Friday, November 21, 2008

Helia, don't let them judge us...*

I have been presenting a lot lately…my research results, that is!

But it was not only my work related research results. Three out of four were, three weeks in November, in different conferences. Then there was one, which was very personal, sort of a personal vow.

You see, I had a favorite Persian author in recent years. I had read most of his books, watched the only movie which was shown from him, and had hiked alongside of him and my father in my early youth years; when hiking with Mr. Alchemist had not started yet! He was a true master of Persian words. There was even a funny story about him, when he was a university student, he had written a text in the old Persian style, and had convinced his teachers that he had actually found this text on a piece of paper inside a book in the library. Everyone was fooled by his strong style of writing and had believed the story.

I loved his books, his characters and his words. So when he passed away – strangely, because of a brain tumor which made him unable to write or even to speak – I felt responsible inside to give a talk about him, and I did.

But this was not the whole story. This made me think about something else. While I was going through his books after a long time again to prepare for my presentation, I found out that I have changed, and so now I have some contradictions with his ideas. The same ideas which 10 years ago while reading his pieces made me nod and think to myself: “Yeah! Right… I know what you mean…Exactly…”; now seemed different. I couldn’t accept some of them. They made me object inside.

I know this is certainly because I am not the same person as 10 years ago, but then I thought, am I allowed to think about this person’s beliefs as well? I mean, he was a writer; a strong story teller. Now that I love his stories, do I have to judge his beliefs and thoughts too?

There are so many of these examples out there. The amazing poet who doesn’t have a good reputation in his relationships with women, the great singer who supports this or that political party which are not in parallel with our beliefs, or the perfect scientist who is not successful in his marriage. Are we allowed to judge them?
There is another side to this story, which I have also seen very often: those who are good/great in one subject and think that this makes them eligible to make speeches and theories about everything else in life. Like the mathematics/physics/chemistry genius who thinks everyone should hear/consider his opinions about politics, or the classic example, the elderly who think just because of their age, they are eligible not only to advise the right life style, but also for royalty respect!

All what I mean is, I don’t think doing well in one aspect of life, makes us equally well in other aspects. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s fair to judge people not concentrating on their specialties, but considering a general figure. Although I know it’s very difficult to get to this stage, believe me…

But whatever his beliefs were, I’ll always remember his stories, and some of his quotes, “Happiness, is not the lack of sadness. It’s having the sadness in life, and dominating it.”

*PS: The title is another quote, from one of his books. One of the most romantic books I have ever read in persian.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A getaway, even if for a couple of hours...

Some people get drunk and some get high to forget, I watch movies…

I also watch movies "just for fun", but I have recently noticed that I use watching movies, as a getaway from whatever is bothering me. Not that I tend to turn my back to my problems, in fact, I am someone who jumps in, head first. On the other hand, there are always issues which bother you, annoy you, scratch your safety and security, and yet you cannot do anything about them. You are sentenced to wait, and god knows how much I hate waiting to see what happens later without being in control.

I guess this is why some people need something to distract them from the problem, whatever it is. So they become workaholics, shopaholics, alcoholics, or addicted to whatever gives them some kind of "forgetting temporarily". This becomes some sort of escape, an opportunity to forget, even if for an instant, or for as long as the effect stays. These are mostly very destructing activities, and can seriously damage body and/or soul. The common downside is that you have to face the problem again. It won’t go away. You have to finally deal with it. Either solve it, or let it be. But you can never turn your back to it, forever.

Still, every now and then, we might try some of these getaways. For me, it’s watching movies, or reading books. Both can distract me from my surrounding annoyance. Especially if they are fictional. You see, a more serious book or a documentary still attracts me, but it engages mostly my "serious" side. I need my inner child to be entertained. So it’d better be/have a storyline.

Those books, as well as for some movies make me forget what time it is, where I am, what I was doing at the time. Sometimes, I literally have to shake my head to get back to real life. But even with a storyline, not all the books or movies are engaging. Some always keep you at a distance, "Hey! This is not real, this is a movie, this is only a story. What? Yes, there is some smell/noise/scene going on in the background. Did you notice that? I guessed so. See? You still have your nerves in your surrounding world. Told ya!"

But there are few books or movies (or few episodes of some TV series, for that matter), which literally "swallow" you inside. You forget any surrounding parameters, not hearing any noises, not smelling or seeing anything else, you become part of the movie, part of the book. You go behind the eyes of one or some of the characters, and you start to live in that world. You get lost in between the pages, the frames, the dialogues. For 45 minutes, 90 minutes, 2 hours, 5 hours, or as long as the program/movie/book lasts, you forget about everything in the background. Then, you’ll have enough time to deal with your problem later.

Problem is, since I have grown up, less and less movies and books engage me with the same intensity as they did before. Maybe I should add this to the list of all the sharp and deep senses which we loose alongside of time, "smarties" smell less and less chocolaty sharp, the last bite of sandwich bread does not taste as delicious, less stories make me get lost in their world.

Still, reading an engaging book, watching a smart movie, or an episode of a well made TV series, helps me forget about what bothers me at the time. Then, I’ll have time to get back to it later… "Tomorrow’s another day!!"*

*Scarlett O’Hara, "Gone with the wind".