You’re my favourite, you’re my favourite

Ticked this off the bucket list, last night.

I’m kidding. I don’t have a bucket list. But I did go to what I think was a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity gig, for me.

To catch only like my most favourite DJ live, in Bangalore, was wild. I almost wouldn’t have gone if Niyu hadn’t pushed me to. I was being my usual finicky self preempting loud, large crowds, dusty outdoors and badly organised scenes.

However, I am so glad I pushed my adult worries aside and went anyway, because the rest of it wasn’t half bad, and the gig was insane good.

Fitting way to kick off play time.

I booked my ticket all alone, prepared to just go by myself. But I ended up tagging along with Niyu and a bunch of her almost-30 year old friends, so I did things I haven’t done in a long time — absolute years. Dressing up! Pre-gaming at Bob’s Bar. Walking to the gig in our “outrageous” clothes. Consuming whatever alcohol I could get my hands on. Coming home with super achy feet and quads from all the dancing. Waking up severely hungover this morning.

It was oddly freeing. And it certainly helped that it was a cracker of a live set.

I mean she was there. *all the heart eyes*

And in classic Bonobo style, a full band too with the whole deal — drums, keys, guitars, trumpets, sax, strings — for all the instrumentation.

My only complain was that it ended too soon, in utterly predictable Bangalore fashion, at 9.45 pm. *eyeroll*

BUT, they played one of my current obsessions:

And if you’re enthu, here’s the official video:

And even though this felt like a once-in-a-lifetime gig, I’m already setting my intention and wishes on a do-over. Preferably outside India.

Universe, make it happen.

One year ago: There’s still time to change the road you’re on
Three years ago: Cloudless skies

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New eyes

Some days therapy is just about articulating feelings I don’t yet feel the full strength and capacity to feel outside, in my real life.

Some days it’s about crying freely, in the safety of the four walls and the company of my therapist who I have grown accustomed to, and know is capable of holding the full intensity of my emotion.

Some days it’s about just sitting quiet, allowing a light to be shined in, so I dig into my heart for things unseen, letting my brain build a path back out.

Some days it’s about just being. Just the way I am, no pretence, no masks, no effort to be anything else but the way I am. Broken some days. Tired others. Joyful some times. Celebratory others.

Some days it’s a lab, to stick myself, my psyche, my behaviour, thoughts and my quirks under a microscope and observe what’s happening. Who am I beneath it all? What lies underneath the veneer?

Some days it’s like falling back on the safety net, while I flirt with meeting my authentic self, who frankly, sometimes scares me.

Some days it’s about travelling backwards, connecting the dots in reverse, revisiting old times and looking at them with a new perspective — backwards, going in.

Some days it’s about smiling inwardly and feeling so full, nothing can crack me.

Some days it’s about feeling crushing defeat, monumental self-loathing, immense guilt and fear. And, feeling it fully, before I begin to make sense.

Some days I leave my brains and all sense behind, altogether. Some days, it’s just all heart.

Some days, it’s a pair of eyes, a mirror held up, and cleansing tears.

Somedays it’s about seeing it all.

Some days it about being seen.

One year ago: All the feckless men that queue to be the next
Two years ago: Pointless post
Three years ago: Morning views

Born again, all grown up

I’ve been feeling overwhelmingly content. Like there’s just so much of this good life, I can’t get enough of it, I’m too small to take it all in, it’s abundance spilling over from all around me.

Everything is a bit superlative right now. All the words are excessive and extra. And even then the words to explain how new this all feels aren’t enough.

I feel young, tender, and wide open like a child. I also feel very confident, whole and empowered like an adult. All kinds of grown up.

I feel whole, like stepping into a new door with new agency. New energy.

This is new. This is mine. And I don’t have to fight for it anymore.

So much gratitude for where I am today. For how for the first time in probably my entire life I feel a sense of balance. Of everything being right just as it is. No unquenched yearning, no burning desire, no sense of longing or incompleteness for anything.

I have never known this before and I feel such immense gratitude for having arrived here.

One year ago: We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got

To heal

There is no wisdom in a clenched up heart.
No solace or comfort, even, as I had imagined.

I shut my heart out, and I let my brain lead the way.
Somewhere along the way though, I realised I’ve led myself astray.

I hungered for all the answers,
I unpacked the layers, I dug deep
And I found a heart closed so tight,
it would not keep.

So now, I’ve dropped the weight of the questions.
There is no wisdom in a clenched up heart.
No answers or insights, even.

What a relief it is to let more things go,
to watch, observe and be a part of all that comes to be
As a bystander and a participant alike.

Some things just are
It is what it is
It is. As it is.

There is no wisdom in a clenched up heart.
No “right” meanings, even.

I hungered for all the answers,
To know it all, to process it
To do the deep work of fixing.
Only to realise I am magic, just as I am
Nothing is perfect, but nothing needs fixing.

So now, I’ve dropped the weight of the questions.
Because there is no wisdom in a clenched up heart.

And so, I’ve watched how, once closed like a bud
it now has the space to unfurl,
With gusts and bursts sometimes,
Sometimes, nudged on by a sweet breeze
Sometimes, encouraged by gossamer morning light.

Inside, I’ve found a soul of laughter
Held by bones thick with joy
Glued together with layer upon layer of memories.

I peek within, now and again
And suddenly, I am not afraid.

There is space to move
To grow, to breathe, to revel in the dark spaces
As much as to stretch in the sunshine

And every time that I stretch,
My soul expands a little
My bones crack, my skin is supple
My body, it is accommodating
Like a glove that longs to be used.

There is no wisdom in a clenched up heart
It was born to unfurl, to stretch, to grow,
To know that at the heart of it,
this is me.
To go through it all.
To hurt, to crack,
to be stabbed, to melt, and to heal.

Time and time again, to heal.

One years ago: Make me somewhere I can call a home

Renewal

It’s that time of year. Overnight, the streets are carpeted with leaves that were shed literally between one day and the next.

This morning as I began my run, I noticed the path ahead was strewn heavy in a thick layer of golden shedding. If this isn’t one giant metaphor for letting go and ushering in the new, I don’t know what is.

Last year too, I remember feeling like this was a time of transition and noticing it in the way the leaves had shed all around.

I’ve been feeling that same sense of a lot changing and moving ahead even as a calm core seems to be solidifying within me. It’s hard to explain how the two exist simultaneously. And yet it’s what it is, seemingly silent and calm, but growing within.

There’s been a very vivid sense of shedding skin, coming into my own again. Almost like a new birth and a new beginning. Perhaps this, much like a lot of things in nature — the full moon, the timely rain, the necessary autumns — are transitions that happen in their time. We are in sync. We just don’t notice it as much.

Today I felt a resonance with the shed leaves. There is a brimming newness, the fragrance of promise and best of all, the newest feeling of them all — an ease with a natural witnessing or this passage. As it comes, so it must leave too. I’m in agreement with these cycles.

One year ago: I must be the luckiest alive
Three years ago: Beach bum

Super-power

I’ve peeled myself, and I’m only nearly halfway done
I’ve pulled myself out, and I’m still in, waist-deep
I’ve picked myself dry, and I feel anew.
I’ve cracked open the box I’ve only ever held closed shut
Only to find that inside,
It isn’t filled with truths I can touch
Or make mine in an instant.
It feels empty, but I look deeper within it’s drawing darkness
And I find only more questions, leading me on,
I find gratitude I want to reach out and kiss.
A whoop of laughter, a big gulp of life,
A tender lock of loneliness, a feather-touch of grief, still,
An inner steadiness,
And an invisible calm that fits in my palm.
It’s my super-power. What’s yours?

***

Last week was such a good week. Yes, even with the way it started. Even with everything that transpired. There were flowers in my home, night rains, many much-needed coffees, lots of time spent in bed, a significant amount of writing, mostly being alone by myself at home, a day with S, lots of time and space for me, many letters and postcards written, every yoga session fulfilling, a fabulous post-rain Sunday walk that was longer and faster than usual, an excellent and game-changing session at therapy, a certain togetherness that I felt palpably around me. And a deep, deep sense of calm within.

Three years ago: Fail

Safe and sound

Life is suddenly very quiet. Things have quietened down. Within as much as around me. There is an expansiveness about this quiet. It stretches for miles around me, it slows down time, it fills me up and makes me feel safe.

This quiet has a very different quality from peace. And I feel it because much of the inner quiet is seeping into my outer world too, and I can sense how different it is from just being calm or feeling peaceful. It’s in the overwhelming safety in being a small speck in the wide wide-openness of it.

This feels different. And now that it’s here, I feel a sense of old, old familiarity and resonance. Like it is something I had unknowingly lost, and that I have been waiting for, for so long now. And there is the heart-crushing gratitude for it too.

This quiet. This sense of containment. And of steadiness.

One year ago: The heartache lives on inside
Two years ago: Commitment issues
Three years ago: Begin again

Stoking the friendship fire

Just marvelling at what a quiet, content, contained week I’ve had. Even as I had some difficulties with feelings about people, letting go and an overwhelming sense of loneliness again that came bubbling up, it’s been such a good week, now that I can pull back and look at it with some perspective.

I’m constantly amused, amazed and filled with humility about how much connection (something that I have been harping on and on about) has actually started finding its way to me. It’s coming in ways and means outside of what I am used to, and not always strictly through channels that I want it in. So I often miss it, but my God when I open my eyes and start noticing it, it fills me up in such an amazing way.

So it’s oddly nice to be ending this week feeling content, with this realisation, because I started the week feeling rather quiet and alone (the two seem to go hand in hand sometimes, no?)

My ideas of friendship, of empathy and of what I expect and want from people in my life is being tested literally every single day, of late. It’s like life forcing me to challenge what I have believed so far, and as always that process brings up so much sadness because it means I have to finally face up to many hurts that have been staring me in the face, and that I have avoided. It means I have to re-evaluate where I stand with the people who have caused me said hurt. And sometimes it means I have to just let go. Either of the feeling, or of the person. Sometimes, both. And that is never easy, even when I am fully aware it’s the best outcome possible.

When D and I spoke early this week, I realised how much I lean on her for support, even without really articulating it or even asking for it. Even with everything she has going on, she is somehow there for me. So many times the being there, isn’t literal. It’s a feeling. It’s an unspoken connection. A trust, a space I know I have. And I have been using it unconsciously, in more ways than one.

I said something similar to N too. We may not speak every single day, I know how much she is also processing at the moment and how much time and space that needs. Yet, I know she reads my blog and that is our way to connect right now. Because every now and then, she sends me a message with an insight — either a similar realisation she’s had, a common experience, something to read or a picture — that I feel an instant resonance with, or that will challenge me and give me a lot to think about. We don’t have to go into details about what we’re going through, but in the exchange of a few messages and conversation around it, I feel a sense of togetherness. That she is there for me. Miles away, but connected.

VC and I have been having unusually (for us) long conversations too. Time and time again, my relationship with him is testimony to the old adage about how we can go roaming the world looking for what is sometimes right under our noses. I have always cherished the connection I have with VC, but I feel like these days I cherish what it is slowly growing into, and I wait with eagerness to see where it will go to next.

And then there is S, who had a massive world of woes of her own to deal with. It was an entire shit-fest of massive proportions that made everything that I was dealing with pale in comparison. But with her, I have the capacity to bring even that little trouble up front, and know that it will be heard. In between stressful exchanges about unpaid fees and the anxiety in the pit of her stomach, I found the capacity to share my seemingly trivial worry, and she put her own worry aside for a minute to hear me out and be there for me. I latched on to it, shamelessly, as I realise is the liberty one can and should take with a precious few friends who will have it. We spent an entire day together, just staying in, mostly quiet and contemplative, talking about everything that we have had going on in our lives and our minds. Just reconnecting. It was a day I needed so much, I realised once I was back home.

Last week, while I was semi-moping about this hurt and letting go, I had an unexpectedly affirming conversation with a complete stranger. It was entertaining and refreshing in the moment. But in retrospect I realised it was an inflection point for me. My reaction, my behaviour in the instant was such a departure from what I have known to be me. It was a moment of realising something deeply fundamental has changed. My heart has opened in more ways than I am even aware of. And it’s exciting to witness this transformation in me.

Last week I also had a record number of comments and emails from readers of the blog. Affirming and filled with a sense of resonance and connection of its own.

***

There’s so much about connection that I am in the process of redefining. Clearly, this is the time to do it, given how much this deep longing for the presence of people has been coming up for me. Look at what it means and what is changing is essential to ensuring that I receive what is now coming my way, in the best way possible. I know for certain nothing about what is emerging, is coming from the backlog of what once was. This seems to be all new. It has a decidedly fresh energy and is emerging from a space of newness.

Connection isn’t about proximity or affinity, even. It isn’t about likeness, familiarity. Sometimes it isn’t even as much about vulnerability and empathy. Or about deep, intense conversations.

This last week alone, I connected with a stranger who launched straight into chatter about ZNMD, with as much intensity as I had a deep midday conversation with N about how friendship has changed for her. I feel closer and connected to VC and D in Goa, as much as I do to S who lives in my city but so far off that we don’t meet too often. So many of my conversations this past week affirmed the quietness of connection. So often that connection happens in literal silence, in the space where I hear and am being heard. No responses, no overtures of love and understanding, no sympathy needed. Just the space to be present to what is being felt, is enough.

That, precisely that, is what I have been missing and craving for so, so, so, so long. And it is what I have felt show up in a glimmer here and a shimmer there this past week.

These days, these are the moments that give me life.

One year ago: And so it is the shorter story
Three years ago: Time bubble

Of days that turn around

Allowed myself to bunk yoga and sleep in today.

Then I watched a shitty, shitty movie that I really shouldn’t have wasted my time with.

Made up for wasted time with an afternoon of work and a huge headstart on the month’s deliverables.

Followed it up with a good chat and an iced coffee.

And then this, wandering in the crotch of Bangalore, following our noses and the warm smells of fresh street food, was like the icing on the cake.

Some days really do turn around dramatically.

One year ago: The only baggage you can bring is all that you can’t leave behind

Digging to find the happy

I cancelled all of today out, and drove for nearly two hours to go spend the day with S at her home. Somewhere along the way, making my way through impossible traffic, I pondered over everything that’s been going through my mind these past few days. I was taken right back to 2015-16, where this part of my life/journey began. Suddenly, I recognised how far I’ve come from where I once was, where I once began. I felt immediately overwhelmed at the realisation of how much time it has been, how long I’ve been at this steadily (it’s longer than the longest job I’ve held down, if you need perspective), how fortunate I’ve been in finding the right sources for help every time that I have sought it, and most of all what a rock solid role VC has played in enabling this for me (and by extension, for us).

I teared up good and proper, thinking of the ride, some key milestones popping up in my mind, feeling so much gratitude for the ability to ask for help. And the unbelievable ways in which help has arrived promptly, every time that I have looked for it.

It’s easy to get caught up in the small, daily niggling issues. I often do. The seemingly minor annoyances growing into monsters of gargantuan proportions in my head, with ghastly effects ranging from self-flagellation to self-doubt and unnecessary closing-up. In all of this, I lose sight of the big picture. Often. But this morning, in that haze of tears and gratitude, I was able to really pull all the way back and see what a phenomenal time these past 3-4 years have been, and what they’ve done for me.

Nearly 90% of the person I am today, isn’t the person I was then. So much has changed. And yet, at the heart of it, so much endures. But what hit me the most, and hardest, was that my life and my being today, is a near-perfect version of the one that was but a desire and a dream in 2015. When I was beginning to hit rock bottom, when I was looking to slow down and didn’t know how, when I was flailing and in need of help and wondering where to look, when I wanted answers but all I had were questions.

This current reality, this life I am living, in this present moment — with regular therapy and growth and mindfulness front and centre of it, with a select few friends to hold my hands through it, with the way too many feelings, with the freedom and flexibility from work, with VC chasing the Goa life he wanted to test anew, with me in Bangalore, with the space, with the distance, with the brave and testing conversations we have, with an appetite for travel and new experiences and the means to make most of them happen, with the lightness and agility to go, to iron out every smallest detail of our lives the way we want to shape it, with a newfound ease with waiting and watching, with a new degree of peace and settlement within towards both my families, with a new sense of belonging that has nothing to do with where I live, with new roots and a new set of wings, with a capacity for joy — this is the life that felt so far away and out of my reach in 2015.

And yet, here I am. Living it.

It’s easy to get caught up in the small, daily niggling issues. To get so hyper-focused on feeling the lack, that I miss the true impact of time, generosity and flow that my life has actually seen. When I slide down that tunnel of overthinking, I lose sight of this larger picture. The story of how I got here to this place in my life.

I also lose touch with the inherent sense of gratitude and overwhelming gratefulness that I feel constantly. So today, I’m bringing that back and inviting it in and shining a spotlight on it again.

One year ago: The future is no place to place your better days

Weekend highs and lows

After a very long time, I had a weekend all to myself. A weekend that I spent almost entirely at home, just being a cooped up chicken. Just the way I like it sometimes. I cancelled all possibility of plans that could have materialised. I went for walks in the morning. I cooked full meals for myself. I had a massive Netflix binge. I read a book I’ve been attempting to begin since the beginning of January. I had long and winding conversations with VC.

On Saturday I felt extra pleased when I had finished dinner by 7 pm and was right back in bed and Netflixing immediately after. At 9.30 though, R and S called and dragged me out of bed for “a drive”. How bad could it be, I thought. I can get out for this, I told myself, as I got out of my night clothes, into a bra and presentable clothes again.

The “drive” ended at the airport. And what followed was a big binge, only to get home closer to 1 am.

On Sunday, after spending all day in bed, I showered at 3 pm and took myself out to work for a couple of hours. That was the extent of my venturing out.

I was telling VC last night how I am enjoying this time of cocooning and spending time with myself — I crave it and enjoy every last bit of it — as much as I am loving being in Bangalore where the world outside is just within reach whenever I want to venture out. I am really enjoying this access and ease.

***

Sunday evenings are the devil. They bring out a strange melancholy in me that takes me right back to the age of aching weekend endings. When white shoes needed to be washed and polished in time for Mass PT. When uniforms needed ironing. When books needed pre-packing. These were the rituals of the years when Sunday evenings ached. And they have pretty much set the code for all Sunday evenings of my life. No matter that my life today looks nothing like it did then, and has none of the trappings that life did then.

Even with nothing earth-shattering to wake up to on Monday, even with the luxury of starting the week with an easy 7.45 am yoga class (and really, this is easily the best way I have allowed myself to begin any week, in recent time) Sunday evenings bring that dull ache back, almost every week. With immaculate regularity.

And yet, every Sunday, when the gloom descends I forget to discount it as that specific kind of meaningless Sunday evening gloom. Week after week, month after month, endless Sunday evenings pass with this restlessness gripping me bang on cue. Invariably, it takes VC pointing out that it’s Sunday evening, midway through my whining and complaining, for me to realise it and let it go.

Sunday evening gloom is the new PMS in my life.

***

This Sunday evening I had a big mood, though. An incredible disappointment in all people, in what is left of most relationships in my life at this present moment. Several events leading up to Sunday have left me feeling excessively depleted, like I just have nothing more to give, and yet the ask and want from various quarters persists. Unabashed and singleminded asking, of me. With no regard or thought for the balance or what I might get in return.

After a long, long time I reached a point where I felt disillusioned and a touch of self-pity for the oddly familiar place I am in, that somehow still feels all new and shitty at times too. How did it get this way?

On the one hand, I have this longing for people, for connection, like I haven’t had ever before. All pretence of introversion has lifted. I want to be out there, meeting, talking to people, not just for the the heavy and intense bits but the light and fun bits too. And yet, of the mere handful of people that exist, there is just disappointment and a consequent lack of inclination to reach out. It makes me close up. Makes me want to be the lone ranger I have the habit of being. Makes me confirm the In the end we’re all alone anyway thought.

By late Sunday evening this mood had bloomed into a full blown rage. Complete with a big urge to just burn away all ties. To shut this blog down. To go under. And I expressed it to VC as a deep, deep desire to go away someplace completely new, where nobody knows me — not the old me, not the new me — to start over from scratch.

Monday came along, and some of it passed. But it wasn’t until after a solid afternoon nap and a long chat + reading with D that I felt some of the heaviness lift. Later last night, I had dinner with Amma who had just returned from Bombay. A dinner I had cooked and taken over, with a side of conversation and some laughs. And I felt infinitely better after it.

Maybe this is just it? Maybe I need to stop looking so hard and trying to catch this nebulous notion of connection that seems to be festering within all the time? Maybe I just need to let it go, put an intention out and let what will be, be. And give thanks for the little bits of connection I do receive, in whatever form they come my way.

***

Here’s a ragey tune fit for all Sunday evenings.

***

On the other hand, I am also acutely aware that all these feelings are a part of the process. This unsettling may be long-drawn and painful, and will bring with it a fair share of shedding. I am still partly afraid, even as I brave the daily reminders of everything in the people department in my life that is hanging by a weak tether. Deeply unsettling of all is not knowing which way I am going. The confusion, the not knowing too, is a part of the process.

I have known this all along.

This morning, I came across this tweet that reaffirmed my knowing of how wide open the choices out there are right now, for me. The fear is still in letting the reins go, in letting the old go.

One year ago: May your feet always be swift
Three years ago: Blush

Waking thoughts

At yoga this morning, my teacher said something really simple, but that rang true with the resounding sound of ten bells in my head.

To bring awareness to a part of your body, is to breathe into it. To bring prana into it. To bring life itself to it.

And suddenly I realised, that’s exactly what the journey of awareness has been for me. Like in yoga, bringing awareness has brought life to my life. Without it would be to merely exist.

***

I’ve caught myself saying “I feel so used!” to myself so, so, so many times these past few weeks. So far it’s mostly been in response to things friends have said or done, which has had me sit up and look at the equation between us. But it peaked when my neighbour, who I barely know, just asked me if she could use my home to serve lunch to a bunch of wedding guests they cannot accommodate in their home. It’s been a testing time for my boundaries and the idea of my personal space and how I allow it to be encroached has been coming up a lot, lately. If this is not a sign to wake up and address it, I don’t know what is.

Three years ago: Orange is the new black

Slice of life

My breakfast ritual seems to have waned — for no reason other than that I didn’t get back to it since I’ve been back from Goa — but I’ve swapped it for a new one. Afternoons spent here.

This past month, this space has seen:

some of my most “productive” work hours

some of the best coffees I’ve had in recent time

me lose track of time

a lot of the alone time that I’ve enjoyed. Also a lot. (I could have very well done this at home, but then when I have access to this lovely space, why not?)

me make more entries in my journal than I have in years

Today, in the midst of writing frantically finishing a work piece on septic tanks (of all the exciting things I could be writing about), listening to this (so loud the damn train was in my brain) I had one of those moments of overwhelming happiness. I looked up, hit pause and just for a minute, wondered what I’ve done right to deserve this luxury — this life of such extreme flexibility that really makes my life better in ways I cannot even begin to enumerate.

So this is gratitude today, as always for the privilege and the means, but also for a change, for my heart that keeps me going, to chase every last detail of the kind of life I want.

One year ago: January
Three years ago: Fields of gold

Mini thoughts make incremental change

New thoughts on vulnerability.

It involves taking a risk and pushing out my comfort zone.

But choosing the right people makes landing this risk easier.

Even so, sometimes it will not be met in a fashion I may expect or even deeply desire.

And there is always at least a 50% chance I will feel let down and meet disappointment from time to time.

But that is not enough reason to give up and close the lid on what has now been opened.

Because vulnerability is the only way to forge real connection.

One year ago: January
Three years ago: On creative happiness

Glowing within, growing within

I’m marvelling at how so much of my journey has become about creating space. And how much of that space I am suddenly finding.

Space to feel emotions fully.

Space for honesty.

Space for safe vulnerability.

Space to expand.

Space to explore.

Space to be.

Space to travel.

Space between VC and me.

Even as I journey within, go deeply inwards, almost as if I am closing in on myself, my world is expanding like never before. I have not felt this kind of palpable wide-open expansiveness in my life ever before. This eagerness to be out there (not literally), the hunger for connection, the seeking of experiences; even as I am always preoccupied with what’s going on within.

There is liberation in not having to choose, not having to pick one at the cost of the other, not having to wildly swing between the two, not needing labels. The two co-exist. This too is duality – *grin*

One year ago: What you seek, is seeking you
Two years ago: Busy times, apparently