Changes are shifting outside the words
It’s December. Inside of me, I feel full and potent, about to let loose and lunge forth like the pre-monsoon sea in Goa. Ripe, bright brown and churning up, ready to burst in welcoming the gush of the first rainfall. It’s how I feel about the turn of the year. 2019 is full of promise, and I’m only making the most of the last four weeks before the curtain falls. Inside, things shake and mix, bulge and wane, noisily. Outside is where it’s oddly calm, everything lying in waiting as the energy builds up to a precarious crescendo.
As always, it is when silence takes over, that everything unfelt, or that which I have been unable to make space for, creeps in to make its presence felt. It feels fitting for the last month, of the year, to sit with all that I have not had the time or presence of mind for until now.
I have recently realised that the fear of loss and scarcity has been a huge influence in shaping my attitude to life, and while I may have made significant breakthroughs in overcoming some of it in terms of work, monetary abundance, an idea of prosperity and success, it is still very much apparent, alive and kicking, and rears its head in other spheres of my life. And when that happens, it makes me slip back into living from a place of fear. Which keeps me from living my life in an open, healthy and soft way.
The world seems hell bent on making us believe that life is not lived if it isn’t filled with hardship and struggle, but this is a lie. My experience has taught me that it is a fallacy that keeps various wheels of the establishment turning. Whether the economics of the capitalist world, or societal mores, fear is a great thing to put your money behind. Building walls, being strong, caging emotions in are part and parcel of the struggle. The struggle that leaves no room for falling apart. And this costs us the lightness of our hearts and eats away at our souls.
The belief that I must fight the lack that’s perpetually chasing me pushes me on to believe that I must work harder at everything — from a life of writing to relationships with heart. The same thing that causes me to disallow emotions to come in and be felt. But if recent experience is anything to go by, I know for sure that there is always the possibility of a life of ease, where life flows, relationships are easy, judgement fades and decision making moves to the beat of my heart. But it requires that deliberate softness, a decided focus on getting closer to authenticity, making vulnerability a habit.
It requires courage. Not in the typical sense of bravery or in big, bold acts, but simply to live life with utmost honesty and sincerity, even when engaging with the minutest, most simple and insignificant daily acts. To not attempt this is to commit to a life of fear.
Last month, I held the words of David Whyte, on Courage, close to me. And I believe it has pushed me a step ahead from the place of waiting that I have been in for so many months now.
Courage is the measure of our heartfelt participation with life, with another, with a community, a work; a future. To be courageous is not necessarily to go anywhere or do anything except to make conscious those things we already feel deeply and then to live through the unending vulnerabilities of those consequences. To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world: to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist, with things we find we already care deeply about: with a person, a future, a possibility in society, or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on. To be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.
And so in this last month of 2018, I’ve been sitting with that which I already know I feel, but inviting it in rather than keeping it at the threshold of my heart. I am attempting to allow it to seep in fully and deeply. To unfurl a new kind of vulnerability, to flirt with feelings very different from the kind that I’ve become used to. To turn some of my I’m-not-sures and I-don’t-knows to I-think-I-cans.
To drop the unfounded resistance and lean in to the unknown that begs me on and to cleave to the bits of me that I am slowly discovering are closest to the way I was originally made. As I near the end of the year, I’m longing for some (more) courage, to make space for all that I am unwilling to or unable to see as yet. To sit with the discomfort as much as I welcome the comforts. To cry with as much ease as I laugh. To welcome chaos once more. To walk into the light. And I wish the same for you too.
I spent the end of October running into November in Goa and it was the sort of open-ended trip that could extend or shorten itself depending on how things went. I drove down with VC, and didn’t have a return ticket because if you’re familiar with life in Goa, you’ll know that setting up a home there is by no means a short, quick or easy task. And so it was the kind of trip where I took every day as it came, not knowing how much longer it could go on that way. As it happened, I stayed over three weeks, feeling chuffed that somewhere when I wasn’t even looking, the ability to really go with the flow has seeped into my life.
One year ago, a trip like this wold have shred me to bits with anxiety and unnecessary stress. And yet somehow, this trip was a wonderful mixed bag with its fair share of moments of joy at where life has brought us, gratitude for the help that has come along the way, but not without a healthy dose of fear and wonder about the future.
Time always slows down when I’m in Goa. I feel this physically, my breathing grows calm and my being is more relaxed and spontaneous. We’re extremely lucky to have friends like D and UT whose home has been a second home of sorts in Goa all these months, and it made for a perfect base this time around too. From our conversations, the meals we love and share, the comfortable silence and the proximity to our own home — this time around was no different, except for the added excitement of babysitting their puppies which hugely contributed to us feeling at home and at peace, even in their absence. It was also the perfect antidote to the wildly frustrating exercise that is setting up home in Goa.
Being back in Goa also stirred up so much nostalgia, and surprisingly fear and anxiety, had me reminiscing so much about the way things used to be. There is still such a definite resistance to letting the comfort of that go, even with the knowledge of how miserable it used to be. Even when I am actively moving towards a future that has no space for the narratives and stories that ruled the old. Realising and accepting this felt like a blow to my mostly zen current state of mind and put me in a very contemplative headspace. Some days, there were no words. in which to be around the ever-present, ever-willing, I’ll-take-you-as-you-are energy that puppies bring, was a new and soothing experience for me.
There was much contemplation: about the #metoo movement and this fantastic comic. Of fresh beginnings for VC and me in two separate cities and homes, of this exciting new ground that I find myself in, of a yet another revised definition of home and a new love for poetry, of the joy and privilege of a pause before the next big change. There was also ample time to spend reading, and so I caught up on the books I’ve been ignoring.
Even as I grieved the sense of loss I felt was triggered in Goa, there were two bright sparks of friendship and belonging: a day spent with N, and a weekend in Auroville with A, that both reminded me of how much more valuable the here and now always is.
That weekend in particular brought a shift in the rushed, hyper energy that I have been carrying around for two months. Between eating healthy, earthy meals and walking for hours in the dust and heat of Auroville, I felt dragged back to reality with a sense of healing and settledness. On our last evening sitting on thr warm sand, watching the waves come and go, I was taken back to a favourite essay on the need to cultivate “Negative Capability“. The peace and quiet and time to myself meant I could empty my mind and prepare to begin again.
I came back to some great, great Bangalore winter weather that I have been enjoying in small doses. Crisp sunshiney days with a nip in the air that make it perfect for lots of walking around town, outings alone to finish work and drink lots of chai, dinners of soup and toast, enjoying jackets and stoles and shawls again. I’ve been out a lot, but I also feel like I’ve been indoors so much — my days feel longer, somehow. So much more gets done, and that means more scope for bad days and slow days. I also came home to the happy surprise of being published in an anthology of stories and essays on menstruation. A real, proper book, you guys! And all the walking has felt like finding my feet and the love for walking my walk again.
As always, through it all, there is gratitude. For the extreme luxury that is a home away from home, for the unfettered love that dogs have shown me, and for everything that my life currently allows me to indulge in.
One month ago: Day 305: October
Two months ago: Day 284: September
Three months ago: Day 246: August
Four months ago: Day 219: July
Five months ago: Day 184: June
Six months ago: Day 152: May
Seven months ago: Day 134: April
Eight months ago: Day 92: March
Nine months ago: Day 60: February
Ten months ago: Day 32: January