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A Song of Truth

I’m troubled. Not because something is wrong but because, for the first time, everything is right. The world is full of people who care, people who want to give you chances (again and again), people who are full of love and kindness and forgiveness, people whom you can place your trust in and who won’t let you down.

Something is terribly, terribly right. And so, I am troubled.

It’s a moment of true confusion. The moment you realize that there has been no need for every negative thing you have ever said or done in your life. The moment you realize that every dark picture you painted of your brother and your sister was just another picture of yourself. The moment in which life shows you that you are deserving of all good things that are coming your way, even though you feel so undeserving.

It’s a moment of harsh awakening. The moment you come to terms with how every battle you’ve fought against your lovers and your friends were only wars you waged against yourself. The moment you start breathing easy because you know that every bit of vengeance you reveled in was another sharp jab in your own soul.

And still, there they are – people who love you without question, people who give without hesitation.

The simplicity of life can be the most complicated thing to understand.

Why?

Because we are taught that nothing comes easy. We are told that we must fight for what we believe in. We learn to love only those who will love us back. We forget to pray. We don’t do the things we want to do because some rule book somewhere says that we can’t; strangely, we never question the rules, or the book, but we always question our desires.

Frustration grows every day on the sting of the righteous whip we lash our hearts with. And finally, when we have bled ourselves dry of our passion, when we’re too tired to listen to the voices of our forefathers any longer, we begin to hear ourselves from deep within. A breathless whisper at first, a distant echo that slowly transforms into determined mumbling and finally a heartfelt song. ‘The choice is yours’ it sings. And suddenly everything makes sense. The complexity is dissolved in the white hot furnace of illusion and the truth is set free. And it sets you free.

The only thing that was wrong with the world was you. The choice, to make it right, is yours. And just like that, everything is right with the world. Everything is right.

There’s no further need for deception or manipulation, violence or faustian deals. There is no further need for the evil you believed was necessary because you can choose to believe that the light, the goodness, is all you need.

It’s that simple. It’s that hard to believe. It’s that easy to believe.

Troubling, isn’t it?

Breakfast at Forty Forty

The natural alarm outside my window – these two birds I’ve never really seen – went off at approximately 6.45 this morning. After a night of random dreaming, the day was welcomed with a smile. I left the house about 90 minutes later and I’m pretty sure my trishaw driver was recovering from a serious hangover. Either that or he hadn’t slept the whole night but whatever the reason, the drive was smooth and slow.

Having picked up my friends along the way, I soon made my way to Bambalapitiya, for breakfast. I was told we were going to ‘Forty Forty Foods’ but I wasn’t told where it was located.

The drowsy driver was asked to stop by the bus stand opposite Unity Plaza. I looked around and then a few feet ahead of me, where I saw a sign board that read: ‘Forty Forty Foods’. By the board was a walkway so narrow we had to move one behind the other. The closer we got to the end of the long corridor the more appetizing the smell of food became.

I’m standing in a queue with three people in front of me. The lady serving the food sees me and asks me what I want to eat. I tell her I want Mani-Pittu with Dhal & Pol Sambol. My friends have mostly the same with the addition of an egg. I feel left out so I also enquire after the possibility of an egg. It’s in my plate. We sit in a small room with space for just four plastic tables, covered in colorful cloths and a top layer of cellophane. Each table has four chairs. We occupy the one in the left corner of the room. I sit down next to a Microlab subwoofer and two speakers off which the engaging voice of a Sinhalese RJ is reminding me the time. It’s 9.10am.

The food is fabulous or should I say BEST! I turn around and notice a room with several tables inside. On each table lies a mass of Styrofoam boxes, each one filled to the brim with hot rice. A man busily makes his way around each box adding, seemingly, the exact quantity of each vegetable and curry. They’re already getting ready for lunch.

I’m done with breakfast and I go out to wash my hands. A guy who works there is standing near the tap, he says ‘sorry’ and moves aside to give me room. He speaks to me in perfect English and tells me that they have a water-cut in the area, every day at the same time. I chat to him and then he smiles as he goes about his work.

We’re ready to leave and we walk out to pay our bill. Rs. 180 for an awesome meals times three. They’re all smiles and say ‘thank you’ as we walk away. Good breakfast.

When we came out of the narrow walkway I felt nice and full. Happy. A good meal can help you feel that way. It’s crazy how many tastes and flavors we pass by without an inkling of their existence.

Say good morning to your senses and make a new discovery every time you can. Life smiles on you in strange ways. Smile back. Happy Wednesday, all

The Open Minded Farce

Almost a decade ago, when I first started working, I was exposed to ways of life that I had been brought up to disapprove of. My peers, at the time, explained to me how important it was that I keep an open mind about such things, lest I be considered ‘square’. And I was very, very square. No, not just square. I was judgmental. I was one-dimensional and could even be rather unforgiving of people whose points of view I tended to disagree with. Maybe it was my Christian upbringing or the moral high ground I assumed I had the right to stand on. Whatever the reason, I was appalled at how the world seemed to function outside the comfort of my own home and slowly began to realize that life wasn’t some episode out of an 80s sitcom where everyone had a happy ending.

So I stopped and examined myself and decided that I wouldn’t be opposed to anything in life unless I tried it once and was able to come to a self-determined conclusion as to whether I agreed with it or not. I called it (as my peers had) – keeping an open mind.

As time went by and my mind continued to ‘open up’, I discovered many things about my interests that I hadn’t given a second thought to before, due to my strict-principle-based lifestyle.

I discovered that I could dance to any kind of music from country to hip-hop, R&B to jazz, electronic to ethnic. I discovered that I could enjoy any kind of movie from horror to chick-flick, thriller to Bollywood, art film to documentary. I discovered that I could easily hang out with children under the age of 10 to adults above the age of 60. I discovered duplicity to my sexuality, which then lead me to discover that relationships run deeper than gender and that both women and men are capable of beauty and arrogance in equal doses. I discovered that the virtuous and the promiscuous could maintain stronger friendships than two people of the same social labeling can. I discovered that alcohol comes in varying tastes and bottle sizes, all of which can be extremely yummy. I discovered that every single religion known to exist has a story of how the world was destroyed in a flood and that the single message they all preach is one of love.

I was overjoyed at all the discoveries I had made and I slowly began living my life embracing all these avenues that were now part of who I was, who I am. That’s when the strangest thing happened.

I turned back to those who’d ask me to keep an open mind and began sharing with them the stories of my discoveries and to my utter shock and disbelief, I found them telling me that they agreed with some of the things I’d discovered and that they didn’t agree with others. For instance, while listening to progressive music was considered cool, country music was considered distasteful. It was beyond them to believe that a ten-headed king who rode around in a flying machine existed but so very simple for them to believe that the prophet Elijah was carried off to heaven in a chariot of fire. The idea of two women getting it on was sexy but the idea of two men doing the same was somehow appalling. Nicole Kidman was sensational and Hema Malini was unacceptable. If you slept around a lot you had to be awesome whereas if you believed in keeping your chastity intact until after marriage then you were definitely a prude.

I question the so-called ‘open minded’ as to how open their minds really are but at the same time also thank them for asking me to open my mind up. When I look back now, I really have to wonder who was one-dimensional.

Open minded. Hmm. Funny.

Dream Summoning

Last night as I lay down to sleep, I felt a calling, a strange calling that I cannot explain. There were no voices and there was no presence; just a feeling of being pulled away from where I was and towards something, something unnatural. I told myself that I was just tired and falling asleep but this wasn’t true. I wasn’t just falling asleep; I was going somewhere.

Then I woke up. I woke up and realized I was dreaming but it wasn’t really a dream. I was standing outside a place that looked like a warehouse. There was a single door through which one could enter. However, the door bore no passage beyond its frame and still, people kept walking through it. I followed suit and soon found myself inside the warehouse. I had assumed the interior would look a certain way, judging by what I saw on the outside. I was soon reminded of my human mistake.

The large space was filled with fantastical elements. There were little creatures flying around; creatures who, on closer examination, I realized were human themselves. A leopard ran past me and disappeared before my very eyes. It was at this point I realized that I was bereft of feeling. I felt neither afraid nor excited. There was no anxiety, no curiosity, no frustration – nothing.

Then, there she was. A girl I’d never seen before in my life, the detail of her face fades away even now as my memory fights to keep it intact. But she was pleasant, grounded and seemed to know her way around this mythical place I was in. She walked with me and as we moved ahead she pointed at something on my neck. It was a necklace or an amulet or some such thing. It wasn’t small enough to be called a trinket and yet not so big to earn the label of heavy jewelry. I don’t know how it got on my neck and why it was there but somehow I knew its purpose.

It was a device that worked in sync with my thoughts. I would think it and the device would make my thought real. For instance, one second I’d be thinking of a meal that I’d enjoy and the next second it was there before me. I slowly began to realize that every single manifestation was a result of the thoughts of those around me. ‘Help us’, the girl said to me. I wasn’t sure if I heard her correctly, I’m still not sure if those were her words or my mind playing tricks on me but that is what it sounded like.

She showed me photographs of young men and women in their late teens and early twenties who looked haggard and aged. The device, it seemed (as fabulous as it was), was draining the life out of these people and the worst part is they didn’t even know it.

I walked past a woman, a figure of authority. As our eyes met, I knew she was watching me, and she knew I didn’t belong there. Fear. For the first time since I’d arrived there, I felt something and it was fear. I looked around me for the girl who’d been by my side all the way. She was gone. The images and fantastical elements around me began to fade away one by one. I woke up again, this time in my room. I tried to tell myself I’d been dreaming but this morning, I struggle with the possibility that it was more than that.

Faith & The Faithless

“Father, forgive me, for I have lost my faith.” The boy says, afraid to look his maker in the eye. “I asked for happiness and I received it. I asked for stability and it was mine. I asked for many impossible things and they were made possible. And yet, I’ve lost my faith.” He looks out the window at the setting sun. The bright, orange ball is swallowed by the earth, marking the end of another day. “I must sound rather selfish – to complain about the one thing I’ve lost, when there’s so much more to fall back on. But I’m only human and so it is in my nature to long for the one thing I do not have. Does that make me selfish? I know it makes me human but does it also make me selfish?

“I long to believe once more; in the goodness of people, in the hope of tomorrow, in the love of my brother, in the words of my sister, in the heart of my friend. But I fear I cannot, for I have lost my faith. Can you remember how things were when I was a child? Do you remember how easy it was to trust? I remember how much I trusted in your word, I remember. Do you? You told me there would be dark days ahead but that through faith I would find the light I needed to guide me through. This must be why I feel so lost. I have lost my light. I cannot see the road ahead anymore and I am frightened. What if I lose my way? Or have I already lost it?

“I want to close my eyes and let you carry me through, I want to believe in you, but I cannot. I feel like a stranger in my own life. Who is this person and what has he done with me? I used to have such dreams, such colorful, beautiful dreams. I remember fighting for what I believed in but now there’s nothing left to fight for anymore, for there is nothing left to believe in.”

The father sits patiently, listening to every word, absorbing them in a silence that he now breaks.

“My son, sit here by my side, rest a while, life can wait a moment while you find what you have lost.” The boy turns to his father with a look of disbelief, a look he’s become accustomed to recently. “Think back, try to remember, where it was that you last put your faith? Where did you left it behind? What made you forget how to believe? When did this tragedy occur?”

As much as he wanted to remember, the boy could not. The father, seeing his son’s volatile state, decided to talk about his own life, instead.

“When I was a boy your age, there were many things I did not understand and some things I did not want to understand. There were moments in which I did not know who I was or who I wanted to be or I how I intended getting from one point to another. I’ve felt lost and alone on several occasions and at times I’ve felt like nobody cared, even though there had been times when I had cared about them enough to leave all I thought was important aside to be their comfort and solace.

“And when these things happen, your faith is the first to take a hit. Your faith is the first thing brought to question. Your faith is the one thing you cannot find. So yes, I know the feeling.”

The son looked up at his father, full of hope in his eyes. “And how was it, father, that you rediscovered what you had lost?”

The father smiled when he heard the question. He turned his eyes to meet those of his son’s and said quietly: “By not trying to look for it, my son.” The son was confused. The father could see this, so he went on. “Life teaches us many important lessons, and if we’re fortunate enough to see and hear these lessons for what they truly are, then living becomes a little easier. You must learn my son to accept these things.

“Not every question has an answer. Not every feeling has a reason. Not every action gains a response. Not every tale has a happy ending. No heart that’s open to love can prevent itself from getting broken. No pleasure comes without a little pain. A good deed done with expectation is the equivalent of a bad deed committed with intention. Not everyone you meet is going to like you, just as you’re not going to like everyone you meet. 

“And last but not least, remember; no matter how many times you ask those who were here before you, no matter how many times you pray earnestly, no one can help you restore the faith you’ve lost. No one that is, except yourself. If nothing makes sense right now then let it be, set yourself free, stop asking why and live saying why not.

“The faithless are the way they are because they’ve arrived at the most important point of their lives. They’ve decided to stop believing in things others want them to believe in and have started to realize they need beliefs of their own to carry them through. They’re shedding away all that’s been instilled in them from the time of their birth and they’re accepting themselves for who they are; teaching themselves how to live in a way that’s right for them.

“So don’t worry about the faith you’ve lost my son, for the faithless find the kind of faith that is unwavering and in time become the kind of rocks that stay grounded for ages while moving mountains with but a simple belief.”

 

The Year of Learning

I look back on this year and all I can seem to say is, WOW. According to the Chinese calendar, this was the year of the Tiger, possibly why it has moved by so fast and ferocious. But speedy as it has been, the lessons it has left behind have been breathtaking, frightening, insightful, life-changing and beautiful.

2010 has taken all my beliefs and burned them into ashes before my eyes. Every time I readily believed that I understood something to the fullest, it showed me that I understood nothing at all. I’ve never been one to look at things as merely black or white, I’ve always seen the shades of gray mixed into the other colors that we so fondly overlook most times. But suffice to say, I’ve seen more colors than ever before this year. My mind has been opened up to endless possibilities and my very being has been challenged.

The best lesson I learned this year is that I should do what I ‘want’ to do and not what I ‘have’ to do. I’ve seen that by practicing this simple principle, life suddenly becomes so much easier to live. The things we complain about, the misery we put ourselves through, the agony we suffer for no reason; all these are a result of this simple formula gone wrong. Basically, if you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. Most often than not we end up doing things under the banner of ‘I have to do this’ and as a result, no one is happy. You’re not happy, the person you did it for is not happy because you’ve clearly made a half-hearted effort and all the energy you’ve put into it turns out to be an absolute waste.

This can range from anything in between going to visit your family to doing something nice for your spouse; helping someone in need to doing a friend a favor. Remember, saying NO does not make you a bad person, merely an honest one. By doing something that you don’t want to do, you set in motion a chain of events filled with negative energy that, over a period of time, consumes you and the people around you, in a web of unwanted despair.

Another important lesson I learned this year is that the word ‘GIVING’ is in no way followed by the word ‘RECEIVING’. Why? Because the act of giving should happen without expectation. A lot of us say that we don’t expect anything in return when we give someone something. However, we forget that all our expectations are not necessarily material. Sometimes they are emotional or even physical. Whatever the form of expectation, letting go of it holds the key to a happier more relaxed life.

So the next time you give someone something, give it knowing that you’ll receive nothing whatsoever in return. It feels so much better that way.

The third lesson I learned this year is that as close as we are to those we love, they are their own masters and we are ours. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of getting too involved with the lives of my friends and family. Their problems used to be my problems. When they started to lose sleep, I would lose sleep too – because when you’re that deeply connected with another person’s issues, their state of mind affects you, whether you want it to or not.

This is why, no matter how close you are to someone, your connections to their problems should end as soon as they stop talking about it. We all have our own issues to deal with and losing our appetite over someone else’s misfortune is an absurd exercise. If you want to spend hours thinking about a problem, make sure it’s yours and when you’re done thinking about, smile and move on with life instead of switching on to your best friend’s pile of misery; they’ll deal with it in their time just like you have in yours.

The next lesson I learned this year is that we as human beings own no one. We make the fond mistake of believing that our friends, family and lovers belong to us. They don’t. They belong to themselves and the more we try to own them the more we restrict their relationships with us. Have you ever realized that there are lots of people in life that we refer to as ‘my’ or ‘mine’? Why do we do this? Because we believe that through something we’ve done or through the circumstances that have brought us together we are so tightly bonded to these people that we can’t live without them and worse yet, that they can’t live without us. Abusrd, isn’t it?

This brings me to the next lesson I learned – attachment – the root of unhappiness.

You will find that in an average day of your life, there are certain things, although unnoticeable at first, that we can’t do without. For some reason we’ve grown to believe that we must see a certain face or hear a certain voice or listen to a certain radio station or have a cigarette at a certain time of day or eat a certain kind of food or watch a certain television program. Many are the things we attach ourselves to in life and through every attachment it becomes a little more difficult to move ahead in life and find other beautiful things that await us. Attachments vary from relationships to materialistic bonds, associations to careers, preferences to desires. Whatever the form of attachment, you will find that the moment you’re able to let go of it, you’re also able to breathe a little easier and love the glorious chance you’ve been given at living a wholesome life.

And this brings me to my final lesson.

Love is a simple four letter word that can change the course of the world. With love there is no condition, no expectation, no partiality, no favoritism. With love, there is only love. If we truly love somebody then we cannot say ‘I love their good side but not their bad side’, no, when we love someone we love all aspects of them – the good and the bad. You might think it’s difficult, but it’s not really. Love people for who they are and not for whom you want them to be. The next time you ask someone a question like ‘How can you love someone like that?’, remember that the person you’re asking this question from understands a thing or two more about love than you do.

All in all, what a year it’s been and I can only hope that next year will be half as fabulous as the one that’s just come to an end. I feel truly blessed and absolutely loved and I’m so thankful.

May you all have an outstandingly amazing 2011 – be safe, be blessed and always, always be loved <3

Dance

dance, dance, spread your souls and dance,

move the heavens with your intentions,

shake the earth with your encore,

dance till your feel want more, till they’re sore.

rhythm, grind to the rhythm

ra da dhum dhum dhum didhim,

shock your brain in the rain,

in the rain, let it rain, feel the rain,

shock your brain.

pain, heard of pain? what’s it like?

can you catch it dancing in the rain?

blood dances, it’s true

i’m not insane,

cells and platelets all the same.

children dance to the tune of parents,

vice versa, verse visca

it’s all blood, dancing in pain,

in beauty, in vain.

the eyes dance now and again,

they dance together, in secret, in silence,

in perfect rhythm, dhum dhum didhim.

watching lips dance is a sin,

they’re so good, they dance so good

twisty kisses, foxtrot whispers,

oh how i love it when lips dance!

so good, so tasteful,

show me those lips, let me, ahem,

dance with them.

but no one dances like th hearts,

have you heard of them?

ripped open sambas, offbeat tangos,

double base dubstep moves, racy grooves,

banging, rang-a-thang-thanging!

slow down, whoa, oh, oh down,

you could blame the dj, you could blame the tune,

blame the partner, blame the world,

don’t ever think to blame yourself.

wake up, get moving, the music awaits

no time for breaks,

no time for questions, no time for brakes.

back to the music, back to the beat,

feel the heat, the heat, the beat,

stop thinking, let go,

spread your souls,

dance.

Brandon Ingram

Need Your Help

Hello everyone… An aunt of mine living in London is in desperate need of a kidney. Her life depends on it. She’s 71 and very close to our hearts. I’m sending out this random message in a bottle in hopes that someone out there will pick it up and be able to help. If you can then please get in touch with her on 00447870952714 or get in touch with me through this blog.

It’s a long shot but we have to try everything we can for those we love right?

I’m hoping and praying that someone, somewhere will come to her aid.

Thank you…

B.

One month, only rice, 3 meals a day. Ok so I may have cheated about 3 times, but that was to be expected no? And what are the results?

I’ve lost one kilo!!!

I cannot believe it and I’m not even going to try to understand it. I guess I just have to accept the fact that no matter how much I eat, I’m never going to put on weight. But I did have lots of yummy rice-like things :)

Sigh… Well that was a waste.

The Feed Brandon Project

Staring at the mirror last night (which is something I do all the time), I realized that I have to do something about my weight. I’ve always blamed my slim frame on high metabolism and while that may very well be the case I have to admit I don’t help myself much with all the junk food. I live on Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, KFC and the likes of them.

So this morning I decided to do something about it. On my way to work this morning I went looking for a place to buy a ‘bath packet’ and I found one. While consuming my morning meal I came up with a plan. Starting today, for the next one month I will eat only rice and only 3 times a day.

Rice dishes may vary from one to the other – rice and curry, biriyani, lampreys, japanese, chinese, whatever – but RICE and only 3 times a day.

If you know me you know I love to eat and eat a lot… But I never put on weight. Some of you may see that as a gift, I don’t… So… it’s time to turn things around. If this works, great, if it doesn’t, I’m going back to eating all I can all the time :)

In the meantime, I’m going to keep you updated on how the ‘Feed Brandon Project’ is going. As at today, weight is 56kg. So although there isn’t a goal to hit on the 14th of August 2010, I’m hoping it’ll be more than that.

And… if any of you want to partake in the project, feel free to draw up a menu and send me some food for one of my meals, since I live alone, I don’t have anyone to cook for me so you’ll be doing me a huge favor… But remember, if you’re going to do it, it has to be rice :)

Then… let the test begin!

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