Reboot

I don’t know if it’s the rush of the days since I got back from Goa or the intense experience I’ve had in class this past weekend, but I feel like it’s been forever since I returned. Goa seems like a distant memory because of how in the motion and flow of things I’ve slipped into here, so quickly. It’s like being settled snug in the thick my life here again. It’s new but it’s also a bit like a distortion of time in my mind’s eye. I can’t seem to tell recent from past.

It usually takes me a few days to slip into the way of life here, when I return from travel. Just the getting out of one routine and settling into another, in the different way that life happens here, takes time.

Similarly, it takes a few days of excessive sleep and fighting exhaustion before I can return to some state of normalcy after a module of study at class.

This time it has been different. I went straight to class quite effortlessly taking cabs and metros and autos, the very next day after I returned. Given how difficult, intensely challenging and emotional this last module has been I was prepared to spend a few days flat in bed.

But it has not happened.

On Saturday when class ended, D, S and I went out to grab a bite and catch up outside of class, to decompress from all that had happened for us. Later, when we split after a few hours I went to meet S and get her views on what was going on with me. It was all kinds of energising, rather than draining which is my usual feeling at the end of three days of intense personal work.

On Sunday, I even managed to wake up early and meet D for a walk at Cubbon Park — our first in months. And yesterday I hit the gym again. It’s been about 20 days of no exercise thanks to the travelling back and forth, a misstimed period and generally feeling so emotionally wrought all I wanted to do was not move and eat all the sugar. That phase has clearly passed because I have been itching to resume ever since I returned. I anticipated my body would need some coaxing before it begins to co-operate, simply because it’s been a while.

But this has not happened. I have bounced back. To regular programming, in the gentlest most surprising way. It happened rather effortlessly.

This morning I realised, my breath that was short and tight, is now deep and full. Yesterday my neck was achy and felt like it needed constant support, to it feels extended and upright, my posture relaxed but strong. My body feels supple, but firm.

There is certainly something about coming home. A sense of slipping back into the flow. With all the up and down to Goa and back these last eight months, this time around I returned wanting to stay put for a while. I was beginning to feel like a plastic bag in the wind, and my body was craving some stability.

Stability in this city? An older me might have laughed hard. And possibly chided me so much and kept me from dropping roots and finding the stability I need. But something special seems to have happened.

As I drove to two different corners of Bangalore on Sunday, through pouring rain and mad traffic, I felt that deep sense of having found a home. The city is snarling, it’s falling apart in more ways than I care to count, it’s madenning with the constant rush and the sheer unbelievable number of assholes out on the streets. The trees are disappearing, temperatures are rising. Nothing is reliable, rules don’t exist and anarchy rules loose, people are aggressive, undependable and empathy is mostly dead.

And yet, in that moment I felt completely at ease and at home. Bangalore with its afternoon showers, orange light and rare spots with full tree cover.

This is certainly new.

One year ago: There’s glitter on the floor after the party

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New

On Saturday, I found myself in the middle of a Pandora’s Box of feels, that I had opened. It was triggered by a small act of showing myself in class, in the very way that I was afraid of doing on the two days before. I didn’t really plan it or think it through at all. I just felt deeply compelled to speak my truth in whatever way that it had to be seen — a little unpretty, maybe even ugly and difficult to digest. It set off a feels fest that derailed the entire agenda of the mornings lesson plan, but it happened and in the bargain gave me a live experience of what happens when I stay with my authenticity.

At the time it just felt like I was going with my intuition and doing what I just needed to do. I had reached a place where I could do nothing else but speak up and take my side. But today, with enough time (and sleep) having gone by, I see it as a moment of tapping into my inner strength. Because I defied all my own rules in that moment.

I didn’t stay quiet to stay safe.

I didn’t worry about how I looked or what the ten others in the room might have thought of me.

I stood up to a bully in as gentle and kind a way as possible, yet made my opinions and feelings known.

I simply showed up. As I was, with everything that I was feeling. No excuses.

Today, I realise that took a lot of strength and conviction. Of a degree I have not known I even had within.

I’m completely overwhelmed by the experience and it will be a few days before I have fully processed what happened and what it means for me. But it was a delightfully new place to be in. To stand up for myself. To take my side in this way and to believe in myself so completely.

It was an important step forward. A move from being the shy, passive one who is usually quiet and happy to step back to make space for someone else who needs is louder, bigger, more assertive or just more in need of space. It was an important movement in claiming my space and not giving up on myself.

In the process I’ve probably released a lot of what I typically hold within, locked into my body, long after the module, giving me disorientation and fatigue that takes a few days to pass. This time I have woken up the very next day feeling fresh and new.

Perhaps it’s a new me? I’ve been seeing it in the way my body is changing. My face has found room for bigger nosepins and brighter lipstick. In the way my torso and shoulders feel stretched and ask for more everyday. In the way my heart has opened, my eyes have softened and my mind feels supple.

Today I feel it in the presence of a voice that’s found a place.

I’ve met myself again. In a new way.

I certainly feel it within. Something life changing happened that day, in that moment.

Two years ago: Bangalore: A graphic novel
Three years ago: Interwebzy things

Forward

It’s been such an intense day of learning. In terms for the content, in terms of the pace, in terms of what this all means for me and the demands it has placed on me since I have stepped into this space.

It feels at one level like a call to show myself fully — something I have very rarely done. Especially in other, similar contexts. If anything, the point of having to show up as I am has always been the reason for my backing away entirely and choosing to operate from the shadows.

I’ve always preferred to stay in the darkness of the wings than step into the spotlight. To be a doer than a leader. To follow than to set the pace. To shrink and see how I can fit in than step up and make a space for myself.

I see many threads of continuity emerge in the way my personal work and journey with self development is delicately interweaving itself into the framework that the tapestry of my learning and this work provides.

Today, in addition to feeling really enriched and fulfilled by the learning, I’m feeling a bit raw and exposed in my being.

One year ago: Weather changes moods
Three years ago: It’s always just a silly listicle

Two things

1) Took an auto to class this morning, and it came with a super-cute prop, pre-installed.

Smol person in big shorts, with big, bright eyes and little teardrop dangly earrings to boot, sitting as far away from me as possible, plastered to the edge of the seat, holding on to the rail with complete faith.

There was something so soft and tender about sharing that auto ride with this little person (who came with no explanations) this morning.

I’ve been feeling a slow but certain softening up from the wound-up, high-stress state that I have been in the past many weeks. Every day, a little something shifts. I experienced it in the openness of a post-rain sky, in the the grounding of routine, in a full day’s rain and a day that went pleasantly out of control.

Today, this moment of tenderness was a game-changer. It set me up for a day of much more softening, of loosening my grip, of letting my breath out, of relaxing a little.

Much like a child who has found a safe space again.

***

2) Today has given me several resounding reminders about the place and need for more surrender in my life. This is something I have encountered in various degrees of intensity many times before, and I’m so aware it is not something I can accomplish, tick off the list and move on.

The message came back to me today. Loud and clear. To surrender. To everything, with a real, felt, internal sense of everything being exactly the way it should be. This is of course much easier said than done, but with every consecutive revolution that I make of this abstract concept that draws me back from time to time, I feel I know it just that little bit better, and I see something new about how and what to surrender to, emerge for me.

This time around it is an ask to step up. To open my heart out. To believe in myself. To take a leap of faith.

And for a change, unlike most other times, this time somewhere deep within me, is a tiny voice saying, you can do this, you’ve got this.

One year ago: If you, if you could return
Three years ago: Gym rant

All my worries seemed so far away

I drove a total of 109 kms yesterday. Which is not to say I went anywhere really far away. Just the usual routes dropping and picking VC up, with the visit to the cafe and a couple of drives to my sister’s place and back, and an evening spent at the concluding showing of art work for her children’s monsoon workshop.

Driving around in the rain gives me seriously unfounded levels of joy, so a day that involved that much peacefuk driving, while the rain lashed down, was kind of a given.

But it was also a fine lesson in the art of letting well laid plans crumble away haplessly while life emerges as it should, and simply going with it.

I was a tad stressed about finishing packing and winding up ahead of time, and the only purpose that slight stress served was to ensure I finished it so well ahead of time, that I had a day that suddenly opened up the way it did.

I had been feeling a bit like even though Niyu, VC and I have spent nearly the whole month together, with the stresses of the health emergency, the travelling back and forth to Bangalore and back, and VC and Niyu coming down with the flu back to back, we didn’t really spend too much time together, doing the things we would otherwise do. The last four weeks have been tenuous, and the stressful energy has petered into every step we have taken, weighing us down and making me feel like a shrunken version of myself, almost. I haven’t had the will to do much. And even though my head has felt the longing, my heart hasn’t responded. I know it’s been the same for VC and perhaps Niyu too.

So it was great that I got a surprise day like yesterday, when coincidentally, the rain came down as hard as it did, but something in the air around us lifted. My spirits perked up, I felt energetic and willing to venture out and off we went. Brunch was had at the cafe, followed by a spot of lazing at home in the afternoon before we took off for Niyus showing which was a delight for me to witness.

I don’t often get to see my sister at work, at close quarters, but when I do, like I did yesterday it always overwhelms me to see how much she’s put together for herself, how far she’s brought this little homegrown venture full of heart, from where she began and how much the work she does means and touches the hearts of little children. Yesterday was one such day. The setting, in what was easily a 100+ year old Portuguese villa unfancily maintained with sparse furniture and plenty of skylight, was just perfect. I helped her set up the showing and we waited for the kids to arrive with their folks.

Once that was done the plan was to head home and cook some dinner and eat in peace, together. But we let that plan slide and be dashed too, to make space for the spontaneous rain-induced urge to eat gopi-manjuree. And so we went to an old favourite neighbourhood dive, sat under a tin roof that rattled relentlessly under the incessant rain, nursing whiskey-paanis and gobi munchurian.

In the midst of all of that, we chatted and gossipped and I broke into a laughing fit like I haven’t in weeks now. In fact I don’t remember the last time I laughed that hard — a big, loud, rolling, full-bellied laugh that came from the depths of my being and shook me to the very tips of my fingers. And while Niyu admitted that it was in that moment that she realised she was fit over her illness, it was in that moment that I realised my own heaviness had lifted in some measure.

I really needed that kind of loosely spooling, unplanned day to go with the wind (or the rain) just as I pleased. I really needed this cocoon with VC and Niyu. I really needed to get out.

I’m not sure if it’s some kind of cruel irony or just a strange kind of perfection that my last day in Goa was the best day I’ve had all month. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. With both arms.

One year ago: My moves are slow but soon they’ll know

Second chances

It’s my last day in Goa, for this trip and probably the last for this monsoon. We’ve received a storm alert with unprecedented rains expected over the next 24 hours. It means I will miss the last gush of the rain, but worse, I’ll probably have a really turbulent flight back home tomorrow.

It was meant to be a day spent at home, spent packing and sorting things out in the kitchen. On past trips, somehow this last few days has always been hurried and the last day especially so, scrambling to get all the last minute things done in time. I usually empty out the kitchen of most perishables that I bring in when I’m here, that VC doesn’t use often enough, and instead stock it up with dry stuff that has a longer shelf life that he can use on his own time. I sometimes set a whole bunch of meat in an assortment of marinades in small portions and freeze it all up for him to use over the next week to ten days, and I’ve been making a large batch of upma mix that he can use cook in small quantities to when he wants something quick and homely. This usually keeps him going for at least ten odd days, which is better than going back to restaurant take out from the instant I’ve left the building.

It doesn’t seem like a lot by itself, but with the grocery runs and the prep, it’s more than just a simple list of things. I’ve been hassled cramming it all in the last 24 hours the last few trips, so this time around I gave myself two days to do it all. And I finished ahead of time.

So this morning, I traded the plan to stay in with stepping out to spend a couple of hours at a cafe not far from home.

Reading some more while the rain kept pounding down, babbling toddlers running amok, strange hostile dogs eyeing my croissant and averting my eye from far too many people I know. It seems even in distant corners of Goa, driving to the edges of villages to find tucked away cafes for retreat, I’ll somehow find people I know from another lifetime in Goa. Three out of four occupied tables had people I know in some degree of familiarity and I’m wondering what all of this means to me in my last day here.

I’ve packed away my stuff, leaving behind the staples as I usually do, for my next trip here. But if my hunch is to be believed it’s not going to be for some time now, and when I come back it’ll probably be to pack and take the half of my life and heart that resides here, to complete this half-life existence I’ve been living away from here.

Life has a strange way of making sense in retrospect and from where I am, looking back, the last year or so has been such a ride. I feel lucky for this brush with the best of both worlds and a chance to settle so many unfinished memories and rest so much that was left unsaid and unaddressed in the time and the way that I left Goa in 2017.

Life really does give one second chances. It just takes a certain openness to seeing and taking them that can make all the difference, as I have experienced this past couple of years.

One year ago: Dont worry about, don’t speak of doubt

Unpretty

Been thinking an unnecessarily awful lot about my need to have the last word in confrontations that don’t end in a rosy, pretty way, all tied up in a pretty bow. Because this need is high. At the moment it feels a little bit like the need to be heard, my truth that I’ve never allowed to be heard (in this specific situation) slowly finding a way out. But it also feels a little bit like my urge to still control the way in which what I’ve expressed is taken or received.

It takes constant reminding to let that shit go. That once I’ve spoken, the words are out, it’s on the other to take it and make what they will of it. That is decided entirely by where they may be placed, emotionally speaking, at any given point of time as well as how open they are to seeing and hearing the truth.

It takes constant reminding that I have never been able to control that, and it’s not about to change now. If anything, the more the truth is finding its way out, the more resistance I am going to face. The more people are going to step away. The more the outcomes are going to be hard and far from perfect, all tied up in bows.

I don’t know about strong, but this is still amongst one of the bravest things I’ve done in the last few years.

This business of accepting the unpretty side of things is a long and slow process. It has meant shedding the belief that I am a fixer, the belief that I am a uniformly good and understanding person. Because there are many things I cannot (and do not) want to fix. I want to let people do the work to figure out why things sometimes go wrong between us, and put in their share of effort in building bridges if they so wish. And in the absence of that, I am an imperfectly fallible human being with feelings — sometimes hurt, sometimes rage, sometimes disappointment — about just how much I cannot mould and fix an ending so it can be pretty.

Sometimes endings are not pretty. Most times, even when they bring liberation, they’re not happy. It just takes constant reminding that that’s perfectly okay.

Two years ago: In which I end up without a phone
Three years ago: Homebody

On and on and on

The skies cleared up ever so slightly today. So we took a walk through some fields in our backyard/neighborhood, this evening.

I came home recharged and surprised at how little it takes, just 20 minutes, being out in the open and breathing clean air, to stop obsessing on-loop about current worries that really just pale in comparison, when you witness something as monument as the dependable setting of the sun, the inevitable rising of the moon, and the religious shutting up of touch-me-not leaves, that always happen right on time, no matter what.

The world just spins on, constantly casually doing wonderful things that I completely take for granted because I can’t stop obsessing over my piddly little life with the even more piddly woes in my piddly little head.

The walk filled my lungs up and gave me perspective today.

One year ago: I got a feeling I’m not the only one
Three years ago: I’ll be fine, sipping wine, taking time slow

Home base

I simply cannot overstate the wonderous effects that a done-to-death routine, based entirely in ordinary homely acts, does to make me feel grounded.

Today has been an utterly mundane day, borne out of complete and basic necessity. It’s been a good, steadying day and very early on, plodding through, I realised how easily pleased days like this make me feel.

I drove to Panjim and back this morning, cooked Niyu some upma for breakfast, had myself a simple smoothie and spent the morning catching up with the Internet that I have ignored for about a week now. I finished up reading one of the books recommended for class, before we meet again next week. And then I napped, waking up in time to cook — broccoli soup, salad and garlic toasts for dinner — and pick VC up from work.

It’s rained for the most part, that deeply soothing hum of rainfall that’s become a refrain in the background, now feeling almost meditative. And when it wasn’t raining, it’s been overcast with just that little leak of light.

There is something to be said of this minimalistic life I tend to have when I’m here, in this way and in this stage, in this home that we’ve specifically made, bare bones, stripped down and inward focused.

One year ago: Is someone getting the best of you?
Three years ago: What happens when you go cycling in the rain

Retrospect

Hi once again, from absolutely rainy, drippy, beautiful Goa.

I sense this back and forth life split between Goa and Bangalore slowly nearing its end (or at least reducing in pace and frequency of going between the two states) and the return to Goa this time around has come with an intense desire spend the next week really soaking it up.

Something really did lift for me yesterday, confirming my hunch that I’m experiencing an internal shift that is beyond my own comprehension and certainly not decipherable through words and overthinking.

***

A lot of my disorientation and struggle of the weeks past have been compounded by the some shame and self-hate that I have been directing at myself. I realised last week, yet again, how easily I forget to be kind and compassionate to myself, post-therapy. There is so much healing that happens in just meeting whatever comes up — the old wounds, the hitherto untouched grief, the completely unexpected discovery of an inner child pock-marked with memories of being worried, confused, brave and compelled to be put-together — with kindness. It’s the first step to acceptance, and then integration, and really, without that does this journey even get anywhere?

N has been pushing me, harder than ever before, to stay with the internal distress that is so quick to bubble over, when I am faced with the difficulties of my inner child. It is extremely difficult territory for me to navigate because I still doubt my capacity to be there for her. For me.

I’m only getting very slightly better with every interaction that I have, but I think the more I learn to meet her with kindness, the better this will get.

For now though, there is probably going to be a lot more disorientation. From facing so many unknown truths about that inner child for the very first time, from learning to stay with the distress, from owning and meeting the grief and sadness of it all, from fighting the urge to turn around and bolt from it all.

Most of all though, I’m learning to go easier still on myself. To remind myself that there is no fixed end goal, and no milestones that I have to hit. That there will be times when I feel like I have taken three steps back, instead of forward. To keep the disappointment at bay, and drop the need to “perform” and do this well. It sounds like a lot, and it overwhelms me in times of distress, but when the fog has lifted it soon becomes apparent that all I really need to do is be kind to all parts of myself — inner, outer, child and adult — alike. To face myself with the same empathy I extend to others. To be patient and gentle, to see myself, and to be there for myself.

***

I’m happy to be in Goa, with its bizarre golden evening monsoon light, with this new relaxed state of mind. In the peace of just today spend in Goa, I realised I need to bring back some stillness in my life, some mindfulness or grounding practices that help me stay in the moment, rather than in my head where things get sometimes unnecessarily complicated.

I need to get back to a routine of slowness and taking time out for myself. Being in Goa sets that pace for me. It means I can let it all go, chill for a few days and make a plan for setting myself up back to the bustle of life in Bangalore.

One year ago: If everything could ever be this real forever
Two years ago: Perfect love
Three years ago: Barely moving

Days like these

With every passing day, a little bit of the fog lifts, the clouds part, and every day I feel that much better than I did the day before. Every single file day also tells me just a little bit more about how challenging the past few weeks have been, in retrospect.

Today, I feel like the light is shining through.

Today, I realised my primary internal response to stress is to freeze to the point of shutting down. Now I know it clearly because of how I experience it internally as a physical disconnection between my mind and body. Externally it translates into feeling paralyzed and unable to move, which translates to things like making absolutely no movement or progress on things that I know need to be done. I watch as time passes and deadlines are fast approaching, my mind feels anxious and yet my body is unable to respond to do anything about it. And the disconnect gets wider still This is how it has been for the past 5-6 weeks now.

Today, I also realised that because there has been a lot happening in my life, I have been trying extra hard to peg the inner unsettledness to these events. I’ve been trying to make sense of it in that way. When actually it is entirely possible that what is actually unsettling me in this deep way, in an internal shift, at a level that is almost cellular and somatic, that is happening outside of the uncertainties of my outer life. I cannot put a finger on this no matter how hard I try. And so I must stop. I just give up trying to make sense of it entirely and give in to flowing with it instead.

***

Yesterday was Guru Poornima and uncannily (or maybe this is not uncanny at all) I thought back to all the people who have played the role of mentors and influencers in the last few years of my life. I wouldn’t say I had a very great run with teachers in school and college, with barely two teachers worthy of remembering coming to kind. But in my adulthood I’ve had a lot of people influence me and shape the nature and direction in which I have grown, particularly in the last few years. I did a round of letters to thank some of them around my birthday. But today feels like a fitting day to think of my lineage, to my literal lifelines from whom I have received the very gift of this life itself.

Without them, complete with all their perfect imperfections, and all that they did and all the ways in which they had to be in order to survive, so I could thrive, I’d never have come this far, or live this life in this way. It feels like an immense gift, a source of so much life and wisdom packed into it.

Yesterday I lamented the fact that sometimes I wonder if I really have the permission of my family to be where I am and go on this path that I am. I questioned why any of this was even necessary and for a brief moment filled with self doubt, wondered if maybe this is all for naught. Today, I feel the unflinching support, verbal and felt, said and unsaid, and a good day to recognise the source, the beginning of it all, the lineage and the very line down which all that I am and have has come to be. It’s was a day for teachers, and I’ve begun to believe that there is no greater teacher than life itself, so it is that which I am most grateful for, first and foremost.

***

Today, I posted this reading for D and as I was writing it out, the message seemed so much for me as it was for the world outside. I have been so in over my head, and feeling so heavy on the inside, while also wanting so desperately to drop the heaviness and step into the light that is there, waiting.

Today feels like a good day for change. Today feels like a good day, for a change.

One year ago: Always somewhere, miss you where I’ve been

Support

In case you haven’t gathered already, whether I’ve explicitly stated it or not, it’s been a heavy couple of weeks weeks. Not to say it’s been outright down and out. We have made it through with our fair share of laughs. I was in Goa for the most part, amply bolstered by VC and my sister, being around whom, I realised just softens all the hard knocks for me. You know, there are some folks who make any situation better? I think VC and Niyu are those folks for me. So much so that it wasn’t until VC left to come be with his folks, Niyu went back to her routine, and I had a day all to myself that the full impact of just how heavy and overwhelming everything really was, caught up with me.

It’s been pouring buckets in Goa, the kind of weather I love. And I was all in to sit back and enjoy it. But the day VC left for Bangalore, I had a realisation that for now, he is the only remaining connect I feel with the place, the only reason I can get myself to spend any time in Goa at all. Without him around, even the rain, the solitude, the freedom felt a bit insipid and pointless. Because as soon as he left, I was all Okay what am I doing here ya very nice rain amazing weather beautiful lush green nice nice but can I just be with him thanks?

And so, it was also easier to follow and spontaneously book myself a ticket to come back to Bangalore a few days after.

Once here, felt ably supported to just do what I came here to do — to dive right in and be there for VCs family, sans distractions, because amma provided all meals — everything from hot rasam and rice, aloo buns to snack on, idli-vadas from our favourite breakfast spot — even though she is down with the flu herself. It meant I didn’t have to think about stocking up, cooking or managing anything at home, especially given that VC was recovering from the flu at home.

I managed to also squeeze in meeting with S for breakfast. It was meant to be quick and breezy, but it became a relaxed, drawn-out catch up because a turn of events allowed it.

I’m realising the importance to lean on my own resources and to take care of myself, so I can be there for others. The idea of giving from a full cup and all that. To recognise and acknowledge my support system, even if to myself. All the things — people, my routine and habits, comfort foods — that help me stay afloat, whether the going gets tough or not. I’m realising that I am less shy to ask for support when I need it, and a bit unabashed in stepping forward to take it when it is offered.

Recent developments with a friend, have really made me aware that sometimes the silence of waiting (for support, for help, for attention, for love) can be so detrimental. To the self, to a relationship, and to the other at the receiving end of it. I used to embrace silence — sometimes because I felt ashamed asking for help, or I felt indebted to step up and take help when it was offered, or I was hurt and offended that it hadn’t come anyway without my asking, or I just plain wanted the other to figure it out themselves. But all that ambiguity creates absolutely nothing but a lack of clarity about the truth. And quite honestly, sometimes it stemmed from my fear of stepping up and asking for it when I needed it — my fear of showing up as I am. Very often, in fact more often than not, it is my ego that keeps me from showing when I need support or what I feel the desire to connect.

In some ways, slowly being comfortable with myself, including all my imperfections and pleasant and unpleasant aspects, I cluding those that I once thought were “weak” or “shameful” in good times and in bad, has meant being able to take in all the love and support that I have, in a more fuller and wholesome way. And being comfortable with asking for it when I need it.

I really feel the difference that this has made to my life, during this time that was heavy and could have otherwise being very confusing, isolating and lonely. What a relief it is to know I can lean, and lean fully, on those who are there for me without having to be asked, and who don’t assume that I will come around when I need it. And what a pleasant surprise to realise that in the event that I need something extra — breakfast with a friend just for a few hours of normal talk, for example — I can ask for it unabashedly with confidence and without feeling lesser or shameful about it.

One year ago: Under my umbrella

New light

Adversity has that strange capacity of bringing out aspects of us that we didn’t know existed, that we didn’t know we needed, even. In this past week, I have seen family rally around and show up in ways that while essential and maybe even expected, but with a quality of togetherness that has caused role reversal, and brought out vulnerability and tenderness in the most unexpected places.

When I decided to fly back to Bangalore on Friday, I was responding to an inexplicable push from within that was nudging me to do the same — to show up and be present in a way that I have shied away from for years now. In that moment I realised that it isn’t about the the doing, but just the single act of being. Of showing up. Of being there. All my thoughts about being the odd one out, and all the difference I held between them and me, that had actually unconsciously kept me away, suddenly made way for clarity about the single and only way in which I suddenly wanted to connect, which was to be there. These emotions surpass the stories in my head, the narratives I want to cling to and all the various things that allow my mind to keep me staying in a place I am adamant to be in. But many times, like I said the other day, the heart and soul is ready to move on. To transcend barriers, to find a new way of being, to make way for growth — and I’m only just, very, very slowly, learning to be easy with that, in a way that doesn’t feel like a compromise to myself.

This past weekend, I have watched myself be present for VC’s family, in a way that I haven’t before. In a way that I have maybe even held myself back from being before. It’s been special to see that this happened even though I didn’t have the active presence of VC for support, as well as to hide behind, which is my usual MO. He came down with the flu the day I landed, which meant he had to stay away from the hospital entirely, and I still felt compelled to be there anyway. It’s been special to acknowledge that am now in a place to be able to do this with confidence rather than diffidence, calmly without slipping into panic and most of all without feeling the distress about the possible cost to my being.

It’s like discovering new light, in an otherwise dark time.

It is not lost on me that is yet another positive manifestation of how relationships with others, with the world at large, are changing, as the deepest most private parts of my relationship with myself are also changing. It brings the promise of new ways of blossoming.

The impending crisis has settled, for now. I return to Goa, in a couple of days, and life will likely resume. Even though everything about this back and forth seems familiar and old, at some very fundamental level I feel like nothing will ever be the same again.

One year ago: Oh my life is changing everyday
Three years ago: That’s all

Taking myself to new places my mind doesn’t know are good for me

I had two weeks to write out my assignment. And yet, from the moment I found out that we had to write this essay, to the point of finishing it up (only just finished an hour ago — it’s due today) I have been gripped by an underlying, quiet panic. During this time, I did no real writing. And as a result, only began working at the very last minute.

I have become aware that there is a latent “paranoid student” inside of me. In fact, it was over the course of the three days of class last month, that I became aware that this side almost triggered by the rigour of a classroom setting with just the slightest intensity and demands of learning that I am experiencing with Level 2. This side that immediately cues my brain to perform, outperform and excel, when met with an atmosphere of competitiveness – something that has always made me very uncomfortable – is the side of me that also knows only one way to react. That is to shy away from doing anything at all. It brings on a higher-than-normal level of fear, crippling parts of me that are actually perfectly good to perform, rendering me almost paralysed.

I have felt this in the last couple of days before sitting down to write that essay – my brain knows what I want to say, but the overwhelm of having to say it all, the self-made pressure to do that exceedingly well, and the panic of whether I will get it right has made me immobile for the last few days. Until, I just made space for it, and broke down my expectations of myself.

This side of me has been hidden for so many years since I have made protecting it a default way of being. That it surfaced so quickly and easily in class made me see that it’s time for it to be witnessed and given a place. In the past I have made many easy, conveniently less-demanding choices in my profession, to protect this side that feels pressured or fearful of being in the spotlight that comes from performance and evaluation of it. Even though I have learned and loved Indian classical music and dance for over a fifteen years when I was growing up, it was the fear (absolute terror!) of performance that made me move away from it, and eventually give it up altogether. At my very last job, before I quit full time work completely 7 years ago, to choose working from home (which I now see, among other things, as an act of protecting myself from the competitive demands of my professional space) to avoid getting out of my comfort zone and doing things like making presentations and meeting clients. I was happier being the worker bee, and very willing to slog many hours in the background, while someone else took the lead.

In some ways, I have been feeling for a while, that the call and the draw to pursue Level 2, despite the underlying fear of what it will require of me, has also been a call from within to see what emerges and what is possible for me, when I stretch myself out of this protective, comfort zone.

Safe as it has been, the same space has started to feel limiting for some time now. It’s a strange thing to explain – even as I feel drawn to come out, there are traces of resistance that urge me to pull back and stay within. I feel both energies, simultaneously, yet pushing through seems to take less effort these days.

It’s like the need to stay safe, is making way for the side of me that wants to be seen, and wants to claim a new place.

It’s interesting to me that I am suddenly seeing it in this way – as something that is emerging that needs a place, without judgement or adding value, without having to run away from it, or lock it away. It feels like an outcome of the many months of personal therapy that is making me just that little bit more comfortable with all aspects of myself — those that are loud and visible on the outside, as well as the softer, hidden sides — with every passing day.

I understand very slightly now what it is to move from the level of the personality to get in touch with one’s soul. It’s probably in an experience like this — when I decided to pursue Level 2 — that felt like a call from within that pushed through all the signals of fear and need for protection that my mind was throwing at me.

Sometimes my mind gets stuck in a place, based on previous (sometimes traumatic) experiences that brought out fear or panic, for example, but I’m becoming aware of how the rest of me — my soul, specifically — is ready to move on from there. I realised today, that the slow, and honestly never-ending, work of meeting myself has brought me just that much closer to my soul and I have in some fleeting moments felt a sense of willingness to listen and the capacity to move to where it is taking me.

It is sometimes to places my mind doesn’t know can be refreshingly new and good for me.

One year ago: You ain’t been blue, till you had that mood indigo
Three years ago: Pedalling again

Mush

It’s been an insanely stormy day, that’s been pretty and fascinating to watch from the inside, but downright chaotic on the outside.

Much like my brain this week.

Still struggling with coherence. The words are stuck. My limbs feel frozen. Everything feels a bit pointless.

None of this bodes well right now, because I have an assignment submission to make tomorrow.

I’ll just have to keep at it and keep trying.

One year ago: Slowly drifting, wave after wave
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: Sunday lunch edition

Three years ago: Like Nike, but better