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30 and Learning…

The journey continues

Author

pratyushajain

Repressed

Life is funny sometimes. Something makes you so happy that it makes you sad.

I got off a potentially life-changing call yesterday and all I wanted to do was jump up and down with excitement. Instead, I ended up falling in my chair, wailing in pain, because the one person whom I want to share the news with, the one person who would’ve truly understood what it meant to me, the one person who would’ve been equally if not more excited, is no longer there. I may share it with family at some later time, maybe with a couple of close friends too. But I already know that all I’ll get from them will a pat on the back, an atta girl, and then we’ll go back to talking about other things. Everyone’s pleased that I’m doing well with my small enterprise but no one really thinks it means much more than that – a small enterprise. There was only one person who saw the endless potential in what I’m doing, only one person who encouraged me to dream bigger, one person who set his eyes way higher than I even dared.

I am making small, humble progress in what I’m doing and I’m eager to see all the distance I would’ve covered by the time I reach my 1st anniversary. But all of it seems incomplete without one person. I am happy and excited, and I’m keeping my nose to the grindstone but I’m also silently carrying a cross on my back. I wasn’t surprised that I broke out like that yesterday. There are so many times when suddenly, out of nowhere, my eyes well up. But I always push the sad thoughts aside and focus on what’s in front of me. All this while I kept telling myself that there was no point crying, all while trying to convince myself that if I ignored these thoughts long enough they would go away. Then yesterday everything came charging back at me with all its might.

I haven’t cried like that in a very, very long time. Initially, I had allowed myself what I considered an appropriate period of mourning but once beyond that, I decided to firm up and kept pushing aside all sad thoughts. It is unlike me to repress feelings but lately I’m discovering that as much as I like to think that I treat all feelings equally, I actually don’t.

I still have my fair share of doubts about the universal energy fields and chakra healing but I also have an open mind and I welcome any new information with optimism – without judgment or bias. Recently, I came across the symptoms of a blocked throat chakra and it was almost like a moment of epiphany! All the colds that I was constantly coming down with were allegedly the manifestation of imbalance in my throat chakra, which in turn is caused by holding back feelings and thoughts. As I reflected more on this newfound piece of information, I noticed that while I acknowledged being irascible lately I never quite did anything to fix it.

I was holding back a lot of pain, which made me impatient. This lack of patience caused reduced tolerance for things that didn’t quite suit me. But I don’t like to get angry, so every time something irritated me, I would hold back that anger too. It’s good to acknowledge emotions and find the right way to channel them but in my case I was just stowing everything away. Exercising is a great way to channelize negative emotions but with my manic schedule, workouts were few and far between. All said and done, unintentionally, I had repressed so many emotions that my cup was finally full and overflowing.

So this time I allowed myself to feel the pain and embrace the agony instead of denying it. I allowed myself to mourn my loss for as long as I wanted to, for as long as I could. I cried until my body was tired of convulsing, until my head felt like it was going to explode, until my eyes could no longer stay open. I cried my heart out and eventually fell asleep. Did I feel any better when I woke up? Had the pain gone away since I acknowledged it? I don’t know. All I know is that the next time I feel sadness coming, I’ll have to find a way to let it flow in a constructive way. Ignoring it and pushing it aside will only make it more powerful.

I am a student of the world and I love observing human behavior. Sometimes I observe others, other times I observe myself. Posts like these are purely objective and analytical, not campaigns to garner sympathy. My life is no more difficult or simple than anyone else’s. We’re all carrying our respective crosses. I’m just trying to find ways to make the journey easier!

Blue Bird

I have so much to write about and so little time. From the time I wake up in the morning, which isn’t late by any means, to the time I go to bed, which is when I can’t stay awake any longer, I’m constantly busy, constantly running around. Between a full time job, an adolescent puppy, a nascent business and few yoga classes a week, some days I feel like I’ve spread myself too thin. But through all this madness, the one thing that has remained unchanged is the thought at the start and end of each day. There is a moment of pause, when everything comes to a stop – to think about someone – and then life goes back to the way it was.

On certain days when I look at my blue bird I feel like it is a messenger from the Universe, bringing me somebody’s love from another world. Of course, it’s just empty consolations but sometimes the timing is rather opportune.

I woke up one morning last week with the same thought as everyday. It’s not really a thought though. There is no concrete form to it. I cannot narrate in words what flashes through my mind. It is more like a nod to a memory, a gentle whisper carrying a name I don’t get to say out loud anymore. But as I proceeded with the day, I thought to myself, “I think I may be ready to move on. The thought doesn’t seem as powerful now, it doesn’t move me the way it did before“. I took the puppy to the park and I wasn’t really looking for my blue bird as I normally do. I didn’t feel the need for the magic that morning. Then suddenly the bird flew across right in front of me, as if trying to get my attention. I continued with my walk. It flew again, and again I didn’t turn to follow the trajectory of its flight with my eyes. The next time, it went around me in a semi-circle, screaming at the top of its voice and I couldn’t help but stop and stare at it. It was as if it could feel that something wasn’t right and it wanted to make sure the charm doesn’t fade.

It almost made me chuckle because this someone was like that too in a way. He couldn’t handle someone losing interest in him, not me anyway. If he ever thought I was drifting away, he would always try to reel me back in. One can argue it was vicious given the nature of our relationship but I always found it rather cute and innocent, like a child, like my puppy now. I looked at the bird with the same excitement as before and once again, I was mesmerized.

Later that day at work, I walked up to the window by my desk to take a little break. I have sat in that same spot for over a year now and have seen that same view countless number of times. But something was different that day. Right in front of me, in the big tree outside, was a bright blue bird! I understand it wasn’t the bird from my neighborhood that followed me there but a different bird of the same species, but it was a blue bird nonetheless, and I was pleasantly shocked to see it there. I kept looking at it and it sat in the tree the whole time I was by the window. I returned to my desk eventually, and when I turned around to see if the bird was still there, it had gone.

The rest of the week went by as usual. Sometimes I saw the bird, other times I didn’t but I always knew it was there. Then this morning came. I was in the park as every other morning. The bird was nowhere to be seen. I sat in a swing slowly swaying and thought, “What if by some stroke of sheer miracle he appeared in front of me right this minute?“. I waited for the idea to sink in and for my brain to respond. Nothing. Once again, I thought that it’s time to move on. I went home, got ready and left for work. As I was driving, it started to rain. This is the first rain of the season I’ve witnessed. My consciousness hadn’t even processed it but huge tears started rolling out of my eyes and down my face. He told me once when he was going away that if it ever rained I should think of it as him trying to hug me.

I know all of it sounds cheesy and exaggerated. Cheesy it may be but exaggerated it’s not. This is exactly how it happened. Lately I have been thinking and reading a lot about the whole point of living, about the universe and all the invisible stuff that it’s made of, about a lot of ‘why’s, including coincidences like these. I will write about it just as soon as I have enough time because I have so many thoughts that need to come out so that I can sort through them, organize them and make sense out of them. Maybe this weekend will afford me the opportunity.

In the meantime, I guess when it’s actually time to move on I will not find these silly signs everywhere, and the rain will not make me cry.

The “Right” One

Someone told me today that I make them feel good about themselves, and honestly, it’s the best compliment I can think of. I try my very best not to judge people. I always tell myself that I don’t know the other person’s story and why someone is a certain way. I try to look for good in people and give them benefit of the doubt for as long as I can. And I try to see past the facade and into their soul. So when someone tells me that talking to me cheers them up because it helps them love themselves when they’re almost hating themselves, it justifies my efforts and faith in the goodness of humanity.

I wasn’t always this way though. I was fairly self-absorbed and arrogant. I used to think that I was somehow better than everyone else around me. Then life leveled the playing field and showed me just how easy it was to lose all that I held so important. I have undergone life-altering transformation in the last several years and humility is one of the many things I’ve learnt. Now I understand that I’m not entitled to anything and I should be thankful for whatever it is that I do have.

Going back to the conversation I referenced earlier, the reason this person was feeling so disappointed in themselves was because someone else told them how flawed they were. This other person is romantically involved with my friend, and the latter thought this might spell the end of their relationship. My friend went on to add, “I feel responsible for this. I am so immature. [The other person] is so sensible and perfect. I want this to work out. I wish I met [them] at a different time when I was more mature”. This reminded me of something I had read a while ago, and which I repeated to my friend – there is no such thing as the right person at the wrong time.

I believe in that statement whole-heartedly. When we meet the right person, everything automatically becomes right, or we find ways and courage to make them right. Even when it seems impossible, the Universe shows us the way and should we follow, gives us the courage to carry on. Of course, the decision lies with us and we can choose to travel a path other than the one the Universe is guiding us down. But that does not make the other person wrong for us or the timing inconvenient; it makes us wrong for the other person. The way we deserve to find a love that is powerful and special, the other person also deserves to find the same kind of love. If our love does not have the power to move, it is not strong enough and the other person is better off without it. So if you ever find yourself wishing that you met someone at another time, think again. Chances are they’re either not as perfect as you think they are or that you never really tried hard enough.

In my friend’s case, it is the former – the other person is not all that my friend has made them out to be. The other thing about the right person is that they don’t make you feel bad about yourself. Everyone has flaws, and everyone is constantly changing. Sometimes the change is deliberate as part of a conscious effort to better oneself. Other times the change is subconscious. We are continually getting influenced by our surroundings, by the experiences we have and by the people we share these surroundings and experiences with. All these aspects keep shaping and reshaping our personalities. Sometimes we can even change fundamentally, like I did. When we are with the right person, we become aware of our flaws in a way that doesn’t hurt or embarrass us but makes us want to work on them. And the right person helps us in the process and doesn’t make us feel horrible about who we are; the right person accepts us for who we are.

Quite simply, we become a better version of ourselves when we meet the right person. That means two things. One, we are good to begin with and this person recognizes that. This person doesn’t lay down conditions for them to be able to love us. Remember, if someone cannot love you for who you are today, they definitely don’t deserve to be loved by you. Second, the right person has a positive influence on us so that we go from good to better, not good to bad or remain stagnant at good. There is no such thing as perfect and life is just a pursuit of the unattainable for those who are seeking perfection. The right person encourages us to pursue it nonetheless, and not by saying anything but simply by being who they are. Being with them makes us want to be better, it makes us better. People in toxic relationships almost always end up angry at the whole world or depressed.

What my friend is undergoing could be a potentially toxic situation because it led to hurt and sadness. But I don’t know the entire conversation and I don’t know the exact context for it. Maybe this person does accept my friend for who they are and pointing out their flaws was intended to be an innocuous gesture to help them grow. If that is the case, they will have to talk and find a way that is not offensive to my friend. Or maybe this person will keep agonizing my friend with constant taunts and nagging, using it to shift blame when necessary. In this situation my friend will have to get out of this caustic relationship at once. Only time will tell where the chips fall but I wish nothing but happiness for my dear friend.

Conversations

I have been trying to write this post for over a week now but my routine these days is so jam packed with activities, I rarely have time to sit down with my thoughts, or sit down at all. I have, however, been ruminating whenever I can, while walking or doing chores, so that whenever I finally find time to put pen to paper, figuratively, it’s relatively quick to regurgitate all the thoughts. (Oh well, that’s what I thought when I sat down to write. Two days later, I’m still working on this draft!)

Besides all things metaphysical, conversation is the single most important thing to me in a relationship. If I cannot enjoy talking to someone, there is no way I can sustain the relationship, even one as simple as friendship. I love to talk, and I love a good conversation. It’s like good food; it feeds and satisfies the soul. And although I can more or less talk to anyone, there are only a handful of people I truly enjoy talking to. Going back to the exception I made earlier about all things metaphysical, I don’t quite see the two as being unrelated. I think the people we enjoy talking to the most are also the people we share soul connections with. But yes, I hang a lot more on the spiritual than just a good conversation when it comes to relationships, so let’s not go there!

I love talking to my family. Sometimes people love their families but not necessarily like them. I am blessed that I share a special bond with every person in my family, and I can spend several hours talking to them. My family, as a matter of fact, doubles up as my most cherished circle of friends. As long as I have my family around, I don’t really need anyone else. Some people find it hard to believe that I lived with my parents for one whole year as an adult and had an amazing time doing so. But that’s just how we are. So stepping out in the world can be additionally challenging when you are used to being surrounded by deep soul connections. My sister and I are more spiritually inclined than most so we find it especially difficult to find people we instantly connect with, or people whose level of spiritual awareness resonates with our own.

Most young adults, others too, are wholly driven by ambition. My sister and I, however, are driven by love. It’s not like we were always this way but with time and experience we’ve realized where our true happiness lies – being close to those we love – and we are constantly seeking ways to fulfill that dream. We don’t always come across people who share this view so when my sister recently met someone like that she was excited just from having had a meaningful conversation in a very long time. That made me stop and think about how often do I get to engage in conversations that hold deeper meaning. The answer was a rather dismal ‘not too often’ but soon after I met couple of people, at different times but in quick succession, who I thoroughly enjoyed talking to.

First was a young girl who is just beginning her spiritual journey. I don’t think we share a soul connection but I think I was put in her path so she could talk freely about everything she has been experiencing and perhaps take something from story. The more we talked, the more I could relate to her and her journey. She was successful, then lost it all and slipped into depression, and finally emerged out of it stronger. Now she is curious to know more about meditation and spirituality, about bringing balance to her energies and consequently, her life, and finally be more loving and accepting of herself. We talked for a long time and I gave her everything I could offer based on my own journey. I am sure one day she’ll start seeking her purpose in life and after a period of internal chaos, which is almost entirely inevitable, will find her place of happiness in this world.

The other conversation I had was with a young man, about my age, who left a high-tech job in India’s “Silicon Valley” to come back home to pursue his dreams. He runs an eclectic cafe that’s also a performing arts space for budding talent. And he is the founder of an educational center for young kids to teach them math, science and technology through use of practical and interactive games, models and sandboxes instead of mundane textbooks and lectures. I could see the excitement in his eyes as he talked about the children and their tremendous potential when given a conducive environment to nurture it. I don’t think I share a soul connection with him either but just as I was put in the path of the young girl above, this man was put in my path to reinforce my faith in what I’m doing and the road I want to travel.

Although conversations like these are occasional, I feel that I am constantly communicating with the Universe and these ‘conversations’, if you will, feed my soul. In my last post I mentioned about my “magical” blue bird. The next morning after writing that post I was back in the park, walking the dog, looking around for my birdie. But it was nowhere to be seen. I was walking out of the park when something made me turn around and look above, beyond the trees in the park, to the tops of the buildings in the back, and lo and behold! Perched on top of a building was my blue bird, looking straight in my direction. It was as if the bird was trying to tell me that it’s still around, and although I may not be able to see it, it is looking out for me. I would rather be a fool and believe in magic than be rational and miss out on such moments of joy. I felt like the Universe wanted to remind me that all its magic is always around, but sometimes it’s not in the places we are looking. The next day the pair was back and I knew that regardless of whether I see my birds or not, they are always around, my magic is always around.

Shorts

Broken

There was a beautiful butterfly on the ground. Someone was busy taking pictures. I went up to it and realized it had broken wings and couldn’t fly. I held out my hand, and reluctantly it climbed onto my finger. I left it in the corner of a nearby flowerbed, hoping it won’t get trampled on.

Beautiful creature but it’s only when you look closely you see that it’s broken.

Magic

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl

There is a brilliantly blue bird in my neighborhood. It’s not easy to spot. It shows up in the park on certain mornings. Coincidentally, it always shows up on the days when my spirit needs a little lift, and seeing it lights up my day because it is just so beautiful! It reminds me that nature is wonderful and there is so much beauty, so much magic all around. Then out of nowhere, a second blue bird showed up two weeks ago and I saw the pair every single morning and evening. My days were filled with magic. I felt surrounded by boundless love.

But for the last two days, both birds are missing. I haven’t seen even one of them. I hope the magic returns soon.

Madness

You call it madness but I call it love.” – Nat King Cole

The Friend-zoned: “I think we should date.

The Grieving: “I’m in a relationship.

The Friend-zoned: “Oh! Have I met him?

The Grieving: “No, he doesn’t stay here.”

The Friend-zoned: “Long distance relationships don’t usually work. Give me a chance.

The Grieving: “But there’s this thing called ‘loyalty’ that I take a little too seriously (laughs). I must see this one through.

The Friend-zoned: “Well, I’ll be here.”

The Grieving: laughs and puts on her sunglasses… to hide the tears that are trying to escape from the corner of her eyes. There is no relationship; the loyalty is not to a person but to his memories. The world cannot understand so she lies. Time will fix everything but now is not that time.

Thoughts

This past week was ripe with all kinds of emotions, from a potential rehoming of the puppy to a visit to my parents’. I am putting all of it down, hoping to string it all together in some cohesive way but it might just be a disjointed mess.

The Puppy

Earlier in the week I thought I was going to have to give up my puppy. There is a long back story that isn’t worth getting into now but I’ll just say this – I will never abandon someone, NEVER, especially an animal who cannot understand the complex world of humans, because of inconvenience. If we make a commitment to love someone or care for them, we must follow through with it and any decision we make should have their best interest at its heart. I also believe that if we really want to do something we can always find a way. But sometimes loving someone becomes difficult, even impossible. Or the love itself becomes insufficient. So instead of holding on to them to ease our conscience it is better to let them go so they may find love once again. Something like that happened in case of Birthday too.

When I decided to give up Birthday, it wasn’t because it is inconvenient for me to have him but because it would be better for him to have more space and attention. And there were two homes that were seemingly keen on taking him. Huge houses with large, private yards, other pets and retired humans who stay home all day – I thought this was ideal for my baby. By Wednesday I was a wreak, crying incessantly, knowing that my little boy was going to be separated from me within a matter of few hours – I just had to take him to the two places and pick one.

When love is meant to stay, it finds a way. I had decided to keep my personal interest aside and do what’s best for Birth. But sometimes what we may perceive as “the best” based on our confined logic and reasoning, isn’t necessarily the best at all. One of the two families backed out last minute for reasons unknown to me. The other gentleman called me and said there had been some miscommunication and he was looking to adopt a female puppy of a small breed (Birthday is a boy, and already quite big for his age). Suddenly Birthday wasn’t going anywhere and I cannot express how ecstatic I was! Call me a weird one (although by now this shouldn’t come as a surprise really) but I took that as a sign from the Universe that Birthday and I are meant to be together. However “perfect” these other homes may seem, only I can give him the love he needs; I AM him perfect home. So once and for all, I have decided that Birthday is mine, and although I may not be able to give him everything, I will make up for it with love because that is something I have unlimited supply of.

The Cats

Sometimes I wonder if Izzie and Milo could talk, would they say that I abandoned them? I think that had I surrendered them to a shelter in the US that would’ve been abandonment. I have only left them with my parents because it’s better for them. The love, care and attention that they are getting there is something I am incapable of providing right now.

Izzie will be 8 this year, Milo 6, and I am anxious to be back with them. It saddens me deeply to be away, especially when I see how happy Milo still gets when he sees me, how he still remembers all the little routines we had, how I’m still the only one who can trim his nails, or who can hold him for his vaccination. Like Birthday, Milo is also a scared boy. He was abandoned by his first family, and I just hope he doesn’t think his new mum has abandoned him too. My only consolation in all of this is that they are well. Love, as I have said many times before, doesn’t always mean being physically close. We can love someone from a distance if it means they will be better off being away.

The Parents

Each time I visit home and see my parents a little more aged than the previous time I saw them, I wonder if it is worth running after a job at the expense of the time I could be spending with them. It would be easy if only I had a money tree, or if money wasn’t as important as it is. The latter is a sad reality we live in. Money is more important than family, more important than friends, more important than everything else. And ironically, the reason money is so important is so we can take better care of family, enjoy with friends, and do the things we want to. Somewhere along the way, money has become more important than the very people we want to earn it for, and what’s worse, most people don’t even realize it.

I hadn’t been home in almost 5 months now because I had work deadlines. It may not seem like a long time to many but I want to see my parents everyday if I can help it. I want to be there for day-to-day stuff, to help them with small things. I couldn’t go home for my dad’s birthday, nor my mom’s; I want to celebrate their birthdays with them. Because as they say, when kids grow up, parents assume the role of children and vice versa, and my parents were always there for all of my birthdays and now it’s my turn. I simply want to be there, I want to show up.

The Dream

There was a time I couldn’t wait to get out of the small town I grew up in, out of India and into the great, big world. I did all that and learnt the hard way that all we really need in life is our family and those we love. But I had to take this exact journey to reach this point. Even now, I remember my last visit to India when I was still in the US. It was that trip that set the ball rolling for my eventual return and decision to stay. For the first time, I was heartbroken when I had to leave. Once back in Buffalo, I couldn’t stop thinking about home and crying. That is when I finally knew what I wanted in life – to be close to those I love and care for the most. I was back in India within few months of that trip, and within few more months of that I had made up my mind to stay.

Now the only dream I have is to have everyone I love under one roof. Every time I’m with my parents, and Izzie-Milo, I feel that life is passing me by very quickly and I’m not moving fast enough to keep up. I must find a way to keep my family together, and find it fast. I am not in any unusual circumstance. On the contrary, this is the norm today – people grow up and move away from their parents. In India, aging parents move in with their children when they can no longer be independent. I don’t want to wait for the day when one or both my parents need looking after, or when Izzie and Milo are sick. I want to spend as many good years with them as I can before the inevitable happens. I lost my grandma unexpectedly last year and sometimes I do feel a pang of guilt that I didn’t spend enough time with her. There is no saying when life will be over for any one of us, and I don’t want to have guilt when my time is up.

The Lonely

Sometimes I feel like I have a plan and if only I can get a little help I can turn my dream into a reality. My father is the one person I have turned to for support multiple times, including during this visit, and each time his response is a negative. I doubt it’s his lack of trust in my plan – I am already proving at my own level that it is a good plan – but it’s his long held, deeply rooted notion that I should be married now, and by extension not have these “silly thoughts” about “keeping the family together”. I am not averse to the idea of getting married. But I cannot put my life on hold waiting for the right person to show up. I think that the right person will show up as I live and work towards my dream, because he has to fit into my plan. Getting married, for me, cannot be the opposite of keeping my family together, it must be the same thing. He must share the same values as me. He must put our family on top – his parents and mine – OUR family. And he must believe in me.

On certain days I miss my lost love a lot more than usual because he would have supported me and my plan. He believed in me. But he’s gone and now I have no one I can turn to. I feel lonely, not for lack of love or companionship, but for lack of support to turn my dream into a reality. I feel helpless, leaving my family behind with no clear idea about when I’ll see them next time. I feel restless, to live a life of love and abundance.

Reflection

I wrote a post few days ago that I have since deleted because it seemed more like a rant than anything meaningful.

Like I had mentioned in that post, on certain days my energy and patience are spent on trying not to miss someone, and then I become irascible, snapping at the smallest thing that irritates me. Sometimes I internalize the anger, sometimes I let it out, and sometimes it finds a way to come out, like it did in that post.

I am undergoing a state of internal chaos right now. As I pointed out in my post about meditation, I recognize that my energies are out of balance, and I must make conscious efforts to return to a state of equilibrium but the process is not easy. The constant efforts can get tiring. As with a see-saw or a pendulum or a weighing balance, before equilibrium can be reached, there is a period of swaying, going from one end to the other, one side to the other, one extreme to the other. Slowly the separation between the two extremes is reduced and ultimately, a steady state is achieved.

I am in the swaying stage right now. But I don’t think I’ve hit either extreme yet. I am yet to have a totally perfect day, and I’m yet to have an entirely bad day. In a way it is scary because I don’t want to have a bad day – breaking down is not an option I have. I don’t have the luxury of giving up. And endless stream of perfect days is really just make-believe. As long as we are not living in some sort of denial, we will have good days and bad days. What makes all the difference is our ability to remain unaffected in either case. I am swaying close to the center where this ability to remain unaffected lies. I pass that place many times but I can’t seem to stay there. I go to one end where I feel better by telling myself that I’m better off now – the place of denial, to the other end where I just want to cry – the place of shock. The place of acceptance, as I have mentioned in few of my recent posts, is elusive, transient, fleeting.

As I have done on occasion before, allow me to make yet another science analogy. A body at rest continues to stay at rest and a body in motion continues to stay in motion unless acted upon by external force – the Law of Inertia. So if I am swaying right now, I can continue this motion endlessly unless there is an external force involved. On most days the external force is me. I try to meditate and restore balance in my chakras so the swaying may stop and I can remain centered. But every once in a while there is another external force that has the exact opposite effect. It pushes me towards the extreme, it accelerates my sway, increases its span. This is the type of force that I ended up venting against in my last post.

I usually write my posts as notes in my phone, over a period of several days. And I usually avoid writing on days when I’m not feeling centered. This last post was an exception on all counts. I wrote it directly in WordPress because I was feeling restless to write. And the reason I was restless is because it wasn’t a day when I was centered. So what started as a simple narrative about how I don’t feel like I belong anywhere quickly turned into a spew of frustration towards those who keep telling me that I don’t go out as much anymore.

It is true indeed that I don’t go out the way I did before, but the difference is not in terms of time spent outdoors but the way that time is spent. People fail to recognize this and when they make such a comment, it is invariably accompanied by the insinuation that I’m not having fun anymore, or by extension, that something is wrong with me. I prefer early mornings to late nights, and I prefer activity over dining out. It’s as simple as that. And I’ve always been this way until someone came into my life and things changed for a while in between. The frustration over being misunderstood further led to futile justification of the way I had become – that I went out a lot because the person I was with did not like my dog! That somehow he turned me into someone that wasn’t truly me and so I am better off without him.

The thing, though, is that this is exactly how my uncentered days are. I couldn’t care less about what people say, but I’m sensitive right now and any suggestion that I am not handling things well bothers me. A small trigger can upset me, and set me down the path of denial. When I come out of this denial, I become extremely sad because I am reminded of how much I actually miss this person. It’s not that I’m better or worse without him, I just am without him, and although that hasn’t changed me as a person, it has changed my world a little and I must now learn to adjust to this new world. I’m doing the best I can and though the process of adjustment is taking longer than I’d like, there isn’t much more I can do. The counter-productive external forces sometimes slow down my progress but at least I am able to bounce back from that and not let them take over.

Happy and sad are not mutually exclusive states. Happiness does not mean absence of sadness. It simply means knowing that you’re ok despite the sadness. I am able to stay happy through all the chaos and swaying, and for now, that is enough.

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.

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