Both Sides Now

The hauntingly beautiful Joni Mitchell classic, “Both Sides Now”, is one of my all time favourite songs. I think the song resonates with me (and countless others) because it speaks poignantly of the erosion of innocence. That inevitable rite of passage awaiting every young adult – when childlike excitement and wonderment experiences its first bitter taste of disappointment. When romantic idealism is confronted with restraining reality. When, as grown-ups, we tend to place our adolescent dreams and fantasies on the back-burner while we enter society and the workforce; pay the bills and pursue ‘safer’ choices and more ‘realistic’ goals. There’s a coerced change of outlook. A shifting down of expectations.

And then there’s love. And loss. Those profound events in our lives: the relationships, marriages, births, deaths. When you experience heartbreak for the first time, you feel like you’ll never heal over. Anyone who’s ever lived, loved and lost would know what I’m talking about.

That’s life.

This is the human condition. Full of contrasts, complexities and contradictions. The highs and lows. The good, the bad. The light and dark – and the incalculable shades of grey in between.

A recent visitor to this blog took exception to a statement I made in a previous article, where I referred to the world as a “sometimes cruel” place.

“…It’s not a cruel world – it’s a beautiful world with cruel people inhabiting it”, she wrote.

I fully understand and respect her point of view (although I couldn’t help but notice that her comment omitted the very deliberately inserted “sometimes” in that sentence).

I think there are many people who would share her sentiment.

Of course there’s beauty in the world. Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by it all that I feel like my heart is going to explode from pure unadulterated joy and gratitude!

And as for the ugliness, why bring it up?

Because it’s there. And it’s hurting people, particularly young people who are arguably the most vulnerable.

One of the aims of this blog, particularly with the “Dear Young Person” series of articles, is to empower young people by raising awareness and encouraging a healthy questioning – and closer examination – of themselves and the world they live in.

And I don’t believe I or any of us can achieve that by ignoring the very obvious elephant in the room.

We have very serious problems and issues to address. Everyday I witness how we are failing a lot of young people – and it shows in their disillusionment, dysfunctional behaviour and mistrust of the world – a personal observation that inspired the “Frankly My Dear” article.

It’s not my intention to offend anyone or open up a debate about whether or not we live in a cruel world. This is a matter of personal viewpoint, ideology and interpretation.

But I won’t be suppressing any opinions here. Certainly not my own.

Everyone has the right to their own unique outlook of the world, but we’re polarized when given the choice between viewing the glass as being half full or half empty.

Optimism or pessimism.

Hope or despair.

Idealism or cynicism.

With respect, I look at life from both sides now…

Imraan Vagar

Author: Imraan Vagar

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    Well put & nicely written!

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    As you so eloquently put it, I think that how we see the world is a matter of deliberate choice. I too have days when I think we’re far away from realizing an utopian vision of the world – but I prefer not to admit it. And why is this? Because then I would feel obliged to actually do something about it – and faced with all the serious “issues” and challenges of the day, I just feel overwhelmed and helpless. I commend you for trying though. Always nice to encounter like-minded people out there.

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    This is my third time visiting this blog. Exceptional!

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    Good luck trying to get young people to examine their lives more closely! You would need to be the pied piper of ‘monsterville’ or a smartphone app to get this generation’s attention!! You do, however, have mine… 🙂

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    Your post helped me with my college assignment. Please email me. Thanks so much.

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    Thanks a ton for stating your opinions. Being a writer, I am always in need of unique and different solutions to think about a topic. Many thanks

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    This is a tough one. We prefer to believe that it’s a beautiful world – and it is – and that people are fundamentally good, and yet we still tell our children not to talk to strangers! There are dangers and pitfalls out there – and our kids need to be prepared and equipped (without being made overly fearful). I personally have a dim view of my fellow man but that’s because I’m a bit more battle-scarred than most! When I read your blogs, I get the feeling that you are too. Still, the world is what we make it isn’t it?

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    “Good advice is always certain to be ignored, but that’s no reason not to give it.” by Agatha Christie.

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