Friday, October 14, 2005

Defensive

This is an interesting piece of association running in my mind for the last couple of days and at worst it would be just babble. So bear with me folks.

Often we find ourselves in defensive positions. Defending something ferociously to the point that our rational mind shuts down. This is quiet natural and instinctive. Dale a naturalised American of chinese origin one day got on this argument of American dominance over the rest of the world. Some of what I said, was mis-construed as anti-american and Dale was visibly and emotionally charged. This tendancy was totally alien to Dale as many of us knew. He was the mild-mannered, soft spoken and international American. Atleast thats what we all thought. But that day was a revelation. What started of as casual banter between a few of us, turned out to be irretractable as each one had an ego to protect. Each one-upping (source word : one-upmanship) statement feeding on the other one-upping statement and soon the lines were drawn on country boundries. somehow, Everyone said and did totally alien to our characters as we knew it then. Or was it totally alien ?? The next morning like mature humans do, we just decided to erase what happend and act as if, nothing ever transpired. All of us further made a mental note not to tread that thin ice again, atleast not without protection. It should have ended there, forgotten over time. But the learning were archived in my mind in some corner. Wierd how brain makes its circuits and associates events, people totally unconnected and out of nowhere this incident popped up in my mind.

Why am I defensive about certain things ? Why do I feel the need to protect, gaurd, preserve ? All stems from this single feeling called vulnerability. the fear of losing something. But do we actually possess anything ? Its a notion at best. Its about being vulnerable and being exposed to danger. Did we forget that we are what we are today because we were exposed to danger once upon a time ? Did we forget that we are survivors of history and we would survive other things too ? Did we forget that at the end of the day, we just survive it ? Did we forget that we possess the intrinsic quality to adapt and evolve in an ever changing environment ? I think we have forgotten much of our history and origins. We did climb down trees, hunt with the wolves, raise crops, invent things and for most part of this whole experience wore little clothes. We created our own heroes and worshipped them to mythological proportions that the sheer spectre of that history has hidden the path that was trodden. We forgot that they were men. Like you and me, who faced similar trials and tirbulations and lived life well. They were judged by their peers, but what made the different was how much that judgement affected them mentally. Galelio really dint care. Basavanna really dint care. They subjected themselves to the harsh realities of their times and made the peer judgements look smaller than what they actually were. In that sense they were towering men.

How easy is it to free oneself from the burden of being judged. Its not. But then what is easy in this world ? In a way its easy. It just takes a second to free yourself mentally of the burden. That second may come in small installments over a period of time or one stroke of brilliant epiphany. "Vaanam enak oru bodhi maram, Naalum enakadhu seidhi tharum" Sang a famous tamil contemporary poet. The sky is my Bodhi tree (the tree under which budha gained enlightenment, and hence the name budha derived from the name of the tree bodhi). Every day it sends me messages. Now is something being not easy appear too daunting ? Thats the problem, we try to reach destinations and forget the journey till there. Our goals, dreams all a mesh of destinations thus making the journey look daunting.

Is it fun being free of burden ? Absolutely. How cool is it, going into the sea and taking all your clothes off ? Try it next time you go into water. Isnt it liberating not to be defensive about something ? The other day, my mom burst into my room and gave me a dressing down on how irresponsible and careless I was. I came home at 2 in the morning and forgot to latch the door. It was open all night. I just checked my rising temper and decided to take another approach. A simple smile and a genuine "Sorry mom" totally disarmed her. She appeared confused giving a What-the-hell-is-happening-here look and toatlly disarming her of all ammunition. Now she cannot go back in history and relate all my past pitfalls to this act of great stupidity (not bolting the main door shut). I just made it a point to put up a board in red paint saying "No Defenses Here - Free to attack".

It took away the pleasure of felling a defense and claim victory. The message was loud and clear. "Want victory ? Come, take it. I have no problems". Is that a good strategey. Yes it is, but again needs to be used carefuly and judiciously lest it portrays a lackasidal, careless and irresponsible image of oneself. Do things right and when you make a mistake, dont defend it. Also dont get into a situation of mutual defensiveness. Reacting to other people defenses and erecting your own in return. make defenses redundant. Are there consequences ? I never said the consequences adverse/good is going to vanish. They exist as this world works on action-consequence cycle. But they wont be as ghostly and as traumatic as they seem to be now. It helps to correct distorted perspectives and lead a burden free life.

My uncle and me after a couple of scotches recently.

Uncle: "There is nothing called long term"
Me : "Yes"
Uncle :"In the long term, everyone is dead".
Me : "Yes"
Uncle : "You just have a bunch of todays"
Me : "Yes"
Uncle taking a long pause here and collecting his thoughts methodically as I sit there soaking the whole thing in.
Uncle : "Be good, Be happy and live well"
Me: "Yes"

Now how many times have you seen me mumble four "Yeses" with nothin more to add ? But then that was wise Jedi Master Yoda speaking. Padowaan skywalker better listen.

5 Comments:

At 4:37 PM, Blogger Misreflection said...

Brilliant post, love the way you think and agree 100 % with your uncle too. I believe being overtly defensive simply shows up ones weaknesses( for want of a better word) and although we all have weaknesses is it smart to expose them?( best to work on ridding oneself of them)
This whole world is obsessed about being defensive hence the Shocking state of things. They defend religion they defend their boundaries they defend their own limitations etc. etc.. For now Two words come to mind INSECURITY and FEAR.

 
At 9:45 PM, Blogger Ramana Siddharth said...

very true..like robert frost wrote "something there is that doesnt love a wall"... letting go of our defences, barriers helps to make us better humans.that dreaded ego which sometimes crops up unconciously is man's biggest enemy.but unfortunately like frost says some ppl seem 2 think,"good fences make good neighbours"..try 2 read this poem called mending wall from where i have quoted from..

 
At 3:17 AM, Blogger Vasu the terrible said...

The whole concept of defenses stems from protecting vulnerability. But defenses ensure vulnerabilities persist. Removing defenses, removes vulnerability. Let say, how long can one be apologitic or ashamed of something. Live through it and accept it. It wont haunt anymore. Hiding never helped.

@Siddarth - Thanks for the reference. Will surely look it up.

vasu

 
At 4:09 AM, Blogger Brood Mode said...

"You just have a bunch of todays"

i just love that line

 
At 7:36 AM, Blogger wookie said...

'No Defenses Here - Free to attack'- good one

 

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