SIMPLY BEING

Category: This-That (page 1 of 224)

Chasing Experience

Rewinding back to Christmas Day…

It started on an inauspicious note. The morning chai was awfully unsatisfactory. Something wasn’t right with the coconut milk. Then, my beloved poha chivda recipe, the one I had perfected over many attempts, didn’t deliver. I had made a fresh batch that morning, and it just wasn’t good enough. Aargh! In a totally unplanned move, I made a second batch of chai mid-morning. I wanted to erase the memory of bad chai and bad poha chivda. But the 10:30am chai was equally dismal.

Lunch was a tad better. Husband had made a delicious biryani in honor of Jesus’s birthday. It was SPICY yet spectacular. I had a strong feeling that I would regret all those additional helpings but I badly wanted to overwrite the less-than-perfect food and drink experiences from earlier in the day. So much so that I cleaned up the biryani that evening, and well… it was a bit too spicy for me.

I recognized clearly that I was so eager to have a good experience because I wanted to erase the memory of the previous one. And I also knew that a new experience, no matter how phenomenal, couldn’t/wouldn’t deliver. It was too tall an order. And yet I kept chasing it all day, Christmas Day. Maybe lunch will be better than breakfast, the evening chai can make up for the miserable one from morning, and so on.

And when all attempts fail, there is sugar. I have seen time and again that I reach for sugar when I am dissatisfied. We don’t have candy around but there are figs! Dates! A dried fig with a couple of cashews works. Or perhaps a date laced with almond butter. All healthy and delicious but again, trying so hard to fill that gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. The days when meals are great, and I am supremely sated, there is no need for additional sweetness. It’s all perfect. And of course, when there is a steady sense of happiness within, a feeling of joyful creativity, even a less-than stellar meal can’t make a dent.

What helps in these situations? A palate cleanser! Raw fennel seeds are perfect.

Better Half/Whole Pie

Sometimes you are the better half, and then you are the whole pie, and then you feel like you are missing THE better half, but the missing is all-sweet, nothing sad or bitter about any of it, and parting/meeting is a bit like waves rushing to the shore, then pulling away. We meet in silence and we meet in celebration, we inch ever so close, even closer… and yet we are universes apart. Love is never complete because there are two halves to the pie. And yet it feels that I am the dreamer who dreamed him up. And he is pure camphor, leaving no traces behind. And it is I who dreamed him up, swallowed him whole, and all his traces are in me alone.

blackAF

Watching this episode of #blackAF, I was floored by the hip coolness of this family. Everyone is witty and smart (except Dad), and they all look stylish and beautiful, including the three little boys. And I had that whisper of a thought… Ohh, I wish I was cool and hip and gorgeous like that.

I have heard Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s commentary on the Patanjali Yoga Sutras many times, and one of the terms he uses to explain Asteya (one of the Yamas) is “non-stealing.” Gurudev isn’t one for long, detailed explanations but you can chew on his words for a while… maybe even years. I wondered, what does “non-stealing” mean? Does it include non-covetousness?

I have a sweet friend who’s blessed with a lovely head of hair. Sometimes I would look at that crowning glory, sighing: I wish I had that hair. Then I started to think, am I “stealing?” A lot has been written about cultural appropriation, and the various ways in which the West has stolen from and profited off indigenous peoples and cultures. I understand the idea but I didn’t connect with the passion behind it. Today, as I watched #blackAF, I started to see things clearer.

As we admire something that belongs to another, it is imperative that we keep a watch within. Do we want that thing for ourselves? Are we happy admiring its beauty from a distance, or do we want to make it our own? When does that love turn into lust, and at what point do we seek to possess it? (And that’s how #blackAF made me better understand Asteya and cultural appropriation.)

Corona Notes: Meet the Moment

The lockdown is s-l-o-w-l-y lifting, and I have been feeling strangely untethered. I have a tenuous grip on most matters practical/realistic, and Corona has released me (somewhat) from all/any pretenses of being a “responsible adult,” thinking about the future, et al. I wasn’t much of a planner to begin with, and presently I feel absolved of whatever responsibility I may have taken on (out of guilt, or anything else) to make a plan, think ahead, figure out the future, etc.

I dreamed of a slow life where my schedule was entirely my own, and I wouldn’t be answerable to anyone ― not a boss, a manager, or a supervisor. Well, be careful what you wish for because you rarely know what it entails in its entirety. I’d say, don’t wish for a thing, and you will have no one to blame. Or be prepared for a fullness of experience that will include some (or many) uncomfortable, awkward parts. I enjoyed silence and blank spaces, and now I have them aplenty. And some evenings, they turn vaguely terrifying, ungrounding. And I am happy/relieved that there are only a few hours to go before bed.

For some of us, the lockdown has made lives busier, fuller. For some others, it has magnified the emptiness that peeks out amid events and activities. In pre-Corona times, we had figured out ways to deal with these blank spaces, and now we cannot avoid them any more. Some of us love this lockdown life where you can spend the day wearing comfortable clothing, avoid traffic and long commutes, potter around the house. Some of us would love to go back to pre-Corona times, when life was busy and there were things to do, people to meet, hugs and kisses to share.

I wonder if all that we can take from this surreal phase is that we can only meet Life wherever it chooses to meet us, and we can only meet it EXACTLY as we are. There is no real prep, or any level of action readiness to be better at any of this.

“There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, “sketch” is not quite a word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.”

― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being