At a macro level, I see everything that we’re going through as a race and as a planet, is a massive transition. A portal that popped open when we were least expecting it, ushering in some deeply uncomfortable events that are shaking the very foundations of our existence — across the board.
It’s impossible to transition through this sort of change quickly. It’s really forcing us to slow down, in more ways than one. Asking us to look for meaning beyond the obvious, cliche interpretations of those two words — slow down.
Even as things are opening up and we’re seeking normalcy (whatever that may be — I don’t even know anymore) I see how unsettled things still are. Something important has happened in this period, whether one is conscious of it or not, it has happened. It feels at times like we’ve woken up from a long nap. And sometimes it feels like we’ve been thrown off a plane and have had to land abruptly, hitting the ground running. And no matter which way you’re experiencing this — as extreme slow, discomfort or a series sudden, quick moving shifts — this is a transition.
The foundations have crumbled, the cracks of inequity are visible, the the dust is still in the air and won’t settle for a while. We have much to do. And this feels deeply like a call for change. For examination. For introspection. For walking the talk. For doing the work. For stretching ourselves. For getting off our collective asses.
And. It’s becoming impossible to ignore how connected what’s happening at the micro level — at the level of my personality and within me — feels connected to what’s around. Whether, and what, I choose to do anything about it or not has become secondary. Through the entire lockdown I found myself much more willing to face the anger and angst, grief and hopelessness that was coming in waves, because I felt very sure that it was the only way to know what to do next. That a process and a path will show up. And it has, for me. Just last week, in a spontaneous collection of some kindred spirits getting together to mobilise food, medicines and other essentials for the thousands and thousands of migrants leaving Bangalore everyday. Suddenly I am in the midst of the operation, and there is an energy and a channel for my emotions.
Hopelessness thaws and turns to hope. Stuckness finds movement and energy. And in all this, that connection — between what’s been happening within me, and around me — has strengthened, more than ever before. Beyond just the cognitive understanding that this connection exists.
I also carry within me this strange dichotomy of emotions every single day. A bittersweet space where hopelessness and hope somehow sit side by side, where anger and joy are holding hands, and where stillness and action have found a way to coexist. Within and without.
This year came out of nowhere, and it is being the best teacher, asking of me things that I have been building and working towards for the last couple of years. I am at a threshold of sorts, and this entire shitfest in all it’s glory — energetically, emotionally, environmentally, economically, politically — feels like an invitation. Every single day it calls me, gently asking for my presence in some way or another. And I feel that something has shifted yet again, in the way that I am now willing to show up.
In so many, many ways I feel like the last 3-4 years, the turn that my life has taken, the things and people I felt drawn to, the issues that have occupied my energy and impacted the choices I have made, the work I feel called to do and how it has influenced my place and sense of identity in the world — it was all a massive preparation for this moment in time.
While there is urgency, there is also a capacity to slow down and wait for the call. I want to bring my voice to all that is churning and being spoken about and I also want to take time to read, learn and listen.
This is the way I think I can participate in this transition. With eyes wide open.
This work of dismantling old orders and frameworks of being is a crucial part of growth. Much like dismantling old beliefs and processes. It is the first and most important step to establishing new ways of being. New orders. New intentions. New, egalitarian ways of coexisting. Within and without.
We cannot go there without first eliminating the rot that no longer serves us. Whether that is within us, or without us.
For the new to take birth, the old needs to quite literally die. And the forces that hold power and keep this imperative death from happening, will have to be challenged as they are today. It is no different in personal work. Looking within, seeing all that we hold on to, the fear that holds us back, the walls we build to hide behind — all of it needs to be challenged — so we can emerge into our full power.
This is not an easy or beautiful process. No healing is uniformly positive, in that way. And I see how there is this constant attempt to make the process of change look beautiful and charming. It isn’t. It’s messy, challenging, painful and very, very exhausting. Whether you’re healing a broken heart, or a broken political system.
This is true at the level of the individual as much as it is as a collective. As a society, country, race.
So much of popular spiritual talk — meditation, mindfulness, self-care — is centred around positive vibes only. Almost as if that’s a ticket to circumvent the difficulties that are bound to come up when you begin this process of healing. Whereas, now more than ever before, we have to be willing to really face up to the violence and destruction of this churn we are in the midst of.
Revolutions, personal or political, always, always shatter the status quo, the superficially held facades that cover up the gross fault lines we’re always working to hide and avert our gaze from.
That transition has started. The rot is being swept up. Look around you, start in your neighbourhood, pull out and look at the country, look at the divisions, look at the people who hold power, and pull back some more and look at the environment, the world at large, other countries, the planet as a whole.
This transition begins to feel staggering. And if you look close enough, you’ll see your place in it. But you have to look. And you have to be willing to face the discomfort of what you’ll see. Within and without.
There’s going to be a lot more trauma, injustice, pain and suffering (which will almost entirely be borne by minorities) being churned up. We brought this on. And now is not the time to turn away and avoid the mess that we created. Now is the time to bring ourselves to the centre of it in whatever way we can. To listen, to unlearn, participate and relearn, reconstruct, heal and hold space. To show up. In whatever way we can.
Either way it feels like there is no way to go around this mess. Only through it. This call to focus on inner-work, suddenly seems such an imperative and essential stepping stone to connection, harmony and peace in my outer world. And I see how the challenges in connection I face at the personal level, are so implicitly reflected in the way the planet is struggling to find peace today. How much we struggle to meet one another in a harmonious way.
Personally, last week, I had a very powerful experience of what not just fully owning up to the truth of my feelings, but showing myself as a vessel of those emotions, did for me. It was painful, but so freeing.
Denying reality, only pushes connection away, widens the gaps and creates silos. Showing up along with the full force of our power (and that includes the good, the bad, the ugly, what we’ve felt, what we’re capable of, and everything in between) is possibly the only way to begin to connect again.
And the first step to showing up is to meet this transition for what it is. A call to step in, step up.
Four years ago: Awash with monsoon memories