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30 and Learning…

The journey continues

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Self Discovery

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.

Imperfect

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I don’t like compliments…

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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!

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Realization

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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!

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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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