Monday, January 31, 2011

Blessings

There are a lot of things we take for granted. Usually, the things that are going well never attract any attention from us. It is the trivial niggle that occupies 90% of our thinking time, and causes much stress. Like much in life, what is is just the opposite of what should be.

I tried today to count my blessings - and boy! are they bountiful? I have the most wonderful wife in the world - she is the reason for my happiness, the one that I would trust my life with. My daughter's toothless smile can melt away the most cynical thought in my mind and make me light hearted in an instant. My parents' love gives me the courage to follow my convictions. I live in a country that throws up immense opportunities for new ventures. My true friends don't really care about the size of my car or the favours I can bestow. My education allows me to read and understand books that broaden my horizons.

I read today about a billionaire who has sold off his mansion and his limousines, and now lives in hotels and gives away his wealth in charity. The guy has no family to leave his money to. Thinking about this gentleman, I felt as if I was so much better off than he.

In the end, the core of my happiness consists of very few material pleasures and a lot of non-material pleasures. By worrying about the former, I run the risk of missing out on the latter, and turning into an ungrateful being. I hope I can re-capture the emotion of this post whenever I fret and fume about trivialities!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Return of the King

Alert: This may be very boring for all those who are not die-hard fans of Lord of the Rings

Thanks to the imdb link here, I came upon a treasure trove of dialogues from LOTR: ROTK. Some memorable ones:

Witch King: [taking Eowyn by the throat] You fool. No man can kill me. Die now.
[Merry stabs the Witch King from behind; the Witch King shrieks and falls to his knees. Eowyn rises and pulls off her helm, her hair falls down over her shoulder]
Eowyn: I am no man.
[she thrusts her sword into the Witch King's helm and twists; he shrieks and implodes]

Theoden: Eomer. Take your ├łored down the left flank. Gamling, follow the King's banner down the center. Grimbold, take your company right, after you pass the wall. Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises!
Eowyn: [to Merry] What ever happens, stay with me. I'll look after you.
[the King rides past his men, hitting their spears with his sword as he goes]
Theoden: Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride to ruin and the world's ending!
[He stops and faces Sauron's army]
Theoden: Death!
Rohirrim: [echoing] Death!
Theoden: Death!
Rohirrim: [echoing] Death!
Theoden: DEATH!
Eowyn, Merry: Death!
Theoden: Forth, Eorlingas!

Gimli: Never thought I'd die fighting side by side with an Elf.
Legolas: What about side by side with a friend?
Gimli: Aye. I could do that.

Pippin: I didn't think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn't end here. Death is just another path... One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass... And then you see it.
Pippin: What? Gandalf?... See what?
Gandalf: White shores... and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: [smiling] Well, that isn't so bad.
Gandalf: [softly] No... No it isn't.

[Frodo drinks the last drops of water from Sam's waterskin]
Frodo: There'll be none left for the return journey.
Sam: I don't think there will be a return journey, Mr. Frodo.

King of the Dead: The dead do not suffer the living to pass.
Aragorn: You will suffer me.

Arwen: From the ashes, a fire shall be woken. A light from the shadow shall spring. Renewed shall be blade that was broken. The crownless again shall be king.

Gollum: They cursed us. Murderer they called us. They cursed us, and drove us away. And we wept, Precious, we wept to be so alone. And we only wish to catch fish so juicy sweet. And we forgot the taste of bread... the sound of trees... the softness of the wind. We even forgot our own name. My Precious.

Elrond: You're outnumbered, Aragorn. You need more men.
Aragorn: There are none.
Elrond: There are those who dwell in the mountain.
Aragorn: Murderers. Traitors. You would call upon them to fight? They believe in nothing. They answer to no one.
Elrond: They will answer to the king of Gondor.
[pulls out Anduril]
Elrond: Anduril, Flame of the West, forged from the shards of Narsil.
Aragorn: Sauron will not have forgotten the sword of Elendil. The blade that was broken shall return to Minas Tirith.
Elrond: The man who can wield the power of this sword can summon to him an army more deadly than any that walks this earth. Put aside the ranger. Become who you were born to be. Take the Dimholt Road.
Elrond: [pause]
[in Elvish]
Elrond: I give hope to men.
Aragorn: [in Elvish] I keep none for myself.

And the best:
Gimli: Certainty of death. Small chance of success. What are we waiting for?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Trending or cyclical

Not having posted anything for the last 4 weeks, I feel a little weird! There is a good reason for this, however, that is fodder for another post.

As often happens whenever I'm struggling with my thoughts for an extended period of time, I tend to get philosophical. One random thought that I'm currently grappling with is this: is the trajectory of life always trending, or is it cyclical? Does the good keep getting better, or are there violent swings? Looking around at my immediate circle of acquaintances, I tend to think that there is a definite pattern to individuals' trajectories in career, family life, luck etc. However, the observation period is too short (perhaps 5-6 years) to truly suggest acyclic behaviour.

When I read biographical accounts of peoples' lives, which of course is spread over at least 30-40 years, there seems to be an element of cyclical patterns. Good times are followed by bad, and vice versa. However, I'm not sure about this sample set as well, since the ones who have biographies published after them are more likely than not great successes in some aspect of their lives, and tend to dramatize the swings in their past lives.

So at the end of this little thoroughly unscientific thought experiment, we are left with no conclusions. Perhaps it boils down to belief - context and situation make any given statement true, as well as untrue. However, there is a certain harmony in believing that things go in cycles - great scientists have postulated (and proved) that all matter is made up of waves. A wave, by definition, is cyclical - it ebbs and flows. Why should life be any different?

On a totally different note, and for no particular reason, I am reminded of Aragorn in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings "A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship. But it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the age of Men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!"