SIMPLY BEING

Tag: gratitude (page 1 of 2)

A State of Wanting

Windows Blinds

To be in a state of wanting (not want) is so awful.

It may not even be that your friend has adorable children, unbelievably adorable pets. (And you don’t.) Or that your ex-colleague has a gorgeous home. (And you don’t.) Or that your cousin has an extraordinary garden. (And yours is struggling, a true “work in progress.”) Or that your neighbor seems to vacation in the coolest places.

No, none of those “material” goods and pleasures.

It may be that your schoolmate is so incredibly self-assured. (And you aren’t). Or that your sister is literally oozing with creativity; she seems to move from one creative project to another effortlessly, producing incredible works of art! Or that your friend is so articulate… you are in awe of his ability to string deep, profound meaning from simple words. Or maybe it’s a distant cousin who has gone through deep shit in her life, and come out smelling of roses.

Not exactly “material” goods these but oh, you wish you had all of that! Creativity, courage, self-assurance, articulative ability, clarity… and so on.

That gap between what you have and what you think they do is so deep and vast; you are never going to make it across. You feel that you will be left wanting all your life. You are never going to develop those reserves of courage and resilience that emerge only after a crisis. (And you are no Macho Man, you have little appetite for a crisis of any kind.) You know that creativity is God-given, and if you have shown no signs of it thus far, you know that it isn’t going to emerge one fine day, all of a sudden. As for self-assurance, how ON EARTH does one cultivate that?

And then, you are asked to feel gratitude, be grateful… for all that you have. Ugh. You feel like a fraud, mouthing “thanks” when all you feel is this acute sense of wanting inside.

That feeling of wanting is NOT solidified magma, or a deep, impassable gap. In fact, it can go away pretty quick. Not that you will start painting like a Georgia O’Keeffe, or write like a Zadie Smith, or develop incredible courage… None of that. In fact, you see that the disappearing of the sense of wanting has little to do with gaining any of that which you sorely desire. That wanting shows up one day, goes away the next… perhaps reappears around New Years Eve, lingers on in January, then goes away in Feb.

It comes and goes. So you can create art (or not), grow a struggling garden (or not), go skydiving (or not), learn Japanese (or not)… none of that matters. So, rest easy.

Corona Notes: Gratitude

I see a lot of messages asking us to be grateful in these Corona times. Let’s be grateful that we have a warm home, that our family is with us, that there is food in the fridge, that we are healthy, and so on.

Here is a question.

Are you thinking, “Thank you, God, for my family and health and food!,” or are you going, “Thank you, God, for having spared me the hardship others are going through.”

There is a real difference between the two.

If what we are grateful for is home/health/heating/food/fridge, we would feel the same way, pandemic situation or not. If a crisis (and another’s difficulty) is precipitating the gratefulness, then what we are experiencing is plain relief. Relief that we have been spared the difficult times. For now, at least. Who can say how things will be tomorrow, next week?

I think practising happiness may be a better idea than practising gratitude. I am happy that I have warm water; I am happy that I can breathe easily; I am happy that I can take a walk in the cool Spring air. Being happy is NOT being ungrateful. In fact, it may be a lot closer to what we actually feel than this idea of gratitude.

Today

I turn 37.

We have a snow day in Atlanta, and that is as good a reason as any to celebrate. So long as you are comfortably ensconced indoors, warm and toasty, tea and biscuits and toast handy, socks and blanket on the ready, books to read, movies to watch, that is… Yes, I realize that that does make me a very privileged person.

Birthdays come, birthdays go. This one is no exception.

Any day is a good one to feel grateful. Not that one can really “feel” grateful, because that would amount to mood making. However, simply becoming aware of everything one has been given in this lifetime would suffice. If gratitude wells up, so be it. If not, that is okay too.

If I have learned anything in this last one year, it is the importance of being authentic. Being truthful to oneself is the starting point of leading an authentic life. I am also beginning to see that it takes a certain degree of courage to lead this kind of a life. Now, I don’t regard myself as a courageous person at all (but maybe I am one?) but I have taken some decisions (or waltzed blissfully unaware into situations?) that some would regard as requiring courage. I have quit decently well-paying jobs, joined school part-time, changed careers, walked away from projects and activities typically deemed “good” for you… all with scant regard to long-term plans or profit or happiness. I went along with what I knew, what felt right, and the rest is history.

Today, I am happy and at peace. And it may be my naivete, but I wonder: How difficult is it to experience such contentment? I have done nothing particularly notable or spectacular in this lifetime thus far. I don’t have a glamorous job or title. I have no accolades or achievements to my credit. In fact, at the age of 37, I feel like a semi-retiree. I have found bliss in a cup of tea, a good book, a quiet walk, birdsong. I have found utter joy in solitude and emptiness.

Questions, questions… There is an eager child within who used to question endlessly. Now she lives in a state of perennially wide-eyed curiosity. The answers keep coming. Some days, I can hardly believe my luck. It feels like a treasure chest has opened within me, and I am lifting out one jewel after another. Such is my wonder and amazement at all these riches I find… I am too joyful to grab anything more than I can hold. Yet I have the confidence that the stream of riches is endless. It will never run dry.

If all that sounded like some kind of psychobabble, I apologize. I couldn’t help rhapsodizing about the many gifts I have received, as I walk along the path of introspection and self-enquiry.

Ahh, gratitude. I meant to talk about Mummy and Daddy.

Mummy

Amma

In a recent Facebook post, I remarked that Mummy’s love is like Space. You cannot grasp at it. It is impossible to get a hold of it. But it envelops you whole without touching you anywhere. As a child, I tried in vain to grab it — touch it, feel it, hug it. But I couldn’t. As an adult, I understand the sheer expansiveness of a love like that that only gives and asks nothing in return. Freedom… Mummy’s love was/is freedom and space, and I marvel at her spirit. She walks lightly on this planet.

Daddy

Achchan

In contrast, Daddy’s love is Earth. It is tangible and real. It expresses itself so clearly. If I were to describe Daddy’s love as a taste sensation, it would be like eating a date. So sweet, rich and unmistakably satisfying. It grabs you in all the right places, at the right times. It fills you up entirely.

There you have it… I grew up between Earth and Space. Held by one, freed by the other. Grounded by love, space and freedom.

Didn’t I say I was privileged?

So, on this lovely snow day, as I look out the window at our winter garden (still green), I see snow lightly splattered across the greenhouse roof and the bushes. I see bare trees, shiny sunlight, rays glinting through the spiny branches, and endless space.

Life is beautiful. It is Guru.

It’s all about your Teacher

Yes, the one who patiently held your little fingers and taught you to write the alphabet. Who shaped your 'A' and 'P,' showed you how 'p' and 'q' were distinct from each other. The one who taught you to read time by waving her arm in the air, clockwise. The one who introduced you to the joy of Algebra. Then the one who taught you Sanskrit. The one who showed you the beginning steps in Kathakali, taking you through hours of sweaty practice sessions, leaving you exhausted and exhilarated. The one who sat through the boring music lessons, hearing you hit the same notes again and again, then again.

Teachers are gifts. I couldn't even begin to express my thankfulness to the ones who stepped into my life and stepped out quietly, having done their job, completely unaware of how they shaped my psyche, my intellect and my life in the most spectacular way possible.