Growing Up#4: By deFault or By deS!gN

I said I’d be writing every Saturday about growing up – the growing pains, the dumb decisions, the indecisiveness, maybe half of the parties, and a quarter of the youth. But here I go breaking the chain, right in the fourth week. And I have a superb reason: sometimes an entire Saturday is not enough for overthinking, and it spills on to the Sunday and even Monday. So here it is on a Monday.

Last Saturday I was having a heartfelt conversation with a friend about growing up (half of my conversations are about it these days), where she shared a brilliant snippet of growing up by default or by design. I was intrigued. Some of us it seem live by default, do things by default. We concluded that necessarily isn’t wrong. It’s worked out well for some. And then there are some other who live by design, and this doesn’t necessarily make them superior either.

In the words of Adam Grant (someone I have harbored the secret dream of meeting in person):

Don’t ask which is better Stanford or Harvard? Ask where you fit better.

The idea of living life by default, where we live the narrative arc as suggested by the world – education, marriage, work, and the idea of living life by design where we create our own path, neither is better. Borrowing from Adam Grant’s idea, it is where do we, where do I, fit better.

But I have a further question: how do I know which one is for me? Well, I guess I’ll just have to follow the stars for now. Here’s what Nicola Yoon has to say about stars, from The Sun Is Also A Star:

I remind myself that stars are more than just poetic. If you need to, you can navigate your way by them

Till next week!


Growing Up, a short snippet series every Saturday, because Saturdays are perfect for overthinking, maybe Sundays too and Mondays as well. 

It’s That Time of The Year

It is that time of the year when we say, shockingly, surprisingly or sadly, “It’s the year end already!” “How fast time flies!” And I begin to wonder how should I wish the world the start of a new calendar.

I do not understand what time does to us, or is it our brains? I can still remember the first week of 2018, I had a different job and I was performing poetry one cold evening surrounded by my lovely colleagues.

2018 was a year of change, of confusion, and of challenge. It was heart breaking at times, and other times liberating. At times it filled me with despair and other times it made be feel like a warrior. It taught me to plan, and then to let go of the plan when it failed. It was what literary books would call coming of age, at 25 instead of 15, a year when I came face to face with many of my values boiling inside.

It was the year I decided I need to go meditate and I spent 10 days aloof of the world, but so much enriched from within. It was the year I panicked and quarter life crisis was the major topic of discussion, literally everywhere. I bought many books to solve it, just as much as I tried to tie time by crossing off things on the list of life that should have happened, only to realize letting time flow is the most important thing I can do. It was also the year I realized how savvy I am at saving. I should hold on to this more often.

It was also the year I finally joined Toastmasters after 7 years of coming to know about the club(s). The year I socialized so much that the 15 year old me would be shocked.

It was also the year I came across some wonderful people and ideas, and learnt to map my life in ways I could not have imagined.
It was the year I felt more comfortable in my skin.

The year the vastness of the universe terrified me, and the year I became a part of the vastness.

As I spend the last day of 2018, I realize how my spelling and grammar have gotten worse, and I haven’t gotten past one paragraph without a single error as I write this. Auto correct! It’s a sign to write more longhand. Maybe it is time to gather the courage spread across all veins.

2018 was the year I expected to go to grad school, only to realize I have already been enrolled at the School called Life.

Happy 2019!

Severus-Lily: Was It Only Romantic Love?

I know it is not true, because J.K. Rowling herself told us so, and still I couldn’t stop myself from exploring the angle of platonic friendship in two beloved Harry Potter characters, Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Severus’s complex nature and the final manifestation twisted everything. Severus loved Lily too much to let her go even after she passed away. Some say he was obsessed with her and couldn’t move on, and some other love him dearly for the sacrifices he made. It was all ‘L-O-V-E’.

Of course it was love, but what kind of love? Love remains a central theme in the Harry Potter series. It is the ultimate weapon that destroys Lord Voldemort. Lily’s love for Harry, Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione, Dobby’s loyalty to Harry. All the characters on the good side manifest love, including the Malfoy’s despite standing with the Dark Lord. So many different kinds of love have been explored in the series, with one of the major highlights being Severus and Lily.

The question isn’t as much as ‘Were these two characters just friends?’, as much as ‘Would it justify everything if they were just friends?’ Simply saying, would Severus do everything he did if Lily were just a friend?

Here’s a small poll I did on facebook to know what my Harry-Potter-Loving-Friends think. Seems like I might not be alone about the different angle in Severus-Lily’s relationship.

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Family is a strong theme running right from the first page of the first book. Sacrifices have been made for families and by families throughout the series. By the end we see that scarifies have been made for romantic love too, by Severus for Lily. Carrying a mountain for family and for romantic love has been an ongoing theme in literature for thousand of years. But sacrifices have also been made by friends, well wishes and everyone who stood on the good side. We have Tonks and Lupin who died leaving their new born son, Harry’s DA friends-Neville, Ginny, Luna, Seamus, Dean who fought because it was right. Everyone risked their lives. And that is why I wonder if Severus would do what he did, even if Lily were just a friend he deeply cared about.

Never in the books is it explicitly mentioned that Severus loved Lily in a romantic way. Sure there are a lot of metaphors the famous one being the ‘Always’ dialogue between Severus and Dumbledore, but then again aren’t metaphors suppose to mean more than what can be seen?

Severus was loyal to the Dark Lord and spills the prophesy made by Trelawney only to realize that the Dark Lord would now kill Harry, who was Lily’s son. Anyone could have felt the shock, Lily doesn’t have to be his love interest for the shock to run down his veins. The guilt of putting your dear friend in danger (and eventually having her murdered) might take toll on anyone. So Severus’s actions could have been his own path to redemption. There’s no saying it wasn’t love, but there are so many other possibilities, other emotions, other kinds of love, which often run under the shadows of romantic love and family love.

There’s so much more. Wouldn’t you agree?