Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Take me the way I am

She smiled tentatively at him.

She'd gotten used to the stares by now...the whispers and the barely suppressed laughter at her two slender legs, her nose (how could she smell anything accurately with just a single nose?!!) and her symmetrical cheekbones under almond-shaped brown eyes. Yes, she understood their derision to an extent...what was the use of a mere pair of eyes, that too only facing a single direction? How could she compare with their twenty seven strategically placed sense-lenses which covered their globular heads and looked, x-rayed, detected, monitored, predicted and analyzed all at once? Whereas her two eyes merely saw.

What they saw now, though, made her pause and react. She'd experienced many stares in the time she'd spent in their world, but none that made her (single, four-cylindered, blood-pumping-only) heart beat like this. None that made her feel special, and (dare she say it?) beautiful. No stares that didn't ridicule her. Which is why she took a whole five minutes to realize that he was staring in admiration at her. He liked her. Despite her upright manner, her long haired, elliptical face, her lack of sense-lenses and multiple noses. He saw through her human exterior and fell in love with her inner being. At first sight. Using all twenty-seven of his 'eyes'...he took her the way she was.

Which is why she broke her tentative two-legged stride and smiled at him.

I discovered this song a while ago and fell for it at once. "At first sound". Saw the video for it and started wondering what it would feel like in a world where being 'normal' is abnormal. Where a slender, brown-eyed, long-haired stereotypical beauty would be considered a freak. Maybe it's all that Asimov I read last month, maybe it's my own experience being an 'alien', maybe it's the freedom from reality that the Science Fiction genre allows...this story is inspired by all of the above.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Different kinds of happy

I just finished watching Sweet Land, a little-known but charming film about a German mail-order bride who comes to marry a Norwegian in small town Minnesota, set in the 1920s. In one scene, a friend is trying to tell her to look 'happy' for the camera as he takes a picture, but is confused as he tries to translate, because there are multiple words for 'happy' in Norwegian. As is explained in the movie, that's because there are 'different kinds of happy'.

Indeed. There's happy, and then there's delighted. Like a kid's love for 'candy and fresh snow' as Dave Mathews would put it.

Then there's joyous. For those times when the happiness has to be shared in order to be experienced.

There's excited. For anticipated happiness - there is nothing to match this feeling, because it comes laden with hope and energy, which by themselves are fruitless pursuits but in combination, make for a synergy that's unbeatable.

There's elated, for those times when happiness comes with a magic carpet for you to ride on. And you have to let yourself be taken where it's headed, because you know it's going to let you off soon...this too shall pass.

Then there's ecstatic, which should be reserved for use in a lifetime - maybe there's a quota ecstatic moments we are allowed in a single lifetime, and we live your life in pursuit of those.

I'm not sure where ecstasy ends and euphoria begins. And this time it's not about drugs and rock-n-roll (if it were, it'd be Ecstasy and Euphoria, right?). Maybe euphoria is a kind of quiet but intense happiness.

How about glee? And pleasure? And mirth? Nobody should be denied those kinds of innocent, clean, pure happiness...

Somewhere along the low side of the intensity continuum is 'glad'. A word that was invented less for polite conversation ("Glad to meet you") and more for expressing that something or someone is capable of changing your mood and your life.

And then there's content and satisfied, which is possibly what it's all about. Beatific feelings of serenity and all that...Contentment is probably the hardest kind of happiness to find in this world. And the more you chase it the more elusive it gets.

It's probably best to remember that happiness, like sadness, is fleeting. The best you can do is store up enough happy moments to tip the balance in your search for 'happily forever'. After all, forever is but a series of nows.