Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Let's grow old together

Met with some lovely friends in the last few days - I heart the kind of friendship that has grown comfortable and old :)

There's an oft repeated line in rom-coms or romantic movies about couples growing old together and I don't see any reason why this shouldn't apply to friendships too. It's exciting to watch people I knew from school get married, have kids, move to the middle east, adopt kids, go back to school and go through all kinds of mad, weird, happy and beautiful life changes.

It's something I've brought up in another blogpost about Ms E but I guess it goes for all friends too. I can't wait to attend their weddings, watch their kids grow up and see them travel the world.


The first time my head went under the waves, I felt a dim wave of panic: What if I drowned? What if my oxygen tank ran out? What if I couldn't breathe? You prepare and prepare but the one thing you can't ever be prepared for is fear itself.

In diving, when you first begin your descent, absolutely the first - and arguably most important thing to do - is to start the process of equalizing immediately. It's so that the pressure difference between your middle and outer ear will be equalized, i.e, your ears will go 'pop' and feel comfortable again.

The process of equalizing takes longer for some people, some others seem to be able to equalize in a flash, disappearing into the blue depths quickly and easily. Whatever it is, it's important not to rush it, if you can't equalize, you go back up a couple of feet and try again, descending slowly when you're comfortable again. There is no place for stubborn, gung-ho, 'I'm sure I'll be fine and my ears can take it' kind of attitude - that in fact, is probably precisely the sort of thing that gets divers' eardrums ruptured.

I haven't been blogging much because I don't adapt well to change - there have been so many of late- and some of it really got to me in the last couple of months. So rather than allowing the blue funk that had overtaken me overflow onto this page, I blogged other things - pictures, odd snapshots from the books I read, a verse or two of poetry, bible verses etc. There was stuff up here, but my heart hasn't been fully in it for awhile.

The trouble with being plunged into new circumstances in life is that, in life, unlike diving, no one expects you to have to equalize to adapt to the pressure of the new environment. Nope. No such thing. It's all mask on, fins on, regulator on and down you go into the blue depths. But there really isn't any reason why the equalizing principle shouldn't apply to real life as well. When you undergo major life changes, you have to adapt to the pressures of a new environment just like you have to adapt to the pressure on your eardrums (and the additional under water related dangers) when you dive.

It doesn't make sense that we're expected to adapt instantly and uniformly. Just as some people take a longer time to equalize, some people - like me, duh!- take a longer time to adjust to a new surroundings and new people.

The next time I go through any kind of a major life shift, I'm going to keep that equalizing principle in mind. No more gung-ho, grit your teeth and take the pain of the pressure attitude.

No, life is not that different from diving. The same survival principles apply: When you're uncomfortable, you should go back up a couple of feet and equalize, before descending slowly. Don't panic. Know that you're in an alien environment, the rules that applied on land
(or elsewhere) may not apply underwater. Keep breathing. Communicate - because in life, as in diving, when you're having problems, it's critical to signal your distress so that your buddy can help you. Staying quiet and suffering in silence is as bad an idea on land as it is underwater.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Standing on the Rock

"We talk about Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the saviour, who died for our sin, rose from the dead, and is coming again. What happens? A generation ago when a Christian would do that with one who did not believe or who did not want to believe, he generally got an argument. The person who did not like what he was saying would explain why most people could not believe it.....

But what happens when we present the claims of Christ today? Sometimes we meet a particularly argumentative person, somebody who has been readiing the old liberal literature and wants to defend these ideas. He might argue. But, generally speaking, we do not get arguments today. Usually people will say, I'm glad you have found something meaningful for you, but that is just not my bag. What they mean is that it is truth for you, but it is not truth for me; I have a different kind of truth in my own area."

-- James Montgomery Boice, Standing on the Rock

Monday, August 2, 2010

one, two and three


From Joshua Harris' blog :) On a related note, do wander over to have a look at his blog sometime, he's put up a free chapter from his latest book, Dug Down Deep there.


The Guardian has put up one of Shaun Tan's stories from his new book, Tales from Outer Suburbia. Like so many of his other illustrations, it's quite disarmingly poignant. Link to the story is here.


Poem of the week at The Guardian is the Schubertiad, a poem loosely based on Schubert's String Quintet. I say that its loosely based and the Guardian says that its a translation of music into text - a statement I find curious.

Why a translation? It connotes a direct transfer of similar ideas from one language to another and I'm unsure if music can ever be translated into art or poetry. The creative arts don't quite work that way.

I do know this: being a music lover who can't play any instrument properly hurts. Perhaps I insist on poetry partly because I'm unable to express myself musically. The pain from being shut out of that world is quite raw and real, rising up before my face with every piano sonata.


After the String Quintet in C, D956

One moment before it starts –
one breath.

Light stills
in the meadow,

stalls at oaks
and the river's silver line.

For an instant
your stomach turns over –

as if you missed yourself

and this minute
and the next

were already a memory.


world slips from beat to beat
like a song.

The afternoon fills
with lokum's evasive scent,
deep notes of cherry,

and there are saucers of honey
and peaches and a girl
who leans on a cushion to sing –

Open your notebook,
how she throws out the tune

as if she tongued
a rose
between her lips –


Wanderer, the wide river
shines in the morning sun.
Between the country and the city -
see it run.

You'd like to run with it
to a quiet place, in fields
time and sickness never visit
and joy shields.

Too soon the flood and battened sluice,
the detritus of a life
that's been turned adrift
on this tide

which now seems beautiful and bright:
the river's backdrop to the kiss
you borrowed from daylight
and bring to Dis.


Waiting (stateliest of the modes)
among Greek key, acanthus,
shuttered glass
and the light snagged in stucco –

where each fa├žade rises
in stillness
and stone grows
infinitesimally –

you feel a creak and strain:
spring ice
yawing on its tethers.
You poor soul.

Without summer's garlands and girls
you're quite bare,
bespectacled and alone
in that soiled bed.