21. It is a strange number. Growing up, it never seemed important or relevant. Perhaps its importance, or lack of it, can be summed up by my first real interaction with it the table of 3. 3 sevens are 21. That is all it was. A few numbers forward and it came back in the table of 7. I did not see it outside the textbook, and I certainly did not feel its significance outside those math exercises.
As my age continued its gradual progression towards the fated number, I was introduced to concepts about numbers which were never in those textbooks. Somewhere down the line, the concept of these social constructs dictated by two consecutive digits in descending order separated a boy from a man, a liability from an asset, someone with a lot to learn from someone who is expected to know. These strange divisions seemed too abstract to be that simple to divide, even to a preteen who was sitting comfortably in his cocoon of novels and video games, as far away from the reality as possible.
When that one conversation that leads nowhere but makes you forget where you are happens on more than one occasion. When slight gestures of eccentricities break through those walls of seriousness and make you feel more human. When someones simplicity and intricacy start feeling more familiar than what the time spent should permit. And when someone’s ingenuity makes all of this feel unprecedented in the most pleasant way possible. To a certain extent, life nowadays is full of these strange feelings. . .
What makes a human being great? Is it money? Is it great ideas? Or is it knowing the nuances of the world? The ideal human would have all those things. But they are not what is needed to be great. Greatness doesnt need a barometer. Greatness cannot be measured by all the achievements of a person. It comes from how you choose to live.
Even with all the things he did, fighting crippling illnesses for decades and fighting everyones assumptions for a few more of decades on top of that, he never gave up. He never gave us a reason to doubt his decisions. He did a lot to prove others wrong, but most importantly, he did a lot more to prove himself right.
As much as i relish being in the spotlight, the introvert within me still finds it extremely hard to build up that confidence. A million incoherent thoughts race through my head and the reality manages to fade to the backdrop. Life doesn’t pause. I wish it did. It only hastens. The time to perform comes faster by the minute. The moment of truth. The part where i cannot go wrong. Even after multiple flawless practices, the fears always manage to creep in.
Restlessly, i stroll around. Finding one place to sit, before deciding on abandoning it for another. Paranoid about my stuffy nose making me sound weird, some intense runs to the bathroom take place. My face wouldn’t show a glimpse of the turmoil inside as i look at it in there. Good. Better in than out. Couple of deep breaths, a sip of water to ease my rusty aching throat, and a few steps later, i find myself in front of them all. I had this little speech prepared in my head about the amazing singers of these songs. But it was drowned out as soon as my mouth opened. As i tried to figure out the first words, my hands went on autopilot, forcing me to keep up with their frantic pace.
(Here is the entire performance)
To the future that ceased to exist
Present taking a different direction
To the songs which lost meaning
Lyrics dematerializing into silence
All i wanted to happen
All that never did
All which made me happy
All that never will
I still think a lot, yes i still do
As much as i do not want to
We all know it makes it worse
What i call the thinker’s curse
When the cacophony outside
Cant drown the silence within
All the unanswered questions
About the unlearned lessons
Reminders of all those failures
Highlighting usual behaviors
When all the correct answers
Cant convince the conscience.
I rarely have such moments of pure bliss when the inner soul manifests itself so harmoniously.
One of my favourite songs. Hope it sounds half as good to you as it does to me 🙂
Always happy to receive comments, as usual.
And there he stood, ignoring a million faces to seek hers, hoping she looks back, and knowing she wont.
Just a few right words, and the walls of silence crumbled
We start with a core. Primitive. Rough. Instinctive. Just the essence. Going only where the flow of time takes us.
As soon as we can, we add layers. Creating. Polishing. Honing. Gathering the surroundings. Refining it. Flow of time no longer guiding us. To stand firm, we choose. Picking our traits. Selecting our paths. Defining our boundaries. Moulding ourselves from within.
Standing against time, not possible forever. As the years catch up, the layers wane. Weathering slowly. No cracks. Edges still smooth, but the gathered contents diminishing. All those years, slipping through as we fight for a lost cause.