to do in this world is be happy, isn’t it???