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30 and Learning…

The journey continues

Expectations

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You try to guard yourself from all the hurt, and yet it manages to find you…

I’ve been hurting, but I’m not quite sure why. I feel like I have lost something but I can’t put my finger on anything particular. I’ve thought a lot and I think I may finally have an answer.

Yesterday I found out that someone lied to me, and it made me sad. I don’t really know this someone that well, nor do they hold a significant place in my life. Only we can give people the power to hurt us – I believe that. When we love someone, or care about someone, we automatically give them this power. But this person means nothing to me, or I to them. I did not give this person the power to hurt me. It’s the knowledge that I was lied to that seems to have hit a sensitive nerve within me.

The way I see it, we only lie in two situations. We either love someone and want to protect them from the truth. Or because the lie is simply convenient for us. I suppose there could be people who are habitual liars and lie for the thrill of it. But for most ordinary people, the first two conditions hold. This someone lied to me because it was convenient.

The thing, though, is that when you lie simply because it’s better for you to withhold truth you are insulting the person who’s being lied to, especially when the truth affects them directly; when knowing the truth would have changed any or all of the decisions they made. The insult may not be intentional but that doesn’t disqualify it. And I think that is what’s hurting me. I feel insulted. My pride is what I lost, even if momentarily. As much as I can help it, I don’t lie. If at all I do, it is to protect someone I love. I’d never lie to someone for the sheer convenience of it. So when I get lied to, it seems unfair. But the world is unfair, I daresay.

I’ve become indifferent to a lot of things over the years. I have come to expect nothing from people around me. I don’t judge, I give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I have become as understanding and forgiving as reason would allow. But dishonesty has no justification when the underlying intention is to fool or beguile someone. Honesty, then, is the one thing I still expect from people. And what really hurts is the thought that should I give up that too if I want to go through life unscathed? There’s hurt either way. So I’ll hold on to the honesty, and accept the hurt that comes from others’ dishonesty. At least that way I’ll know who deserves a place in my life.

Photo taken by my dear friend, Madhu!

 

The Weight of a What-if

Sunny’s death is something I couldn’t have averted but I could have loved him better…

Everyone who sees my grief tells me the same thing – that I did the best I could, that I did way more than what anyone else would have done for him. But I am not anyone else, I am me, and I know I didn’t give him my best. Love hurts, yes. But what hurts more is the knowledge that I could have loved more, and I didn’t. Caring hurts. But to know that I could have cared better, that I wanted to care better, is something I am unable to cope with.

I am an empath; I am capable of loving and caring a lot more than most people do, and I do it without any expectations. That is the detachment I wrote about few days ago. I didn’t expect Sunny to live just because he was with me. He had to go if his time came. I accept that. I didn’t expect him to stay with me had he recovered. I would have happily rehabilitated him. My love wasn’t based on these conditions. My love is unconditional and boundless but in Sunny’s case, my love reached a limit, at least that is how I see it, although it’s not true.

I keep thinking what if I had stayed with him. The vet said that he died of pain. He was too small for any medical intervention. I couldn’t have taken away his pain. But I could have been there and comforted him through the pain. Maybe he felt lonely and scared, I could have made him feel loved and safe. I cannot stop apologizing to his dead body but I will never get the forgiveness that I am seeking. The weight of this what-if, and a forgiveness that I’ll never find, how to move on from that?

I wish he’d come back to life, just for a moment, and tell me that he forgives me. I wish someone could give me this forgiveness! We are humans, we are bound to make mistakes. Mistakes don’t define our character, it’s how we deal with them. But how can I deal with this mistake? How can I do right by him? He is gone. I can only learn- there is a lesson to be learned from every mistake we make. Sunny has re-taught me the meaning of responsibility and life. Life is fragile and our days are numbered. We don’t know if there will be a tomorrow. So we must make the most of today, give it our very best so that in case tomorrow doesn’t come we may lie in peace knowing that we didn’t leave any unfinished business for tomorrow. And love like there is no tomorrow. Because sometimes it’s too late to tell someone that you love them and living with regrets is the worst kind of pain. There is no comfort, only penance.

I am going through that pain right now. And I must go through it alone, like Sunny did. Maybe that is my penance.

Sunny, wherever you are, know that I loved you and I didn’t mean to leave you alone. I hope you will forgive me

Destiny

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Just two days ago I wrote about detachment, and here I am crying over the death of a bird I found on the street just yesterday…

Sunny, as I had started calling him fondly, was a purple rumped sunbird, and hence the name. I found him by chance, on a street with a broken wing. I picked him up, took him to a vet, brought him home and tried to care for him as best as I could. But earlier today he took his last breath in my hands. I held him gently, yelling at him in despair to keep fighting, to not give up, to stay with me. But with each passing minute I could feel life slipping away from his tiny, brilliantly colored body, until all that was left was a dead bird in my hands. I cried and cried until I could cry no more. The sadness hadn’t subdued but I think my tear glands couldn’t produce any more tears. My heart is still crying, and that’s why I am here.

Sunny was a spritely little fella. Even with a broken wing he was constantly hopping around. He’d hop from my hand to my chest, to the shoulder and finally to my head, where he’d stay perched until I picked him up and put him down. He was truly a ray of sunshine, lighting up my life even if just for a day. Thinking about him still puts a smile on my face!

Then why am I sad? It’s not his death that I am mourning, it’s a feeling of guilt that’s weighing on me. When I woke up today I had decided to cancel all my plans for the day and stay home to watch him. Then he went to sleep, and I thought I could step out. He seemed cozy. He had been napping on my hand on and off all morning so I thought he can use some rest and I some time out with friends. Even as my friends were coming to pick me up I had a voice in the back of my head telling me to stay. But I didn’t. When I came back Sunny was still sleeping. I tried waking him up but he fluttered his wings and remained in his hideout. So I went about my business. Then I went back to check on him and something about him didn’t look right. I picked him instantly, tried to give him some water and nectar but he didn’t take either. It was the beginning of the end.

As I watched him go slowly I couldn’t help but be mad at myself for leaving him. I should have listened to the voice in my head, I should have been there with him! I don’t know if I could have made any difference but I wouldn’t be living with this guilt that I have now. But should this be about me? Is anything about me, about any of us?

Like a friend rightly said to me, in an attempt to console me, “…we all play a part and in this story, (I) played (mine)”. I played my part. And maybe that is how my part was supposed to be. I could go on wishing for time to turn around so I may undo what’s been done. But the truth is that I cannot change what has happened. I can only take solace in knowing that I tried. I wish I could say that I tried my best. But maybe, just maybe, my friend is right. And maybe this is how my part in little Sunny’s life was meant to play out. I do believe in destiny, and I have come to believe that there’s a plan for all of us. So maybe this was part of the plan; just a role that I had to play, a rather difficult one. To cry over it would only mean that I think I had any control over what happened. I relinquished control over my own life a long time ago, then how can I be presumptuous to think that I had any control over Sunny’s life. It was destiny, both his and mine, that brought us together and it was destiny that decided when our time was up. To think that I had the power to change that is sheer ignorance, and perhaps arrogance too.

So once again, I admit defeat to fate… tell myself that this is how it was meant to be… And hold on to the lovely moments little Sunny and I shared.

RIP Sunny, you lit up my world!

Died May 1, 2018

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A Lesson in Detachment

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It’s been a while since I last wrote something and that made me think why…

There was a time I used to write more or less everyday, as a habit. But that’s because I always had something to write about. I’ve generally only blogged about existential matters, no stories or fiction or other specific subject matter. So why suddenly I don’t have much to write about. I wrote my last two blogs within a space of 3 days and now it’s been 3 weeks since I felt like writing, or had the time to do so.

I think I have reached a point where I am completely and truly living in the present. I don’t think about the past and I don’t worry about the future. I feel grateful to have what I have today and I don’t feel entitled to have it tomorrow. I don’t feel entitled to anything for that matter, and so each moment that I get to live is a blessing. In a lot ways I think of that as detachment.

I was talking to friends about detachment today and somehow during the conversation I realized that my writing is generally driven by attachments. My last two posts were driven by attachment too, because a friend was going away. But as much as I love him and would like to have him around, I am happy knowing that he is doing well for himself and is exactly where he needs to be. The post before that was driven by my attachment for my cats. And again, I am content with the knowledge that they are safe and well-loved, and I don’t have to be with them to love them. Detachment does not mean absence of love, it means being able to let go while continuing to love.

During our conversation, a friend said something that made being detached seem the same as being unattached. I don’t think that’s true. We don’t have to be unattached to be detached. In fact, I think true detachment can only come from being attached and acknowledging the fact that no matter how deep our attachment we do not own anything or anyone. Everything is transient and what’s here today may not be there tomorrow. To be able to invest in something without the desire of an outcome is true detachment to me. The detachment, then, is not from the object of attachment but from our expectations thereof.

Someone else asked me today, in a separate, unrelated conversation, that how am I always happy. Now, I wasn’t always this way. It’s been a long, grueling journey getting here. But the answer to that question is this same detachment I daresay. If I were to expect, I would either have things my way or not. The former would make me happy and the latter unhappy. But since I have no expectations, my happiness is not driven by external forces. The source of my happiness is within me. It’s a kind of contentment that is hard to put in words. It’s like whatever I get is already more than what I could have asked for because I don’t ask for anything to begin with. That’s not to say that I don’t have hopes and dreams, I do; but they are my fuel, not some sort of an arbitrary benchmark for success and consequent happiness. I am happy just working towards my goals irrespective of whether I achieve them or not. My happiness lies in each moment I get to live and continue this work. These moments may cease at anytime, no one knows when their time’s up. So my happiness lies in the here and now with no expectations of tomorrow.

To sum up, I write out of attachment, and the process of writing helps me regain my sense of detachment and the happiness that comes from it. In a way, the less I write means the happier I am… not sure if that’s a good thing but that’s how it seems to be!

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Pieces of My Heart

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Two days and I’m back here again… Something must be the matter!

Writing liberates me. I don’t write for money, or likes, or recognition. I think that if I did that my words would lose the soul they now have. I write to get in touch with myself. It’s just another way I meditate, but with my eyes open. Sometimes I meditate, in the traditional sense of the word, to ease a restless mind. But when the heart is brimming, it needs to be emptied. So I pour it out in words here, in my ironically private space.

So yes, my heart is brimming. It’s teeming with all sorts of emotions, but mostly with love and pain. The two generally go hand in hand anyway. I said two days ago that someone is taking away a piece of my heart with him. But in order to give someone a piece, you have to break your heart first, and it hurts when the heart breaks. So there’s love, and there’s pain. Now, I’m not talking about a breakup or any other romantic affliction. This someone is not a flame or a lover but just a soul that connected with mine and filled it with love.

Last few years of my life have been so rich with experiences. I have seen a lot of hurt and sadness, but even more love and joy. It amazes me just how many ways love has found its way into my life. I have met and loved the most unlikely people, in the most unlikely way; experienced love that is truly unconditional and transcends all kinds of stereotypes. Love that is so pure it doesn’t demand any words or proof, it can simply be felt. So I look forward to each new day with childlike wonder in my eyes because I know it might bring me something beautiful that I didn’t even know existed.

It’s not that life wasn’t rich before these last few years. But my heart was closed. I don’t think I allowed myself to love as freely and easily as I do now. What has, in fact, changed in the last few years is my attitude towards life. I have connected with my soul, and the soul only knows love. It feeds on love, and so it seeks love. I hold no judgements, have no expectations of others. I just want to connect with their soul, and if I find it then love just follows. In a way, my life is full of many a soul mate.

Somedays when I wake up, the first thing on my mind is death, like “one day I will not wake up at all”. It’s not a dark, depressing thought. Death is an inevitable truth so I don’t see it as a macabre subject. I see it as objectively as I see the sun rising and setting each day, it’s the law of nature. At least for now. But until my time is up, I want to keep finding love, in all the unexpected places, in all the unexpected people, in all the unexpected ways. I want to break my heart into a thousand little pieces and spread it all over. Because with each piece I give away, I collect love in return. And when I die, I don’t want a whole but empty heart, in its place I want a soul full of love. That way I’d know I lived a full life.

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The Red Thread

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I believe in the Chinese legend of the Red Thread…

According to the legend, two people who are destined to meet are tied together by an invisible red thread. No matter where they are, they are connected and when they meet they share a special bond. People often associate the legend with romantic lovers only but I think it goes beyond that. For there is more kinds of love than just the romantic one.

If there is more than one kind of love, then obviously there has to be more than one red thread wrapped around each of our fingers. If you think about it, we’re bound to so many people, so many special relationships that don’t fit any conventional moulds; there are people we met once upon a time, people we see each day, and people we are yet to meet. But irrespective of the length of time spent together, when we meet the person at the other end of the thread, the connection is instant, and special.

This post is dedicated to one such special friend, also the photographer of the picture here. So it all seems rather befitting. I’ve known him for just about two months now but it feels like I’ve known him forever. I fondly refer to him as my kid. Of course he’s not my kid, and though older, I’m not old enough to be his mother, but I love the kid as if he was my own. He’s going away soon, like kids do, and I know he’ll take a piece of my heart with him.

He is a self-proclaimed introvert so friendship wasn’t an obvious eventuality for us. But I think there is a red thread that holds us together and we were destined to share the bond we do. We talk little, but there’s comfort in our silences, and a sense of understanding that sometimes lacks even in friendships that go back years.

I’ve said enough goodbyes in my lifetime to know that once people move away they grow apart. People plan to stay in touch, meet regularly, but then reality strikes. Everyone gets caught up in their own lives, and days turn into months, months into years, and the people who meant a lot at one point only cross our minds occasionally, if at all. I know the same fate awaits us too but I’m just happy that we had the chance to meet. Should our paths ever cross again I know we’d be able to pick things up wherever we leave them now because we’re bound by the red thread, and it never breaks!

Update: with his due permission, the photographer is Ananay Agarwal (IG @ananay_agarwal)

Love Hurts

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One can guess from the picture that this isn’t a breakup post despite the title…

A while ago someone said that they were going to find my weakness and I said, “you can try!”. I didn’t think I had any weaknesses; you know, I’ve hardened, or matured, and I cruise through life almost entirely unaffected by everything around me. But there’s a strange thing that happens each time I look at the pictures of these two kids – I cry! And depending on whether I’m alone or in public, I either cry profusely or hold back my tears. Wanna guess what I’m doing right now?!

My cats mean the world to me. I love them as if I birthed them myself. Although in all fairness, I’d probably never know how exactly that feels, but there’s no other thought that can bring me to tears almost instantly than the thought of not being with them. And yet here I am, without them, thinking about them and crying looking at their pictures, wondering if I’ll ever get to be with them again.

And despite all these sad feelings, I’m not actually sad. I am happy… as oxymoronic as it may sound.

When I adopted them, the only promise I made was to make sure they were always safe and loved. When I left the US, they left with me, and when we were reunited at the cargo terminal of Delhi airport after 20 long hours, all three of us were crying. I knew in that moment that they loved me and trusted me with their well-being. So when I had to move again, I had to do what’s best for them.

In the one year that we spent living at my parents’, Izzie and Milo had started to think of it as their home, and my parents as their new humans. I’ve uprooted myself many times before, and them with me. I couldn’t do it this time. I know they are safe at my parents’ and, in all likelihood, much more loved than I alone could ever manage. With the long hours that I work I wouldn’t be able to give them the attention they deserve. So I’m happy that they are safe and loved, and I’m happier that my parents have someone to love and take care of.

I decided to stay in India so I could be closer to my parents. Just as I console myself when I think about Izzie and Milo, I know my parents do too when they think about my sister and me living so far away. They want what’s best for us. Being a parent is not easy, it’s not easy to love another soul so much, to be so far away from them that you can’t even reach out your hands and touch them, and yet be happy simply knowing that they are happy, even if it’s witbout you. That’s the kind of love that really, truly, severely hurts, and this love is my weakness.

Everyone I love is away, and sometimes I wonder when I’d finally be able to reunite with them. Life is too short to waste time crying over people (cats are people too!) we love instead of actually doing something to be with them. I’m biding my time, waiting for the right time to take the leap of faith and follow my heart. But is there such a thing as “right time”? All we have is the here and now, nothing else is promised. I hope love will guide me, and until I am able to find my way back, I’ll take comfort in the knowledge that all those I love are safe and happy.

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Strange Things – the Paradox of Me!

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I’m learning… There are two very contradicting sides to me… I like feeling like a stranger and I like being surrounded by friends. I like being alone and I like having someone to love and hold. Does that make me strange? Perhaps. But it’s what makes me me.

I love to travel. I want to see the world and gather as many experiences as I can, while I can. But I also long for a home. I used to have a home, then I didn’t. Then I went back to the home I grew up in, and then I had to leave again. It was heartbreaking. Until a week ago I thought I was sinking into depression again. I meditated to snap out of it. It made me calm and serene but that gnawing feeling of sinking didn’t go. Standing in the balcony of my hotel room, I’d think to myself, “I’m happy, my soul is happy, then what is this restlessness I feel!”. Now I see that I was just stuck in between my two sides.

The newness of everything around me hadn’t started to register yet. I wasn’t really missing anything or anyone… that’s another thing that makes me strange – I don’t miss much – but that’s for another time. I thought about my parents, my pets, my friends, but only in a fond sort of way; not in a desperate yearning way. What I was feeling, in fact, was an urgency to start feeling like a stranger in a new place. But ironically, I needed a home first.

Now I have one, and so I can go out and feel like a stranger in a new place all day long but at the end of the day I am home. I meet people at work who have taken place of friends. And then I am alone again. I can sit in a crowded restaurant and enjoy a meal by myself, that’s my jam. But somehow the idea of coming back to a hotel room isn’t my thing. Strange, right? I guess I’m the sort of person Airbnb’s “don’t go there, live there” campaign is designed for! I’m sure there are others like me. And I wonder if they realize this about themselves. How did they find out? How did it make them feel?

I had no idea just how much the idea of a home means to me. And this isn’t a real home by any means, and definitely not my forever home. But it still satiates my deep rooted desire to belong. But then I don’t truly belong, I like to remain detached. I don’t know if this detachment is a subconscious defense mechanism to safeguard myself against likely pain, or true wisdom that leads to a higher state of existence that is beyond worldly concerns. I guess I will find out in due course of time. After all, there’s so much about myself I learn each day. So many strange things!

Cheers

A Conversation with Self

Something inside me feels compelled to come out today. There is a sort of restlessness about this day that I can’t seem to understand. On such days I find writing to be the best therapy. It’s like having a conversation with myself, trying to understand what all the fuss is about.

I find it ironic that exactly two years ago, on this very day, I started a new chapter of life. This chapter has been, by far, the most enriching phase of my life, and the most eventful one too. I’m not going to spend any time looking back, it’s not like me. I’m quite good at moving on actually! I like to look ahead. Two years later, I’m once again standing at crossroads of life about to start something new. Maybe that is the source of my restlessness, this new beginning.

Fear. That’s probably it. I’m at a cusp and the anticipation is getting to me. It’s like that moment on a roller coaster ride when the ascent is over and you can see the fall ahead. I know it’s going to be fun, I’m looking forward to it but all sorts of chemicals are firing in my brain and making me nervous. I want a hand to hold on to but I look around and I see no one. I seeks friends to drown out this feeling but the moment everyone is gone and I’m left alone it comes back. So what’s the solution?

I already know the answer actually. It came to me during my meditation last evening. The voice inside me said that I must finally come clean with my father about my hopes and dreams. It will not be an easy conversation but it’s a conversation that needs to be had. I’ve been hanging out here at the top for far too long. I need to face this fall so the fun can actually begin.

Does this knowledge make me feel any better right now? No, it doesn’t. The anxiety, anticipation, restlessness, it’s all still there. I only know what to do about it eventually, not right now. Right now I t’s natural to seek safety and comfort but I know all too well that in the end we must all walk our path alone. This desire for comfort once again takes me back to two years ago, to that evening when I last saw my playboy (haven’t thought about him in a long time). His embrace used to be my safe place back then. A part of me wants that place again, not him just the place, to prepare myself. But I’m a different person now and I can find that place in my own heart, I just have to dig deep. That is what I can do right now.

Now that makes me feel better…

 

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