SIMPLY BEING

Tag: life (page 1 of 7)

Life Ganga

Had a (sorta) epiphany recently.

If I liken my life to a movie, then it has two separate “tracks.” Visual: Girl is born in Mumbai, girl goes to school, girl joins college, girl meets boy, girl and boy go to the movies, girl and boy meet up at a beach, girl marries boy, girl boards flight to ATL, and so on. Then there is the inner soundtrack. A mind that is making sense of the visuals, questioning, wondering, sifting through what-if scenarios, analyzing. And I realized early on that these two tracks were nearly 100% independent of each other, seemingly together, yet miles apart.

If I liken my life to the Ganga who unfolds merrily at her will, heeding no advice, fearing no dams or boulders, simply dancing down the mountains… no amount of rationalizing or discussing ever stopped her from following an unknown direction. And I guess that’s why I never actively directed my life, one way or another. (I often remark that the “decisions” in my life weren’t even decisions.) There is a clear recognition that the inner soundtrack can speak, consider, weigh, etc. all for its own sake. Not that it has ever been able to change Ganga’s direction. So, even as I wondered briefly, “Have a child?,” things didn’t proceed that way. (I went to grad school.) Even as I thought, “Go to MBA school?,” I turned down the admission and scholarship.

Not to imply that Ganga’s path is all roses. She travels through mucky places, ferrying dead bodies and plastic trash, along with fragrant flowers and lit lamps. I think my wisest “decision” thus far has been to not question Ganga. She knows where she is headed. So, the inner soundtrack has mostly fallen silent. Sometimes questions arise, and so do answers. They linger on for a bit, then disappear. There isn’t any kind of resolution, though.

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

Brave/Lucky

I have often heard one of two things about myself. That I am brave, and that I am lucky.

Brave, because I have chosen to defy norms and conventions that society typically sets out for women. Lucky, because I have privilege to defy these norms.

(I think that “lucky” negates “brave,” no?)

The first one (“brave”) makes me feel rather sheepish because I don’t think of myself a brave person. A brave person, I think, is someone who is fully aware of obstacles, and is also fully aware of the fear and anxiety within. Yet they choose to do what they do, or what they cannot but do. I wonder if these brave individuals would ever call themselves “brave.” This willingness (or “I cannot but do this”) to face fear in a seemingly hopeless, choice-less manner is what I call “bravery.” You can ask: If there is no choice involved (“I cannot but do this”), why is this person brave? Exactly. They aren’t calling themselves brave; you are. They are simply doing their thing.

I don’t see myself as brave because I DO NOT see any obstacles, ergo, I feel no fear and/or anxiety. People say I am brave because I chose not to have children. (But I didn’t! I just didn’t choose to have children.) People call me brave for defying the societal notion of women as childbearing individuals. (But I didn’t defy anything! Not a single person tried enforcing any such conventions on me. Not my parents, or my parents-in-law, or any one else.) People call me brave for talking about my experiences with street harassment. (But I don’t feel harassed any more, and I have little to no trauma attached to those incidents any more.) People call me brave for speaking about the time I lost touch with myself, floundering in self-hate and misery for months. (But it’s precisely because I regained love and joy that I spoke about it.)

I remember reading about pioneer LGBTQ activists, and marveling at their courage and resilience. Then I wondered, is there even a choice? We do what we do because we are moved to do so in a way that is specific and unique to us. It isn’t a choice, it is utter choicelessness.

Often times I have felt so wedded (or welded) to the moment that I have felt choiceless too. I cannot but go forth in that direction… whether it leads me to my future husband, or a job that makes me feel utterly shitty about myself, or a relationship that is equal parts exciting and disempowering. We look at the outcome to decide: Was that a good/wise/smart move? Ahhh, we will never know. Or perhaps it simply doesn’t matter.

Larger Purpose

Yesterday I heard someone say on the radio: I realized that music had a larger purpose.

I went, huh? Why should music serve a larger purpose? Isn’t its very existence THE purpose? How can there be a purpose larger than itself?

The idea of a bigger purpose is so exhausting. I spent a good number of years brooding over my “larger purpose.” And I am none the wiser for all that mental activity. Does a tree think about its larger purpose? I doubt. (Oh, but you aren’t a tree, Ta-Da!) A tree is busy drinking in the light, sprouting forth into leaves and blossom, shedding extra baggage when it needs to, going to sleep. And to us humans, it seems that the tree serves its purpose because it generates oxygen, prevents soil erosion, provides habitats, etc. So, the tree really serves OUR purpose but I seriously doubt if it cares a damn about any of that.

But I am human, so I start to care. Do I have an impact on society? Am I making a difference? Do I have a legacy?

I don’t think I have much of an impact. (I am a loving daughter and sister and wife and friend, and that’s the extent of my impact.) I don’t think I am making a difference. And I don’t have a legacy to pass forward.

If I stopped to think of these questions, I’d have no time to live, end of story.

I am simply living, being, sprouting into leaves and blossom when the Sun rises, going to bed when the Moon appears, flowing into the world, retreating. And perhaps in this business of living, I might have a teeny-weeny impact on your life, on the planet. So be it, Tathaastu.

Life IS its very purpose, its sole raison d’être. A life of truth fulfills its so-called purpose.