Dancing Tables

There is something undeniably eerie about the mysterious companion we lovingly call memory. I have found myself, on more occasions than I can name for lack of remembrance, thinking about the unending onslaught of memory. The devious monster parts ways with us when we need it most of all, but returns with vivid images of a past we have long forgotten when we are least on guard. Usually these flashbacks are a consequence of lack of activity, yet there are days when the cunning scythe of memory eradicates all in its path and resurfaces, unabated.

Today was one such day. You see, I had been busy all day long, and whereas I had willingly kept myself preoccupied with trivial ongoings, I was largely unavailable for random thought through no effort of my own. Yet despite being so very engaged, and with yet a truckload of very consuming chores lined up ahead, I found my mind drifting off into a time which I vaguely remembered. After fighting the subconscious recollections of that past for some time, I gave in and decided to embrace my enemy as a friend.

But I refused to be thrown into a pit of sorrow on a day when things had been favouring the tide. So instead of wallowing in the more demoralising parts of my existence, I decided to focus on the fair. I am proud to say that I did not fail. In fact, I succeeded rather remarkably. I managed to look deep into the recess of my mind and find the one memory which is the high to all lows, the up to all downs, the sunshine to all clouds. It is a memory of the simpler days, when being carefree was the only care we had.

Amongst the many great things about this one memory which has helped me through thick and thin is that I can share it with someone. It may seem like a trivial point, but in a way it makes all the difference in the world. I do not know what it is, but there is a feeling which fills your mind when you think of a happy moment spent in the company of someone you swore never to forget, and that feeling drives all worries from your mind. The feeling probably cannot be described, for it is slightly irrational, making it all the more satisfying.

Only the other day I was telling a close friend of mine about the basic principles which govern our lives, for no other reason that to make conversation, when I realised how flawed all my theories would have been were it not for this particular memory. For I have based almost all my life’s greatest decisions on the sensation of comfort which this memory gave me. Today, while trying to remember the feeling which the memory always left me with, I was presented with the greatest curse to have befallen mankind since temptation: forgetfulness.

I have spent the last few paragraphs speaking about the sweet comforts of a memory which I claim has stayed with me all these years and has been a  great part of my life, yet I honestly cannot recall most of the details of the memory at all. I do not know what I was wearing that day, what the weather was like, what time of year was it, or even how I ended up in that particular place at that particular time. So why is that memory so significant?

I do, despite my rather pitiful recollection powers, recall the person I was with, the joke which had us laughing for almost half a day hence, the place where we were and the disinterest of those around us. The disinterest, in the most corrupt way possible, gives me hope: it tells me that even when no one else cares about that one day sometime in the last ten years, I always will.

Does that suffice? Are a few details about a once happy-go-lucky time spent with an old childhood comrade enough to imbibe the feeling of warmth, comfort and security? Is that all it would take for someone to calm me down: a sketchy picture of a past I barely remember?

Somehow, I find that very unconvincing.

It is not always that I sit at my desk and lose myself in a sea of memories only to resurface hours later bathed in the sweet joy of recollection. In fact, when asked, I would say that I am amongst those few unfortunate souls who condemns dwelling in the past. And so I find myself justified when I say that there is something about this memory which not only allows me to let go of my principles, but also encourages me to indulge myself in a habit I can only ever call pathetic.

Think as I may, I cannot find the answer. I do not intend to pile upon your already swamped lives the trifle tale of a troubled boy, and I shan’t either, but in this time of the unknowing I find it best to share my woes while harbouring the illusion that someone is listening. You will find on multiple occasions that you, too, have this sketchy, unusually comforting memory, with no apparent reason for its existence; tell me when that happens, and I shall be all ears.

Life has always had a way of presenting me with opportunities to create great memories out of, and I shall be forever grateful for that. However, I do wish, on occasion, that since life is so gracious in giving memories, if it would be just as gracious with taking them, if only to create space for new ones. It is not that I do not value this particular memory above all others, for I do, but as long as this one has caught my hold, I doubt I’ll be able to move on to a newer, potentially more comforting one.

At last, I would like to thank the person who shares this memory with me, making this memory and my life come alive when I most need it. For I may one day forget all the details of this memory, and I may forget the memory itself, and the feeling that this memory leaves me with and anything about this memory, but I shall always remember my companion.

Thank you dear comrade: Dancing Tables.





Sometime ago, in a past I am more than willing to forget, I had a discussion with a close friend about whether curiosity or desire was more necessary for development in the world. Needless to say the discussion quickly shifted focus to what, in fact, was development. Unsatisfied by the turn of events, we decided to modify the criterion of our discussion to whether it was curiosity or desire which was the reason behind most of the scientific pursuits and developments.

Being more of a “why” person as opposed to a “what if” person, I took it upon myself to become curiosity’s knight, little aware of the fact that I was up against desire’s bishop. I returned from the contest alive, but barely so. It was a Pyrrhic victory if there ever was one, for the comfort which I had with regard to curiosity had been gone. I didn’t believe in the sanctity of curiosity anymore and, if that discussion were to be held again today, I would  just as willingly fight for desire as I once did for curiosity.

Sitting at my desk today it struck me that the argument hadn’t ever really been drawn to a close. My friend hadn’t lost after all, and, the downside of the realisation, I hadn’t really won. So I decided to take the argument further, but not with anyone who might give me ideas which I cannot quite work with, for as much as I like to learn there is a time and a place fore everything and this wasn’t it. I carried the argument forward with myself instead, and though I haven’t quite reached a conclusion, I thought it quite worthy to be shared here.

However, narrating two sides of an argument, especially one which took place in two incidences separated by more than four months, is not only a tedious task but also a recipe for losing readership. Instead, I’ll get right to the point which I think could benefit the world, and, should that desire seem too melodramatic and hollow, it would give my mind the peace necessary for it to function.

Have you ever wondered why or how things happen? Why did humans learn to walk upright? Why did oxygen only develop on planet Earth? Why does gravity pull you towards itself instead of pushing you away? How does the system of tectonic plates work? How did evolution land us here, in present day? How do scientists get the ideas for groundbreaking theories?

It’s all there in our heads, and I am sure we have all wondered about such things at some point in our lives, but refused to follow the train of thoughts for any of the million reasons that surround us. Maybe we realised that such pondering yields no good, is perhaps too vague  or simply too silly. Or maybe someone we assume is wiser to us heard our misgiving and showed us that they were simply a waste of the precious time we have. Either way, even if  these doubts do find their way into our heads, they are quickly squashed out.

On the other hand, desires are ever-persistent. Desires cannot be squashed out because they form a home in our hearts and minds and leave a hollowness whenever they are taken away unsatisfied. Desires, therefore, seem to be the stronger, or at any rate the more permanent, governing forces of our actions.

Perhaps the greatest strength of desire is its range. Curiosity, when it exists, cannot be small, else it shan’t be called curiosity but doubt, or lack of knowledge. Do we call a person who wonders about the taste of chocolate curious? Of course not, we simply call them unlearned or inexperienced. But a person with desire, no matter how small, is still called desirous. A person who desires the greater good of mankind is as desirous as a person who desires, for lack of a better example and  to provide some form of analogy, chocolate.

So is that it? Does desire take the crown simply because it is a broader concept than curiosity? No, absolutely not. For curiosity is nothing but the desire to know, the desire to learn something new, or to feel something new. Curiosity is nothing if not a form of desire itself, a specific part which is so strong and so different to desire itself that it merits its own side in this argument.

Curiosity is rich. As I said, a person who would like to know the taste of chocolate isn’t curious. Curiosity isn’t something just anyone can have, it’s a rare occurrence which makes it both precious and, in some crooked sense, utterly worthless. The example which my friend and I had debated upon was that of the Wright brothers. Were they curious to know what the sensation of light would feel like or did they simply have the desire to fly?

Now the question seems awfully simple. It doesn’t matter. Of course they were curious about the sensation of flight, who isn’t? The wanted to know what flying would feel like, and they also wanted to fly. What matters is which of these desires was the stronger factor influencing their decisions? Was it the desire to experience something new, which we have already classified as curiosity, or simply the desire to do something, without the intent of learning something from the  experience.

You will find that the answer to this question, and any other questions which draw any form of line between curiosity and desire, are nearly impossible to answer.  They are almost always vague and offer no form of consolation even when the questions are answered. Some things are, perhaps, best left to great thinkers of the time, for we are, and I proudly include myself in this category, fools at best.

All said and done, I shall always be curious. I shall always have the overwhelming desire to  know, know just about everything there is to know. It seems like a ridiculous desire, which is why I don’t which to think of it as a desire at all. I am curious, and happy to be, for there is joy in learning the unknown, and that joy is worth more than the satisfaction of any desires which I may or may not have.