The Cornerstone Of Our Life.



Within the span of two days I watched a documentary called “One More Time with Feeling” about a singer called Nick Cave and some episodes of Westworld.

Now, while the two don’t connect either in plots or the nature of the narrative, both of them had one thought in common which when one starts to think about, it can take us on a journey to unravel a bit about ourselves.

In the beginning of the documentary, Nick Cave had said that, “Time is stretching right now…..”, and only comes back in the end to explain what he meant, he elaborates that Time is like an elastic, and while you keep stretching and moving away, it brings you back to that one point where it is tied, that point where you are tied. And that point is usually an incident. A turning point of our selves.

In Westworld, when one of the Robots realises that the reason why despite of all his memories being erased, one memory just wont go away as that memory is his Cornerstone. It is the whole thing his story is made around. And if that Cornerstone is taken away then there is nothing to him.

Incidentally, in both the cases, real and fictional (Nick Cave and Westworld) the incident or Cornerstone they refer to is the death of their son.

And that got me thinking of the Cornerstone around which my story is made, that incident that no matter how far I go from, pulls me right back (Thankfully, it is nothing as severe as in the case of Nick Cave).

In real life as opposed to Westworld, the Cornerstone of our life tends to change us forever, in ways we never thought we would, in experiencing the feelings which we never thought we can. And unfortunately, this cornerstone is mostly not a happy reminder. I know we all have one, that one incident which can still take us to indescribable pain -mind numbing, distant, yet so close a humdrum that one wonders if it ever happened at all, yet one feels so much loss that you know it did.

And there is no comparison on whose Cornerstone is the worst. It is the worst to whom it is happening. But here is the thing, despite of all that, we live, and after a while even engage with life and its joys. And despite of the pointlessness of this exercise called “Living” we will find a way. And in more cases than not, a new way comes along and it takes us to a beautiful place. And for few moments we may even forget that incident and be blissfully happy. And that feeling, the memory of that bliss is what makes us go on, the ability to feel joy and life again. That gives us hope and no, we don’t forget or disregard that Cornerstone, because we will always remain connected, after all that is the thing around which our story is made, but at the same time we will know that there are so many more feelings thrusting their way at us and we have no choice but to give in.

So, I guess if the Cornerstone of our lives has “Loss” written all over it the one thing we can do is find out how far does the elastic time takes us.


Bit of “Me” in my things.



I like things I can hold, touch, feel, smell, see etc. etc. You get the drift. But lately one thing that has been bothering me (and that might be primarily because I am kind of old fashioned and like some things the good old way) is that, increasingly a lot of our stuff is becoming intangible. And by stuff I mean things we buy and keep with fondness because there are milestones, memories and moments associated with them. So, while audio cassettes replaced LPs, and CDs replaced audio cassettes, and now cloud has replaced CDs, it has also replaced the involvement of going into a music store, laboriously going through the music shop to find the cassette or CD, saving money for it in school or college, and then getting it home out of the cover and listening to it over and over again, lugging it around when one moved to the hostel and back and then wherever one moved. And then a time came to replace the old technology with the new form of this technological progression.

Today, if I am missing a song and want to listen to it all I have to do is go to my apple music account and download it or have it as part of my monthly subscription. So easy, yet I find it so impersonal.

Human beings by nature like memories and looking back upon them every now and then. And nostalgia is hand in glove with memories. Look all around us, taking pictures constantly, of things, places, people we love. What else are we doing but creating memories…memories to look back on. I came across this quote while reading something about nostalgia and then connecting that with my discomfort of things becoming intangible and the fact that I am re-reading “Immortality” at the moment, my discomfort began to make sense.

“Nostalgia can lend us much-needed context, perspective, and direction, reminding and reassuring us that our life (and that of others) is not as banal as it may seem, that it is rooted in a narrative, and that there have been—and will once again be—meaningful moments and experiences.” – Neel Burton M.D.

Having read the excerpt above I realized that all the “things” that we accumulate and some of it that we keep is the narrative of who we are, what we like and what we hold precious. Those are also the things that once we die will help make others some sense of us. Someone going through the books that we bought and kept, seeing the boarding cards tucked away in them, or name, date and city scribbled that tells the person when and where we bought it. Going through the pictures that are found in an envelope because there were too many to be framed, some pictures which never made it to social media, the music in the form of CDs, LPs…all the stuff that can be touched, seen, and felt. The stuff, that makes us tangible even if we are gone, the stuff that makes us slightly immortal in our own little world.

Those things will suggest our thought process and what we enjoyed and who knows what someone may learn or take away from that. But given the intangibility trend who will bother to go through the Kindle that we bought for convenience and see what we were reading and what was the pattern in our preference or log onto the music and pictures library to see what were those experiences or people or words that influenced us. The things others will look at and think, “Hey, never imagined Shaifali would ever listen to this!” or fight over who should take what book or music CD.

So while technology has started to make life more convenient for a while now so that we have more opportunities to experience things with ease and much more immediacy, it is also replacing our invisible form, our invisible form that lasts a little longer than our tangible selves. Things that will be shared and hopefully will make another person go through a journey much like ours or different.