The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Tag: growth

Independence and Community

TeaI have been thinking some strange thoughts about friendship lately. Or the way we define “friendship” typically.

Everyone cherishes a good friendship. It is comforting, full of good vibes and warmth and understanding and bonhomie, and it makes us feel loved and wanted. Knowingly, no one will let go of a good friendship (whatever one defines it as). But I wonder — can a strong friendship rob one’s freedom? In order to keep the friendliness and good cheer intact, do we compromise on our independence? Yes, I think we do. Yes, I have.

I once commented to my meditation teacher, “It feels to me that either everyone is a friend or no one is. Either everything is personal or nothing is.”

Friendship isn’t unconditional, as I have come to realize. It certainly comes with strings attached. Even the most generous and understanding friend may find judgment creeping into the relationship. Suddenly, the ties that bind feel constraining. Now I yearn to break free. Oh, what about my friend? Their feelings? Should I risk the lessened warmth, the sudden strain and unsaid disapproval and frostiness? Will they continue caring for me? Well, did they actually care, or was it pure happenstance? Does anyone really care, unconditionally?

Herein lies the rub. How does one maintain an even balance between community and independence? A community is based on some kind of a shared commonality — be it culture, values, ideology, what have you. Even the most open communities likely have some unsaid customs. You cannot flout them, really. No one will necessarily tell you off, but you get a clear sense of having crossed a line somewhere.

Sigh.

(This may be an uncomfortable situation but it is, by no means, painful. I find it an exhilarating conflict. To me, this discomfort signals growth and expansion. It forces me to confront my individual truth, all trappings removed, plain and bare.)

That girl from Xavier’s

Girl-Woman

Girl-Woman

During 8th grade, I had the opportunity to represent my school at an inter-school science exhibit competition hosted at St. Xavier’s. It was two days of fun and freedom.  V and I went to St. Xavier’s, spoke knowledgeably to visitors about our school’s entry to the competition, wisecracked around, gawked at other boys/girls, and had a good time, generally speaking. Then I saw her.

Long wavy hair loosely bound, a nicely fitting school uniform, slim legs and slender waist… guys hanging around, smiling and laughing and talking. She was perfectly poised between girl and woman — graceful and beautiful and feminine. I couldn’t help feeling envious. Imagine a flat-chested girl, stick thin, shy (yet outwardly confident), gawky and awkward… Hmm, that was me.

How things have changed…

The other day, as I stood before the mirror washing my face before bed, I suddenly thought – Oh, I have turned into that girl.

Longish hair loosely tied, slim and slender, poised between girlhood and womanhood. Life does bring us what we wish for… if only twenty years too late! No, it cannot be too late — it is perfect timing.

Dynamism

Endlessly Dynamic

Endlessly Dynamic

We really love the word ‘dynamism’ and use it with complete abandon. But what does it really mean? Someone who manages multiple responsibilities – who is endlessly creative? Someone who dons multiple roles? Someone who morphs into different people in varying situations?

Yes, yes, yes.

And a little more.

It occurs to me that the most dynamic people (and because I am an avowed feminist, I will pick female here) I know are the middle-class, working mothers in Mumbai. They manage their homes, cook on a regular basis, attend to their children, figure out efficient commute options, scout for good bargains, attend to the in-laws, manage work schedules, plan family vacations…. phew. With help from a few good men, of course.

Dynamism, I think, is about engaging with the moment – every moment, every breath. To be attentive, to change tricks if need be, to keep inventing, to be open to new interpretations (if a train commute is the only place you find time to chop vegetables, so be it), juggle roles, ask for help… keep moving.

Life has changed for me lately. A new job, added responsibilities, changed roles – I can truthfully say that I am a lot more dynamic today than I was in my less busy (relatively speaking, of course!) days.

(Why the obviously Instagrammed/Hipstamatic-ed picture of my foot, you ask? Well – these feet have danced for hours, climbed mountains, walked miles, and borne my weight with grace and forbearance. If that isn’t dynamism, what is? Plus I love how graceful the arch is.)