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30 and Learning…

The journey continues

Love Will Find A Way

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Some days I want to be in love, other days I wonder if I’ll ever be ready for it again…

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about relationships lately. I think it’s because one of my friends is getting married and he keeps trying to convince me that I should start dating seriously too! But it’s been a while since I was in a serious relationship and honestly, I’m not sure if I miss it… or perhaps I don’t allow myself to miss it.

I’ve been in love several times before – with places and with people – and never has it worked out. I’m certainly not the first or the only person in this world who has gone through this pain but I’m one of those people who go on to build every barrier to never have to go through it again. While I can love easily, I’m not so sure if I’ll let myself fall in love just as easily.

I see the two things as being vastly different. The way I see love is that it is unconditional. I can love from a distance and remain detached. But being in love craves togetherness. Being in love comes with hopes and dreams that are founded on the notion of staying together. There is no detachment there. It can evolve into love but to get there requires time; and again, time spent together. I don’t know if I can want someone or something that way again.

I was in love with Buffalo. Leaving Buffalo has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It tore me down, perhaps even killed a small part of me. I had built a beautiful life there that I thought would last forever. It didn’t but I’ll always love Buffalo because I got enough time there. Now I’m beginning to feel familiar emotions about Goa but I just can’t let myself fall in love. Because tomorrow if I have to leave, I don’t think I’d be able to cope with the disappointment. I’ll obviously live but I can’t imagine how long the road to recovery would be.

It is both the beauty and disenchantment of life that we move on. No matter how great the love may be, the resilience of human spirit is much greater. Loss of love cannot actually kill, the spirit endures and survives.

And yet, I refuse to fall in love, with another place… and with another human being. I have become a commitment phobe in a lot of ways. But it isn’t the commitment I fear, it is the possibility that it will not work out. Commitment, in fact, is my strength. I’m the artist-type, a romantic. When I fall, I fall hard. I give it my all. But even my all has never been enough. One might say that it’s because the other person didn’t give it his all. Possible. But what’s the guarantee that the next person I give my all to wouldn’t hold back on me like the others? That he will be just as much in love with me as I with him?

I’m not a pessimist. I like to believe that there’s love out there for me. But I’m trying to strike a delicate balance between realism and idealism. I’m not going to fall in love again until love twists my arm and forces me to. If there is indeed love out there for me, let it come and find me. Let it prove to me that it will last, that it will not leave me wounded this time. I’m going to let someone fall in love with me first before I allow myself to fall in love. I believe in destiny, so if being in love is my destiny then this isn’t a huge ask. Destiny has imposed several things on me, still does, let it impose love on me too!

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About Last Night

So I have been challenged to write this post. Don’t see the challenge in it but here it goes…

I was hanging out with friends yesterday when we started talking about my blog. One of my friends, who actually has no recollection of it now, said, “Why aren’t we featured on your blog?! I challenge you to write about us and this evening!”. Lol.

I don’t think I need to get into the details of the evening, suffice to say that I had a great time. There were old friends and new friends. Actually, even the “old” friends are fairly new, just older in comparison to the new ones. And that makes me realize just how fortunate I am to keep finding people I can just be myself with.

I met my “old” new friends only a few months ago. But in these few months we’ve gone from being friends to best friends to brothers (yes, I’m a brother too). I don’t know how it happened so quickly but at no point did it feel unnatural. In fact, I feel like these friendships that I have found recently are the kind that stays with you for a lifetime. We are not going to be in Goa forever, but no matter where we go, we’ll always love each other.

I think the reason we got so close so quickly is that we are all romantics, idealists, some more than others, but it’s what holds us together. We all keep our guards up, again, each to a different extent. But we also let ourselves be vulnerable, intentionally or unintentionally, because we see the good in the world. And regardless of what we may say, we do wear our hearts on our sleeves; we’re transparent. We all have our share of hurt and insecurities that we carry but we don’t try to hide them. Maybe one of us made an attempt but he didn’t quite succeed – he’s not made that way! Really, we’re just open books, anyone can read us if they take the time to.

So when we had the chance to make new friends, we reached out with nothing but honesty. And we found honesty in return. It’s not easy making new friends as adults. Children are innocent, they don’t wear masks. So they make friends easily, and they take friendships seriously. That’s why the friends that we make during our childhood years are some of the closest friends we’ll ever have. The world of grown ups isn’t that simple. People pretend all the time. They hide behind masks and facades, they have hidden agendas and ulterior motives. It almost seems like a small miracle to me each time I meet someone who is not pretending to be someone they’re not or not trying to take advantage of someone.

Last night was a happy reinforcement that there’s enough good people in the world, and I am truly lucky that so many of them are part of my life!

Cheers to friendships – old and new 🙂

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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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