If I had to weave an Utopian society in my mind, absence of criticism would be one of its pillars. However, Utopia exists only in fiction and unfortunately we are the stuff reality is made of. The real world with its many trappings is the place where we are to lead our lives; with our actions in plain view of our peers and theirs to critique. Receiving criticism is seldom a fun ride. It is gut wrenching to see someone tear apart something which were the fruits of one’s imagination, efforts and passion. More than anything else, it is a cruel reminder of the fact that one’s vision and intentions were not as flawlessly executed as planned; that someone is questioning their capabilities. On the other hand, criticism is also a great eye opener; a stepping stone to improvement. How one takes criticism reflects greatly on the strength of their character. Having said that, in my opinion, how one chooses to criticize others is also no less than a litmus test of his psyche.
As everyone else, I have often found myself on both ends of the criticism stick; the critic as well as the criticized. In my opinion, we should render criticism in the way we would wish to be criticized. Similarly, we should be able to accept criticism in a way we would want others to take our critique. Sadly it is all easier said than done. Although I am nowhere close to achieving this complete absence of hypocrisy, it remains as one of my life long goals. When I started working, I was often put in a position where I had to review and critique other people’s work. I then realized how quickly words can be misconstrued, sentiments can be hurt and personal relations can be strained. Objectivity is a part of being a professional but diplomacy is equally essential. Criticism has a way of making people defensive and somewhat hostile. The perfect criticism would be where the receiver can see a positive light in the midst of the flaws. And for this, the critic is as much responsible as the one being criticized.
When I am on the receiving end of criticism, my first emotion is that of dejection and bewilderment. The fact that sooner or later, I have to own up my actions registers gradually. It is easier to respond to gentle criticism but life never gives us what we want. When I am being criticized incessantly and brutally, I initially feel lost for words and disappointed in myself. Thankfully, after a while, optimism powers through and provides me hope. Over the years, I have learnt that it is very important to understand the intent of the criticizer. Some people are chronic critics; pessimists who are more interested in undermining confidence rather than encouraging others. It is important to identify such kinds. It just makes life easier. It is equally rewarding to identify well wishing critics; the ones who are eager to guide and groom us. It is a boon to have such people in my life and I take their criticism as positively as I can and follow their word like gospel. What I am trying to say is that it is wise to be analytic about criticism and not let everyone’s opinions affect us.
It is also important to realize that we are our biggest critics. As someone who understand our aspirations and capabilities from the closest quarters, external forces are rendered insignificant if we don’t feel the innate desire to improve. There is no fooling oneself; in the end, we live with no one but ourselves. We are the only ones who can change ourselves and self critique is something which should hold more water than anyone else’s opinion.
In India, the Summer Solstice is already on the way to its end. It is already 6:30 PM as I type this post. Particularly in Mumbai, summer is already preparing for its exit as monsoon knocked on our doors about a week ago. Since then, the weather has been an awkward competition between the blazing sun and menacing dark clouds. Today was no different.
To be honest, I was not looking forward to the longest day of the year as I had nothing planned for the day. But I imagine, the rest of the world must be happy that this day fell on a Saturday; and they would not have to spend the precious extra hours of the light slaving away in their workplace. I did not do anything special. I woke up quite late and lazed around the house until my stomach reminded me to cook some food. After having a simple brunch, I spent some time catching up with friends after which I penned a poem for my previous blog post. Post that, I watched some TV and now here I am, writing about my uneventful day. I plan to do a Fargo marathon after I finish with this post. That would be good use of the extra hours we have been gifted today.
I hope the other people of Mumbai were able to make better use of the extra hours of light today. Many offices remain open on Saturdays here but I hope they were able to get off work early and spend more time with themselves and the ones they love. Living in one of the busiest cities of the world, we often forget about the finer things in life. These days, our topmost priority is not getting the impending monsoon hamper our routines. The city is all about survival and racing against the clock. Many would have been relieved in discovering that the clock is going to move slower.
The sun has not set yet, although its not really bright outside either. I can see dark clouds gathering outside my window but I am not sure how the events are going to unfold. We are more than ready to say goodbye to the cruel Indian summer and I sincerely hope that it rains. That would be a good way to end a Summer Solstice.
I have great difficulty in remembering my dreams. When I wake up in the morning, I do spare a few seconds in recollecting the dreams I have had last night. More often than not, I draw a blank. On a few occasions, I do recall a series of blurred faces and voices but sadly, they are too vague to string together into a coherent scene. However, on a taxing day, sometime when I close my eyes, I have a few peaceful retreats I can transport to. One of such places is a rock temple which is over a thousand years old and overloooks the mighty Bay of Bengal.
Visiting monuments have always been a favored activity with me. It is a happy culmination of my penchant for travelling, history and photography. Luckily I live in a country dotted with spectacular historical sites. One such site is the Sea Shore temple which I visited in 2010. That memories of that trip have stayed with me since and visit me every once in while when I need comfort.
I am walking alone towards the temple. Dusk is just falling. The elegant, tapered dome stands tall against the vast, vivid evening sky. The sea heaves gently in the side. The waves come crashing against the rocks lining the temple and then crawl back to meet the sea. I set foot inside the temple and can feel myself travelling back in time. The walls come alive with time honored tales and characters.The sculptures of the Gods gently draw me into their myths. At this point, the temple does not belong to an ancient kingdom. It stands there only to cater to my whims. The walls chronicling thousands of years of glory stand there only to give me some moments of peace. Under their gracious shadows, I am reminded once again what a bliss it is to steal some moments of solace from under the nose of the frenzied world. After a while I come out of the temple and make my way to the sea. I just sit on the shore, running my fingers through infinite grains of sand and watch till the sea and sky dissolve into each other.
I am never going to remember any dream as vividly as I remember this and I am thankful for that. For dreams often end abruptly; vanish into oblivion at the slightest disturbance. However, the idea of me strolling in an temple of an era bygone, beside the stunning sea will never fade as long as my imagination is alive.