Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Wriggle free.

The world we're living in, by now we should've been gloriously scaling the acme of individual courage.

Think about it. We have next to no socio-cultural restraints left to speak of, just about anything goes. We've got all sorts of technology doing our work for us, whittling down our actual physical effort to a series of finger clicks. In fact we're a generation whose biggest legacy will be its ability for The Grey Area - we've rallied against stereotypes, sometimes even when we weren't sure why - don't laugh at a sensitive, philosophical biker dude; that lady is just attached to her flannel shirts and billowing leg hair, it says nothing about her sexuality.

And only recently it has dawned on me what our other big legacy is going to be - pussyfooting. Excuse my Truck Driver.

We're going to go down in history for our sheer wealth of cowardice. For our talent for talking endlessly in circles without ever concluding with or even intending a solution. For being victims of our personal histories and for recognising that and continuing to stay that way. We've learned to say everything it takes to say nothing at all. But most importantly for turning the Appropriate Thing To Do into Whatever's Easiest.

Don't get me wrong. I will never trade the loosed leash I have today with what my mother had at 25. I love that my dark jeans can qualify as formals and sex before marriage no longer occupies a top place in Fallen Woman 101. But the things that require heart, you know? That require a strong stomach? They're gone. Buried under layers of diplomacy, suffocating self-consciousness and a misplaced sense of modernity.

Invisible mode on Gchat, silent mode on your mobile phone and accumulating lightweight, feel-good, micro relationships on Twitter are all the totems of our generation. "All touch-me-nots" says my mother, blunt, brave lady that she is and always has been.

But I don't want to end this as a rant. I want to make a choice, I want to take a decision. Any decision. I want to start saying what I really think. I want to start telling strangers they helped me without worrying that it comes off as needy. I want to tell a man I love that I'm going to be there forever without worrying that I'm overstating. I want to tell a joke and then be okay when noone gets the punchline. I want to stop scaring myself every day.

To that end I will start with one truth. Here goes. I have been meaning to write a book for four years now but have still not managed it. I have written untruthful samples that were bad. And truthful samples that were worse. And I still don't even have an outline yet. The real reason is that I am terrified that it will bomb catastrophically and that I will never recover from my own awfulness. So instead I sit and rib on Chetan Bhagat. But as of this moment, I want it to stop being my concern. I feel I have done my part and issued the world a sufficient warning. I am now free to start writing My Great Big Failure Of A Novel with reasonable abandon.

There, all better. Now you tell me something. I am a stranger and I'm asking you to tell me something. I realise you might think I'm due my stay at the funny farm, but I'm asking anyway.


Anonymous said...

"I want to start telling strangers they helped me without worrying that it comes off as needy. I want to tell a man I love that I'm going to be there forever without worrying that I'm overstating. "

You said it for me.

Apart from that, I want to be unconscionably nice to people I love and give without restrain and I don't wanna worry about coming off as weak, jobless, purposeless and codependent while I do that. I also don't want to be scared of them finding out how much more I'm capable of doing for them. I want to stop carrying the baggage of affection that I have for them - strangers or friends, because it isn't my baggage. They put it together at some point. They earned it. I want to dump it on them. Like just...drop it on their heads.

Phew. There. That was nice.

Kavita said...

I was thinking something similar. I think I may have written about it too, although my contention was more specifically relationships. I wanted to be able to tell people who I just met, that I felt something and not have them back away slowly with that look of abject horror. I'd appreciate if people could just man up and tell the truth. It saves so much pain & frustration.

I'd do it, but for fear of losing "friends"...

Aquatic Static said...

The only way to do this life is to live it. To jump right in and be as honest as we can with ourselves & others. It's tough, painful, a bit of a drag...and very, very rewarding. It's also a lot of fun if we shift our lens a little bit.

This is a beautiful, brave bit of writing. Go write that book :)

Joe said...


When you write your book, I can assure you of at least one sale. More, via gifts for my friends.

Write, I say.

Veda said...

Go for it, you. I'm still mustering up some courage to start mine. But you, go ahead and write.

Kk said...

Your Truck Driver is not excused. He should get himself a pottier mouth. Interesting post this, ya.

I guess my biggest attempt doomed to failure is one that is ongoing and will end with this month. To write a poem a day for the month of April.

Good luck with your book. That would be a lovely title too: "My Great Big Failure of a Novel." And why restrict yourself to "reasonable" abandon. Cut yourself loose, go crazy, break a nib!