Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Reflections: Mental Fight

As we sink in the rut of everyday life, wallowing in helpless routines, our roads following the same winding patterns, with entangled, dusty webs weaved from our past hanging down, clouding our vision and perception of the possibilities ahead, we need a jolt, a force from above, as pristine and piercing as an ice-cold rain, lashing at us to reawaken the senses, to wash away the musty webs, to refresh the mind, to kindle us with the sweet smell of rain-bathed flowers, the crisp greens and the earthy aroma of fertile seeds awaiting us. Such a new beginning, of shedding off murky layers, recharging the mind and standing at the brink of a new era, demands immense mental stamina; to refuse to turn back at the past, to learn from our mistakes, to vow never to tread the same paths and to pledge to bring magnificent dreams to fruition, uplifting ourselves and the whole of humanity.

Mahatma Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world". Ben Okri, through his optimistic and fiercely exhilarating verses, eggs humanity to start a new beginning at the dawn of the 21st century. With the human civilization just stepping out of kindergarten and growing into a clever young child, he reminds each of us of our responsibilities and ambitions and urges us to tap into our immense potentials. Despite history being tainted with wars, genocides, refugee camps, slavery, oppressions, economic depressions, nuclear weaponry, epidemics, global warming, poverty and hunger, Okri implores humanity to cast off the horrors of the past, and to look forward to a glorious future wherein we cease to make mistakes that pull down the human race, and instead strive towards redeeming our innermost dreams and uplift humanity. It's always wonderful when we can restart our lives with a clean slate and work with recharged energy from the wisdom of our past blunders.

In Okri's words,
Everyone loves a Spring cleaning,
Let's have a humanity cleaning.
Open up history's chamber of horrors
And clear out the skeletons behind the mirrors,
Put our breeding nightmares to flight
Transform our monsters with our light.
Clear out the stables
In our celebrated fables
A giant cleaning
Is no mean undertaking.
A cleaning of pogroms and fears
Of genocide and tears
Of torture and slavery
Hatred and brutality
Let's turn around and face them
Let's turn around and face them
The bullies that our pasts have become
Let's turn around and face them
Let's make this clearing-out moment
A legendary material atonement.

Confronting our monsters, facing reality, charging forward with mental grit and courage, whilst wearing a hat bursting with endless dreams, involve a mental fight we are all familiar with. How does one sustain this mental stamina without falling prey to exhaustion?

Those who are exhausted have lost
The greater picture,
The greater perspective.
They are trapped in their own labyrinth,
Their lovelessness, selfishness.
For those with limited dreams,
There is chaos to come.
I hear them talk about the end of history.
But those of us who haven't tasted
The best fruits of time yet,
To whom history has been harsh,
We think differently.
We know that history is all there
To be made in the future.

There is no exhaustion where there is much
To be hoped for, much to work towards,
And where the dreams and sufferings
Of our ancestors
Have not been realized
Or redeemed.

And one cannot hope to realize their dreams and change the world without first realizing themselves. To us, every day in life is the awakening of a new era, waiting to be lived, waiting for our ripples of creativity and innovation to carry forth changes in the ocean of humanity.

You can't remake the world
Without remaking yourself.
Each new era begins within.
It's an inward event,
With unsuspected possibilities
For inner liberation.
We could use it to turn on
Our inward lights.
We could use it to use even the dark
And negative things positively.
We could use the new era
To clean our eyes,
To see the world differently,
To see ourselves more clearly.
Only free people can make a free world.
Infect the world with your light.
Help fulfill the golden prophecies.
Press forward the human genius.
Our future is greater than our past.

Isn't this a powerful enough spell to rejuvenate our minds? It surely served as a tonic to my mind. Nature also seemed to smile on at me as the Snow Queen finally graced our frigid land with her visit, and I opened my eyes to a window of dazzling whiteness right after a dose of Okri. As I gleefully made my first footprints on clean slates of unblemished creamy whiteness, Okri's words rang louder in my heart, reminding me of a new beginning, of better thoughts of a renewed life.


SecondSight said...

Enough to make you believe in magic, isn't it? :)

Neeraja said...

Almost ;)

priti said...

"Our future is greater than our past" - but our present is greatest of all the three...don't you think?

Neeraja said...

Totally is the present that leads to the future, and a frittered present has no future.

Sanjini said...

Is this book written in poetry style? Seems a positive book. I liked the versus you quoted.

On a side note how many books a week you read (you seem to post regularly so you seem to have some time to finish atleast one book a week). My guess is two :) - first one you read and if it is not good may be read another to post :)

Neeraja said...

Yes, the book flows in a poetry format. It is indeed quite optimistic and inspirational, and makes a nice pick-me-up :)

I've been making an effort to somehow find time for at least 1 book per week, but it gets hard, especially with deadlines :). My recent reads have all been quite short reads, so I'm faring so far ;)