Sunlight

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Filtering through the trees

In long pillars of silver

Bouncing off the leaves

Mellow is the warm sliver

That lights me up bright.

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People leave

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We’ve all been there. You find these amazing new people to hang out with and talk to. You make memories to cherish. You go places with them. Then, when it’s time to leave, the goodbyes sadden you. A week on, WhatsApp and Instagram are your saviours, helping you stay in touch, at least indirectly. Then the messages get fewer and further apart. The stories on Instagram are no longer relevant to you. They move on and leave you behind. The invitations home and the future plans all turn to dust blowing past your face as you desperately attempt to catch up.  And so you just stop. Stop to catch your breath. Stop for a final wave goodbye. And you take a different path.

Or do you? Why is it that we feel people don’t care about us when they stop talking to us? People always need a reason to talk to you. People have lives. People have other people. They can’t afford to stop and think about you everyday. The messages might get fewer and further apart, but that doesn’t mean the memories have faded away. People do care. People do remember. People change, yes, but who you are to them, that doesn’t change. So when you stop to catch your breath, remember, catching up isn’t what you’re supposed to do. You have your own path to follow. And somewhere in the future, closer than you think, paths are bound to intersect. And when they do, all the memories, all the emotions, they come rushing back. In that moment, you realise, love isn’t temporary.

People leave. But they leave not to leave you behind.

One year on WordPress

Can’t believe it. The Overflowing Barrel was started a year ago. While it hasn’t received particularly devoted attention from us (we’re busy with graduations and stuff), it has been there for us whenever we wanted to express our thoughts and emotions on something or other. And that is something, considering that the past year was a tumultuous one for many of us. We, as writers, are and should be grateful that we have a recognition of the importance of the art of writing, and that we have been blessed with enough skill to do it with fair ease. WordPress has been a great platform for us, and we are thankful to have made use of it.

We did not intend for this blog to become popular and we certainly didn’t publicise it much to even our friends here. Yet we remain satisfied with the readership it gets, despite the posts being few and far between. It still stands for us that this blog was simply a means to connect with our inner selves by means of writing, which is something we love and respect.

I hope that in this coming year, The Overflowing Barrel receives the attention it deserves from us. To all those who follow us and read our stuff, we thank you, and we hope you’ll stay with us.

Here’s to another year.

Wheels of progress

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The wheels of progress. Boy are they slow.

For a democracy of 1.2 billion people, you’d think the people’s voice is loud. And it is. But how can common sense cut through the madness that is rife in the minds of the vast majority? Here is an 8 year old girl, kidnapped, sedated and raped over a week by different people, then mutilated and murdered. All in a temple, no less. The normal reaction to this would be one of horror and shock, possibly vengefulness. But what person in his/her right mind would involve religious or political aspects? What sane human being would stop a case from being registered? What level of moronic does one have to be to rally in support of the perpetrators? The voices are strong. The voices are loud. But these voices, the ones that cut through, don’t unanimously echo that of the young girl in agony. And that is very wrong. But when people in positions of power fail to recognise the magnitude of such an incident, that is beyond wrong. That is ignorance of one’s own people and one’s own country and all the values it stands for.

But there is hope. There is faith to be had in the millions of people who stand up to losers, punks, morons and scoundrels every single day; fighting for the good; fighting for a better tomorrow. And that number is sure to grow. You see, people can only take so much bullshit. And we’ve taken a lot. Now, we explode. Wrath, fire, fury. The people’s voices are slowly syncing. Soon, they will be one. One loud voice. The voice of 1.2 billion people. The voice of the nation, saying enough is enough. Do or die. Rot in hell, those who dare cross the line. For one may do anything but underestimate the power of the people.

The wheels of progress may turn slowly. The push uphill may be long and arduous and tiresome. But once they break over the crest, speed up they will. And once they speed up, they will crush anything that stands in their path. To smithereens. With a shattering crack. Devils watch out; the crest is nigh.

Restaurant Etiquette

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I hate going out with friends. I admit it outright. It’s okay if there is one or maybe two other people. Very specific people. But certain times are such that you’re hard pressed to excuse yourself out of a decidedly dull and pointless getting-together of ‘friends.’ Yes, ‘friends.’ Those people who, by social standards, are classified as such without thought or fair reason. At certain times, you’ve to lunch with these people. And lunching is the worst.

After dilly-dallying with the schedule, you finally get to the restaurant which will inevitably be a crowd-pleaser (read ‘bad choice’). Once sat, you notice that you are flanked by your least favourite people- so conversations are out of the question. The food arrives painfully late, and you start digging right in- stuffing your mouth so you don’t have to participate in the corny millennial talk. But then the rest of your food suddenly disappears. What happened to it? Oh yeah. Sharing. You’ve half a mind to tell these people to sod off and eat their own shite choice of food.

But all this is nothing compared to the small matter of settling the bill. It is commonplace for people to expect the host to pay when it’s a birthday party or the like. But a random meet-up? Shouldn’t one pay for what he ate and be done with it? No. They choose to find excuses as to why you should pay a certain amount because you had done that thing 4 months ago. And because you want the afternoon to end as soon as it can, you end up paying for the buggers. But does it end? Nooo. The turds then take pictures. Oh yes. A dozen pictures each, at least. Selfies with a graceless pout. Food pictures taken in an artsy way (so they think). Nightmarish.

Seriously people, have you ever come across the term ‘restaurant etiquette?’

 

 

Aspiration

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I’m the type of person who expects negative outcomes- a pessimist. This helps me deal with failure. To plan contingencies. To not be disappointed. And so far, it has done me plenty good.

But I figure, one must aspire to be something, to do something worthwhile. Preparing for negative outcomes is, in a way, feckless. Aspirations drive the force of will within us. Doesn’t matter if you’re implacable or resistant to change- good things need to happen. Oftentimes I notice that preparing for the worst brings out the worst in both us and the situation at hand. Think about it. Every time you do that, you’re simmering your spirits. You’re telling them something is incapable of happening or that you’re incapable of making it.

Also, not every outcome is bad. And not every outcome is good. It’s a balance. But why prepare for the bad when you can prep for the good? It would certainly pull up your spirits and your attitude. It might even push you to work harder for the light at the end of the tunnel.

Have some positivity. Ask and thou shalt receive. Thoughts and emotions have power, and you have the responsibility to manage them. Good things always come. Bad things may be good things in disguise.

So always, aspire to achieve. It doesn’t matter if it takes a little more time.

What does it mean to be human?

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The question might sound trivial but in time, it’ll be the most important question that will decide the next course of action because if we don’t know how to be human, how will anything we create?

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die” – Roy Batty, Blade Runner.

What you just read is considered to be the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history. Roy Batty is a Replicant, a non human, who spends the entire movie and his lifetime trying to figure out what it means to be human. And in what is perhaps the most beautiful display of his phantom humanity yet, he realizes that all his memories and the feelings it evoked in him would be lost forever. Are a lifetime of memories and the feelings they evoke in us a testament to our humanity? Definitely.

Our memories shape who we are. They are the only immortals in an entirely mortal world. We cling onto them like Roy as long as we can. Memories and the need to constantly saturate ourselves with them in the hopes that they would weave a comforting blanket to wrap ourselves in while we knit each thread in place is half the reason why we get out of bed everyday. Memories are the box that holds our desirable and hence distorted versions of reality. Take away a man’s memories and he is not himself anymore.

In a true sense, humans aren’t the only ones to have memories. Your dog is elated when he sees you. Even a computer could be programmed to classify its “memories” as good or bad. What happens when you feed a person’s memory into a sentient machine and make it believe the memories are it’s own? What happens if someone else gains access to yours? These are questions that complicate matters. So now that we can’t single out memories as the one quality that makes up the entirety of humanity, let’s examine something I feel is a little more unique to us.

Compassion, empathy, the thought inside our heads that urge us to save that child on the railway track. Haven’t we all wished to have superpowers to protect the innocent and make the world a relatively better place? All the above translates to regard for a human life. Compassion is the ultimate selfless sacrifice as it requires us to put someone else and their needs before ours in this narcissistic, self glorifying, validation seeking society. With empathy comes the knowledge about how precious life is and in turn we will fight immensely hard to save one. We think with our heart and this is where we differ from a machine. Black mirror’s “Metalhead” shows a woman fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic future from human hunting robots. We see no difference between them throughout the episode except when her actions are tinged with empathy- like risking her life for a dying child’s toy, getting caught sending a long goodbye message. This contrast against the brutal black and white world of the machines is powerful in showing a few glimpses of how she hadn’t lost everything.

Will a machine give up it’s life for another? Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” sees an AI being led to believe she has to rescue her new friend, Caleb, the guy she has been programmed to manipulate into falling in love with her. In the end, all she does is use him to get herself out of that house and leaves him to die after having fulfilled his purpose. Movies like “I,Robot”, “2001 a space Odyssey” all contain famous movie tropes- the Sentient AI that wants to kill everyone. Of course, the lack of such qualities throughout our history shows how easy it is to lose what makes us human. It seems humanity has always made efforts to appear as non-human as possible.

“Lord of the flies” and “the Mist” brush upon the aspect of whether the above are just products of a civilized society and if the lack of one would drag us down to our primitive instincts- survival of the fittest. The former sees a group of normal English boys who become savages after getting stranded on an island together. It sees the slow death of reasoning, knowledge and empathy. The latter is the story of a small town being invaded by creatures while its residents take shelter in a supermarket. “We’re a civilized society as long as the machines are working and you can dial 911. But you take those things away, you throw throw people in the dark, you scare them and no more rule”.-David Drayton, The Mist. The residents, on the advice of a religious fanatic, go as far as plotting a human sacrifice in the hopes that it would appease the monsters.

Can true progress be made only by sacrificing what makes us human in order to get to the next perceived evolutionary level? Do emotions and empathy stop us from achieving a state that transcends “human”? Probably. Should we go for it? No. I feel the true challenge is not how to overwrite these qualities because that’s easy, but how to best enhance them and work alongside them, accepting that these are our strengths and not weaknesses. The day a machine sheds a tear because he couldn’t save his counterpart and cherishes their memories together is the day we’ve truly got competition.

-lordofthefandoms

 

Influence

The profound impact of public opinion on an individual is unbeknownst to most. Imagine this. You go to the cinema on a fine evening with a couple of your friends to catch a movie. You get through it and you initially feel you like it and have already started suggesting it to your other friends. But then you go online to read about it and the search engine’s widget pops up with an aggregate rating of 1.5/5. You look at it and you sigh. Scenes flash through your head and it kind of makes sense to you that it isn’t a good movie after all.

But does that matter? Why is it that someone on the internet has control of your opinions? Why does that have to influence your personal feelings or long standing ideas? This happens to us all. Our subconscious works that way. To make us not feel alone in thinking that something is good or bad. Because, deep down, most of us are simply trying to fit in.

Should we?

2018

Unity and Strength

Another year over. 365 days of triumph, happiness, sorrow, struggles, highs and lows. For most of us though, it was just another dreary year of doing the same things over and over again.

When will we be rid of the monotony? When will we just stop…just stop and take a moment to see the world around us…see it and not just look? Will it ever happen?

I took such a moment towards the end of 2017. I reflected on the things that I see but notice everyday. Pain, loss, death, tragedy. From hundreds of people out in warzones to the tiny sapling in our backyard, struggling to exist. It is just poetically sad.

World peace will never exist. That is an absolute truth. Like how there can never be an ideal machine that is 100% efficient. It is one of those things coded into the weave of existence by the creator (whoever/whatever).

But we can get awfully close to it by simply extending our love of life, our desire for a better world and our passion for everything in it- by simply extending all of that to the dozen people we talk to everyday. It isn’t hard. It is gratifying. It is like how Portia from the Merchant of Venice puts it- “Mercy is twice blessed. It blesseth him that gives and him that receives.”

The smallest things make the biggest difference. Let us, together, hand in hand, make the world a better place as every day of 2018 goes by. One conversation- at the right place and time- can change lives. One hug. One handshake. One smile.

One love. #2018

Inspiration

Ironic. I’m sitting here with the word ‘Inspiration’ written on the title bar, and I don’t know what to write.

People always say “I need some inspiration” or “Oh I have writer’s block” or what-not. But I fail to understand this, despite being afflicted by similar feelings.

The world we live in is so vivid, so full of life, so much right and wrong, that saying we lack inspiration is a betrayal of our short-sightedness.

We sit down. Stand up. Pace back and forth. Thinking hard enough to cause perspiration (and irritation). Wholly unnecessary, if you think (sorry) about it.

Thing is, sitting at home at the same desk we sit in every single day isn’t going to inspire us to do anything. We should get out. Take a bus that goes wherever. Just observe the little things around and about.

The world is our oyster. And there ain’t going to be any much more inspiration come out of it. It is but for us to see and not merely look.