lone leafImage by Shelly Paul

Perfection – Everything has to be just so

If mother nature adhered to our current definition of aesthetic perfection – largely governed by the rules of symmetry – rivers would flow in perfect straight lines and turn corners at precise right angles, mountains would be pyramids, trees in the forest would be aligned in perfect straight lines like military battalions, where each tree would stand ramrod straight, every branch attached to the trunk at an exact angle of forty-five degrees, every leaf in perfect symmetry. The ones that do not adhere to this rigid perfection would be shed by the tree for its non-conformity.

Nothing out of place. No grey areas. No anomalies. Because anomalies are viewed as irksome, simply because they do not conform with the majority. Such perfection in mother nature would not only be boring in its monotony, but would jeopardize life on this planet because of its unforgiving rigidity.

morning-dew
Image by Shelly Paul

Beauty – aesthetically pleasing

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”, goes the well-known phrase from the poem, Endymion, by John Keats. Dwelling on this phrase made me wonder about that one unique thing of such incredible beauty, that it would bring unfailing joy to its beholder.

Could it be a favorite work of art that could turn into a visual feast every time we set our eyes on it? Or a piece of music that strums our soul, each and every time we listen to it?

The Victory Drum

(Original poem by Bharaithyar)

Strike the victory drum – Strike it,
Strike the victory drum.

We vanquished the ghost of trepidation –
We split the serpent of falsehood, drank away its life;
To absorb the entire celestial world like elixir,
We embrace the life of profundity.

Liberation – Little Sparrow

(Original poem by Bharaithyar)

Stay liberated –
Like this little sparrow

In eight directions, it flies and roams,
Into the air, it ascends; swims rapidly through,
In measureless abundance lay,
The sky awash in light, is the nectar it savors

Besought

Why build an exquisite veena1,
Only to be heedlessly cast-off into dust?
Tell me O! Sivasakthi2
You, (who) created me with a scintillating mind
Grant me fortitude
To devote my life in welfare of this State
Tell me O! Sivasakthi – Would you let me
Become a burden to this land?

Ramblings
Original image by Shelly Paul

“Ramblings on a word”, is created with the intention of showing a different perspective to a word that is in common use. The definition of the word given in each article, is more specific to the context of the topic of discussion, than the broader definition of the dictionary. So each word mostly stays within the confines of that definition, occasionally it does get twisted around a bit, just to show a different angle or probably because I am irreverent.

Several articles are just my opinion and are written in essay format. Some are personal essays. A small number of them are, “character soliloquy” where I try to channel a character for demonstrable effect. So, even though the article is written in first person, it is not my personal experience, it’s an expression of a view-point through a fictional character I create for that purpose.

let's talk/Shelly Paul
Image by Shelly Paul


Discount – deduction from the whole

Personal Essay

In conversations with friends and family over a period of time, I have come to understand that there is a tendency to distort or stretch the truth. Such alterations make for interesting anecdotes and lively conversation. But, when it comes to regular interaction with people in daily life, staying close to reality keeps life’s flow relatively smooth.

Over the years after listening to numerous personal stories, I realized separating the husk from the grain can be really hard. I also realized that I don’t have to know the absolute truth about everything to have healthy relationships. All I need is a credible approximation of the broad reality. To ascertain this, all I need to do is to discount certain parts of the issues presented, according to the individual’s nature and character.

This is my current formula to get to the heart of the matter:
At first I take all things said in a conversation at face value. No assumptions, no presumptions unless the context is obvious or common in social parlance. In time, a pattern would emerge and some lack of consistency would begin to show, in the continuity of the narratives. Depending on the degree of this inconsistency, I assign discounts to the information presented to me.

hotel taj/Shelly Paul Image by Shelly Paul


Algorithm – method for tracing predictable patterns

When Úrsula Iguarán, matriarch of Buendía family began to go blind in her old age, she devised a clever method to keep the impaired vision a secret. She accomplished this successfully by observing, processing and storing data.

While walking down the verandah one afternoon, she nearly tripped over her daughter, Amaranta who was sitting in the shade doing needlework. Amaranta reacted sharply and asked her mother what was wrong, to which, Úrsula responded that it would not have happened if she was sitting in her usual place. The ensuing conversation and some reflection made Úrsula realize that the sun’s position changed slightly throughout the year, which caused her daughter to move to that extent each day from her usual place into the shade, until one day she obstructed the carefully memorized path.

Úrsula listened, deduced and memorized the patterns of all her family members and realized during the process that her family lived in predictable patterns, so much so that she could pin-point where everyone was at any given moment on any day. Her mental map was so accurate that one time, she helped locate her daughter-in-law’s misplaced wedding band through an aberration in the pattern.

This is the technique Google search, Facebook and other social media websites uses today to understand the behavior of their users and hopefully convert that into advertisement revenue or create emotional hooks by customizing user experience thereby making the user feel special.

Change is the only constant in life. Stay nimble in body and mind.