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30 and Learning…

The journey continues

The Gift of Meditation

Ever since my friend made the comment about me and enlightenment, I have been intrigued by what exactly enlightenment means. I’ve been reading about it, watching videos, and have come to conclude that I’m actually very far from it. In fact, I don’t think I even want to get there because that would mean having no attachments at all.

I like the level of attachment I’m at. There was a time when I was extremely attached to all things worldly but over the years I’ve become more spiritual. I have become unattached to most things. As I’ve said on occasion, there is a difference between being unattached and detached. Being unattached means not having any emotions associated with something. Being detached requires us to be attached to something first, and then being able to control our emotions for the greater good. We can love someone but be at peace loving them from afar because that is what is best for the other person. So the detachment we develop is rooted in our attachment to that person.

I have few attachments – my family, my pets – and I would never want to reach a state where I am unattached to them. An enlightened person is no longer a creature of this world. S/he feels no pain and is always happy, ecstatic as most sources describe it. But I like the pain that comes from having these attachments and from trying to remain detached. I like all the emotions I feel; in short, I like being human. However, I do feel more aware than I’ve ever felt in my life, like I have woken up from a deep sleep.

I started meditating when I was going through some really difficult times and was desperately fighting depression. At that time, my practice was only focused on keeping my mind still. Through the years, I have added progressively “advanced” dimensions to my practice. I started working on chakras first, and currently I am trying to step out of my body and see myself from the outside. Some days I’m able to get there, other days I can’t. Regardless of that, what the practice has given me is not some magical ability to control my life, but the ability to control my reactions to it. Chakra meditation and balancing remains one of the most valuable insights I have acquired through this process. And I feel ever so grateful to have reached a state where I feel like my third eye chakra is almost balanced. Among other things, I am able to look inside and identify exactly what is going on within me.

If someone were to ask me whether I was happy, I would answer “yes” without thinking twice. But something has been missing in my life for a while now – laughter… joy. I am happy, but I rarely laugh anymore. I drag myself out but I rarely feel joy in doing things. I thought I have a broken heart so I kept trying to channel energy to my heart chakra. Then recently, during my ‘quest for enlightenment’, I learned about over-energized chakras, and suddenly, I felt like I had come across a major revelation. I had an over-energized heart chakra, which is actually a bad thing!

At its perfectly balanced state, the heart chakra allows us to love ourselves and others alike. Under-energized heart chakra leads us to build walls and close out any and all kinds of love. An over-energized heart chakra, however, causes us to love others excessively, ignoring ourselves in the process. I have been loving someone else so much that I have not been loving myself. As a consequence of this, I have an under-energized sacral chakra, because of which I no longer feel joy in anything. Identifying and acknowledging an issue is the first step towards resolving it. Now that I know where to channel my energy, I can fix myself.

This is what meditation has done for me – I can see myself from an outsider’s perspective. Some days I have all my 6 chakras in a state of perfect balance and I feel happy and content. Those days have been rare lately but at least I know how to get back there. The change will not happen overnight, it’s a journey. But the process has begun. I can hold on to my love for others but at the same time, remember to love myself too. I can embrace pain and still find my own happiness. I am sure there are other ways to explain everything I’ve said but this is the explanation that most resonates with me. I recognize energy, around me and within. Right now, it’s the energy within that needs attention. This awareness, this consciousness is enough for me. I don’t want to stop loving those I love and be ecstatic. I want to hold on to my love and simply be happy with the knowledge that they are happy too, even if it is without me.

Understanding Love

I am a big fan of science fiction. Because I don’t think it’s entirely fiction. It’s a window into a likely future we may very well be able to create. I love the Star Wars because I believe that one day a lot of it will come to pass, not in “a galaxy far, far away” but in our own Milky Way. People will travel across star systems, and in fact, the definition of “people” itself will change. I love Star Trek, and surely a life form such as the Vulcans must exist out there. To think that we’re the only ones, or what we know today is the limit of what can be known is ignorance, no, it’s arrogance. I wouldn’t even wager that we’re the smartest people in this vast universe. What’s to say that we’re not simply the science experiment of some other higher form of life? What is life for that matter? We only know one kind – the organic form. Who knows what other kinds of life can or do exist? I can go on endlessly because I have a curious mind that’s open to infinite possibilities. But I think I’ve said enough to justify my opening statement – I love science “fiction”.

Universe isn’t the only thing that intrigues me. I find the human mind just as fascinating. There was a time when medicine wasn’t a generally accepted profession. Studying cadavers was considered sacrilegious. But look at how far we’ve come today. Psychologists were once dismissed as shrinks but in recent times more and more people are turning to therapy because now we don’t feel ashamed in admitting that mental health is a crucial aspect of our well being. In fact, a healthy mind is the foundation for a healthy body. Our conscious and subconscious brain only form a fraction of what our mind really is. I believe that there is a lot more that is as yet unconscious. There are aspects of our psyche that we haven’t even discovered. Maybe as psychology becomes more mainstream, we will start to tap into this unconscious part.

Interstellar is another movie I loved. I also have special memory of the time I watched it, but that’s beside the point. There was one thing in particular in that movie that, in hindsight, makes sense to me now, because when I watched the movie I didn’t quite appreciate it. I think it’s mostly because of how it was dealt with. When Amelia and Cooper had to pick one planet that they could visit with the little remaining fuel, Amelia wanted to visit the planet where her beloved was. Cooper wanted to visit the planet that made more sense logically. Amelia’s argument about love being a real force was conveyed so weakly, and in a way that made it seem more like a silly rhetoric founded not in anything scientific but in a schoolgirl-like crush. But that was the whole idea, I reckon. Her capability to make a wise decision stood challenged by the time this exchange came about in the movie. So it was intended for her to lose this argument, or the movie would have ended differently!

I want to revisit what Amelia said but in a more objective way. By now it’s fairly obvious that I also have an unusual fascination with the concept of love. That’s because I think that love is one of the most fundamental human emotions but also the most trivialized one because of the plethora of movies that only focus on one aspect of it. It is so important yet so misunderstood. Through the many conversations I’ve had on the subject, I have come to conclude that there are three kinds of love – romantic, platonic and spiritual love. It’s really the last kind that fascinates me.

Romantic love is the most overrated and overused kind of love, honestly. That’s not to say that it’s not important. It is but it has really skewed our perception of love causing most people to dismiss it as being fleeting, hence trivial. Romantic love pertains to the conscious part of the brain. There’s enough research out there to explain the science behind it. We meet someone we are attracted to, our brain triggers release of happy chemicals like endorphins and dopamine, and we fall in love. Over time the release of these chemicals in response to the same stimulus tapers and we find romantic love fading. So yes, this kind of love is fleeting by design.

Platonic love is the most abundant kind of love that pertains to the subconscious mind. This love satisfies some of our basic human needs. We love our family, friends, certain activities and things. This, in turn, satisfies our desire to belong, to feel accepted and appreciated, to feel joy. Romantic love can often lead to platonic love, like in long term relationships.

Spiritual love, the kind that interests me, is associated with the unconscious part of the mind. Most of us go through life without any spiritual awareness. Sometimes we feel instantly connected to certain people but we don’t make much of it. Spirituality is something that needs to be cultivated, the unconscious needs to be made conscious. It requires time and patience, things that aren’t commonplace in today’s fast-paced life. I always advise people to make time for meditation, even if for just 5 minutes, because it truly can make a world of a difference. I meditate regularly and have felt my spiritual awareness increase over the years as my practice has matured. I recognize spiritual connections when I come across them. These are the people I can engage in meaningful conversations with. They help my spirit grow.

I have one such friend who is almost like my spiritual guru. He routinely gives me valuable feedback about furthering my meditation practice. He even told me recently that I might be close to enlightenment. Honestly, I don’t know what enlightenment is. My practice doesn’t have an end goal so I’m not seeking enlightenment, or anything else. But I do think more deeply now than I did in the past, and it is rarely emotionally charged.

So circling back to where all this started, I think the love that Amelia was talking about was the spiritual kind. She felt a connection with the person she loved and she knew that his data was more reliable. Spoiler alert: she was right as we find out in the end. Just because what she felt could not be explained by science, it was deemed illogical. So logic, then, becomes a subjective and relative term. As our collective knowledge expands, the bounds of logic will also expand. On an individual level, as one’s awareness expands, logic expands.

I am sure there is science behind spiritual love that we aren’t in a position to explain yet. But there are bonds that transcend the physical plane and exist as a certain force field. This is the force that we sometimes feel instantly, and physical distance has no impact on it. It is the feeling of “just knowing“. Once we become aware of this force we can feel it more and more because it is all around us. That is also the reason why I feel that the universe communicates with us. Maybe the universe is made up of matter and anti-matter, and also this force called love. We just need to raise our awareness to a level where we can understand it.

It is rare to find someone with whom we can share all kinds of love. I think I found that last year in my nameless relationship. It started as a spiritual connection, it was instant. Then romantic love followed and it was passionate. And finally we found platonic love too, and it was comfortable. In the end, we had it all, and then we, I, lost it all. So maybe I’m hanging too much on this relationship. I refuse to accept that my one true love is lost forever. So it must still be out there, waiting for me. But moving on, the reason I started writing this post is not to explore my love life but to answer a question I came across after my last post – what is love? So here it is. This is love to me. And when I said that love is all-consuming, I meant that rare kind of love that combines all aspects, because most love we encounter in our lifetime only has two of these three elements at most.

I may be wrong but that’s how the process of learning works. Sometimes you’re right, other times you’re wrong and then you seek what’s right.

On Singularity and Love

Is possible to be in love with two people at the same time?

I like observing people. It is what feeds my thoughts, and consequently, a lot of my writing. Seeing people handle situations in their respective lives gives me a chance to analyze human behavior. By no means do I think that I’m an expert, I’m not even playing in that ballpark. I am not trying to decipher the complexity of being human. But in a way, this constant analysis of vicariously experienced situations gives me a chance to reflect upon my own character and understand myself and my belief-system better.

Not too long ago I made a mention of a friend who is in love with two people, at least that’s what he claims. His situation has always made me wonder if that’s really possible. He’s been in love with two people for a while. Then a time came when he had to choose, and so he did. So now he’s in a committed relationship with one of the two people. But he still thinks about the other person. So the obvious question that comes to mind – who does he really miss when neither of these people are around? As I had written in my earlier post, I don’t think that really matters. He simply misses company and having either one of these people would make him equally content, equally secure.

I have often wondered if he actually loves either one of these people. To me it seems like he loves neither, because none of his feelings are all consuming, like love should be. If he loves his current committed partner, he shouldn’t think about the other person. Having this person to hold and cherish should be enough. It is a choice he made willingly and freely. By contrast, if he loves the other person, he should not be able to have a meaningful relationship with the former. That is not the case either. From what I can tell, he has a wholesome, healthy relationship with his partner. For lack of a better word, I think he might be a coward. He does not want to be the one to end his current relationship, but he also wants to have a safety net in case it ends of its own accord.

I read something as a child, in the book Notes to Myself, “we are not responsible for our feelings but for what we do with them”. Powerful words. Back then I simply highlighted them not knowing that one day they would mean a whole lot more to me than what they did at that young age. In the recent years these words have been like gospel to me. I don’t believe in judging people for their thoughts and emotions. It’s the most natural thing, and something that sets us apart from other living creatures. Animals have emotions too, but they are stimulus based, and go away with the stimulus. My puppy sees me and becomes happy; he is sad when he sees me leave. Then he gets busy playing. I don’t think he can suddenly become dejected in the middle of his playtime thinking about me. But people can. Thoughts can spring up without any triggers or stimuli.

So when I say that my friend shouldn’t have thoughts about the other person, I’m not blaming him for these thoughts. In fact, I partly commend him for how he handles these thoughts – he pushes them aside and focuses on the life in front of him. The other part I reserve because I don’t think ignoring something is the best way to deal with it. But let’s shelve that for later. More importantly, I see thoughts like these as a sign of some underlying, deep-seated issue that’s begging to be addressed. Do these thoughts mean that there’s something missing in his current relationship? Perhaps.

The thing with this friend is that he is extremely afraid of being alone. It’s not something he has said to me but it’s something I have come to observe in him. He becomes a different person when he is alone. I think that like most people, he also believed that if he did not have a steady relationship by the time he was 30, he would end up alone for the rest of his life. It reminds me of the post I wrote when I turned 30, and the burdens of 20’s that one shouldn’t carry into their 30’s. This friend is turning 30 this year and I strongly believe that he is entering his 30’s with a wrong relationship simply because he is too terrified of being alone. He settled for the first person he met who he thought could be the one. Then he convinced himself that it was the right thing although I could sense a lot of doubt in him. Not too long after that he met someone else who started seeming better. And now he thinks he loves this other person too. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, probably also out of fear of being left alone by those he hurts. So he continues telling himself that he loves both these people.

To confirm my earlier doubt, he is, in fact, not in love with either of these people. That is not to say that he doesn’t love them. He may very well love them both platonically, but I’m only exploring the romantic love here. He is physically present with his partner but emotionally, he is frequently absent. One day he might find the courage to admit that he made a wrong decision choosing his current relationship out of fear instead of love. He might do himself and his partner the favor of being honest, and might walk out (knowing him, he’d hope that his partner walks out on him instead). He might find some more courage to explore life on his own until he truly meets “the one and ONLY”. Or after being honest, he and his partner may decide to give things a try, starting anew with open communication this time.

What about the other person? In a way the other person is a casualty of his battle with his fears, if the fears win that is. In another way, this person may be the one who finally helps my friend face the reality and defeat his fears. His thoughts about this other person, that he mistakes for love, are no more than an escape and a sign that something needs to be fixed in his current relationship, and life in general. He would never actually be with this other person because his thoughts lack the power to move him. As much as he thinks about this other person, he would never find it convenient to openly, and unabashedly, admit that that is the person he loves, which is the exact opposite of what love is. And thereby any claims that these thoughts may have of being love stand self-destructed.

I maintain what I’ve always said about love and being in love. Love is a powerful emotion that can overpower everything. Being in love is about togetherness. Staying within the bounds of what’s normal, no one can want to be with more than one person at a time. You only want to hold one person’s hand, only want one person to kiss, only want to fall sleep and wake up next to one person. In my friend’s case, this ONE unique person is as yet nameless and faceless; all he has are options, one better than the other depending on the circumstances on any given day, and he can do the above things with either one of them, or anyone else for that matter should a suitable option present itself.

Tomorrow

Poetry was my first love. I wrote my first poem when I was 8. And now, every time I can manage to express myself in few sentences that rhyme, what I end up with is a feeling of pure, unadulterated joy.

Scarlet O’Hara is perhaps the one fictional character I admire the most, and who helped shape part of my character at a very young age. Granted she has her flaws, vanity being the biggest one, and lack of maturity on occasion, but I love the strength of her character, her resilience, her determination. And the one thing that has always stuck with me through the years is her “tomorrow is another day”. Finally, I have a poem to honor this life lesson.

No, I don’t long for yesterday to come back,

For yesterday would lead me back to today.

Sometimes today is a hard place to be,

I just want today to go away.

 

       I long to see the sun of tomorrow,

      Tomorrow might be a better day.

       Tomorrow the pain might disappear,

       And all the hurt might fade away.

 

Tomorrow – it is a place of promise,

Tomorrow – it is a place of hope;

Tomorrow the memories will be weaker,

Tomorrow I’ll have more strength to cope.

 

        And just like that tomorrow comes,

        And just like that it turns to today.

        So once again I long for tomorrow,

        And hope that this time it will stay.

 

Although tomorrow never really comes,

It’s what makes the world go ‘round.

The hope, the promise carry us on,

Through all the hard todays that abound.

 

       Oh life! You are beautiful indeed,

       Through high and low, through joy and sorrow.

       Most days, I live for today,

       But when I can’t, you give me tomorrow.

P

Coincidence

Not too long ago I wrote about destiny versus free will. And here I am today, talking about coincidences. Sometimes certain things happen in life that make us question whether it was all part of the plan or if it was just a coincidence. My life is full of such odd coincidences.

One time, as a teenager, I got into an argument with my parents and decided to run away – oh the teenage years! I started walking and soon enough I realized that I was lost. I kept walking in the hope of finding my way back, only to get further lost and ended up deep in the woods. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw a cop. A cop, in the middle of the forest, on foot – now that’s some coincidence! He asked me what I was doing there and I told him what had happened. He said a young girl should not be venturing out there all by herself, it wasn’t safe. He offered to escort me back home, and after many hours of walking I was finally reunited with my family, safe and ever so grateful to have found that mysterious policeman. I think that I had digressed from my life’s intended path and hence the universe had to intervene.

The universe always gives us a chance to correct our course, however, it is up to us to recognize the opportunity as such and take it. When I met that cop in the forest, I could have rejected his offer to help and continued walking. I might have ended up in grave trouble and regretted my decision to leave and refuse help when it came. That is what I had talked about in my post about destiny. Sometimes we can deviate too far from the intended path by making one wrong decision after another, and that is when we live, or die, with regrets. But the universe does offer at least one chance.

The way I ended up back in India was also a series of coincidences. I did not plan for it, it just happened. At the time it seemed like a series of unfortunate coincidences but in hindsight it seems like it was part of the plan. The way I ended up in Goa was also a coincidence. I had never applied for my current job. I got a call one day and I said yes. And everything I have now feels so right. I have some amazing friends, a budding passion project, I found a puppy, and I found love. Almost all of these things happened as coincidences too. My passion project came about on a whim one afternoon. I had a thought as I was walking down the street, and coincidentally, I walked into the right place, at the right time and met the right people. The puppy came to me on my birthday. I’ve tried giving him up several times but somehow it never worked. And my love? Well that’s a coincidence too, and in fact, the reason I started thinking about coincidences.

I was going through my blog last week, finally organizing posts into a menu, when I noticed something. I wrote a post on May 27 last year, more or less challenging the universe to impose love on me if it does exist out there for me. On May 29, I met him.

I knew him before that too, but we were no more than formal acquaintances. On May 29, purely by chance, we ended up spending the most memorable night together. It’s not what you might think it was. The plan was only to have one casual drink. But then we went on to walk by the river, then to a “secret” beach. We spent the whole night talking; we watched the first rays of the sun light up the sky; we rescued a baby fish that had shored up, probably because of the low tide that night. We, well I, did some yoga – silly, I know – and he took pictures (that is how I know the date, from the photos in my camera roll, and one of those pictures is featured here). I say that that was the night we met because that is the night we knew we had something special. I felt a strange comfort in his presence, although I had never spent any time with him before. I remember wanting to rest my head on his shoulder. I can’t remember if I did though. I wish I could ask him because he would remember. What I do remember is telling him at some point during that night that we were kindred spirits.

Those are some coincidences that are etched in my mind but by no means the only coincidences I’ve experienced. But are they really only coincidences? I like to think not. Not everything is a coincidence, not even good things that may seem like a chance encounter or serendipity. Perhaps they are part of a bigger plan that we don’t see. And sometimes they are spontaneous course corrections to get us back on that plan. But that’s not to say that there are no coincidences at all in life. There are. Towards the end, I think both he and I were beginning to realize that our attachment was much deeper than we liked to admit. We did a bunch of nonsensical “if we’re meant to be together”s – like catching an empty bottle in open waters, missing a flight… the answer always came up as an affirmative. Those were purely coincidences though because here we are, separated forever.

It’s hard to say what’s a coincidence and what’s more than that. I believe in the Universe, and I believe in miracles – miracles are miracles only because we can’t understand them, not because they can’t be explained. Trust me, I am a person who whole-heartedly believes in science but I also acknowledge that there are things that science can’t explain yet. So I like to believe that anything of the slightest consequence that happens to us happens for a reason. There are no accidents. What may seem like random events are actually not random at all. It’s sort of like the chaos theory but in a metaphysical way. That’s the way I see it. It may be too romantic a notion to think that the Universe is always guiding us, but the more I go through life with an open mind, the more I realize that the Universe talks to me, and sometimes coincidence is the language it uses.

Another Tuesday in the books, another week come and gone. Tuesdays are the new Mondays for me because they bring on the blues. It was a Tuesday when I saw someone for the last time. Now every Tuesday I wake up with a number in my head – the number of weeks since that fateful day. Someday it’ll change. Someday I’ll lose track of the count. There are 52 weeks in a year, and who knows how many years of my life ahead of me. I doubt I can keep track of the weeks. Weeks will turn into months, months into years. And ultimately it would just be an entire lifetime.

And it’s pointless to keep count anyway. It’s not that after so many weeks or months or years the wait will be over – it’s not a countdown. The weight of all the “never”s will not change. Never see, never touch, never feel, never kiss, never hold… regardless of the count, all of it will remain “never”. 

Grieving is not a linear process. You don’t always start with denial. You don’t always end up at acceptance and stay there. You keep going back and forth. I have reached acceptance but on certain days I have to work hard to hold on to it. It’s not that I get reminded of something. I don’t need reminders, he is always front and center in mind. His toothbrush, his razor, the change he emptied from his pockets – everything is where he left them. These things are not reminders, they make me smile. But on certain days I just want to tell him something and watch him laugh. That is when the weight of all those “never”s comes crashing down on me and I must muster all my strength to hold on to the acceptance with my dear life.

This is not intended to be a sad post. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I have always said that I am too vain to ever expose my weaknesses – they aren’t flattering. So this is not me crying and asking for sympathy. This is not some sort of outburst of emotion. This is not an act of impulse. This is just a reflection, an objective look at the process of coping with a loss. I acknowledge all feelings and emotions the same way. This is an acknowledgement that I do have moments of weakness. I also handle all feelings and emotions the same way. So I let myself feel weak just as I let myself feel happy; and if I’m not always happy, I’m not always weak either. Acceptance, in a way, is only a matter of finding the balance between the two. The day there is no weakness left is the day you have finally moved on.

Distance

45394162-AF85-4765-8A42-4BFA05D3B101Out of sight, out of mind… or distance makes fonder… which is it?

It’s not a simple question. It’s also not as black and white as that. These are, in fact, two ends of a spectrum. We meet many people during our lifetime and everyone falls somewhere in between, with very few, if at all, hitting the “fonder” end of the spectrum.

Considering the large number of people we encounter, I’d say most people remain close to the “out of sight” end. These are the people we don’t make any soul connections with. We either interact with them briefly, or even if it is for an extended time, the interaction only remains superficial and purely transactional. We never get to see who they really are. They don’t get to see who we really are. There are no emotional bonds, and we never find ourselves simply thinking about them for no reason.

Then there are those who touch our souls to varying extent. There are friends with whom we share a part of our lives. They may or may not understand us fully, but they know us better than most. These people may be out of our sight but they are never entirely out of the mind. We think about them on special occasions, or sometimes just like that while reminiscing. Sometimes certain things remind us of them. Once we’ve exposed our soul to someone, even in part, that person can never be out of the mind regardless of how seldom we see them.

There’s a handful of people who carry a part of us, like family. No matter where we go, we don’t stop thinking about them. It’s not an active process of thinking but something that happens on a subconscious level. I may not speak to my family for days, but not a day goes by when I don’t think about them. It’s not missing, it’s not reminiscing. It’s more like them crossing my mind multiple times in a day for no reason and without any specific emotion involved. Soulmates fall in this category too. Soulmates don’t always have to be romantic partners. These are people we feel instant connection with. These are people we can open up to without any hesitation. It’s almost as if they already know us. It doesn’t matter how much or how little time we spend with them, these bonds develop almost instantly. Our soul never forgets these people even if we were to never see them again.

So “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t apply to everyone we meet. But just because these people are on our mind, occasionally or constantly, does the distance between us make us any fonder? Perhaps not.

Distances can be of different types. There are physical distances, and of these physical distances there are those that can be overcome and those that cannot be overcome. Some of my closest friends are oceans apart. My family lives in a different state. These are distances I can overcome if I really want to, and maybe that’s why these distances don’t make me any fonder of these people than I already am. My love for them remains unchanged. They are my soul connections. 

But there are distances that cannot be overcome, like those that come with passing away. I have lost two people in the last year who were very dear to me – my grandma, and a nameless lover; and I can never bring these people back. I do, however, think about them everyday. I think about my grandma every morning when I’m making my smoothie, because I use the blender that once belonged to her. I have other things in my household that were hers and are a constant reminder to me. I think about her every time I’m making roti because she’s the one who taught me how to make one, and I have such precious memories of that time. I think about my lost love everyday too. The insurmountable distance has made me fonder of the memories I have of these people, but not necessarily of the people themselves. I have accepted that they are gone and I don’t wish for them to come back. In parting, all I remember about them are good things and the good times we shared.

There’s another kind of distance that is not as tangible. It is the emotional distance, and it has no correlation with the physical distance between two people. Sometimes people grow apart living under the same roof. Sometimes people feel close when they are away but when they come together, they realize that they can only love each other from a distance. Other times, people move so far away that they can no longer relate to each other.

I have a very close friend who moved away few months ago. This friend and I are very different and yet very similar. While this friend was around, our similarities overpowered our differences, and we always had great conversations. Since he has moved away though, our differences are slowly overpowering our similarities. He is finally living the life he always dreamed of, which is nothing like the life I dream of. He likes everything fancy and I like everything simple. The last time I spoke to him, I couldn’t relate to anything he said, and suddenly I realized that we are no longer “close” the way we used to be. In fact, I almost did not want to talk to him. 

The emotional distance, then, actually has the exact opposite effect. It can make people less fond of each other, over time killing the fondness entirely.

To conclude, our fondness or love for someone is a complex phenomenon, with distance only playing a small role in it. Out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind, and distance rarely makes the heart fonder of people… of memories, yes.

 

Compromise

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The process of writing works in two ways for me. Either I have a restless mind, and I need to write to sort through my thoughts and make sense of them. Or I get engaged in conversations, or have experiences or encounters, that make me think and then I feel the need to document these thoughts, in case they might resonate with someone else. Few of my recent posts have been of the former kind – attempts to ease a restless mind. This post today has been a work-in-progress in my mind since last Sunday.

Last Sunday I was talking to a friend who has been dealing with marital issues for number of years now. During the conversation, this friend said something that stuck with me. My friend said, “two years ago I felt like I had wasted so many years of my life trying to make things work. Today, I feel like I have wasted so many plus two years of my life. If I don’t gather the strength to walk away now, 5/10/15 years later I would simply look back and say, I wasted so many plus 5/10/15 years of my life. And for what? For other people”.

It was a very profound speech. It made me think about how hypocritical, perhaps even sadistic, we are as a society. When it comes to material things we are vying for self-fulfillment. I want a high-paying job, I want a big house, I want the most expensive car my money can buy. We amass wealth but don’t care to help someone in genuine need. We put ourselves and our desires first. But when it comes to things that truly matter, like something as simple as happiness, we preach self-sacrifice. “Compromise” is one word I despise more than anything else, and the statement “every relationship involves compromise” is the biggest lie that has been handed down generation after generation.

The way I see it, a healthy relationship does not make you feel like you’re making a compromise. To the outside world it may appear so but you don’t see it that way. If you do something that you wouldn’t otherwise, simply to make the other person happy, and their happiness makes you happy, you don’t think of it as a compromise. It is how good relationships function. There is a healthy amount of give-and-take because no two people are the same. And people derive happiness from each other’s happiness. On the contrary, it is a compromise when the other person’s happiness does not make you happy. You do things out of a sense of duty or obligation, and that is when you console yourself with the banality of “every relationship involves compromise”. My opinion on this has always been very clear – the day you start feeling like you’re making a compromise, the end is not too far.

And yet people choose to keep making compromises, and keep sacrificing themselves, like my friend, simply for the sake of other people. “How will the other person feel”, “what will my family say”, “how will I face the world” – are some of the common questions people ask themselves but never once do they ask, “do I deserve to be unhappy for the rest of my life?”. We are programmed to feel like wanting happiness for ourselves, real happiness and not the material kind, is somehow wrong, somehow selfish. It saddens me to see just how many people go through life without ever realizing that they have a right to be happy.

Some people think I’m not a romantic because of my views when it comes to relationships. In my opinion, I am a hardcore romantic and that is the reason why I have these views. I will not settle for anything less than love, and I will not sacrifice myself for other people. I have been in love several times. There was a boyfriend of 5 years, a playboy, and recently, a lost love. But I was a different person each time because people are always changing and growing. I could’ve been happy with any one of them, back then. I am not the same person today. So I will wait for the right person to show up. And when it is a love that’s meant to last, we will change and grow together, without making compromises.

So there are those who compromise, and those who don’t. But there’s also a third category of people, and the truly blessed ones I suppose if you believe ignorance is bliss. These are the people who are just too scared to be alone. They have never spent time with themselves and/or have no desire to do so. Although alone and lonely are two very different things, to this group of people they are more or less the same. Not having someone to hold and love makes them sad, hence being alone makes them lonely. They can lose themselves just to keep the other person from going away and leaving them behind. So compromise becomes a moot point because everything they do is to ensure that they don’t end up lonely. I was talking to someone else during the week who more or less falls in this group. He is going to be taking a trip soon but he did not sound excited about having to do it alone. So I suggested signing up for a guided tour where he could be part of a group. He responded saying that if the group is full of couples it will simply make him feel worse. The funny thing is that even right now, he is in love with two people as far as I can tell. But I can’t say if he’ll miss one or the other, or both, in such a situation. He’s the kind of person who loves holding hands while walking. On a date, he would sit next to the girl instead of across from her. But in all of this, it doesn’t matter who the girl is, as long as he has someone to love. He would still hold hands, still snuggle up beside her, and still love her the same way. Compromise, then, is non-existent in his world because happiness simply means being with someone, anyone.

Ultimately, it all comes down to one simple truth – we all deserve to be happy. We may have different ideas of happiness but it’s our right to seek that which makes us happy, and hold on to it should we find it!

Imperfect

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I don’t like compliments…

I have a friend who, I daresay, can put a curse on anything. In fact, he just might be Murphy reincarnated. Things may be going really well, then enter my friend Murphy, and everything that can go wrong will go wrong!

I’m going through something like that right now. Like some of my other friends, Murphy also read my last blog post and picked up on one specific thing – the mention of a certain someone and a possible ring down the line. While my other friends seemed excited at the prospect, he was full of warnings for me. And lo and behold, I already cannot stand this certain someone. Now obviously, I don’t actually believe that my friend jinxed it. If anything, he and I think alike and he simply drew my attention to the details I was ignoring. 

The thing is, I neither like pursuing nor being pursued. When my boyfriend of 5 years decided to end our relationship right before we were supposed to get married, I let him go in peace; I didn’t chase after him. When he came back a year later to chase after me, I was long gone. I like synergy and synchronicity. I like when two people progress through a relationship at the same pace. It doesn’t always happen, but not every relationship we ever enter into is meant to last forever, right! It’s all part of the process of finding the right one, the one where everything just fits; a relationship in which no one is chasing after the other person and both people are equally invested. “The thrill of the chase”, for me, is in running as fast, and as far away, as possible.

To tie it all together, the reason for my opening line is that I’m tired of all the compliments this person keeps showering me with. In the beginning, I thought he was being funny and I would laugh it off. But it doesn’t seem to end. I cannot hear one more time that I am pretty or gorgeous. No matter what I tell him about my day, his response always includes one thing – I am a good person. I am an ordinary person, just like everyone else, and that is exactly how I’d like to be treated. It makes me think of my lost friend. Every time he and I would get together at the end of the day, we would simply laugh, at ourselves and at each other for all the stupid things we did. I was myself around him because I knew that if he ever thought I had a flaw he would tell me that, and God knows he did, and we could still laugh about it. He rarely ever complimented me with so many words, but the way he treated me with honesty and sincerity was the best compliment I could have ever asked for. To me, it meant that I didn’t have to be perfect, that he would love me regardless and he wouldn’t lie to me simply to please me. We were like kids together – no ego, no flattery – only innocence and laughter, a lot of laughter. 

So let’s see what next week brings. I will not jump to any conclusions just yet. Maybe there is still hope, and the Universe does work in mysterious ways. But I do hope that the compliments stop.

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