Thursday, October 24, 2013


Like butterflies to cork boards, we are pinned to a moment in time on the chart of history.
We are sentient creatures who see our place on the chart. 
And we know we are pinned to it. 

Accepting this is the beginning of wisdom. 

Rejoicing in it the beginning of freedom. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Think of Death"

Seneca quotes Epicurus as bidding us to think of death. He goes further to claim that it is a wonderful thing to learn thoroughly how to die. To think of death, he says, is to think on freedom.

Life long learning amounts to nothing. You get no credit for actions taken casually, even if these are momentous and consequential. An examined life, one of reflection and action that changes your habit, the habit that becomes character, the character that seeps into the crucible of your soul: that is all you get credit for. 

If that leaves a wonderful legacy in the world, a fortune, a place in the heart and memory of others, you are lucky. 

If your endeavors and your passions leave no mark in this world and no one knows of your soul's work, you can not have regret. "I leave no trace of wings in the air, but I am glad I have had my flight." Tagore (Fireflies)

Of all the billions who have lived, the sentient creatures who walked the earth, and looked at the stars and wondered of their brief time on this speck, you are one of them. That should be lucky enough. Gratitude for our existence should help us think of death - and our freedom. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

No Reply

It was already past midnight and the New York midtown streets were empty from a light summer drizzle. She accosted me right outside my hotel as I stepped out in search of a quick snack before retiring to the bed. The boy walking behind her was no more than eight and he swung a long key chain to amuse himself. She was a middle aged, white woman, slightly overweight with a face that seemed to have dried up from crying spells. She showed me a big scar on her head where a section had been shaved off to get to a clean incision. She showed me some dollar bills and mumbled a story of how she was stranded without medical help. She was from St Louis. She asked for twenty seven dollars - an oddly precise amount - for her medical care. Upon seeing my skeptical face, she changed her request: she needed money for the boy and she had not eaten.

I looked at her and wondered: was this a practiced act right down to the scar and dried tears? Was the boy in on it? I looked at the boy. He was nonchalant, probable having witnessed many such pleas during the day. 

"I'll buy you dinner, but no money" I declared, thinking I'd flush out her intent. To my surprise, she agreed. Was she is telling the truth? or may be she was settling for anything at this late hour? Even a meal would do. 

Right across the street corner was a food truck with halal offerings. I bought her a plate of chicken and gyro with rice. She took it thankfully and I walked on in search of a sit-down restaurant.

About an hour later, with my appetite satiated from a greek salad and tea at an all-night cafeteria, I wandered back to my hotel. There she was working the same street corner - the boy seemed as energetic as ever, though lost in himself. I approached them and asked her whether they had eaten. She seemed hesitant at first or was it my suspicious mind? She replied the meal was delicious but the chicken was a bit spicy for the boy. I bent down and looked straight at the kid. "Did you eat?" He looked back at me blankly. "Did you eat?" I asked again. 

He said nothing, turned away and followed his slowly shuffling mother who was already crossing the street. I stood there in silence. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Face it

The truth that trumps all other truths. 
A truth that you can't escape. 

Doesn't matter whether you accept or reject it. Who cares if you shout at it and fight it. Get mad at it. Laugh or cry at it. Beg and plead with it. 

Some say accepting this truth is the only path. But even your acceptance doesn't matter.

Look at it as you would at: the open sea, a thunderstorm, a sunset or a meteor blazing the sky. But with out any emotion. Behold it like a silent movie. After the emotion it evokes has washed over and gone. After the tears have dried up, the laughter has ceased and all thoughts have drained from your mind.  

You and your mortality - are one. At best, you can simply face it.

- Amrita Pritam