Small victories

I’m always motivated about getting to the gym first thing in the morning, as I’m drifting off to sleep. I sometimes visualise what my workout is going to be, and most times I feel pumped and ready to hit it out the park the next morning.

Sometimes though, I wake up and discover that everything has changed. Between going to bed motivated, and waking up eight hours later, somehow the enthusiasm for endorphins has morphed into the enthusiasm for layers and snuggling.

It happens. I have a day like this every 8-10 days, and I’m learning not to let these days throw me off. My usual tendency used to be to fight it and berate myself for it, such that whether I ended up dragging my ass to the gym or not, I felt a bit shitty. Nowadays I have become easier on myself, with allowing the odd day off when I get to bunk and stay in spontaneously. Just because I woke up feeling like it. But something else is changing too. I also had this need to quickly cancel the gym outing altogether just because I didn’t make it out the door in that sweet spot between 6.45 and 7 am (so I can hit the treadmill by 7.15 am so everything works in perfect clockwork). Of late though if I’m late to rise and feeling the need to slowly ease into a workout state of mind rather than jump right out of bed and get going, I give myself that time. And I leave things open, to decide later on.

Today was one of those days. I stayed in bed. And I stayed and I stayed, for a whole hour past my usual time and at 8 am, I decided I was ready to go. My habit-driven, routine-bound mind and body usually gets very thrown by such shifts, and I have the idea in my head that my workout will not be good. Of course this is the unnecessary perfectionist in me at work, rearing her head again and again, trying hard to regain the control she’s fast losing.

I don’t give in to her as easily anymore.

I made it to the gym, in what I thought wasn’t the best mood or energy. But to my surprise, I did my fastest 5k today. I’ve been wanting to switch things around with running too, try something more and push myself just a bit. I upped things a teeny notch today, adding a mere minute to each of my sprints, unsure if I’d be able to sustain it till the end. And here’s the bit I forget: the way that I have been running with regularity, it adds up. And even the tiniest sliver of pushing, every little minute adds up.

I’m beginning to feel this way about progress in general. All upward movement, every little change, growth itself. I’m learning to appreciate the small wins that take time, are slow to come, but when they show up, feel immense. Not in quantity or in value, but in sheer progression.

I am savouring the small victories. Because they add up. They matter.

My quickest run yet. Just sooooo close to meeting the 5.5 km mark in 35 minutes. That’s going to be next milestone to work towards, I guess.

It was one of those one-small-step-in-the-running-universe-one-giant-leap-for-Rere kind of mornings for me. And I’m not just talking about the running here.

One year ago: We can hit the road and we can go (Paris. Day 1.)
Three years ago: Perch

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Simply, satisfactorily

It’s been a super slow, but productive home-bound day.

I’ve been slowly, progressively organizing and clearing up corners of the home. It’s a very minimal home this one, and so when corners begin to look ignored and in need of tending, it always alarms me how the speed at which things pile up is so high, even though the apparent stuff we have that can pile up is really so low. Reorganising this time around has also made me realise just how tuned off I have been from the home front for longer than I may have thought.

I cooked a fuller than normal lunch for my sister and her friend who were over for a bit. And I spent the morning doing reading some course material. I watched a bit of Rubaru Roshni, which is a chilling documentary, but just hit all the right spots for me. And then I had a short round of practice with one of my buddies from class. It was good to get out of my comfort zone and invite someone new over, and practice with them without the presence of my safety net.

Things are changing. Slowly but surely, they are.

Dinner required me to make a chutney, and then I sorted out my fridge that suddenly has such an active role to play. Then I spent some time doing some research for a proposed holiday we’re taking next month. (And I realise, serendipitously, it’s on this same day last year that we set off for Europe.)

I meant to step out at some point today, but I didn’t even realise how the day just got ahead of me. Satisfactorily.

One year ago: We’re speeding up, not slowing down.
Three years ago: All you need is less — projects

Step up

I’ve been discovering how much of my modus operandi when faced with a challenge swings between extreme energy and force to move forward and fight, and retreating silently — and all variations of these two extreme states.

Recent experiences that have felt like the universe sending me invitations to explore this area (which for all of us, goes back to how we’ve faced even the smallest trauma in our childhood) in the form of situations ranging from the overwhelmingly demanding kind like facing a bully insistent on raining on my parade, the very interesting difficulty of meeting an authority figure from a place of my own power, to the very simple like demanding peanuts on my noodles that were supposed to come with peanuts rather than meekly making do with none).

It has been a journey of slowly owning my own power, stepping into the very exciting and overwhelming area of knowing my full potency. I realised recently that I am at an interesting crossroads in my journey of self exploration and moving forward is going to be impossible unless I own my own power fully, and for that I absolutely must step into my potency. This requires the simultaneous growing of a healthy, resourced part of myself that I have felt pulsating and slowly coming to life, and consistently leaning on her as I meet old traumas. It means knowing and owning the safe, compassionate and strong haven of vulnerability I carry within myself. And the more I do this work, the deeper I walk into these murky waters, the more I find the willingness to stay with difficulty and distress. As I am. Where I am.

The more I do this, the more I see the old modus operandi of fight and flight slowly fading away (but not without a fight). The more I feel that old urge to run right after I have been very vulnerable and naked, slowly lose a grip on me.

It has taken going to places of extreme vulnerability. At many levels, in front of audiences, in spaces I consider impossible to be vulnerable in. And when I expected these experiences to make me shut down, what has emerged is the urge is to stay and not lose what I have come for.

I have tasted a tiny nibble, a drop, a touch of what “strength in vulnerability” is and I see how crucial it is for me to deepen this experience. I feel willing and capable of doing this, as I see clearly the difference in how I am now operating from a place of resource and strength rather than the unconscious triggering of old trauma.

I am still caught off gaurd by moments of doubt and fear, but the difference is immense. Even as I feel fear and doubt, I also feel a readiness to go forth, to explore and find a way to move, not shrink away as has always been my pattern. It has never come naturally, of course. Flight has always been my preferred alternative. But no more.

Every day, as I wake up and breathe, I feel a strong invitation to step up and in. In every single way.

One year ago: Some things will never change
Two years ago: Back to base

Satisfaction

Today was such a satisfying day. After ages, I’m ending a day feeling really full.

It began with my weekly animal flow class that I am really, really enjoying. It’s been the perfect answer to all my my-body-needs-something-more-but-I-don’t-know-what feelings. A good combination of being sufficiently challenging physically, while also being a tad mind-bending so I have to also exercise my brain to get the mind-body coordination right, and at the same time focuses on both strength in terms of how demanding it is, and aesthetics in getting form and lines right. I am really loving how it mixes things up for me on any given week.

As of yesterday, since I am almost fully back to normal health-wise, I have returned to my bare minimum food intake. Two days is all it takes to feel squeaky clean and light again and I love that feeling.

I binge-watched Working Moms over the weekend, and I wrapped it up this afternoon. It was a good watch, and I have many thoughts on diversity and inclusion, since watching it.

I had a marathon 4-hour study session with D and S today, which was so good for me. It’s only been 2 weeks since my last module but time has expanded and slowed down so much since that it feels like a distant event and I was beginning to feel rusty. But I was glad to know that’s my imagination. We had meandering discussions, revisions of old concepts, just the kind of intellectual stretch and a bit of sparring, challenging and  and going at each other that I am so lucky to have with them. It’s a combination of feeling safe enough to do it with them, but also know that it will be met with an adequate and able push back that will be useful.

D made us these utterly sinful chewy chocolate chunk cookies. And I came home to a pack of Andhra biryani that Niyu brought back for me.

I’m so satisfied right now. Sigh.

One year ago: I don’t know if it’s even in your mind at all

It was all yellow

Even though VC made a trip to Bangalore to be with me on our anniversary, it was the most mundane, regular day we could have had.

My favourite kind of day, really. The kind I am sorely missing having more of with him, and the kind I am desperately looking forward to having more of when he returns for good.

There were yellow flowers. Of course. (Like so, and so, and so, and so.) We began the day super early, for a Sunday, at Cubbon Park. D and I, for the customary walk, and VC roaming around with his camera and pocket tripod, taking pictures. This was followed by breakfast at Airlines, post which we got back home and back into bed. to stay there for the rest of the day. I’m not even kidding, slightly.

We lazed around, chatting, watching Netflix, doing our own thing, I may have even doxed off a couple of times. We only got out of bed to fix ourselves some lunch, and eventually only at 7 pm, when we couldn’t push showering and leaving the house any later. We had dinner reservations at a hip new Chinese bar house in town that I have been dying to try. I couldn’t decide if lure was Chinese food or the cocktail menu. Maybe it was both.

Yellow seemed to be the colour of the day, really. And it gave me a lot of joy to wear a newly made blouse, in a really old saree of amma’s to dinner.

Dinner itself was a strange 50-50 combination of amazing and underwhelming. The cocktails we had were outstanding (I had a plum G&T which was OMG), one appetiser and the noodles we got were exceptionally good, but two things — one main and the dessert — were strictly meh. We giggled about how that was even possible. But I want to go back for a second shot, to assess things better. And have some more cocktails. They were to die for.

Aside from stepping out with VC and having more beer than I normally do on any given week, the rest of last week — Tuesday onwards — went by in a blur of mostly trying to fight the bug and only succeeding in keeping it beneath the surface till it fully took over on Thursday. So I cancelled the rest of the week fully, in favour of staying in bed.

On Sunday morning, I took myself out to a talk on What next for Kashmir. I feel a greater sense of keenness in understanding my world and what is shaping it, a desire to listen to more narratives than the mostly unidimensional ones of my very privileged world, and a greater responsibility in how I engage with my world. It was a tremendous talk that has stayed with me and left me with thoughts circling my brain even today.

Since I was feeling almost 80% better, and since the talk was all the way in town, I carried a book along with a plan to take myself out for a solo lunch somewhere, while I read. I had no plan or specific place in mind. But I bumped into S at the talk and was so happy to spontaneously have company over lunch. As usual we ate well, a shrimp roll for me and a pulled pork sandwich for her, as usual we yakked nine to the dozen, and as always I came home charged, energised and inspired.

There’s something about getting out to play, at play in my life. Slowly the pieces are coming together and things I have been making meek, small attempts at for months finally seem to be finding some direction and purpose.

I feel a greater sense of allowance, for and of myself. Quite unknowingly, I am giving myself permission to do things, to move in certain ways, to make choices, to present myself in a certain way, to allow space for expansion, in ways that I hesitated to, or didn’t think I was worth, or believed I wasn’t ready for, or waited for “good reason” for until now. Whether by way of indulging in a good meal, several mid-week beer, an extra kilometre on the treadmill, that new book spontaneously bought, a tailored dress, or whether it is to listen to my body when it’s asking for rest, spending three full days in bed if necessary without fretting, doing nothing for no apparent reason, pursuing the smallest things simply because I feel like. This is very new for me.

I genuinely feel my life blossoming because of it. This past weekend I realised this in full measure. My body hasn’t taken ill in this way in over a year, but in giving it rest as soon as it needed it and not resenting the illness like it was something to fix, I watched how I bounced back miraculously, and in record time. There is without a doubt a certain fullness I am feeling in my life, a genuine expansion and a blooming in full measure. There is so much to live and give and my cup, it runneth over. Over and over again.

One year ago: One breath leads to another
Two years ago: Grow
Three years ago: Empty

Running updates

It’s crazy how in June, when I returned from an unexpected two month break in Goa, clocking a mere 5k on the treadmill everyday felt like a herculean ask. Huffing and puffing to just get to the end of those 35 minutes, I’d keep going everyday, not knowing what I need to do to better my time.

I have never trained at running, like I have in the past with strength and conditioning or kickboxing or weight training. Running has never been my go-to, so I’ve never invested time into building strength and getting technique right. So I’m extremely clueless about how one progresses realistically and how I can get from one level to the next. I’ve been going at it intuitively, but somewhere in August I felt like I needed to begin somewhere. I had this urge, but no idea where to begin. The internet is filled with confusing resources, so I let that idea simmer for a bit and just kept at what I was doing, intuitively. Side by side, I continued my HIIT and weight training. The only little shift I made was to try and better my time just a little bit, once every week. Even if it was a teeny 0.2 or 0.3 km increment. It felt like I had hit a plateau for the longest time, but suddenly one day at the end of August, all those little incremental steps added up to a 6km run, randomly one morning when I wasn’t even looking.

There I was just running like I do everyday, nearing the last 7 minutes of my run, when I felt a push to go harder and faster. And so I listened and pushed on. Amped up the speed and went for it and boom — that 6km just…happened.

I was so elated, especially because I wasn’t spent or tired and felt like I had a burst of energy to finish the rest of my workout too.

Then, a week later on a very good energy day, I decided to push myself a little harder and see how far I could go. The treadmill times-out automatically after 35 minutes and that’s usually my cue to move on to the next thing. But that day, instead of turning it off, I took a minutes breather and turned it back on and began to run again. For nearly 2km more, breezily, easily, without panting, I just kept going. Music on and loud, my heart pounding, my feet on the machine, I felt totally in flow. And I hit that 7km mark…seemingly effortlessly. Again, it just happened. I actually hadn’t even realised when I had moved past the 6km mark, 6.5km and smoothly past the 7km mark.

The human body and mind continues to fascinate me. How easy it actually is to stretch and reach higher and beyond. And how much it is willing to take, resilient and adaptable. How far it can actually go. I am really enjoying this phase of training, where intuition and an internal rhythm is guiding me on. I would love to train systematically, and it’s on my goals for next year, but for now this has been such fun. I love going by my own moods and what I am feeling like on any given day, and to see it’s actually taking me farther every week.

As I’m witnessing my body change this time around, I’m in tune with what it’s asking for (whether up-tempo or down-tempo), I’m watching keenly as it’s stretching and responding to the changes I introduce, I’m feeling something build from within, and I see it take shape in the tiniest ways in which it shows externally. In my posture, in the way I’ve been carrying myself, in the way that I sit, stand or take space, and most of all in the way I am feeling strong, full and grounded.

This week, I haven’t been to the gym at all. I went to my animal flow class on Tuesday, but that’s it. And it feels alright. I know come Monday, I’ll be back.

One year ago: Walking high on the wire
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: making friends edition
Three years ago: Down and up again

Stay and stay a while

It’s VC departure day and I’ve been exceptionally gloomy about it this time around. It’s a combination of PMS, I think, plus really being at the end of my tether with the in-between life, and really wanting to get a move on. It’s compounded by the fact that my mother left two nights ago, and with VC gone today, my sister and father leaving on the weekend too, I’m feeling preemptively morose.

You have so many people to hang out with! said VC when I complained to him last night.

And yes, while that’s indeed true, it’s just…not the same, you know?

It’s one thing finding company, no matter how enthralling, but quite another thing entirely sharing my very life and spaces with people I love. Which is the kind of intimacy I was ruing.

***

We drove out this morning, my dad, VC and I, ostensibly to catch a quick brunch before VC headed off to the airport. But driving out turned into driving all the way to the airport, and a quick brunch turned into leisurely beers (many for them, a single one for me) and a quick bite. I decided to test my throat (that is feeling much better) today with that beer, and I feel oddly better.

VC was thrilled to be headed back to his peace and quiet life, with the weekend just a day away, and the end of his notice period now in sight.

I’m happy to let him go, temporarily (especially because this is the first time in forever that I’m seeing VC cut back and really focus on the fun) but this gnawing feeling of wanting to be together again keeps tugging at me from within. I’m just sitting tight and biding time, knowing that it is in fact just a matter of time before the nature and quality of my life the past week becomes the new normal.

The most obvious antidote to these blues would have been to hop on the same flight with VC and go to Goa, seeing as how I have no commitments for another week at least. But I’m just not feeling drawn to being there somehow. There’s just so much momentum that’s drummed up with things here, with the simultaneous internal slowing down, and the surprising new ability to just lie in waiting for things to unfold as they should, without efforting any of it.

I feel like the call is to wait, not rush off.

Here, now, is where it’s at and I’m staying grounded to that hunch.

Meanwhile, it’s life in passing. Slow motion. Daily, normal, mundane and joyful to tide over the intense missings.

One year ago: I want the truth to be said
Two years ago: Finding life again

Three years ago: Lines and dreams

Rest

A day that began like this:

After something like nearly a year, I felt like I was coming down with something. I’ve nursed a very, very slowly worsening itchy throat for two days now. But the progression has been so mild, at no point was I really sure if it was just an allergy or something worse. Yesterday though I began to feel my body alternating between needing a jacket or wanting to stay in a blanket, and desperately needing the fan on top speed and throwing the blanket off.

Is it PMS-induced something, I wondered? Was it that chled beer too many from Monday? Or that totally unnecessary drag off VCs cigarette that I immediately regretted from the depths of my throat (barf!)? Or that shady tall glass of water with more ice cubes than I would have liked? I’m a bit suspicious of contaminated ice and the moment I drank that glass of water I had a tiny red flag go up in my head.

Anyhow that was just the morning. I skipped working out and allowed myself to stay in, getting out only much later. I did however cook us a pot of peppery rasam that really helped, and I took the longest nap I’ve taken in a while, which certainly helped. Because I’ve woken up feeling almost 80% better.

I’ve had the sniffles a few times this past year, but each time I’ve managed to stay off the antibiotics by fighting it off with antihistamines and septilin alone. This time I haven’t even popped an antihistamine yet and I desperately hope I don’t need to take antibiotics so this needs to just peter down and go away soonly.

So if that means I need to just sleep it off, I’m okay with it. If it means my body’s asking for hot tea three times a day, with sugar in it, I did that too. If the will to exercise is missing, I complied.

There is joy in this very new ease in listening and to what my body is asking for, and going with it, rather than fighting it to keep to some sense of routine and “rightness” I have going in my head.

On the upside, a day mostly in bed has meant I finished a whole book I just started. Yay.

One year ago: Not yet lost all our graces

Plain joy

Speaking of ordinary joys in unexpected places, sneaking up on me, leaving me still and silent

  1. Watching the beanie-wearing skinny little girl on the metro, no older than 5 or 6 years, devouring a 5-star bar with gusto
  2. The rainbow I caught quite by accident, even though it wasn’t raining
  3. That sweet, smooth way in which I transitioned from 6km to 7km, when I wasn’t even trying too hard
  4. The moment my favourite song from last week came on and filled me with a burst of energy to keep running
  5. The sunlight that filtered through my bare curtain-less windows that morning, waking me up slowly and truly
  6. Getting caught in the downpour and being in no rush to fight it or beat it to get anywhere
  7. Finding the exact same pair of shoes I was looking to replace, so now I have a new old pair
  8. That totally unnecessary but hit-the-spot hot chocolate fudge after that spot of drinking to begin the week
  9. Finding a delightful specimen of that elusive breed of very good tailors
  10. Fitting into an extremely well made saree blouse — a first in way, way too long
  11. That audible crunch on that first bite of that pesto fried chicken burger
  12. That first animal flow class and how amazing, warm and flushed my face felt at the end of it
  13. That first sight of gol-chashma wearing VC waiting to be picked up at arrivals in Bangalore

Some of the most joyful moments of the recent past have come at me in spaces I wasn’t looking. Spontaneous, unexpected, unpredictable.

And in the moment, each one of those moments filled me with a soft delight, a quiet thrill. So profound, yet gentle, lapping across my body and making my mind feel melty like warm cheese, and making my heart quicken just a touch, simply from the sheer sense of life in each of those moments.

One year ago: Shine a little light on me

Monday funday

VCs been home since Friday and he was to leave today. But happily enough, a fortuitous work plan emerged that had him extend his stay by three days. At this point it really feels like the universe is pushing to really make this home base again.

Anyhow, extra time is always a good thing. So we took off to catch up on some errands and snuck in a lunch out about town together too.

I could get used to Mondays that begin like this.

One year ago: Every inch of sky’s got a star
Three years ago: Disjointed, incomplete thoughts

Eleven

There was a moment some time ago, in a conversation (with someone whose opinion I hold very close) about the wonders of living apart from one’s significant other, when I was asked if the need for space and distance meant that maybe I’d left my marriage in some manner during this past year of living apart.

The question really stumped me, hitting me like a misguided pellet right between my eyes.

The thing is, I have been generally so absorbed with discovering myself and been so involved in all my own personal pursuits, that the thought hadn’t occurred to me. The decision not to uproot my life here and follow VC to Goa last year had come very naturally. At a time when I had come to realise that this part of my journey was important for me, it was also increasingly clear I needed the space and solitude I could only get in a somewhat “unpartnered” state. So when the opportunity to live apart found its way to us, we’d both said yes.

So to be asked if maybe this had caused me to leave actually made me stop in my tracks. I had to really think hard if that was true. Even in some measure.

I pondered about whether there is such a thing as too much space. Whether growth in such separate (and immensely impactful) ways might have each of us blindly hurtling towards an inevitable future apart rather than together? I pondered the difference between growing together and growing apart and which of the two I have witnessed. Was it one over the other? If so, which one?

It’s hard to pick, honestly. Because it has been a little bit of both. At different times. The time apart has enforced in equal parts some essential separations as well as some important intimacy.

I thought about whether this steadfast individual focus on myself, with minimal obligations to my marriage had possibly triggered a solitary life that there’s no coming back from. It took me a few days of quiet discomfort and much silence to accept that a lot of all of this is true, in varying measures, at various points of time this past year. And yet, in some very fundamental way, it isn’t entirely true.

So much of getting to know myself has been about digging out a pure sense of self by peeling back the layers and making space for the authentic self that lies deep within. And it has been impossible to do this without looking at myself in the context of every one of my relationships. This has brought with it a fair bit of push and pull, changing dynamics, uncertainty, loss and disappointment. Many relationships haven’t weathered this turbulent time, and yet some others have. Many haven’t lasted the test of seeing the whole, true me as I am discovering myself and learning to step forward in a that new way.

Except, for VC. Who has consistently been the only one standing by me. When the fog has lifted after a particularly uncertain phase, when I’ve been slowly walking through the nebulous parts, and come forth in all my unsettled glory, I have always found him right there. Seeing me just as I am.

This past year, the journey to knowing my true self has been a lot about really seeing who I am, and allowing that version of myself to be seen too. I have only very recently realised that this is an impossible space to navigate unless one has a sense of safety, kindness and compassion. Both from within as well as from the most important relationships one holds.

And in that sense, I have time and time again come to realise that this is my safe space. More than enabling the physical reality of this life, my relationship with VC has held emotional space for me to journey on. To take chances, to flirt with uncertainty, to push boundaries, to make new ones. Even when things have been somewhat fluid and shaky ground, I have always felt confident that there’ll be a way for us to find togetherness. Despite everything that emerged for me and for him. All the changes that we have been pushed into, and pushed ourselves into, and all that it has demanded of our relationship.

I only realised recently that this is a sense of safety and of coming home.
Of acceptance, of peace.

Of having the unfettered support of someone sees me, with an open heart.

Of being seen with complete kindness and love.

Like feeling deep in my bones, this belief:

I see who you are today,⁣
I cannot wait to see who⁣
you become tomorrow.

And so today, eleven years since we got married, nearly thirteen years of knowing him, I feel a renewed sense of love and gratitude for what I have with VC.

Eleven years ago, on this day, we took a pretty naive leap of faith into the wide open uncertainty of a future together. From where I sit today, I feel a sense of tenderness and love for the young people we were. So in love, so happy, so confident at the prospect of a life together, without having even the slightest inkling about what life would bring or how it would mould us, separately and together. And what an exciting, challenging, fun ride it would be. Or if we would weather all the change that would come our way as a result of it.

It’s the kind of leap of faith only the very young can take, I think. Because all I really felt in that moment at that time, was blind faith and a deep gut feeling. Faith that whatever life would bring, it would be better to do it together.

And it’s exactly that same feeling I rediscovered this past year. The space to face anything, safe in the knowledge that whatever life brings, it will be better to do it together.

It’s what has allowed me the wings and the springboard to fly from cradle, knowing fully well that when I return, I will land right back into the lap of safety, peace and complete acceptance.

***

So at the ripe old age of eleven I’m going to make a sickly sweet public display of affection usually only characteristic of young love.

To appreciate all that my marriage has brought to my life this past year. I’m grateful that when the need for space arose, we were both able to see it and take a chance quite effortlessly. To have two homes, in two such varied places, offering me the best of both the coupled and uncoupled life to shuttle between, to find a new normal, is a privilege I am present to, and grateful for, every single day.

The ways in which it has shaped we have moved, grown and evolved individually, and how we have re-shaped ourselves as a unit, has been special.

Mostly I want to to appreciate the gentle, kind and loving man that VC is. He gives me much to aspire for in this regard, and I’m only now getting to a place where I can see him for who he is. As he is, without that desperate burning desire for more, for something different.

The way in which he sees me. The way in which I felt seen this past year.

It’s taken a long time, but this year, I want to remember that I have learnt this from him — the ability to be grateful for and to wholeheartedly love what I have, as it is, exactly as it is.

So to answer the question I began with; no, the choice to live apart hasn’t been a leaving of my marriage in any manner. It has been instead, a stepping stone to coming home again.

One year ago: It’s just the nearness of you (ten)
Two years ago: Nine
Three years ago: Eight

***

Past anniversaries: ten, nineeightsevensixfivefourthreetwoone.

Raw

Last week when three days of class ended, I sat with a pure and simple thrill and joy at having completed a full piece of work by myself. By itself, it wasn’t a spectacular piece of work, but to have been able to intuitively and organically stay with it, and see it through to its logical conclusion was a big, big step up for me.

It was a huge win. And yet, underneath all the joy from the learning side of things, I was also carrying some grief about a certain dynamic that’s playing out for me. It’s bringing up a lot and is showing me in no uncertain terms how my journeys of personal development and learning this work will sometimes intertwine ever so subtly.

As I journey on with this learning, the more drawn in and absorbed I get, I have also been feeling a sense of an ending. Of this phase. A separation from things as they stand today. And I’ve been feeling the ripe and bubbling feeling of an impending new beginning — perhaps the next phase.

Endings, especially of good things, have never been easy for me. Letting go of things as they are, opening myself to change isn’t much easier.

So last week, even as I was overjoyed, waves of grief and impending loss came in recurring motions. I watched myself ride each wave, find my balance again and dig my feet deep and open my heart wide to the happiness that I was also experiencing. I’m beginning to see this duality as such a central axis of my life: joy is the antidote to grief and grief sometimes arrives to make that point loud and clear.

Like I said some days ago, what is a new dawn without a full knowing of the darkness that always precedes it? Would I value the true beauty of the light just the same if it weren’t for the daunting walk through the dark?

Is it ever really possible to know one without the other?

Joy is rarely ever conditional to the absence of pain. Same for the love and rage, war and peace, light and dark. The more I find myself accepting this inherent duality, the more I find peace and settlement. I feel more whole, integrated and complete.

I feel in love with my life and my place in the world. I feel eager to understand my reality and the world around me, with the unfettered keenness and curiosity of a child.

Is this what it is to say yes to life in all its glory?

Is this what true surrender feels like?

Is this what it is like to feel raw, and somewhat more tender?

Is this what remains to be gained when I understand the importance of laying down all that isn’t mine to carry?

Is this what I was making space for all this time?

One year ago: I wanna see you be brave
Two years ago: Brain noodles

Three years ago: Finding my people

On writing about my emotional process

Somehow all of this silence within, is turning into a real lack of words, both verbal as well as written. This time around, though, I’m experiencing it with a lot of acceptance of the silence. Like I’m settling into it quite easily. It feels right, and there’s a strange new distance from the need to put words to what I’m going through internally.

It’s been interesting to witness because every time that this has happened in the past, I’ve struggled to accept it fully. I’ve acknowledged it and maybe even talked about it, but deep within, I’ve always felt like something is a miss. Not being able to write/talk about what I am going through has always meant something is wrong. Words are and have been a crucial part of my process. And I am grateful for the place they have and the role they have played so far. But I see what has changed now.

This is probably what happens when one puts in a conscious, intentional effort at being emotionally integrated, and reached a point where that effort finally begins to kick in. Things find their place, things settle, things find their natural containment, little spills over, and that’s it. It just is, as it is, and nothing needs further investigation. I’ve found that I don’t seek confirmation/affirmation/validation for any of this from myself, and I’m seeking it less and less from outlets that face the outer world. Like this blog, for example. What I’ve come to realise is that for me, the more I am okay with everything as it is — the slow pace, the self-doubt, the frequent transgressions included — the less there is a need to assuage the niggling confusion and doubt by putting out crystallised, neatly packaged bits of writing explaining it all.

Of course this is all WIP. Maybe I’ll still have days where I’ll wax eloquent about unnecessary details of my emotional process nobody needs to hear, maybe if you’re coming here for articulate emotional writing you’ll have to make do with less of it, maybe I’ll write about many other things, many this blog with transform yet again. But for now I see that when the need for validation ceases to be the primary focus of the sharing, the words have ceased to flow and there’s less inclination or willingness to dissect and verbalise every little detail as much.

Let’s be really honest the reason behind the need to write and track this journey comes in great measure from the need to validate my own process (even just to myself), to track my journey, to have some proof of having a semblance of control or a handle on it. To note this tiny little shift also feels like I’ve let go that much more, loosened up internally. And I don’t need proof of it.

I have not been this much at ease and peace with myself in…actually, probably, ever.

One year ago: You shoot the moon and miss completely
Three years ago: Ferry days

Silent and still

Being still and silent and broken is its own kind of religion.

I came across this line from a post last year and I realised it still rings so true, for where I am right now.

Being silent, still, slow has become a way of life. Sometimes things are so still I feel like I’m moving in slow motion.

I don’t know if it’s actually as apparent as I feel like it is — but I’m gradually losing the inclination to go into detailed descriptions of the minutiae of every little change that I am experiencing. I can barely get myself to cursorily state it in a lazy, sometimes incoherent fashion. Glossing over the surface and skimming the surface feels like I’m missing the totality entirely. But it is what it is. I am losing the ability to put things down in words, to commit to anything. In writing.

Partly because things are changing so rapidly, and I am opening myself up to it more and more, writing anything down feels like I’m pickling it, grabbing it and pinning it down to some form of certainty. When in real life, my pursuit has been to keep my grip on everything very loose. To let go as best as I can, to watch things as they leave, transform, sometimes return to take a new form.

I have a newfound respect, love even, for this truly slow, almost meditative pace. I’ve learned to savour time. To surrender. To watch more. To feel keenly. To be more interested in the world.

One year ago: Not invited, but I’m glad I made it

Gratitude fix

Grateful for the great weather we’ve been having. Sweaters by night, sunshine by day. Crisp early beginnings, the beginnings of winter sunlight that frame every new day and make me forget all that’s wrong with the world for just that little bit.

Sure, it’s made waking up as early as I am used to a tad harder. Actually, scratch that. The waking up happens rather easily, I’m afraid I’ve hacked my body clock to open eyes at 6 am. It’s the leaving the bed and getting out from under the blanket bit thats much, much harder. I end up snoozing the alarm for upwards of 40 minutes and have pushed my start of day a fair bit.

Grateful for the festivities of the weekend. After many years I had the opportunity to indulge in more than just the partaking of the feast — which is frankly the most interesting part of Ganesh Chaturti, amiright? I enjoyed wandering about shopping with amma, and doing my little bit to cook parts of the traditional meal we’ve been accustomed to eating for all these years, and that I realised I have a special fondness and affinity for.

I’ve indulged in about three times the amount of food I consume on any given day over Gowri and Ganesh, taking seconds (and thirds in some cases) of all my favourite foods, unabashedly. All my restraint and restrictions have fallen to the wayside almost as easily as they have been imbibed, and I’m observing how natural and easy to give in and slip back on track it has become of late. Is this what eating intuitively is?

Grateful for the burst of life that festivals bring to my neighbourhood, literally transforming the place. Traffic is a bitch, but we got out on foot, in the middle of the day and in another time I might have been hassled and bothered. But I enjoyed it, the sights and sounds suddenly appealing and sweet, touching a hitherto untouched part of my heart almost.

This is V and we’ve reconnected after about 10 years. It’s only been a handful of times that we’ve met, but every time that we have, it’s been lighthearted, easy, full of laughter. I almost forget we are adult versions of the people we were when we used to be broke teenagers in college who resorted to hanging out on park benches because we had no money to go anywhere else. And yet, somewhere in between the rambunctious laughter over the silliest things, I see how far we’ve come, how grown up we are. I’m grateful for the many reconnections I’ve had. It’s brought variety to my friendships, loosened me up and brought a much-needed lightness to my life that allows for unabashed day drinking.

There’s been something of a throwback theme going on with me. Last week I caught up with S after more than a decade, and at Koshys where we met, I happened to glance around and notice my English Literature professor sitting at a table behind me. She’s literally the only teacher from those three godawful years in college, who I cared for, who made an impact on me, and who I remember enough to go say hi. I looked straight at her, dead sure she wouldn’t recognise me. In my head, I look nothing like I did in college, especially with the shorter than ever before hair. But she looked straight back at me and went; “Revati!”

We engaged in a full on conversation and she seemed to remember every little detail about where we left off — which was 2006 — when I graduated! My interests, the professors I disliked, my resistance to Shakespeare and my love for Eliot, alike. And I have no idea how, but she knew I lived in Goa. She expressed such joy when I responded to What are you up to? with I write.

I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

Extra, extra grateful for public transport more than ever before. The more I think about the little ways in which I can reduce putting a car and four wheels on the road, the more I think about the implications of spending so much money on something as basic as getting about town, the more compelled I feel to make the effort to take the metro whenever I can. And it’s a delight to see it pay off.

I’m grateful for N who has stayed like a silent, strong force holding space for all that has been unfolding for me. Even with our infrequent meetings, I’ve found a space where I can increasingly be me, in all my different states of togetherness of the lack thereof. No filters, no adjustments. It is a real privilege, relief. And joy. As I make sense of so many little and big things as they unfold and churn up a world of emotions and realisations within me.

One year ago: August