Ashes and Beauty: writing from a Quote

Day Seven: WordPress Writing 101, September 152015

Catch ’em with a Quote

“From the ashes a fire shall be woken”

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Sometimes (well always, but one needs to be alert for that), the universe affirms the thoughts or ideas whirling around in the mind or knocking at the heart’s door, by an outer expression or a manifestation not of one’s own. That is why I decided on this particular quote, for that one line, nay, one word that has been swirling in my awareness, asking that it be given form or at least a voice.

The last couple of of days, the word ‘ashes’ kept coming to my mind. Ashes as in burnt embers, as in what remains after everything tangible has faded, as in that which talks of a past that is finally over. Sometimes in life one enters a phase where when you look around you find that you are standing on a heap of ashes — all that remains when everything known in life has exhausted its relevance. When situations and routines that made your day have fled, when priorities ‘so-called’ become obsolete, when old friendships, relationships and even acquaintances have outlived their affections (because they failed to value you or you have outgrown them or both), life takes on the appearance of a vast sand dune. When desires once desired, interests that gripped, issues that excited or opinions and affections that once mattered no longer find an echo in the heart, and neither do they evoke pain or grief or even an irritation mild, that is when you know you have arrived at the ‘Kingdom of Ashes’.

I expected to arrive at this point and feel a sensation of dread or at least a nostalgia for what was. But here is a secret. When finally you reach this point, when the past has receded like floodwaters after the monsoon and the future stretches, indeterminate like the foggy horizon, you are actually at peace. You are for a time, in that animated state of mind, what Keats might have meant by ‘suspension of disbelief’, when the outer world dims and the inner world comes alive with the promise of infinite possibility.

It is the mind in ‘in suspension’ held in time suspended ! This is the prelude to ‘beauty from ashes’, a quote I read years ago about how after everything was reduced to ashes by a mountain forest fire, the next spring the hillside was ‘afire’ with a wild harvest of beautiful, exotic flowers that  covered the slopes and lent their beauty and fragrance to the once ravaged hillside!

Waiting for my blossoms to bloom, to witness my very own ‘beauty from ashes’.

 

© Lakshmi S. Menon

 

My Writing Space

Day Six: WordPress Writing 101, September 14, 2015

The Writing Space:

What are your writing habits?
What equipment or supplies do you use to write?
What do you need and want in a physical space?

The Space to write

Last summer, when there were these different blog challenges going on in April and I had deliberately taken on more than I could chew, the unthinkable happened. My laptop on which I did most of my writing CRASHED ! All my well laid plans on scheduling posts and keeping up to deadlines flew out of the window and I ruefully regretted being so presumptious and signing up for too many things. In my defence I must say that having never really had the experience of blogging challenges except the WP Writing 201 course (poetry thingy) that I enjoyed to the core, I was determined not to let go an opportunity for sustained blogging. Well, I do need to be motivated and daily reminders help !

It was then that I got this thought of trying out something that I wouldn’t have dared had this not happened. I switched gears and my favourite writing tool-cum-space was born. I started using my IPad mini and the WordPress app for blogging on a regular basis (out of sheer necessity) and now this is where I do most of my blogging.

They say when the universe closes a door it always leaves a window open !! Well so my IPad mini became the window to my blogging world. It is so mobile and so convenient not to have to wait till I get my system on and loaded that this is where I love to write now. Ideas seamlessly flow from my brain to my blog and then the share with the world ! And well my favourite writing position is reclining like a possum on my bed 😉

© Lakshmi S. Menon

Writing and Procrastination: Let Social Media Inspire You

Day Five: WordPress Writng 101, September 11, 2015

Let Social Media Inspire You

Grant Snider
Grant Snider – ‏@grantdraws

I can’t decide if procrastination kills creativity or is essential to it.
5:55 AM – 28 Apr 2014
20 RETWEETS25 FAVORITES

It must be obvious to any reader reading this why I chose this particular quote. Self-explanatory, my dear Watson ! Alright I made use of some poetic license here, but how many of you know that actually nowhere in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle ( creator of Sherlock Holmes) are these famous words, “Elementary, my dear Watson” found. I would love to be proved wrong, by the way.

Coming back to the topic of ‘procrastination and creativity’,  I am a week late with these assignments but today, I intend to write them all or most of them! I made two or three rough drafts, weathered a fever, but couldn’t get around to posting them, though I badly wanted to. And now, I am on a writing spree. The words are coming forth on the wings of ideas that were barely there and yet this has been on my mind ever since the course started. I would read and re-read the instructions, formulate some sentences mentally, look through what others have written (yes, trust me I have been visiting some of you online) and then — silence.

For me there is a fine THIN LINE between ‘procrastination’ and ‘writing when inspiration strikes’. As you can imagine, college assignments were a nightmare both for me and my teachers! On a serious and important note, as the writer matures, as that ‘inner voice’ is heeded to more often, as the obsessive hold of the mind loosens, delaying is actually good for the writer. The IMAGINATION (as Wordsworth and Coleridge meant it) then organises the ideas within, chooses the words to express them and all you need to do is SHOW UP. Delay but do not ignore the inner prompting that tells you it is time for action. I am happy that this is what works for me now.

PS: haven’t got round to the how to of the ’embedding the tweet’ bit yet. Shall do it soon !!

© Lakshmi S. Menon

When REGRET is good: Writing via a ‘PROMPT’

Day Three: WordPress Writing 101

Prompts come in many different forms. Sometimes, a single word is all you need to get your mind’s wheels turning. Here are six words: Treasure, Regret, Home, Love, Uncertainty, Secret

WORK in PROGRESS 😉

 

REGRET

It is said by the wise that one should not waste time in regret. ‘Time waste is life waste’. But sometimes, regret can be healthy, when valuable life lessons have been learnt and one can distill this learning and apply it to the life yet to be lived

Make a List

Day Two: WordPress Writing 101, September 8, 2015

Today, write your own list on one of these topics:

Things I Like
Things I’ve Learned
Things I Wish

Life is short, uncertain and always throws up the unexpected. Hence when the topic of lists came up, I thought of my life and all that I never got a chance to do. I then set out to make a list, willing that the Universe, that sphere of infinite abundance is listening to me and will help me to fulfill them. So here it is.

The LIST of things I would love to do before I die:

  • Visit an exotic country with an ancient,  hoary past and as different from the country of my birth and residence
  • Visit the mountains and go on a trek, even if a small one
  • Publish three books, at least — memoir, fiction, poetry
  • Learn to paint in watercolours
  • Brush up on my music that always is a lifeline when I am feeling low
  • Start a cookery blog apart from the three I already have ( filled with random musings and randomer postings !)
  • Initiate a social service project for young children that will help them to live their dreams
  • In some meaningful way, find the means to spread the message of my spiritual mentor that I know will immensely benefit the world
  • Create a beautiful home that will be a sanctuary for my family, a place of love and peace

And that is all there is to it, this wish list of mine.

© Lakshmi S. Menon

WRITING and writing: Why I Write ?

Day ONE: WordPress Writing 101, September 7, 2015

There is writing and then there is WRITING ! Yes, there is a huge difference between the two. The first one happens with anyone who likes to put thoughts into words, has a fairly good command over the language, has a decent idea or two to express and has like minded people who would read and appreciate. These writers in my humble view fall into the category of those who ‘write’.

Then what of those who ‘WRITE’ ? Here we enter into a different ball-game altogether. Here you stop inhabiting the ‘normal’ world of ‘normal’ people; you enter into the realms of the ‘misfit’ and WRITING becomes not merely an expression of your ideas, but something with a life of its own. From being a mere tool, it takes over your life, your identity and your waking and your sleeping. In fact it does not let you sleep. You become an obsessive-compulsive, nit-picking perfectionist, picking at your work and jealously watching its progress, for whom the idea and the word are the only two realities worth living on. Sounds crazy ?! Well, I think every writer, wannabe or otherwise at some point will go through this at least once. Then it is time to make a decision, whether to pursue it seriously or go back to the sane world of the former where writing is a mild and gentle pastime, yielding satisfaction and admirers and revenue, something that can be pursued at leisure.

I think true writing is like being ‘in love’. It is an inspiration and a passion and I enter into a creative space, a domain in my mind where one is aware of heightened sensibilities, of renewed life. There is clarity and there is release from many pent-up, unresolved emotions. From a cauldron of confused thoughts and counter thoughts wrestling with each other, my mind begins to resemble a placid, pellucid lake stilled of chaos. Yet this state is born out of chaos tempered somehow by an organising enitty that emerges somewhere from deep within me, beyond my conscious control, miraculously creating harmony and sense out of discordant elements within. When this happens, I can even sense the page I last wrote on, calling me, cajoling me to fill it up with the ideas and thoughts half-formed yet in some dimension already fully embodied. And this when expressed is WRITING.

© Lakshmi S. Menon

X is for (E)XISTENTIAL, (E)XCAVATING, and (E)XITING

Day Twenty FourApril A-Z Blogging Challenge 2015  : Mental Health Awareness — layers and nuances

  

The (E)XISTENTIAL anxiety we live with:

Why are we here on earth? Does human life have meaning beyond the seen ?  Is there a purpose to my life? What happens after death ? Why do I feel as if time is running out ? If these are some of the questions that have troubled you at different times, then you are probably facing not just anxiety, but existential anxiety. You are in the company of great thinkers and philosophers like Kierkegaard, Sartre, and others who have wrestled with these thoughts. These are thought that are not just everyday worries, but deal with the very basis of our life on earth.

Even after a person is fed, clothed and housed, educated, gets a job or a life-partner, has a happy family, possessions, friends and generally has a good life, sometimes even these may seem like ‘not enough’. It is then that they turn to excitement and often end up doing weird things. Some turn to religion or spirituality. Others discover meaning in art, music, literature et al. At such times, human beings are searching for something larger than their small personal selves. They start reflecting on the deeper meanings of life. Sometimes a crisis can set this off. Events may happen that upset the whole apple cart and confronted with pain or sudden change, these questions about life emerge from within. It is as though they were always there, waiting to be (e)xcavated from our innermost selves. Two things may happen at this point. Either we embark on a journey of self-discovery or the distractions of the world, ‘dailiness’, again overcomes us and we retreat back to the safe world we usually inhabit.

People whose brains work in a different way are usually seen to be inordinately sensitive to these fundamental questions about human existence. It is seen in the way they respond to the world around them. They are not just more sensitive, as in get more deeply affected by what is around them, they also empathise more. That is how you see them feeling, reacting and finally searching for answers and often finding them too. Do not underestimate the power of a sensitive mind, an empath, a mentally disturbed soul. They might just be wearing a disguise that hides a person of wisdom!

We all have to (e)XIT from life one day. What better way than to have contributed in some manner to deciphering the puzzle of life, for oneself and in however small a measure for others too 🙂