What defines us?

I have often marvelled over what actually defines me. I came across an interesting paradox while reading the book Philosophy 101 by Paul Kleinman. Explaining the metaphysics of identity, the ship of Theseus paradox first appeared in the writings of the Ancient Greek philosopher Plutarch. He wrote about Theseus (the founder-king of Athens) returning from a long voyage at sea. During this voyage, the old and decayed planks of wood the ship was made of was replaced by brand new and strong planks of wood. So by the end of the voyage, every piece of wood the ship was made of initially, had been replaced. The philosophical idea generated from this scenario is: is this ship still the same ship that Theseus started his voyage on? Or, if the ship Theseus began his journey on is A, and the ship Theseus ended his journey on is B, then does A=B?

This paradox surely goes beyond a problem about ships. It leads us to thinking about identity and what makes us the people that we are. I am going to change as I grow older, and parts of me are going to change as years are going to go by. But even when I turn sixty, I’m still going to call myself Saania- I’ll still consider myself to be the very same person.

Is identity related to my structure and the way I am made? If this is the case, I wouldn’t be me if I were to shave all my hair off. Some philosophers say that “we are our body”. But as we grow older, a lot of changes take place in our bodies. As teenagers, we may change our looks, our style when it comes to clothing, our hairstyles, and so much more. And as we grow even older, we get gray hair and wrinkles by our eyes. We may even develop health troubles or we may modify the food we take into our body. So many of our cells keep replacing themselves too, and some even die. So our body is definitely not a permanent fixture.

Is identity related to my mind and my feelings? If this is the case, I wouldn’t be me if I ever replaced my heart, or lost my memory. Many philosophers say that our mind is what gives us our identity. Yet, our outlook on life changes over time. I am starting to think differently as I am growing older, as compared to the things I believe in when I was much younger. I may gain a lot of knowledge. I may change my beliefs. I may find religion, or lose it. This change is inevitable, and so very constant.

I believe there is no right or wrong answer for these mind-boggling questions. What this paradox does tell us, however, is that although we see identity as a fixed and solid structure, it is actually very thin, malleable, and ever-changing. The ship of Theseus and its implications about what identity really is are still discussed today. It does, indeed, leave me with quite a lot of food for thought…

– SaaniaSparkle🧚🏻‍♀️

We are all one

I love love. I love everything about it. Just saying the word fills my heart with comfy warmth and happiness. I love life, I love people and just every living thing that exists. (I say living thing because everything has life, yes, even my stuffed little teddy bear).

I didn’t always have so much love in my heart. There were times when I spewed hate and said hurtful things to people. There have also been times when I wasn’t a very nice person. But as I am waking up each day, I can’t help but realise that we are all one.

If aliens were to invade our Earth one day, I wonder what we would do. If we think about it, I suppose countries who are now having feuds would start to support each other, people who hate each other now would start to love each other, we would almost be compelled to do so. Why? Because we are humans and they are aliens. Because at the end of the day, we are all fragmented energy from the same source. Because it would be us against them. And no matter how different we are as people, we would fight these aliens together (That is, only if they turn out to be evil aliens!)

We are now living through the tough times of the Coronavirus, and in the world events we are in right now, we need to build a positive community. We need to lift each other up, and love each other. There are people who struggle with anxiety, people who are stuck in the horrible hole of depression. More people turn to alcohol and other substances to control their sadness. But I think the only drug they really need, is love. Because again, I have realised, that no matter how different we may be from each other, we are all Homo sapiens. We are all one- it is only our egos, our beliefs, and our fears that separate us. In these terrifying times, I don’t think there is any room for any more negativity. We need love now, more than ever.

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

A Winter Wonderland

This poem recollects some paradisiacal memories from my trip to Rovaniemi (a city in Finland).

I clicked this during the daytime 🧊 ❄️ ⛄️

Scintillating snowflakes
Sprinkling down in the breeze
A white blanket of snow
Covering wintry tall trees

I am out in the wilderness
In the middle of nowhere
Quivering with shivers
From the icy, frosty air

Watching the northern lights
As I look up high
Like streams of emerald
Twirled in the sky

Ribbons of colours
In all shades of blue
Filling the empty sky
With their dazzling hue

I sip hot berry tea
As I drink in haste
Wrapping my fingers around
Enduring the sugary, glacé taste

I close my eyes
Gently as I stand
An empyrean place
A winter wonderland…

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

 

Happy Poetry Month 2020!

 

The Struggle Ends When Gratitude Begins

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Anonymous

When things seem tough, it is so easy for all the positivity to lose its place in my heart. But as I am beginning to consult life in a deeper way, I am starting to find an endless amount of things to be grateful for.

When I see homeless people from time to time, having to sleep on the streets all night, every night, I often think to myself, “What right do I have to show my frustration and complain about the tiniest of things that bother me?”

I live in a world where I get to wake up in the morning, breathe normally, and have a beating heart. I get to enjoy today, and hopefully wake up again tomorrow. I have the loveliest family, the most incredible friends, the yummiest food, that sometimes I feel like we take so many things for granted, including the simplest of things: life itself. That, no matter how we think of it, is the biggest gift that is given to us. Diseases, poverty, famines, storms, and droughts take hundreds and thousands of lives each year, but we are lucky- we still get to survive, we still get to exist, we are still able to dream.

I live in a place where the summers get blazing hot, and the rain sometimes comes deluging down. I feel grateful having a roof over my head when it is cold, hot, windy, or when I can hear the rain beating hard on my window.

I get to endure life’s tiny pleasures. The sunrise, the sunset, a peaceful walk in the nature, the comforting warmth of the sun on my face…

The thing is, our bodies evolved in forests. We didn’t evolve to need anything ‘extra’ in order to survive. Why then, do we always yearn for more? Didn’t our ancestors survive without attaining these extra needs? Wasn’t water, food, and shelter the only thing they needed to make it to another day?
When I think about the times I have complained about not having enough, I realize that there are some people who don’t even have access to the simplest of things.

So even during these hard times, I am so grateful to be alive- to be around my family, cooking, baking, playing board games, (I have even been doing house chores!), that I feel simply blessed to be here.

pulse

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

 

The Enchanted Forest

Not far from sight,
Lies a forest I’ve never seen
The trees and the bushes
Glimmeringly green 

I take tiny steps
As I walk into the mist
To a world of enchantment
That I never knew could exist 

The day has begun
With the sun wide awake
The endearing tweeting of birds
The dawn chorus they create 

Sweet-scented berries
Giving a delectable forest scent
Squirrels scampering down trees
To try some of them 

Cheerful rabbits
With their fur, snow white
With their tiny pink noses
They frolic in delight 

I pick up a flower
With a silky white petal
It’s alluring fragrance
Leaves me in an Elysian fettle 

Behind a lush tree
Of a juicy blue berry
Lies a jewel-clear river,
A world of faery 

Not a speck of dust
Seen in the pristine blue tint
The scintillating sun kissed water
Giving out its gorgeous golden glint 

It burbles all along,
As the gentle wind blows
Like scattered pieces of glitter
The angelic water flows 

A galaxy of dragonflies
All flying in one way
Brushing past the surface,
And then buzzing away 

I slowly dip my hand
To give it a try
And a chilly quick shiver
Runs down my spine 

The glacial wintry water
Trickles down my throat
The coldest it can be
Yet I keep wanting more 

The soothing comfort
Of the mystical forest sound
Immensely comforting
Proliferating all around 

As it gets late,
It’s soon time to leave
But this utopian world
Is such a wonder to see 

An Enchanted forest
That feels like home
A world full of mysteries
Where viruses don’t roam! 

But I step outside
Because I know I can’t stay
So I promise myself
To come back another day

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Your Journey, Not Theirs

“Comparison is the thief of joy”- Teddy Roosevelt

I have discovered that there is an infinite number of things and people upon which we can potentially compare ourselves to. And with how flooded we are by social media nowadays, it’s easier than ever to habitually find someone who seems to be living a “better” life than us, which only serves to make us feel miserable about ourselves. You have probably, at some point, felt the animosity boil in your blood, and your fists clenching by the envy surging up your brain. But the truth is, we have all been there! Unfortunately, once we drive down the road of jealousy, there is never an end.

Jealousy definitely plays a deadly role of stealing the joy from our lives, since we are continually tapering off our self-confidence in thinking that someone is better than us. But some times, we compare ourselves against inaccurate information. All of us show a part of ourselves to the outside world, with the other half remaining hidden forever, at least to the the common world. I mean, how many times have people asked us how we’re doing, when we’re having the day of our defeats and yet we bite our tongues and say, “everything is going great!”, when really, deep down we feel like a failure, or just about ready to lose our minds. The people we compare ourselves to are almost always enduring some struggles that we aren’t aware of. And so we typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others. As Steve Furtick explains, “The reason why we struggle with insecurities is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

Comparing is also a losing battle. It puts us in a bubble of overwhelming emotions that make us feel burdened. We dwell upon our weaknesses and are so blindsided by them, that we forget about our strengths, powers, and achievements. We forget the fact that we are also unique in our own ways. And by falling into this ever-alluring trap, we seriously start to use others as a benchmark for our own worth. But no matter how hard we try to beat ourselves up, we can never become someone else, and we can never become perfect. Because the truth is, in this game of life, we never really reach a point where we have the ability to be better than others in every single way. We are humans, not flawless creatures.

We live our lives to pursue our dreams. Sometimes, however, some people will have better ways of doing things than we do. It’s easy to feel irked by that, but it’s also possible to take it under the best possible light to lift ourselves up, rather than flying off the handle over the fact that we think that they are better than us. Whenever my parents compare me to other people my age, I feel exasperated. I feel like they think that this person is better than me. But that isn’t true. As humans, we can become just so stubborn at times, that we fail to accept our weaknesses in front of others. Ruminating about how someone else is better looking, has more friends, or is more successful than us, is rather ineffective than to figure out or wonder why this is so and what we’re doing wrong. In fact, part of what makes life so amazing is learning from the talents of others to become better versions of ourselves. Besides, we don’t lose anything in trying to learn from others, only a whole lot of ego!

So, since comparison is the death of joy, let us try to keep in mind that nobody is perfect. All of us have great strengths and all of us are working along our weaknesses. And trust me, the freedom found in comparing less is entirely worth the effort!

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Happiness- our natural state

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Quite often, our mind is flooded with a stream of negative emotions because of things as minute as waiting in a long queue, a top that just won’t fit, or even receiving a ‘K’ from a friend. Yes, we have all been there! These situations clutter our mind with pesky thoughts that get in our way of feeling cheerful and contented, and so no matter what happens right after, we feel vexatious for the rest of the day. I find myself getting infuriated or simply sad over the tiniest of things from time to time. But I’m beginning to realise that even in a face of affliction, it is possible to bring a smile and cultivate happiness again.

Some of the everyday things that annoy us, are actually quite easy to solve. For example, whenever I have a small argument with one of my friends, I often explode with anger and exasperation for the rest of the day. But after a while we realise that it just requires a little bit of maturity to resolve and be in good terms again. We could go on feeling resentful about it, but we’ll soon realise that winning a friendship/relationship is far more important than winning an argument.

As for other things, they just happen to be unsolvable. They might be irritating but there is nothing we can do about them. For example, the traffic on the road. There is no point in wasting our time worrying about it because releasing our frustration never makes the cars move faster (as much as I wish it could!).

Moreover, very few of us live our lives in absolute isolation. We all have families, friends, and loved ones with whom we interact with on a daily basis. So, if we’re happy, then it’s likely to mean that they’ll feel happier too. Through our own emotions, we actually generate a feeling on many others around us. So despite how common it is for us humans to feel annoyed and get bent out of shape from time to time, we can always reprogram this by controlling our negative thoughts and finding our happy state that is within our own grasp.

I personally feel that meditation and breathing practices undoubtedly open our doors to finding this internal happiness. Neuroscientist Sara Lazar’s studies show that maintaining a consistent meditation practice leads to a thickening in a few major areas of the brain, that increases our ability to cope with the uncomfortable and stressful tribulations that life often throws. Yet another study shows that meditation shrinks a particular portion of our brain called the “amygdala.” This is the section of our mind that controls fear and anxiety. So the smaller that gets, the happier we become as a whole. Another thing that entices me to meditation, is that when we meditate, we are not trying to get rid of any thoughts. Whatever it is that we feel, we let the thoughts in, and we let the thoughts out, until our mind instinctively enters a state of tranquility.

So even though we often stumble across infernal situations, we should remember that it’s our natural state to feel happy. We are all programmed to feel happiness as the norm, but it’s the little things in life that get in our way and alter our programming for the worst. Therefore, it’s in our hands to foster the contentment, and most importantly, retrieving the most intrinsically important state of the mind- happiness.

Also, happy Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentines Day Cupcake
Happy Valentine’s Day Cupcake

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Too Insignificant

Obscured from the universe,
I’m holding up my fears,
Letting out cries
That no one will hear
 
My tear, just a drop
In the big, boundless sea
Flowing where it takes it
Until it’s unseen
 

Nobody can feel
What I feel deep down
Even the loudest of screams
Don’t seem to make a sound
 

They travel their way
Into the empty air
Till they go unheard,
Landing somewhere
 

Waking each day
Feeling all the same
Was the world this terrifying
Even before I came?
 

Would it even matter
If I faded away
The sun would still shine
To start off yet another day
 

In a cold infinite world
My tiny world is unseen
Where my quivering pain
Is only for me to feel…

 

This poem deals with existential dread- the fear that you are too small and too insignificant in an empty, cold and vast universe to be able to make a difference. And you wonder if you’ll ever be able to make it in the long run and if so, what is the point of trying?

A friend of mine recommended this topic since she was feeling this way, and I thought it was a pretty interesting one to describe! Hope you enjoy it, let me know in the comments.

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Fruits of Action

“The only impossible journey is the one you never begin” – Tony Robbins

We all have dreams. We all have goals. But none of those come to us until we take action. If you’ve ever learnt how to bake a cupcake, or learnt a new language, or learnt to master a particular subject at school, you would have realised that achieving success entails you to go much beyond just reading. You can easily read a stack of self-help and guidance books, but they will only get you so far. To actually make a cupcake, you need to buy your ingredients, go to the kitchen, and get started! (Instead of flicking through the pages of the recipe book until the day is over🙈). The point is, procrastination and success were never friends…

People who have been successful generally believe that their skill was paramount. Others tend to believe that luck plays the major role. Whoever is right, there is always a power of action. You are more likely to attain your goals if you start to take action. Specially in today’s world, we all want to live a smooth and comfortable life but in reality, it doesn’t work that way. Taking action gets us out of our comfort zone in a way that brings us closer and closer to our goals. And while it is easier said than done, not taking any action towards our dreams results in deeper agony (I’m sure that all of us have experienced the feeling of regret at some point of our lives.)

Taking action also helps us develop new skills. For example, if you want to become an expert in a particular subject. The more you take action into studying it, the more skilled you become since you go into the depths of that subject.

Many people have the fear of failing (a serious fear of failure is actually known as atychiphobia!) and so they refuse to take action. But successful people realise that failure is a vital part of our learning process. And that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them and move forward.

So while taking action can be a painful process, its fruit is almost always sweet. On that note, let’s stop wishing and start doing!

 

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️