Where The Lost Thoughts Go

(This is a story (edited version) I wrote for Diamond’s Photostory contest. It was very much an impulsive write and I apologise in advance if it appears nonsensical).

I saw him from a distance. It was a mere glimpse, but I registered so much of his face in that tiny fraction of a second. He had a lost expression as he sat staring into space. As I approached him silently, I searched for what it was that had his gaze enslaved.

It was a solitary cloud.

It looked like a thick white blanket that had been rolled and crushed repeatedly, until it had frayed ends and stray threads in all the wrong places. I couldn’t get over how incredibly magnificent it looked, in the messy state it appeared to be in – at first glance, its beauty was in all, that was wrong about it. It was far too different from all the shapeless clouds I’d doodled away when I let my thoughts wandered.

“Hey Sandy.” I’d been so dazed I didn’t notice I’d been standing next to him the whole time. “Hey.” It’s a half-hearted greeting, but I can see he hasn’t heard me. I sit down beside him and we continue to stare at the lonely cloud that appears faintly translucent from the last rays of the setting sun. “Would you miss me if I float away, Sandy?” The question hits me from out of the blue and I’m disoriented at what he’s asked. Did he actually say, ‘float’?

He turns around to look at me and I know he’s searching for an answer in my eyes, one that I’m afraid my brain can’t formulate into words. “You can’t float“, I say.

“I could with balloons.” It irks me how quickly he replies. The fact that he’s actually thought it through, that he anticipated what I would say, annoys and touches me at the same time.

Of course, I would miss you. All of us would.” That puts him at ease for a second before he tenses up again and sits rigid staring at the last few wisps of the cloud, he’s given so much of his attention to. I suddenly catch sight of a few balloons next to him and the realisation that we’re sitting on the roof hits me like a bus. He can’t have been serious.

“Don’t you think it’s unfair they’re born to soar the skies, that they get to break themselves and stitch themselves back again and disappear and not be asked why they left?” He’s not himself today, but I can hear a pained love in his voice. He just wants answers.

Life is unfair.” I know my answer is too open-ended and I know it’s not what he wanted to hear as I see his face scrunch up in thoughtful anger. “But it’s still unfair?” He wants me to say yes. “Not to them, it isn’t.” I feel myself losing patience, I don’t understand where he’s going with this and I can’t walk away, not now that I’ve seen the balloons. “The balloons can’t take your weight.” I blurt out. He stares at me again and it just hurts so much to see him in wordless agony struggling to convey what his thoughts are screaming.

Photo by diya-pokharel on Unsplash

Cloud, are you okay?” I ask, trying to count the balloons. He stands up and hands me a balloon. “I think it’s cruel I was named for a fluff of white that goes around exploring all day and here I am stuck with no place to fly away to, when the voice inside demand a space to be let out.” He starts blowing his balloon and beckons me to follow suit. I hold an inflated one out to him with a questioning eye and he shrugs as he ties their strings together. “They’re not for me”, he whispers. We blow up balloons till there’s enough to fill our home.

He takes out a few scraps of paper from his coat pocket and secures them at the end of each balloon. I can see something scribbled on each of them but they’re folded and hidden from view. Once all the balloons have paper scraps of their own, he hands a few of them to me and looks me straight in the eye and says, “Set them free.”

We watch as the balloons float away into the sky without a word of thanks or a farewell stare. ”I felt bad we were keeping them in a drawer when they had so much potential. It felt wrong we were condemning themselves to a sedentary life when they were created to soar. I figured I might send them away with a message or two for the clouds they pass through.”

Seriously? He was guilty about the balloons in his desk drawer? My anger vanishes like the cloud did, as I see my brother staring at the last few balloons. The sky’s a strange tint of royal blue speckled with wispy clouds and an occasional star. For a brief moment, I’m suddenly made aware of the thoughts and efforts he must have channeled into organsing this little escape, because his little heart couldn’t bear the fact that we were ‘holding a few balloons captive.’

He looks perfectly content, his skin giving off a slight glow against the blue sky and we watch as the last of the balloons disappear at the horizon. “You have no place to fly away to, Cloud. But you have family who’ll brave any storm for you.” He turns to me and I go on, “Like the stars that are always there but never seen on sun-soaked mornings, by your side brother, will we stand through thick and thin.”

Dear clouds,
Please take our worries with you the next time you drop by, and set them free. Keep these balloons safe till they arrive at the place the lost thoughts go.
Sincerely,
Cloud Star Stone

And now, meet the siblings of this story!

Sandy

Source: Build A Bears Furever

Cloud

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

Quiddity

“It isn’t by getting out of the world that we become enlightened, but by getting into the world…by getting so tuned in that we can ride the waves of our existence and never get tossed because we become the waves.”
― Ken Kesey, Kesey’s Garage Sale

Through a seam in the fabric of existence
Does the day’s soul leak through;
The sole witness to the shadows
Bending to the tune of bones-
As they carve an object of flight
From parchment, so frail.

On turned tables do we cavort
To rhythms, unhindered by probabilities-
As we thrive between intervals undefined.
For the truth of being, do we bleed.
The sick stench of facades
Obscuring visions of beauty blighted.

Photo by elisabetta foco on Unsplash

In a world where
Trust is tainted with trust,
Love stained by love,
As hands that walked our first steps
Are forced into binds by
Hands that wrought hateful love;
Existence, do we muster.

Oh, call out hearts and souls –
For sustenance of sight so true,
Whilst we soar through
A world set ablaze – for fear of loss,
In remembrance of music
That once held love captive.

“Youth ends when egotism does; maturity begins when one lives for others.”
― Hermann Hesse, Gertrude

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

On a quick sidenote, I would like to extend my gratitude to Dagmara, editor at Spillwords for accepting my poem, Tears for publication at Spillwords. You can read it here if you’d like!

On a more serious note – as most of you probably know, India is caught up in a deadly battle with the second wave which is brutal. With thousands of people losing their lives daily, studies are beginning to identify India, as a global epicentre for the pandemic, as the number of deaths rise rapidly, along with a radical increase in the test positivity rate. This accompanied by a grave shortage of medical resources especially, oxygen and pre-existing issues like starvation and poverty – not a lot seem hopeful at this point.

Please click here to see if you can help in any way and here to make sure no child misses out on their education.

Rise of Religion

Origin of the word ‘Religion’
Source: Google

In a world where progress is constantly being redefined, morality and ethics questioned; there is one aspect of the human experience that has remained firmly rooted to man’s conscience, occasionally swaying but never faltering – religion.

I have developed a general appreciation for the numerous religions people practice worldwide and have grown rather interested in how the very idea of religion as ‘a social-cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, beliefs, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, and spiritual elements‘ was birthed. {Wikipedia}

Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

Origin

While the origin of religion is uncertain, there are a number of theories regarding its origins. Earliest archaeological evidence of religious ideas dates back several hundred thousand years to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic periods, where apparent intentional burials are considered evidence by archaeologists.

Various theories regarding the origin of religion, most notably those by theorists Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) and Herbert Spencer revolving around animism (the belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence), and archaeologist John Lubbock (1834-1913) who brought in fetishism (attribution of inherent value, or powers, to an object) have all been widely criticised, rendering religion’s origin yet to be discovered.

9130–7370 BCE was the apparent period of use of Göbekli Tepe, Turkey – one of the oldest human-made sites of worship yet discovered.
Source: Wikipedia

The history of religion refers to the written record of human religious feelings, thoughts, and ideas. It is a period of religious history that began with the invention of writing about 5,220 years ago.

Wikipedia quotes anthropologists John Monaghan and Peter Just on why religions could have begun – “Many of the great world religions appear to have begun as revitalization movements of some sort, as the vision of a charismatic prophet fires the imaginations of people seeking a more comprehensive answer to their problems than they feel is provided by everyday beliefs.

In ‘The Human Web: A Bird’s-Eye View of World History’, John Robert McNeill mentions the following as a potential argument as to why religion arose – “religious congregations, in turn, helped to stabilize urban society by making its inherent inequality and insecurity more tolerable.”

As of today, there are 10,000 distinct religions worldwide with 84% of the world population associated with one/several religions. Several large-scale belief systems emerged between 1200 BCE and 700 CE.

{Abrahamic and Indian religions’ source – Wikipedia}

Religion Origin
ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS:
Judaism 2000 BCE
Christianity 1st century AD
Islam7th century AD (the youngest of the major world religions)
INDIAN RELIGIONS:
Hinduism2300 BCE (world’s oldest religion)
Jainism 7th–5th century BCE
Buddhism late 6th century BCE
Sikhism AD 1500
ConfucianismConfucius, founder of Confucianism, was born in 551 BCE with the earliest Confucian writing, Shu Ching, incorporating ideas of harmony and heaven sometime in 600–500 BCE
Zoroastrianism 600 BCE
(world’s first monotheistic faith)
Taoism
550 BCE
The Pyramid Texts are the oldest known religious texts.
Source: Wikipedia

Evolution

(The following text is paraphrased from various essays on BBC Future)

In order to gain a better understanding on how and why religion evolved, evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar emphasises on examining religions without their cultural accretions. He further states that instead of focussing on Gods and creeds, we need to think deeper about the capacities that emerged in our ancient ancestors that allowed them to achieve a religious way of being together.

Dunbar goes on to mention that the largest group size that chimpanzees can maintain through grooming alone is 45. However the average human group size is 150, known as Dunbar’s number. In justification, Dunbar says humans have the capacity to reach three times as many social contacts as chimps for a given amount of social effort. This in turn potentially portrays that religion emerges out of this increased capacity for sociality. Yet another argument Dunbar’ proposes is that religion evolved as a way of allowing many people at once to take part in endorphin-triggering activation.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

With the neocortex figuring prominently in several theories regarding evolution of religion, Jonathan Turner, author of The Emergence and Evolution of Religion, mentions the more important alterations as concerning the subcortical parts of the brain, which enabled hominins (extinct members of the human lineage) to experience a broader range of emotions which led to bonding – a crucial achievement for the development of religion.

Voltaire, when asked why we need a religion answered, ”If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.” This answer seemingly implied his belief that God is necessary for society to function. The broad idea that a shared faith serves the needs of a society is known as the functionalist view of religion. One recurring theme is social cohesion: religion brings together a community, who might then form a hunting party, raise a temple or support a political party. {BBC Future}

Karl Jaspers
Source: Wikipedia

According to German-Swiss philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969), “the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently… And these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today.” The axial age, a term coined by him, refers to the period from 900 to 200 BCE.

From Wikipedia, ”Intellectual historian Peter Watson has summarized the axial age as the foundation time of many of humanity’s most influential philosophical traditions, including, Platonism in Greece, Buddhism and Jainism in India, and Confucianism and Taoism in China.

Development

The development of religion has taken versatile paths in different cultures with some religions placing emphasis on belief, practice, the subjective experience of the religious individual or the activities of the religious community. Parallelly existing alongside religions that claim to be universal, are others that are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group.

Several medieval religious movements emphasized mysticism (popularly known as becoming one with God or the Absolute) such as the Cathars, the Jews in Spain, the Bhakti movement in India and Sufism in Islam. Christianity expanded to Africa, America, Australia and the Philippines as a result of European colonisation during the 15th – 19th centuries .

The concept of “religion” was formed in the 16th and 17th centuries. The sacred histories and narratives of religions aim mostly, to give a meaning to life. Traditionally, faith, in addition to reason, has been considered a source and basis of religious beliefs.

Photo by jossuha theophile on Unsplash

The 19th century, considered the formative period for the modern study of religion, saw a dramatic increase in knowledge about a wide variety of cultures and religions, and also the establishment of economic and social histories of progress. By the late 20th century religion had declined in most of Europe.

[Paraphrasing from an essay on BBC Future]
Andrew Newberg, who studies the brain in light of religious experience, says in How God Changes Your Brain, that contemplating God long enough, produces certain reactions in the brain involving activation and deactivation of synapses, formation of new dendrites and synaptic connections along with a change of neural functioning. In short, perceptions are altered accompanied by a change in beliefs. If God has meaning for you, then God becomes neurologically real.

Photo by MART PRODUCTION on Pexels.com

The late sociologist Robert Bellah mentioned, how the religious rituals of Neolithic humans (10,000–4,500 BCE) focused above all on one person, the divine or quasi-divine king, where only a few people, priests or members of the royal lineage, participated. It was also during this period that “king and god emerged together and continued their close association throughout history”.
{BBC Future}

To conclude, what does the future hold?

While the origin of religion remains veiled by the vast expanse of life we’re still discovering, religion continues to heavily influence our lives and provide a basis for how many discern the right from the wrong. As such, religion like every other aspect of human life continues to grow and expand its reach with several new religious movements having been founded in the recent years. But is religion growing, evolving or does it follow a finite path which ends at some point? Zoroastrianism, one of the world’s oldest continuously practiced religions is today, a fading religion.

Linda Woodhead, an academic specialising in the sociology of religion, mentions political support is what paves the path for the rise or fall of a religion based on history. In Homo Deus, Yuval Noah Harari argues that the foundations of modern civilisation are eroding in the face of an emergent religion called “dataism”, which holds that by giving ourselves over to information flows, we can transcend our earthly concerns and ties.
{Source: BBC Future}

According to the future statistics modelled by The Pew Research Center based on demographics, migration and conversion, people unaffiliated with any religion will increase in countries such as the United States and France but will constitute a declining share of the world’s total population. Instead of a sharp decline in religiosity (religious orientations and involvement), the projections predict a modest increase in believers, from 84% of today to 87% of the world’s population in 2050. Excluding Buddhism, all of the world’s major religions are predicted to grow in absolute numbers in the coming decades. However, these projections cannot be considered absolute when factoring in the potential consequences of international migration.
{Source: Pew Research Centre}

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The past houses the fractional percentage constituting human error while the future remains uncertain owing to the unpredictability of life. But analysing what little we have been able to learn, religion is a unique aspect of the human experience that has grown and evolved in its own path supported by life and based on the cerebral capacity of our ancestors and it sure has been interesting to learn the course of it all!

Hope you had a lovely read!

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

Referred sources:

BBC Future
How and Why Did Religion Evolve?
Do humans have A Religious Instinct?
Tomorrow’s Gods: What is the future of religion?
Wikipedia
Timeline of Religion
Religion
History of Religion
Britannica
History Of The Study Of Religion
Pew Research Centre
The Future of World Religions: Population Growth Projections, 2010-2050
Khan Academy
The Origin of World Religions

The Guardian of the Curve

Please click here to check out the rest of this series

“Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

It stands off to a side such that it’s visible from both ends of the endless road. I pass by it at 8:45 am or so but the atmosphere it exudes and the the stark, beautiful organisation of all the articles hints at the fact that it’s set up early in the morning.

And then there’s her. The guardian of the curve.

She’s a frail old woman, visibly somewhere in her seventies, always dressed in the sort of clothes that blend into the world and her hair tucked high into a bun with a dazzling smile plastered on her face. I don’t know her name, where she’s from or how long she’s been running that little roadside stall, situated just a few metres before the road curves into another street.

The shop itself is a cute old thing, its built almost tailored to fit into that little spot by the roadside. There’s an aluminium roof over it, a blue metal sheet that sparkles blindingly in the sun. On a little wooden box that stretches across half the width of the shop is where she exhibits all the treasures her shop has to offer. There are jars of candy; all sorts; white, green or blue and further down the wooden aisle, you can see clear plastic packets of clean, shiny new pencils, pens and erasers. The clear rulers; big and small are hung on the wall behind her because they’re too lanky, to look at home, among the other paraphernalia she houses. From the roof hangs a bunch of canes for the teachers, they’re made from good quality bamboo and while its main purpose is to maintain discipline, it’s bought for games and building childhood fantasies too.

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

While the shop itself is a fantasy house of wonder, she’s the one who gives it a soul, painting a picture of kindness sending pangs of affirmation across all who pass her and her trusty shop. Every time I pass that shop, she’s there behind the wooden box; partially hidden by a cloth hanging from the roof and the canes; beaming at her young customers as they purchase one candy after the next.

The word around is that there’s nothing you couldn’t find in that shop. Opposite her humble store is a collective bunch of three shops that tempt people with all their pretty coloured merchandise and the availability of a printer and sports attire. But even though I don’t know any student or person on that road, I have a feeling, everyone would choose the guardian over the other three on any given day.

A few years of passing by and not talking to her or thanking her, I can see the charm she exudes. Her trusty stall provides a safe and secure space for all lost wanderers, she has the best pens and on days when schools hold finals, I see lines of children stretching along the length of their school in the background awaiting their chance to get their hands on a pen from the beloved guardian.

Without realising what she does, this woman continues to watch over those who pass by her shop and those who stop by and keep them safe. A glimpse at her little, old store seems to whisper,
Here, you’ll find your heart’s desire wrapped and ready for you. Dear, stay a moment or two, for you are welcome – always.

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Thoughtfully yours,
Introverted Thoughts aka D

The above is heavily inspired by an old shopkeeper whom I pass by daily on my school commute. Her shop is situated to the edge of a road with a school in the background. I know next to nothing about her except that she’s always there for the students, all set and ready to go by the time they’re there. She’s an absolute wonder and I’m grateful to her, for her relentless presence, at times of need.

This Brown Skin

I see the way you look at me,
With pity in your eyes,
I see the hatred in your gaze-
But this brown skin, it’s a prize.

I feel the disgust you throw my way,
It’s really hard to miss…
But this brown skin, it is evidence-
Of the Sun’s loving kiss.

I will still go out and play,
And if I get “duskier”, then that’s fine-
This mahogany wood, it gleams and glows,
These desert sands, they shine.

The colour of my skin is perfect-
And trust me, yours is too,
This darkness, it’s beautiful-
And deemed ugly, by who?


Hey, guys!! How’s it going? Normally, I try to explain the meaning behind my poems in this section. But there’s not really all that much to say for this one, is there?? Dark or light or salt white…The colour of your skin does not matter. It’s l i t e r a l l y just a difference in melanin.

Well, that’s all!! Have a FAB day!!

stay sticky,
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