From dogs to copyrights

I came across this story on twitter today. It’s a beautiful, short, touching story.

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog’s owners, Ron, his wife Lisa, and their little boy Shane, were all very attached to Belker, and they were hoping for a miracle. I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family we couldn’t do anything for Belker, and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home. As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for six-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker ‘s family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker’s transition without any difficulty or confusion. We sat together for a while after Belker’s Death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives.

Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, ”I know why.” Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth next stunned me. I’d never heard a more comforting explanation. It has changed the way I try and live.

He said,”People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life — like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?” The Six-year-old continued, ”Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don’t have to stay as long.”

I wanted to share it, and since I like attributing the sources for interesting stories I find online and giving credit where it’s due, I wanted to find who originally wrote it so that I could link to it. After a quick Google search, I still couldn’t find where this story originated. It’s been shared and blogged by lots of people in lots of places, but everybody just heard it from someone else they know. Then I started wondering if this is a real story or if it’s fictional, or if it’s a story that evolved every time it got re-told and now it isn’t much like the real event that it’s about, it’s just the best Story about the event.

Sometimes it’s important for a story to be accurate, because we wouldn’t want to be ignorant enough to believe that Hitler was a nice guy or something. But most times the stories we tell each other are just containers for a feeling, an emotion or an idea. I can explain an idea to you, but it can’t form as deep a root in your mind as when I tell you a story that makes you think it yourself. I can tell you how I feel, but you won’t really feel it as much as when I share the story or experience that made me feel that way with you. Just as we need words to communicate simpler things, we need stories to communicate these things that are harder to articulate. And so these stories evolve. The events are altered and the characters are changed to make the feeling clearer. If you look at it objectively, these stories are exaggerated, distorted and sensationalised but as we go on telling these stories to each other, only the ones that best convey the feelings attached survive in our collective memory. It’s like a form of Natural Selection.

And then I remembered this article I read a while ago on whether we can apply the ideology of Open Source to fiction. It’s a thought provoking article, and beautifully written. You should read it if you have the time, but for now I’m going to paste the important part here.

Ideas–stories–can enjoy a freedom that physical things never can . Imagine: someone’s grandmother tells a cautionary tale, it gets passed around the playground, it winds up in a book of urban legends, maybe one day it even makes blockbuster status at the box offices.  We gossip.  We embellish.  We lie.  We daydream.  Stories are being born all the time, and some of them even make it to paper.   The point is, stories live, and they can live forever.   Like all living things, they emerge organically.  They grow.  They evolve.  They are used.  They are molded.  They share their existence with the other living things on the globe.  They make change and are changed in return.

But as modern writers, we’ve accepted a limited lifespan for stories.   They begin and end between the covers of books.  At least until long after we are dead.

And I want more.

I want my stories to live.

When I’m done with a story, I don’t want it to die a quiet death–not if it doesn’t have to. I don’t even want it to be stuffed and preserved forever behind a pane of glass where people ogle at it all day long.  I don’t want a mandatory DNR stapled to its chest the moment it leaves my hands.

I don’t want this to happen to my stories.

And I won’t let it.


Up until now, every time I had an idea about a story to write, I would wonder where it came from and what inspired it. Every time I would get an idea for a story while reading a book or watching a movie, I would guiltily feel like it’s stolen and I wouldn’t pursue it much further. I’ve read sentences that describe situations so perfectly that I remember them word for word. I wouldn’t think it’s okay to use them in something that I wrote because even though it’s just a short string of words, someone else put them together before I did . Sentences like “her words hung in the air like too ripe fruit.” Every time I make a song that sounds nice I spend at least five minutes thinking if I’ve sub-consciously stolen it from somewhere else.

An interesting point is, I never felt this way when taking segments of code, or even entire modules of software and using them as a part of something I make. It’s strange that our moral view on borrowing ideas changes so drastically from software to literature. But I think it’s wrong to feel guilty about it. I think, leaving the legal issues of copyright aside, it’s okay to take something you come across and do what you want with it. Even if you take a song and only change a few lines because it means more to you that way. Even if you’re writing an alternate ending to a popular story. You should sing it and write it and share it and put it on the internet. You should be able to. Fuck the legalities. Since when did legal mean right and illegal mean wrong anyway? Hitler didn’t break any laws in Germany in his time right?* So yeah, since everything we ever make is built on something borrowed anyway, take what you want and use it as you please.


*I don’t know why I was thinking of Hitler so much tonight.


I haven’t been here for a while. The main reason is that I’ve been trying to make songs. And I don’t feel like writing blog entries after writing songs. It’s all about expressing creativity, if you ask me. My primary motivation for ever posting anything here is to express creativity. When this creativity has other outlets I no longer need to post here anymore. But I’m here now, just to let this blog know that it’s not forgotten about.

About the songs that I’ve written, I could post the lyrics here but I’d rather post the songs themselves once I have a good recording of them along with the lyrics so you’ll just have to wait. About the rest of my life of late, I’m tired. I have hardly ever slept over 8 hours a night and this is a good thing. It’s just that I’m tired. It isn’t easy to try to do everything you want to do along with a full time job. But its torture to not do everything I want. The story of my life is desperately lacking some romance at the moment, but that it has been for a very long time. At least there’s enough of everything else going around. There are times when I feel that if my life was a book, the reader would definitely have stopped reading by this point. This is not one of those. What I really want to do is write something. A short story, a fictional blog, anything more that a song and a blog post like this one. Unfortunately, the only thing my mind is willing to do at the moment is sleep

But I will write something soon, and you’ll be the first to know. Until then, good night.

The blank page / To creativity!

Now that I travel 4 hours a day to and from work I’m left with almost no time for anything else. I try sometimes, to put this time to good use. Apart from having books to read and music to listen to, I bought a notebook to write stuff in. This notebook lay in my bag untouched for almost a month (one time I opened it, stared at the first page for a while and put it back in my bag) until finally, I wrote this:-

The blank page / To creativity! (6/10/09)

Does the blank page scare you? The blank page intimidates me. It stresses me out. It makes me feel like shutting the book and tossing the pencil. The blank page is unearthly. It’s pure, plain, empty, and its emptiness is contagious. It seeps into my mind and reduces all thought to void.

It seems unconquerable. To add to a blank page, to create out of nothing, impossible. A mountain insurmountable. I look at it, admire its beauty, admire those with the courage and skill to conquer it and then turn away.

But sometimes… Sometimes creativity once believed to be dead rises from its grave and roars a deafening roar from the back of my head. Then, with one sentence, with one word, as easily as life can be ended with a piercing bullet, the blank page is conquered. And after that one brave word follow thousands more, millions more. They sing, they dance, they play. They give birth to stories of hope and despair, take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotion, and spread the light of thought in this universe of infinity. They embrace you, inspire you, and share your loneliness with you.

As witness to this event, these words will testify. To remind me that blank pages can be conquered, that they can be even more beautiful when filled, and each individual is gifted with his own creativity which never dies. Creativity which will conquer books, page by page, word by word.


I can’t sleep, because there’s too much going through my mind. Again. Finally!
There are some things you just have to wait for. You can try writing every thought in your head, but it won’t work.
Thoughts are like tiny colourful wisps of light. You can try catching them in your butterfly net, but it won’t work. You just have to wait until they align themselves to form something worth photographing.
You could also say that your head is like that gigantonormous box with a gazillion watch parts (and new ones being thrown in all the time) being shaken around. You’ve gotta wait until you get a watch.
Putting it directly, I cant write when i want to, I can write when I have to.
If you ever want to, and don’t have to, I suggest you go explore something new.
Go look for answers to all your questions, and don’t worry, you’ll never run out. The answers will come tied to more questions. That’s if they aren’t questions themselves.
Go find out why things you think should work don’t. Go find everything imperfect and unideal and take your shot at fixing it.
The world’s big enough to entertain you for many lifetimes, and its right outside in front of your doorstep. Or outside your window.
Creativity’s born out of randomness, and a large portion of randomness is not knowing what you’re going to do, or why you’re doing it. And randomness cant be bred with a plan. So quickly finish off everything planned to leave room for that which isn’t.

Time isn’t like water running down the drain, or sand in your fist.
It’s like a new blank page, everyday, left for you to fill.

To finish off, I’d like to say that I’m back. Lost as ever.