Wanted: A rubber duck-cum-devil’s advocate

What does a rewarding relationship mean to you?

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For some of my friends it means being devoted, expressing & receiving care and affection, reaffirmation of one’s own goodness, finding strength and support in another when you stumble and are running on empty… the list goes on.

Can’t say that I don’t seek these things out in love and friendships. But what makes me seem flit-ty, is perhaps my search for a very particular breed of rubber duck.

I borrow the term ‘rubber duck’ from the ‘rubber duck debugging method’ – a concept I was introduced to by my coder- friend and flatmate. To explain it in plain language, if you find yourself stuck with an idea or piece of work or a line of code, then just talk to an inanimate object and break down the idea into smaller elements, explaining it to them until you find out the inconsistency or disconnect in it by yourself! Does that make sense? Or do I need to rubber duck my definition of a rubber duck first?

Either how, what I lack in my life is not exactly an inanimate thing, but something slightly different. What I sorely feel lacking in my life is an entity that alternates between a rubber duck and a devil’s advocate. The reason I cannot bring myself to completely rely on a rubber duck is because in the spur of the moment, I can find in myself, only so much respect for a rubber duck! Since the ideas aren’t exactly coming from the duck but from myself, it probably means I have limited respect for myself during some moments… a lack of trust in myself to solve a problem that I’m feeling stuck in. Hmm, now that’s a revelation I suppose.

The reason I need this entity to sometimes take on the avatar of a devil’s advocate is because, the best kinds of devil’s advocates usually listen and take apart your ideas for their logic and reason; or the absence of them. Devil’s advocates absorb your ideas at the rate at which you’re rambling about them, and it’s cathartic to have them argue back with you. With a devil’s advocate who’s doing a good job at being one, you are always on the same page.

I don’t just want someone who’s a good listener, I want somebody to intellectually spar with, and to sometimes do all the things that are the opposite of what a rubber duck does!

Hmm, I wonder if I made much sense to anybody outside to myself?

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Ordinary Flaws

Whom does idealization hurt more? – the dreamer or the subject of the dream? The person who has externalized the source of every answer he has always sought, or the person being put up on the pedestal as if his true self wasn’t enough?

What happens when that idealization ends? There seem to be ways this story can turn out. Perhaps reality comes crashing down on them and one of them breaks down, while the other feels betrayed. There’s also the chance that one of them expresses, in full vulnerability, and the other responds with kindness, understanding, and love. As much as we focus on the ideal of the second, it is probably best to concede that we are, but, ordinary people, trying to do our best, looking for meaning and love, and learning to express ourselves as truthfully as possible. We are grappling with everything that our senses send our way, and looking to instill some rhythm and some pauses into our living.

Sure, be kind, and understanding. But what’s more important is to be true to yourself and your capabilities- we’re just ordinary people. We’re simply human, and our asymmetry is beautiful. It shows how deep and diverse we are, for there is only so much that can be contained within perfection – it’s completeness is stagnant; it is done and dusted, and one must move past it. But when there is a trail of frayed thread, or a hint of desire, then there is the glorious chance of fruition- a relationship, a journey together, a vision of the sunset- shared and taken in with the delight of breaking bread with another, of community.

We’re just ordinary people.

On travel and relationships.

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Travel has been my one true experience of reality in the past. It was probably because that is something I felt affinity with, a glimmer of familiarity if you will. As a child, I moved around a lot. I moved schools, homes, cities, even colleges! Change was the most frequent thing, and seemed like the most sincere remedy to any sort of situation – going through puberty, friends acting strange, feeling like an outcast? Bam! New school, new people, new hobbies, new home, new dimensions to living.
Sometimes as it happened with pre-internet kids, one had little control over resources of communication, and it was hard to make sense of reality, so you drift apart thinking c’est la vie, nobody knows anybody forever, nobody knows each other’s deepest truths or darkest secrets, that’s just how it is supposed to be. Fights meant you cut people off because new people could be met, and new friends can be made, as if they were paraphernalia of convenience, the result of happenstance, product of circumstance, nothing was a choice right?
What a painful way of living. To start from scratch at the drop of hat, taking flight at the hint of trouble, never immersing oneself in a hard, cold fact because you see it as just that – a fact. Nothing more to it, no knowledge could change that. Right? But I am admitting to having been wrong. A fact may be, but the adjectives used to describe it are a figment of your mindset. A friend is rude – that is a surface-level fact. Stay with it long enough, and you will hear that she had been having a bad day. Dig your heels and show your trustworthiness, and she will share how talking about grades in front of boys make s her feel like she is under inspection and is being judged…because her mother mocks her for being boy-crazy instead of wanting to do homework all the time.
Life has a mysterious way of unravelling itself to us. It does not unfold to us in the span reality as we have it happen to us. It reveals itself in layers, through perspective and across the time-space continuum. That is both the strangest and real part of living.
Stick around and you’ll spin a new tale around it. You’ll find a new meaning. You’ll see new purpose. Just…stick around.
So what’s my most current experience of reality? Relationships. With people, in general. You – you’re in my life because I fully mean to have you around, to love and cherish you, to share, to show kindness to, to break down in front of, to make demands of, to be of help, to return favours, to argue and disagree with, to be annoyed with, to hold you as the cause of frustration, to apologise to. Let’s not romanticize love or human relationships as meeting our expectations from reality. They are rather our bridges to accepting reality, familiarising ourselves with it, and making peace with it while we continue to live out our interpretation of it. Relationships are paradoxes. They set you free from the fear of the suddenness of the new, but sometimes you might have to claw your way into one and hold onto it.
Now I don’t just want to learn about places through its people. I want to learn people through their stories, their people, their places, their view of the world. A brand new pair of eyes and sensory experience, as I am allowed to peer into the soul of another – could magic get any more real? Could reality get any more magical?