Search

30 and Learning…

The journey continues

Category

Self Discovery

Imperfect

d9bea933-c637-4258-bfbe-54cdc3d05b08

I don’t like compliments…

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

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

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

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

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

Change

4530f1d6-d5ca-4e8d-831a-83a18353dbefChange is coming…

I’m not scared of change, not anymore. I have seen more changes in the last few years than the rest of my life put together. There was a time when I was resistant to change. But it was mostly out of fear – fear of the unknown. I was comfortable with the way things were and trying to imagine life any other way was exhausting. Things can go so many different ways. There’s no way to tell which one of the many possible paths life would take, and not knowing that is what invokes fear. We all get used to living life a certain way, and the smallest change to status quo seems like a threat to our very existence. But over time I’ve learned to accept change as something good. 

Sometimes it’s good to be pushed out of our comfort zone; complacence never did anyone any good. Sometimes the change itself is good, other times it shows us what would be good. Sometimes we want things to change and when they actually do we realize that we had before was all we ever needed. Sometimes change leads us to things we never thought we’d want but then we end up loving them. Regardless of what’s on the other side, a change always serves us well.

I used to think I’d never want to move back to India. But here I am, loving it, rejecting any opportunity to leave again. I used to think I want I a fancy job, a fancy house, a fancy car… now I don’t care for those things. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and now I know that things don’t make the soul happy, people do. I’m wiser for all the changes I’ve gone through in the recent years and I know myself better. I know what my core values are and I know what are some of the things I absolutely can’t do without. It wasn’t easy to develop this attitude towards change but if we can simply learn to trust the process, accept that what’s waiting on the other side of the change is a good thing, it no longer seems scary.

So once again, the season of change has begun. I was standing at the cusp only recently where I had to make a choice. And no matter which option I chose, change was imminent; status quo wasn’t one of the options. Hence I chose, not with my head, but with my heart. It was scary but exciting at the same time, and I was looking forward to my new life post this change. Then things changed again. The new life that I was supposed to begin relatively soon got pushed out indefinitely. Then something changed yet again and, once more, the universe is presenting me with options.

As I have mentioned in my last several posts, I recently found love and lost it forever. The very fact that I’ve been able to write about it shows that I’m doing ok. It’s been over a month and I’ve developed an acceptance for the reality, as harsh as it may be. I understand that life must go on, and as much as I miss this person I simply cannot bring him back. No one can take his place but it does not have to mean that no one else can share my life. I won’t go into details but someone hinted to me that he’s been looking for a ring, for me. All I’ll say is that I haven’t even met this person.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who asked me what I thought is the “right amount of time” to date before deciding to marry someone. I told her that I’m the kind of person who believes in love at first sight. Sometimes you just know. People make so many rules about love! Checklist of desired qualities, list of dealbreakers, right number of dates, appropriate length of time to date, to live together… as if there was a formula for love! I simply follow my instinct. So when I finally meet this person in a couple of weeks, I will let my instinct make the call.

Change is coming… I just don’t know what it’ll be. Only time will tell!

Choices

 

671F1570-775B-4C0C-95CB-093E2E12EE7C.jpeg

Destiny or free will?

I daresay that’s a question as old as humanity itself. Since man developed the cognitive prowess to think and reason, people have wondered why things happen to us the way they do. Is it all preplanned or do we shape our own lives? Some people believe in absolute destiny – that our lives follow a fixed blueprint that was created by some higher power long before we were born. Others, mostly those who do not believe in the existence of such higher power, believe that we create our own destiny by the choices we make.

I’ve never had a firm opinion on the matter, instead still searching for an answer. One thing that I do firmly believe in is that there are no absolutes in life. So I guess I neither believe in absolute destiny nor in absolute free will. I came across a piece recently that seemed to resonate with this idea (wish I had the link to share). What the author said was that there is a plan for all of us but it is up to us to make the choices that will allow us to follow that plan.

To look at it in another way, my life is supposed to be a certain way and yet I can alter its course by making choices that deviate from that course. Since I talked about my nameless relationship recently, I’ll use that as an example. At every step, I had the choice to either continue or run away. My heart said continue and my head said run away. There are very few times when my heart and head are in conflict but I’m a person wholly led by my heart. So I continued, and I am so happy I did, regardless of the pain I feel right now. Because knowing this love was my destiny, it just feels right. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’d do it all over again if I had to.

That’s the other thing with choices and destiny – if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. And that is why I feel that it’s important to think with the heart and not head. Now obviously I don’t mean the literal heart, but what I mean is the instinct, the gut, the intuition… Whatever you want to call it, but there’s always a voice inside that lets us know when we make a wrong choice. So maybe that’s our cue – if that voice inside is not in agreement, maybe we have chosen an option that doesn’t align with our destiny.

But what if someone keeps making the wrong choices all throughout? What if someone completely silences the voice inside? Honestly, I think that happens all the time. The world we live in forces us to be logical, practical, rational – all that manmade cerebral fluff – and ideas like this are considered absurd, even loony! Yet we hear stories all the time about people on their deathbeds, breathing their last, reflecting upon the life they lived and regretting the choices they made, regretting not following their hearts. When in doubt, I wonder that if I died today, would I be happy with the life I lived or would I have regrets? As long as the answer is the former I know I am following my destined path.

And finally, someone might say that what if there are no choices. But I doubt that’s ever the case. We always have choices and whether knowing or unknowingly, we are picking an option each minute. When I had to leave the US, I thought I had no choice, I was forced to leave what had become my home and move back to India. But I had the choice – to marry someone and stay. I wouldn’t have been the first one to do that. Logical people do it all the time. But I’m not logical. My heart wouldn’t even consider that as an option. So I chose to leave instead. Leaving Izzie and Milo behind was not an option my heart would ever acknowledge either. And I am so thankful that my inner voice is so loud and clear because if I made either of those choices, I would’ve regretted them immensely. So if I die today, I would die happy, knowing that I chose love each step of the way.

Maybe that is how souls get liberated from the cycle of rebirth. Maybe people who die with regrets have to come back. I don’t know, I have no opinion on that subject either and I’m open to be convinced either way. But that’s for another time; let’s not get too hyperbolic now!

P

Realization

9B7FA86C-1A99-4404-9A04-55A88A78F5FB.jpeg

This post has been in the making for a really long time now, since my grandmother’s death to be precise…

I started writing a post as I boarded the flight to head back home for her funeral. But that was lost. And ever since then I’ve been writing this in my head, and it has been evolving constantly. It’s as if my whole perception of this experience called life has changed ever since I bid her farewell. Everything I have been feeling since then somehow links back to the moment I saw her for the very last time, in the crematorium, her body being engulfed by flames that rapidly consumed every last fiber of an entire generation.

My grandma was the last surviving grandparent on both sides of my family. My mom’s parents passed away a long time ago. My dad’s dad, whom I was very close to, passed away over a decade ago. So for last several years, my grandma was the last standing pillar steadfastly supporting the weight of a generation, the “elders” as I call them. With her, that generation is gone. And as I sat in the hearse next to my dad and his brother, staring down at the body that was once my grandma, I realized that now my dad and uncle have become that generation, they are the elders. Consequently, I have become their former generation, the adult; I am no longer the kid in the family.

I was also the only grandchild present at my grandma’s funeral. My sister, and my uncle’s daughters, are all in the US. It was neither practical nor possible for them to travel all the way on such short notice. Before I delve deeper into my own thoughts and sentiments, I must make note of couple of things. Firstly, India is a predominantly patriarchal society so all rituals involve sons and grandsons. My family, however, going all the way back to my grandfather, never conformed to such traditions. Secondly, sons and grandsons set the funeral pyre alight as a symbolic adieu to the departed into the afterlife. In modern times cremation units have taken the place of a tradition pyre. Going back to my grandmom’s funeral, I did everything that a grandson would have. As I stood next to my dad and uncle, with tears in our eyes, hands gently resting on the handles of the gurney, gathering the strength to roll it into the cremation unit, I was overcome by the idea that I am more than an adult – I am the only adult who is around! In that moment I was more thankful than ever for the journey I’ve had over the last couple of years that led me back to India, and to that exact place and time where I could stand shoulder to shoulder with my dad and uncle, sharing this responsibility. There was another responsibility that dawned on me that day. Being the only grandchild there, assuming the role of a grandson, all of that also made me feel responsible for the future of my family’s name. There is a certain sense of narsissism associated with starting a family. I’ve always known that but it was never more evident than on that day when I felt the weight of this responsibility upon my shoulders – the responsibility to carry forth the legacy of my family’s name. Of course I have a sister and two cousins, but they are away. Their children will also be away. I am here, and I must keep this name going.

I was overwhelmed with all kinds of emotions over the next few days. As I spent many a evening with my parents and aunt and uncle, sticking together as a family, I started feeling a certain sense of sadness for them. They are now what my grandparents were. And yet, all they had was me. They were happy to have me around, they constantly kept saying it. But shouldn’t they have the joy of having a grandchild or two running around too? A generation had passed but where was the new one? I felt selfish, and yet helpless. I wished I had someone I could marry and have kids with. And the emptiness of my own life made me sadder still.

I was back in Goa after a week and change, and the sadness lingered. Then something strange happened. Someone I had known for only a little while asked me if I would marry him. I felt like jumping and saying yes! I didn’t. My fears were still bigger than my sadness, and this couldn’t have been love or my fears wouldn’t even exist in the first place. But the entire experience has left me thinking about what I want from life. Suddenly I want to get married, I want to have a family. Not for myself but for my parents. I want to make them happy. I want someone to take my family name. I am not ready to be a wife or a parent, but I’m ready to be an adult. It doesn’t even make sense, but that’s more or less my state of mind – it doesn’t make sense!

P

 

Love Will Find A Way

51C48B7F-92AB-45C4-A2A7-713525928674.jpeg

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!

P

 

 

A Lesson in Detachment

C73E2E5D-7B6E-430A-AA81-E520533E9841.jpeg

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!

P

Pieces of My Heart

E98FA70B-7DA2-4241-B7D3-6884135B3D2F.jpeg

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.

P

 

Love Hurts

F949A7A1-8D27-4771-BC1D-71310DBC6317.jpeg

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.

P

 

Strange Things – the Paradox of Me!

46637017-2434-4F7E-9BF8-9048E33AD384.jpeg

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

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑