Pushing Back The Walls

Original Artwork

If you’re not a musician or familiar with music production, you probably won’t know what I mean when I say ‘reverb’ or ‘delay’. But if I ask you if you’ve walked into a church or a giant cathedral and felt like the sounds were bigger, lusher or “spacey”, you probably know what I’m talking about.

Reverb and delay are effects that are used in music production to simulate and manipulate the reflection of sound (links at the end of this post if you want a short history). You don’t sound the same in all the rooms of your house. Even if you might not notice it, you do. Certain instruments and vocals sound right or fit into a mix well when they are recorded in certain rooms. This is why the studios that bands like the Beatles used to record their music are often talked about as having the potential for the creation of a certain kind of sound.

But as technology has developed over the years, people have tried to make it possible for you to infuse the songs that you make in your bedroom with the magic of spaces far far away.

I can put a certain reverb/delay effect on my song and make it sound like it’s being played in a cathedral on a Sunday morning. But that’s not the only mind-blowing thing here. You can listen to my song as if it was being performed in a certain space without actually being in that space. This was not possible a little more than a century ago.

I can sit in my small bedroom and listen to the latest Contemporary Christian Music release, which is usually full of lush reverbs and delays, and I can hear what I’d only hear in a much bigger space naturally.

What does that mean for the experience of music?

Well, there’s a reason why Cathedrals are the way they are. You walk into one hosting a choir or a morning service and you feel like you’re walking right into God’s chest. You feel small and insignificant but you also feel like you’re part of something larger than life. Concrete branches arch and meet above you as if you were walking in a forest encrusted in cement. Like the sun breaks into a thousand lines at the tip of leaves covered in morning dew and seems to displace itself to your arm’s length, light breaks in through the coloured glass and brings God right to you. And as you stand within reach of what seems like the great intersection of life and light, the sound of angels wash over you like a wave. The air feels wet and the ground grabs hold of your feet.

Part of me feels like reverb and delay belong where I can not only hear them but also see them. But sitting here at home, isolated from the rest of the world with walls that seem to close in, I feel like my favorite shoegaze albums are the only way to push back against them.

I think the difference, for me at least, is that when I can see the sound I am aware of where my skin ends but when I can’t see it, it feels like it comes from within. In the latter case, it is a force to be reckoned with; one that can push back the walls of my room.

On that note, here’s a song from one of my favorite bands that does some pretty cool stuff with reverb and delay:

https://blog.waproduction.com/ashorthistoryofreverb#:~:text=Reverb%20and%20Humankind%20The%20first%20widely%20available%20artificial,became%20standard%20for%20music%20production%20hardware%20and%20software.

Peace on a D String

Original Artwork

Today was yet another miserable day. However, there was a bit of comfort in the evening. I had run out of things to distract myself with so I picked up my guitar for the second time today and tried to come up with a few ideas. I did come up with a few but they were nothing special, nothing that could captivate me and keep me distracted long enough. So, they broke through, all those horrible thoughts. Then, out of nowhere, I found myself playing an old hymn that I’d listened to so many times at church. It’s a hymn written in my mother tongue so you probably wouldn’t know it. I was playing the tune on the D string of my guitar, just the D string. My fingers moved very slow, adding a delicate vibrato as if they lay heavy on the string. A peace washed over me, something I had not felt in such a long time. I kept going for another 30 minutes or so, playing this effortless tune again and again on my guitar. Somewhere along the way, my fingers had taken a life of their own. I was no longer thinking about what I was playing. There was no commanding. The rest of the world opened before me; time split and dispersed into a million moments of rain-like seeds that hung in the air and grazed against me. I could hear the low incessant hum of my amplifier, the gloss of my guitar straining against the cotton of my shorts. The cars on the street were parked on the windows of my room and all the light that was left in twilight sneaked in just for me. I felt it all.

For the past few years, a significant portion of my depression and anxiety can be attributed to my crisis of faith. I’d grown up loving all that was spiritual. I did more than the average kid to find God. Having all of that taken right from under me left me falling into a bright abyss. I don’t know if what I felt today was God in my room or the glimpse of a simpler time. Whatever it was, I’m grateful.

I know this is a very depressing blog. Very few people even read it these days. But right now, in this moment, I am able to comfort you too, even though I know that this moment will not last long.

About the artwork:

I drew this listening to the hymn and thinking about what that moment was like. By the time I was drawing it, the feeling had sort of watered down to a memory of perspective. So the colours ended up being the usual ones which I use. Something cool about it is how if you look just the lines, you can make out an eye, a nose, and ear of a face. But if you look at the colours also, you start to see how they divide the lines into two faces.

The Author On The Mount

Authors live on the mountains. They see everything. I know this because I push the rock up the mountain every day and I see it; I see the view.

Perspective.

But it does not last and I cannot take it with me. As the rock rolls downhill I have no choice but to descend into the vanity and confusion of everyday life. Tomorrow, I will do this again. I have to because I saw.

At the top of the mountain, as I behold the setting Sun, it is unclear to me if I am the author or if I am experiencing the author- the finisher of my faith. This is hidden to me and it eats away at my soul. Nevertheless, what I see inks me.

I will forget the image even as I become the image.

In becoming do I repent? Do I become the view from above where I see myself through the eyes of the author? Is this the ultimate judge? The true ideal?

I think we have tried for centuries to climb up the highest mountains in the world because we know this. Or maybe we feel it. We experience the confirmation of the author in us/or the author when we experience the bigger picture. It elevates us and changes us. It is just in its judgement.

I think it’s powerful that after a day of hard work, Jesus went up the mountain to pray/talk to God all night; that he was crucified on a hill; and that he ascended from the Mount of Olives. The Mount of Transfiguration, where Jesus’s “face changed and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning” and where He was visited by Moses and Elijah who talked to him, is perhaps the most powerful image for me (Luke 9). If we go to the Old Testament, there are so many instances where mountains become places where God meets man. The Ten Commandments being given to Moses atop a mountain is just one of many examples. For me, the fact that mountains appear the way they do in the Bible is one more reason to believe that the view from the top stands for so many things that have the power to change us.

I chose to paint the pencil in the colour of skin because I think that’s what happens when you experience life from a higher vantage point, be it through art, prayer, or love- you are rewritten. You become the image you see. You experience authorship; what it feels like to know more, to see more. It is a powerful ideal and it judges you and motivates you to align yourself to something that is evidently powerful and timeless. I also like how the edges of hills and mountains create Vs. You could reduce ‘view’ to ‘VU’. That’s just me drawing an interesting connection. What is important is that you get the idea behind all of this.

This piece is part of a series of artwork I am creating where I take images of things that move me and I superimpose over them what I consider to be the meaning that is relevant to me personally and to all of us universally. Meaning before the object. That’s the idea.

Perspective

I made this animated gif today cause I felt like it was a great illustration of how I try really hard to have the right perspective on things and it just doesn’t stay the way I want it to. Growing up Christian, I was always asked to not focus on things below (worldly things) and on things above (God, eternity, etc.). Now, as I go through a crisis of faith, I find that really hard to do. I really don’t have any idea what I’m supposed to look at. Well, I’ve got a vague idea of what’s beautiful and true. However, aligning your perspective to something sounds like a big deal and I don’t know if what I know right now is of substance or worth committing to.

Question: What do you align your perspective to?

The Tunnel at the End of the Light

My entire life has been an exercise in running towards the tunnel at the end of the light, an obsession with running away from anything that has the potential to create true human connection. Darkness embodies an emptiness for me that does not need to be filled. The void doesn’t threaten or judge; it allows me to be myself. In the acceptance of loneliness, I have the opportunity to be a part of this world at the low price of being an actor. It is in service of this necessary role that I have perfected the art of walking into a room and becoming whoever I need to be to protect myself. I have concluded that at the heart of this horrid practice is the belief that no one can ever truly understand me.

– from an entry in March 2021


I wrote this a few months ago when I was in a very dark place. Although the epiphanies that I had during this time were capable of leaving a mark on my mind, I recall them as having risen out of a mental state that was prone to self-hate. I look back on this period in my life as one of transformation. This is very odd as it happened only a few months ago. Usually, it takes a person years to look back on a period in his/her life and say that it had a transformative effect on them. Maybe, the pandemic and the small room I spent the last 12 months in probably has something to do with this unusual maturation of thought.

Before we start, I must say that I was hesitant to share the above passage, which has been taken from a longer piece I wrote; not because it is a personal piece but because I cringe at how my mind was reduced to a sponge that absorbed everything and anything to the point where I was falling down a bottomless pit of hopelessness and anxiety. I cringe not because I am ashamed but because I had no understanding of how fragile my mind really was.

When Keats said, “the only means of strengthening one’s intellect is to make up one’s mind about nothing, to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts”, I should have given him a piece of my mind. LOL. Just kidding. Of course, we are not talking about Negative Capability here although I do believe that I have developed a similar capacity over the past year and it possibly had something to do with what I will be talking about in this post.

The past twelve months of lockdown has been like pushing a giant rock up a mountain, as in the Sisyphus myth. A few months ago, I finally reached the top. When the blissful distraction of hard work and focus had left me and the pain of self-hate threatened to consume me, my eyes searched for a glimpse of the promised land but I was disappointed. What I saw instead was the infinite regress of my own insecurity. I feared death, loneliness, the loss of potential and the uncertain future. The rock had by then rolled down leaving me with the crippling knowledge that pushing it up again was probably not going to change what I had just seen. In a moment like no other in my blip of a past, I felt panic. In that moment, I wondered what Moses felt atop Pisgah as his eyes saw the Promised land and he heard the certainty of death in the valley.

The challenges of being a college student in the middle of a pandemic, my isolation from the religious community, and my frequent and reckless introspection had all led me to a place where I found myself drifting away from God, my family, and the rest of the world. I didn’t know what to believe. The pain of having everything you believed in shaken and taken out from under you is extremely confusing and painful. I felt more vulnerable than I ever did in my entire life.

But with time, music, the love of my family and a few friends (I’ve learnt I don’t have many), and the indescribable power of the God I truly want to believe in, I found myself slowly making it out of the darkness. I had finally realized that while darkness covers my imperfections, it cannot protect me from myself. I need people, I need God. I don’t know what that means yet but I have the courage to search. This, I know.

I thought twice about posting this because I did not want to add to the darkness in the world. The passage and the artwork are both very disturbing. However, I am sharing it because I have resurfaced, found land, and started on a journey that I believe will be a fruitful and adventurous one. If you’re still reading this, I thank you for caring. I would really appreciate your company in the comments section. Be well.

Trees Posed for a Photo

Some of God’s beautiful sky blue beard is escaping the frame. Next time, I’ll be careful

A loooong time ago, God created trees. Then he asked all of them to pose for a photo. In heaven, God has a family photo album of everything from the beginning of time. The trees were extremely happy to be part of God’s photo album and so they posed. Then God took out his nifty little camera and clicked.

The trees were still getting used to the Sun and the flash was so powerful that they put their hands up to shield themselves from the light. And so, they were forever frozen in time with their hands held high.

And that, kids, is why tree branches grow up and not down.

Then, after so many years, when humans were made, they saw the trees and imitated their posture. Trees gave them fruits and shade and they were full of life. Thus, the pose came to be synonymous with life, abundance, and joy.

So, next time you see a tree, raise your hands up, look up to the sky, and smile for the camera.

Of Faith and Fear: Why the Mumbo is Jumbo

This post is about explaining my previous post ‘Of Faith and Fear'( Of Faith and Fear (wordpress.com) ). It is from a series called ‘Mumbo is Jumbo’ in which I use absurd images to communicate well-formed ideas. Many of my friends wanted to know what ‘Of Faith and Fear’ was really about. I was hesitant to do this as the post is about something that I’m not comfortable talking about openly. However, the piece means a lot to me personally and I think if you guys knew what led me to writing it, it would make the piece a very interesting read for you. So, let me share.

I’ve never liked horror movies. The reasons why I don’t is not germane to the topic of this post. Let’s just say for the satisfaction of half the people in my life that I’m a wimp. Anyway, once in a while I find myself in a position where I have to sit down and watch a horror movie regardless of my general distaste for the genre. On these occasions, I try my best to get through unscathed. One of my favorite techniques is to imagine the movie set. I like to imagine the director giving instructions to the actors, people running around with lightboxes, and interns giggling in the background. It helps me to break through the illusion and remind myself that the moving pictures are man-made, the result of a series of very deliberate choices. When I do this, the horror movie, by virtue of it having a particular lighting or sequence of camera angles, becomes a “portkey”(HP reference) back to reality.

Let us now take a detour into something that happened a few weeks ago when I had the most random of thoughts. I asked myself why in all the churches I’ve visited, Mother Mary is always dressed in blue. So I Googled it. Apparently, the Bible is full of references to the colour. It stood for heaven, riches, royalty, purity, etc. However, from my very basic research, I found that Virgin Mary is always dressed in blue because the colour signifies purity. In fact, during Byzantine times, blue was widely used to signify this quality.

Alright, let’s get back to scary movies.

For all my life, I’ve been a devout Christian. Still am, I’d like to think. But in the past few years, I’ve found myself questioning my beliefs. I’ve gotten to a place where I believe that all of it is true one day and find it absolutely hard to believe the next. It’s a scary place to be when you’ve lived all your life believing in something completely. Considering the idea of eternal incineration is scary enough. But what about my life here? I want to live in the truth. It’s important to me. I’m caught between extremes and it’s the most depressing and horrifying thing I’ve ever faced in my life. Is it all man-made? Or is it the absolute truth? At the moment, it all depends on what day it is.

So, when I tell you that churches can be scary spaces for me, I hope it makes sense. They’re powerful, larger-than-life spaces that make me feel part of something beyond my insignificant existence. Being in that space on a day that I don’t believe is the scariest thing in the world. It’s like being ripped apart. So, in desperation, I try to look for the cameramen and the directors; I try to find ways of imagining it all as man-made. Anything from facetious expressions to illogical claims help me to breathe. This is how I treat three hours on a routine Sunday as a horror movie.

This is why when I read about why Mother Mary is always in blue, an image popped into my head. I’ve tried my best to paint it.

What I saw was a group of people carrying a giant statue into a church. Wet paint was dripping off it. It made no sense whatsoever why anybody would carry a statue still wet with paint into a church. But I let it play on. This was followed by an image of me in a church seeing a blotch of paint on the red carpet and holding on to it as a mark of how man-made the larger-than-life space of the church I was in was; a reminder that the tinted glass, the high ceilings, and big curtains were all the result of deliberate choices of artists.

The image also reminded me of how there is blue inside the church and outside the church. The sky is also blue. It proclaims the handiwork of God. But we meet God in closed spaces, disconnected from the infinite blue above us. I often find the blue inside the church to be an entirely different shade from the blue outside. There seems to be a disconnect between the world inside the church on a Sunday and the world outside on the other six days of the week. Most people I know have different ways of living inside and outside the church. I’m not a pantheist but I was reminded of Spinoza’s philosophy that exhorted people to return to the blueprint of nature. Why is it that the purity of nature and the scriptures always have to be adulterated by our selfish desires and agendas? It’s always been the story, even in the Garden of Eden.

I’m not a catholic. The imagery used is not a jab at anyone. I merely allowed ideas to possess certain images to communicate something. This is also in no way a statement that comes from a place of conviction or certainty. I’m confused. I don’t resent religion. I consider myself to be a Christian; but my beliefs are based not on sight but on faith. I have no evidence for what I believe in. I believe there is a God and that Jesus was divine. I do so because I want to and I have nowhere else to go. But I don’t believe in a lot of things that most Christians believe in. This is a piece that comes from a place of humility and acceptance of my own incertitude. As I write this, part of me is happy to present a part of my life that I found hard to communicate with others. At the same time, I write every word fearing divine retribution. I find peace in knowing from experience that honest expression has always brought me closer to the truth, be it in people or ideas.

P.S. This is not a very well-written post. I was not feeling up to it but I thought it was required. Hope you guys enjoyed reading it nonetheless. Cheers.

Sunshine Blogger Award!

It’s so awesome to be part of something like this. I’d like to thank my dear friend, Stuart L. Tutt for nominating me. He shares his life, the highs and he lows, at his site over at stubaby777.wordpress.com. He loves God and it’s a great joy to be a part of his life here at WordPress.

So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Here are the rules :

• Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.

• Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.

• Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

• Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

Here are Stu’s questions to his nominees along with my answers to them:

1. What brings joy to your life?

First of all, my family brings a great deal of joy into my life. A lot of great friends (including the ones here at WordPress) also are a big part of my life. But when it comes down to it, on a very personal and intimate level, I find great joy in art. Although music is what I enjoy most, I still find a great deal of joy in many other art forms. And I’m thankful to God for that every single day.

2. If money was not an issue, what would be your dream job?

That’s a great question. I really want to be that guy who goes on stage and does ted talks and inspires people. I really have this dream of being able to combine philosophy ,music and art and being able to present that to people. If I could make a living out of that, that would be awesome. I love being on stage and sharing something I care about.

3. What are two gifts the Lord has blessed you with, spiritually or physically?

I would say music and confidence. But that being said, there are a lot of other things that I am very grateful for. But those are the two that popped up in my brain first.

4. What post or posts touched you so deeply that you felt “everyone needs to read this!”?

That is a hard question because I’ve not been on WordPress for a long time. So, I’ll just mention one post I really enjoyed in my meagre exploring on my Reader. Tosin over at Alethea’s Mind wrote this beautiful post called Sitting. Watching. Doing. Nothing. You can read it here: https://aletheasmind.wordpress.com/2019/06/27/sitting-watching-doing-nothing/

5. Which blogger would you do a Blogger Spotlight on and why?

To be honest, Stu, you’d be one for sure. I think you have a lot to say, whether it be about your journey out of pornography or just about life.

6. What does love mean to you?

Now that is one hard question! But nevertheless, I’ll try to make it as short as I can. I believe love holds everything together. The Bible says that ‘God is love’. That’s such an interesting line. It’s the most powerful reason possible for something. And I believe that true love brings truth into perspective.

7. If you could choose one attribute of Jesus to follow closer than any other, which one would it be?

I would love to be as approachable as Jesus is.

8. In your eyes, what is the hardest part of being a Christian?

Learning the true meaning of humility.

9. What do you want to be most remembered for?

I want to be remembered by my face and not by name( I might make that into a log post in a few days). I want to be known as the one who stayed when everyone else left. I want to be someone who believed in people.

10. Which Bible verse holds the most meaning to you and why?

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21. This verse empowers me spiritually because I have been given freely a position that now gives me perspective. And this perspective is what helps me lead the life that God wants for me.

11. Since it’s July, how do you celebrate the 4th?

Since I’m Indian, I don’t necessarily celebrate July the fourth. But I’m really happy for my American friends and share in their joy. But this past July 4th, I woke up in the afternoon, had a great lunch, went out and made some music. 🙂

My Nominees:

Tosin over at Alethea’s Mind: aletheasmind.wordpress.com

Teen, Meet God over at https://teenmeetgod.wordpress.com/

And anyone else who want to do it for fun.

My Questions:

  1. Do you know a really funny joke? If you do, share it!
  2. What in your opinion, is the most underrated song, book, movie, TV series, or anything for that matter?
  3. How do you enjoy nature?
  4. What is your favourite instrument?
  5. Hymns or contemporary music?
  6. If you could tell the whole word one single word, what word would that be?
  7. Do you think we should protect nature? If yes, then why?
  8. The year you enjoyed most in your life.
  9. One thing you’re thankful for as a human being.
  10. What makes you feel loved?
  11. A skill you developed on your own.

I just want to let everyone know that anyone is welcome to attempt any of these questions. Answer them in the comments. It could be a great way to connect.

Once again I thank Stu for this opportunity. Hope you guys have blast just existing on this beautiful planet!

A great quote

Hey guys,

Just wanted to drop in and share with you a great quote I just read over at the blog of one of my dear friends, Stuart L. Tutt. It just brightened up my day 🙂

‘You will also realize that despite the fact you can’t find pants that actually fit you, your body size is perfect. It is exactly that way God designed you to be. You will eventually come to terms with it.’ – Stuart L. Tutt

Go check out his blog at https://stubaby777.wordpress.com/

I’m sure you’ll be inspired. God bless you all! 🙂

True Love

fabrizio-verrecchia-195644-unsplash

It stays there, lingering in your heart like a mellifluous note of tranquility. Its sonorous echo hits against the walls of your heart and asks to be let out and be shared. It’s a love that’s pure. It’s not limerence or lust. It is an iridescent truth. It is a love that makes you want to find the meaning in life, it is the love that makes you want to love God.

I look around as I move like a somnambulist through time. The love in me brings tears to my eyes as I see how true love is caged by the pride of man. They fall on the open grounds of my heart, the very foundations of what is true and they let out a petrichor that is a stink at the same time. It brings fragrance to the value in the true but cuts against the walls of my heart with its stark contrast to what is beautiful.

Look into the heart of a child. Look to the strings stretched across the heart of a young soul. So innocent, unpolluted by the world. Listen to the song that comes out and treasure it in a transparent box with little space. Let not anything pollute it, but let everything behold its beauty.

Man, look at how God has painted love with ethereal colors. Look at how it glows in peace and how it dances in true forgiveness. Don’t complicate it, don’t mock it. Look through the eyes of the creator on a suffering world.

Oh, only if we would understand true love!

God help us, come to us and let true love flow through us…………