TAME YOUR TONGUE

Give thy thoughts no tongue” – William Shakespeare

It is said that half of a person’s beauty comes from their tongue. An amazing truth about the tongue is, it takes years to learn how to use it but a lifetime to learn when and where to use it.

Here’s a free verse poem on the tongue:

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moist and pink
it’s a small soft flesh
without a bone,
but sturdy enough
to twist the words and turn

smitten by the briney
winds of the sea
it licks the lips with haste,
savours the flavour
beackon for more
it lives mostly for taste

but don’t be fooled
with its smooth texture
if you haven’t seen
what it can do,
it’s as mighty and evil
as one can get
tongue is a powerful tool

it speaks your mind
also your heart
sometimes chatter idly
bringing on mischief,
or time the words
to persuade a crowd
and if it slips
can ruin the world

nerves make it dry
otherwise drools amply
it’s an organ of flair
Connoisseur in matters of taste;
it bends and curls
in raspberry twirl
when it devours another lips
always willing to assist
in matters of the heart

hold it, bite it
if you’re feeling too sharp
tie it with words
it’ll mock your heart
maybe it’s forked
making you lie
put it in your cheek
it’ll play the part

don’t let it go astray
tame it with care
teach it the language
of fairness and quiet
it’ll know what to speak
when and where.

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EVERY NOSE IS BEAUTIFUL

God made us so beautifully. He has given us enough to survive in this world and feel its beauty. He has gifted us with different body parts and has assigned a specific work for all of them. Even if one is completely different from other body parts, it is equally important.

Out of all the sense organ, the nose is the only one that is capable of smelling and performing the process of breathing. Doesn’t matter if the smell is pleasant or not, the nose never fails to perform its duty (except for the time when you have nose congestion). Even if, out of frustration you say, I don’t want to live, your nose won’t stop breathing. Such a dutiful organ nose is.

In schools, we were taught idioms and phrases based on the nose. For example: “don’t poke your nose”, “keep your nose clean”, “keep your nose out” and many more. Have you ever wondered why?

In my perception, the whole idea of using nose in idioms is to highlight and compare a person’s behaviour. Also, according to me, these idioms were made to remind people of how an ideal person should behave. For example: what’s the need for interfering in other’s matter unnecessarily? This is similar to not being satisfied with the amount of air we are breathing in and out and trying to inhale every single molecule left in the air.

Now, let us move to an incident of my life that is closely related to my nose.

I am a person with small and a little fat nose. Though it looks good on me (I am proud of it), I have gone through so many bizarre comments. Even today, I go through the same.

When I was a kid, one of my relatives would consistently say, “Oh what a pity, such a lovely face but ugly nose”. She would repeat this comment twice a day (this continues till now). Other people considered it as platonic. My aunts did the same and this would upset my mom and my grandmother. These two ladies would massage my nose to and forth every day, in the upward direction, just to make sure my nose looks good to people. Thank God! my nose remained the same.

Since I was a kid, my mind developed a mindset that my nose is ugly and people with the long, straight and thin nose are the only pretty beings. I had this mindset until I was in class 11th. Shocking, isn’t it? I guess I am not alone in this world to hear such things.

One day, one of my teachers said, “hey girl, you have such a pretty and cute little nose. I have never seen such a cute nose”. I couldn’t believe my ears. A quick question went through my mind, “was he saying the truth?  But my nose is not at all pretty. How come on the earth he found it cute?” That one compliment changed my mindset and since then, I consider every nose as a beautiful and unique one. Moreover, I have people in my life who admire my little nose. I love those people.

Big, small, crooked, fat, thin or flat, all noses perform the same job. Owning a straight nose won’t supply more oxygen to your lungs as compared to the person having a crooked or small nose. So, it is better and advisable to accept the fact that every nose is beautiful and functions similarly.

And those who get to hear this type of blabbering should say to others, “keep your nose out of it!!”

EAR EAR WHAT DO YOU WANT TO HEAR?

I am sure like me, even you are grateful that all our organs function well. Every organ has its own importance in functioning the body and today I am going to throw some light on ears.

Ears help us to hear and listen. We all know that don’t we? But do we know what is the difference between hearing and listening? Is there a difference in hearing and listening in the first place? Yes, there is. Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. If you are not hearing-impaired, hearing simply happens. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences.

Hearing or listening, apart from being just a bodily function, it is also based on your psychology. A lot of times, you hear only what you want to hear really. For example, if you want to ignore a person, his words will fall on deaf ears. No matter how loud and clear the person is, you will not want to react to his saying. Of course, ears don’t do this on their own. Their partner in crime is the brain! But ears do obey the orders of the brain and turn themselves non-reactive in such circumstances.

Let’s look at a more subjective example – A feedback session. If your boss tells you about your performance, he will tell you your strengths as well as opportunities for improvement. If the rapport between your two is good, or if you make an effort to listen to his feedback carefully, you will notice the true words that he is appreciating something about you but is also showing some areas of improvement for your own good. However, if you don’t like your boss, you will hear only the negative feedback of his and whine about how difficult it is to please him or that he always wants to point out your mistakes. Your ears will hear what you really want to hear. Again, the partner in crime is the brain because the instructions to do so flow from there. Hence, you must fine-tune yourself to listen and not just hear.

How many of us listen intently? God has given us two ears and one mouth which signifies that we must listen double than we talk. A listening ear is often a saviour of a troubled relationship while a complaining mouth can spoil even a strong relationship.

Put your ears to the best use. Listen carefully. Understand others. You don’t know how to love if you don’t know how to listen. If you are a good listener your ears will never get you in trouble.

Some tips for being a good listener:

You will find plenty of material on Google, click here to see one of those articles.

I would like to reiterate that you must groom your body to hear or listen. It’s not just ears, but other organs also contribute to listening.

Hearing is listening to what is said. Listening is hearing what is not said. So ask your ears what do they want to hear!

PROFANITY IN EVERYDAY CONVERSATIONS

“She’s my bitch!” 

“Yo wassup dawg?!”

If you’ve been around in the world (of course you have) you’ve heard the above statements that have become a sort of fashion statement these days. ‘Hip’ girls and boys referring to their friends or their boyfriends/girlfriends thus and without any qualms too. Note that the intent in the above two statements is not to ridicule or slander, but to express affection for a friend instead. I don’t know when and how this started but weren’t those two words supposed to mean an insult? At least I would be very offended if someone called me a bitch. I don’t suppose this shift in how we perceive these cuss words came about because our generation was suddenly swayed by a sense of brotherhood for our canine friends. Nope! But used affectionately or in a derogatory way, the context doesn’t make their usage any less offensive. They’re both representatives of how profanity has permeated into our everyday parlance.

Profanity today has seeped into our everyday vocabulary to the extent that some things are best described only by the use of derogatory terms. For example –

Shit happens.

Life’s a bitch.

What an ass!

What the fuck is that?

Profanity has shifted, or should I say has been promoted, from being something used only to cause offence to something that sometimes conveys an idea best. But perhaps this shift in how we perceive the use of profanity now is the reason why we hear so much of it in everyday conversation.

Remember the time when you would get a stern look from elders for using terms as mild as ‘stupid’ and ‘shut up’, while today ‘shut up’ has become an equivalent for ‘seriously’ or ‘really’? When language starts to accommodate ‘foul’ in the ‘fair’ category it naturally leads to a downfall in the quality of language and the smudging of lines on what is acceptable and what is not. There is a reason why language from old books and period films sounds classy and sweet. Its because such allowances in language were not allowed then; a bitch meant only either a female dog or an insult to a woman; no other meaning to that expletive was allowed and entertained and the usage of the latter was frowned upon. What’s more, people considered it a part of good manners to keep their tempers and tongues in check.

When language is courteous, foul language automatically is kept under control because its use is considered taboo. But when language starts to get discourteous, starts passing off cuss words as normal usage, ‘wassup bitches’ is what you get and since today we are being trained to see these cuss words not as an insult, therefore even a derogatory ‘son of a gun’  sounds like a phrase used for appreciation.

But why do we use profanity? What makes its use so compelling? We’re all humans, we’re prone to getting angry and letting our mouths run loose along with our imaginations and getting creative with expletives. In some cases, it is even considered cool to use foul words, but what I don’t understand is why we use them at all? Forget about all the morally right reasons for not using bad language and just for a minute concentrate on the practical uses of foul language. What do you get?

Beyond the perverse joy of watching someone’s face fall and getting a kick out of it, or letting off steam, foul language really doesn’t serve any purpose because – 

A.  It doesn’t get the point across. The one being abused closes his mind to any attempt at conciliation or a fair argument thereafter.

B.  It makes the user sound uncouth and vile.

C.  It’s a waste of time and energy because it resolves nothing.

Oh, but it feels so gooooooood, did you say?!

I know that! I’ve been there, done that too. But apart from being branded a ‘bitch’, I didn’t accomplish anything else out of using profanity. I lost plenty though – friends, goodwill and face. I was the proverbial smart mouth who everyone liked to steer clear of and it was the reason why I drove myself into a lonely place. Coming out of that place was tough, and I’m still trying to mend the bridges I tore down.

As someone who’s been both at the giving and receiving ends of profanity, what I’ve come to learn is that using foul language is like using sarcasm – it’s perceived as something cool and witty, but is actually an infantile preoccupation of an egotist who does not have control over his emotions. Sure in some circumstances, both foul language and sarcasm are deserved, but I would say in most cases, a greater revenge would be to laugh in the face of your abuser and never give them the satisfaction of letting them get under your skin.

Coming back to the original theme of this article, the allowance of profanity in everyday conversations has led to a degeneration of language because we have taught ourselves that it is okay to use foul words even for expressing our appreciation or love. It sets a wrong precedent for not only our generation but even the ones coming after us who would only learn that there is no ceiling to how foul-mouthed you can be because by then the lines between courteous and uncouth words would have blurred to the extent that terms like ‘bitch’ would be regarded as both an appreciation and an insult. When we ourselves make such allowances in language we do not have the right to point to the younger generations and cry foul. Can you really blame a teenager who calls her friends ‘bitches’ or ‘dawgs’ when he/she has seen others do the same? Its unfair to them.

We should either clean up our own act or shut our eyes and ears to the degeneration of language and consequently the degeneration of our morality. Restraint on language also translates to restraint over temper because the use of foul language is a kind of vent for a frustrated soul, so that if you keep it in check, chances are your temper too will subside quickly, but if you over-indulge it, soon your hurt ego will not be sated by the mere use of foul language. It will deviate to worse alternatives. Not to generalize things but an example is that of an abusive parent and one who controls his tongue.  Who do you think is more likely to beat down his own children?

We need today to teach ourselves and our future generations that while expressing our love or anger is alright, the use of profanity to do so is absolutely unacceptable. The languages of the world are rich and flexible enough to provide enough room for creative expression without resorting to the use of bad words. If your tongue is sweet it will only invite more sweetness from others. Nobody likes a barbed wire.

Featured Image: 1820796 at Pixabay

WHY SARCASM DOES NOT MAKE YOU WITTY

“She’s so fat even a hippo would look slimmer than her.”

“I thought I was looking at a blackhole!”

“Dodos aren’t extinct. I’m looking at one.”

“Looks like the waiter went off to grow those coffee beans.”

And the quintessential Indian snark – “Arey kahan mar gaya?” (Where did you go off to?) Actually, nothing in the English language comes close to translating the anger, frustration and derision in this Hindi idiom that literally means ‘did you die or what’.

When we, at Candles Online, decided that this week would be dedicated to ‘Pour Out’, meaning thereby that we would get an opportunity to rant on anything that our hearts desired, I jumped at the opportunity of writing about Sarcasm and how we seem to confuse it with wit. Well of course, there is a fair bit of wit involved in making a sarcastic comment – you have to know the recipient, you have to select a thorny topic that irks them every time, or would irk anybody in a certain situation, and find a clever way to garb that in a jocular form so no one can call you a meanie on your face. That takes intelligence alright. No wonder sarcastic people are also liked so much because it requires ample presence of mind to make sarcasm work. So, to anybody sarcasm = intelligence. But I don’t see it that way, or don’t see it that way anymore. This article makes a case for why witty sarcasm does not make you intelligent.

All of us, at some point in our lives, have been guilty of using the highlighted statements above, or something similar to that. We may have also been at the receiving end of such statements. After all, it’s so satisfying to dole out smart and wicked barbs at others just for the pleasure of watching them cringe or suffer. Right? But when you were at the receiving end of such barbs, did you ever notice the feelings it generated in you, even if it came from a friend? Did you not feel insulted, ridiculed, angry and disgusted, even if it was only for a fraction of a second? Would you want to feel that way? I don’t think I’ve ever come across a person who likes to feel that way, forever or even just once. Then why do we like to incite such feelings in others, when we ourselves would not like to feel that way?

No, no, don’t try to defend your statements. Don’t try to tell me ‘that person deserved it’ or that ‘it was meant as a joke’.

Sarcasm is never, I repeat, NEVER, a positive thing. Even if it is deserved, or meant as a joke, there is an element of derision present in it. Which is why I said, ‘guilty’ at the start of the paragraph above because it is a guilty pleasure that is purely born out of our contempt for someone or a situation.

Being at both the making and receiving end of sarcasm has taught me just one thing – it’s never welcome. I have been one of those people who would make unwarranted sarcastic comments on people only to watch them cringe, or to look smart. I’ve done that even to friends and at the time I used to think that it was cool, that it showed how intelligent I was. Only when I lost a lot of friends owing to my sarcasm did I learn that it just wasn’t worth it. But by then it was too late. There are some of my acquaintances who I’ve met recently and who were unaware of my changed behaviour, they still dislike me because of how I used to make fun of them. And now it hurts!

But I’ve noticed that it’s become a trend these days to not only make sarcastic comments but encourage them too. While I was at school, it used to be considered cool to say ‘Excused!’ in reply to ‘Excuse me‘, or if someone is clumsy, then remark ‘he was born with a hole in his hand‘ or when you bumped into someone, ‘do you have eyes or buttons’. Even when I joined college, it was not only the same, it was happening even more. Maybe I’d always been this sensitive but it always came as a shock to me how someone could be so blatantly contemptible to others, even to their own friends. Maybe that was the reason why I became that way as well, because I saw it happening around me all the time, but I shouldn’t make excuses for the way I behaved. Watch any television show, especially comedies, and you’ll come across characters like Dr. House who makes blood-boiling sarcastic comments. Yes, we love him but that’s because we are not at the receiving end of those comments, unlike his poor co-workers.

So, we know that sarcasm is not a good thing. But how do I prove that sarcasm does not make you intelligent? I’ll give you an example from my life.

A few weeks ago, while I was dining with some friends, I heard someone in my know remark, “I think she’s gone off to Darjeeling to pluck the tea leaves”, to her boyfriend, about a waitress. This was followed by pointless tittering from both she and her boyfriend, who I could see, liked the way his girlfriend made such ‘smart’ comments (trust me, I know this person very well and she LOVES to make sarcastic comments ALL THE TIME). This incident was the reason why I started to think about why we are encouraging sarcasm so much in our society. It’s a nuisance, admittedly, but its encouraged because it gives us pleasure to inflict pain on others. That sort of behaviour is called sadism. Why are we garbing it as intelligence? Why are we encouraging behaviour that inculcates tolerance to sarcasm? Intelligence does not lie in making fun of someone, especially when that someone is in a position where they cannot answer back. Like the waitress in the above case, or a daughter or son in law, or an employee or servant. If you make a sarcastic comment on people who have the better sense to not answer back, and you know that they can’t answer back, then who is the more intelligent of the two?

Real intelligence lies in knowing when to shut up and when to just ignore a person, even when he deserves sarcasm from you.

So if your friend drops something for the thousandth time, now I think it’s better to just walk away rather than say something sarcastic and hurt our relationship. If you have never known just how much more satisfying it is to just walk away from a sarcastic person, rather than getting down to their ugly level, then I urge you, please try it. It’s difficult at first, but ultimately every bully will learn that his barbs are not working on you. But the main reason why you should not be making sarcastic comments is because it hurts someone and because you would not want to hurt that way. 

I hope that I have convinced you, dear readers, that sarcasm is not a witty thing, it is the opposite of it. It may give you a moment’s pleasure, but in the long run, the real loser is you. I know all of us get tempted to succumb to that sweet pleasure, and maybe every now and then someone may deserve it too, but please don’t make it a habit. You never know when you may be at the receiving end.