Monday Tarot Messages: Befriend difficult emotions

Periods of turmoil usually bring great inner unsettlement and a loss of peace of mind. This is natural when old foundations (of anything) are being shaken to make way for the new. An essential part of authentic growth that challenges established orders — within and without. A process that is inherently not without turmoil, despair, grief and fear.

By themselves, these are not problematic. What makes us believe they are is the agitation that actually comes from resistance to feeling these emotions. The more we fight them, the more we allow them to hijack us. And they do. In that sense, we cannot avoid feeling difficult emotions if we intend to grow from our experiences of strife. What we can do instead, is learn to be agile with our emotions, befriend them, so we feel without carrying the heaviness.

Distress in times of strife comes from our inability to meet grief, which is such an integral part of renewal or growth. We fear grief as a heavy, cumbersome emotions that is best avoided. And we march on, investing a great deal of effort into being stoic and putting up a brave front. But if we do not grieve what we are letting go (good, bad and all of it) we cannot welcome what is waiting in the wings.

Learning to feel, rather than think about emotions, not judging them as conditions that need fixing, is one way to welcome them. Then, we may embrace them for the crucial role they play in making us vulnerably human. As the thinking, feeling, heart-throbbing spirits that we are.

Think about the term “falling prey” to emotions. It implies an attack that must be avoided in our attempt to be free. While actually, the avoidance lands us in conflict, distress and disease. When we meet emotions and everything that they make us feel, without resistance, there is an opportunity to grow. There is an opportunity to move through, rather than bypass the full gamut of the experience.

This might just be the single thing that differentiates feeling feelings rather than suffering them. Or as N wisely said to me last week: “being kidnapped by feelings.”

What thoughts have been keeping you up at night lately? They might carry clues about the emotions you are fighting, that are asking to be let in? What can you do to welcome them in the days to come?

PS: quite uncannily connected to my process and thoughts around befriending tenderness, so I can feel feelings.

One year ago: Away   
Two years ago: Nobody really likes us, except us 
Three years ago: Just breathe   
Four years ago: Hit by a crippling case of travel excitement

Your tenderness is valuable

Some weeks ago, N and I were talking about how emotionally spent we’ve been feeling all the damn time these past few months. And she said to me “If there was a season for feeling feelings, this is it”.

I couldn’t agree more. Unexpectedly finding moments of tenderness when I’m not trying to be put together, or keeping my frailty at bay, choosing “strength” and productivity over all else, has been a whole new world for me. Because it has opened me up and allowed an onslaught of every single emotion possible. Not fighting, figuring out or trying to overcome any of them has meant I have felt everything very deeply, as might be obvious to those of you who read this blog.

I grew up having a lot of role models for “strong” women. And I put the word in quotes because while they were all impossibly strong and showed me what grit, determination and a sense of ambition outside of themselves can do, as I’m growing, I understand what that strength has cost them. The loss of tenderness.

As an adult, I realise I know little about being tender or soft. I have held such strong, unidimensional ideas of strength (and therefore weakness too). I see how easily I used to equate vulnerability and tenderness with weakness, because I was so focused on keeping it and myself together, through everything.

Lately, I’ve realised “weak” is a word I no longer like to use. I don’t see weakness anymore, just different colours and kinds of strength. This is especially apparent as I’m having to learn vulnerability. It’s been a hard and painful journey of unlearning that definition of strength. Looking back, I wish the women I looked up to as a child has also modelled strength in tenderness. So I could have seen the power of vulnerabilities and letting them be seen.

I have known and believed for years that Vulnerability is Strength, and maybe I even practiced it a little. But it wasn’t until very recently that I have embodied the very idea of it in a wholehearted way that has broken me apart. Because it has let me shatter the various personas I hold, in order to be seen as a certain kind of person. Sorted, sometimes. Loving, caring, available sometimes. Unaffected, strong, most of the times.

I have been on this quest for years — waiting for a moment where suddenly I’d just be able to feel all the feelings. Little did I know it’s it takes time and practice. That it isn’t an achievement that I’ll gain, like arriving in a point in time. Rather a gradual process, like standing at the edge of the vast expanse of an ocean and allowing the sea to gently lap over me. Toes first, feet next, making me heave and gasp with overwhelm. But soon enough, it gets easier, familiar, fun even. The sea that seemed threatening is suddenly inviting. Joyful. And before I know it the waves have washed over me. Drenched. Heavy. And strangely — buoyed, uplifted, held, strong.

These past few months, I have felt the depths of sadness, agitation, helplessness, anger, grief, heartbreaking rejection and terrible loneliness with an intimacy I haven’t allowed myself before. I believe allowing myself tenderness had something to do with it. And somehow through that tenderness, I found a kind of strength I haven’t ever felt before. A strength, from vulnerability, that I haven’t allowed myself either. It has taken everything out of me to begin to show myself, in these vulnerable states. To say, I don’t feel well. I miss you. I am hurt by what you said/did. I don’t want to have it together today. I wanted you and you weren’t there for me. I shrink when you say that, and I don’t like shrinking. Please don’t say that to me again? I’m really, really lonely. amongst so many other things.

And so many weeks and months down, it is slowly manifesting in a bodily awareness of being fully (differently, somehow) in my skin and deeply aware of my changing world.

This is a note to myself, but maybe you need to hear it too today? Your tenderness is valuable. Your tenderness is the path to strength. Your tenderness can set you free.

One year ago: Tender
Two years ago: You live, you learn
Four years ago: I don’t feel sorry about posting pictures of my life

On listening

So much has been said, and continues to be said, about mental health, exalting the dire importance to “reach out”. Though well-intentioned, the sheer number of posts that have just casually offered this as a silver-bullet — “please reach out” “you are not alone” “my DMs are open” — have left me a bit uncomfortable. First because what does it say about us that this has to be explicitly stated, after someone has passed away by suicide? And second because I’m wondering about what after the person reaches out? Assuming that they can just get over whatever it is that has stopped them from doing so, that we seem to think just reiterating that they should reach out will help — what next?

When we offer a listening ear, how do we listen? Can we really listen? And more importantly, are we in the habit and practice of doing so with presence and empathy?

Can we listen without immediately pathologizing the human tendency to feel feelings, sometimes more intensely than usual? Without offering solutions or judgement. Without wishing tough emotions away.

My guess is we are mostly not. Because we live in a country and a culture that isn’t used to looking at vulnerability of sharing in a healthy way. We are not in the habit of looking at mental health as a product of societal and cultural polarities (amongst many other things) that contribute a great deal to ill-health. We mostly don’t have it in us to cultivate a systemic view of life that accounts for all of this.

So how do we listen better? Just listening, for a start. I’ve been wondering about this. Not for my work, but for life, as a whole. Listening with the ability to put myself and any discomfort that may arise from it, aside for a brief moment, to give my presence to the other. To be patient, and bear witness, as I listen.

I don’t have any hot-takes or immediate answers. Just my own questions around this, most of which arise from my experiences of not feeling heard and seen. I know that the collective changing rests with every individual changing, slowly, one step at a time, over time. And so maybe we begin with ourselves, and our experiences with being heard, and looking at how that was for us. I know that it is only through living and experiencing this that answers will emerge.

PS: Not the first time I have pondered about listening, it seems.

One year ago: My own person
Two years ago: Home where my love lies waiting

Love and magic

…amidst all the hopelessness, it shines through sometimes.

I am now convinced that this country only runs on hope. When all else fails and the paltry systems we have are exposed for how broken and dysfunctional they are, it is only hope that takes us through.

That and the goodwill of regular, everyday people.

I don’t know where we’d be without either.

One year ago: This is now
Four years ago: Work things that make me chuckle

Outdoors

In the midst of all the madness last week, I managed to wake up early, put my mask on and head out for my first outdoor run in over three months. I swear, I cried a little.

And because I felt so good, I went again, the very next day. It was raining, a typicaly Bangalore morning, feathery drizzle all the way through my entire run. It felt so great to be outdoors, and so good to be running in the rain.

It’s all the exercise I could manage. But it gave me a burst of energy and good hormones I so needed. I took the weekend off from volunteering, and lay low. Feeling feels. Journaling, painting, listening to music. Eating greasy Chinese take out. Crying and laughing. Sleeping. Not exercising. Just listening.

Then Monday came around, and I knew from the moment I woke up and stepped out of bed that it was going to be better. This week, I’m looking forward to gently getting my exercise and cooking routine back on track. Infections are spiking in Bangalore again and I’m not feeling so safe to head out again for a run. It was short-lived joy, but I think I’ll pass for now. Back to those home workouts that I’ve not done in two weeks now. My fridge was a mess, overstocked, but chaotic with nothing cohesive to make a meal from. I cleared it out and set that right over the weekend and already, I feel so much better.

As much as I am raring to get going, I clearly am not ready to dive into the deep end, so I have had to reign myself in and stay with what I can do and what my body and mind is allowing for. This whole experience has been a live lab for all my learning in boundaries, empathy, holding space for the other while also making space for everything that it rakes up within me. And I’m quite pleased with how I have pulled myself through it. Not punishing myself, but staying very close to what I need and taking it when I must.

Two years ago: Love on the weekend   
Four years ago: I’m only procrastinating to avoid the discomfort

Monday Tarot Messages: Rest, in a culture of busyness

I am a product of the “grind culture” that demands, glorifies and rewards a work ethic that equates unrelenting productivity with passion and hard work. It has taken me years to realise my instinctual attitude to work is actually quite different. When I allow myself to listen, I can be productive even when I work less, slower and in short, focused bursts. When I allow myself to listen, I realised my idea of ambition is quiet and self-sufficient, more internally-focused. And that it includes the value of having ample time to rest in ways that I please.

As a result, it has been hard to find a place and fit-in to the working world. This was so difficult to digest for so many years, early on, as I bounced from one workplace to another, trying to find a fit where I could rest easy, knowing that I’d be valued for the work I did during work hours, and where I didn’t have to feel guilty for wanting and having a life outside of work. My self-worth took a severe beating, because i constantly equated it with how productive and driven I was in the workplace. And very often, I didn’t really feel as “driven” as my peers.

Only recently, I realised that everything that I believe about work, success, hard work, passion and ambition (and conversely, rest) is a construct of a capitalist, patriarchal framework. That favours work over rest, teaching us that rest is to be earned thru hard work, and that unplugging will put us behind in the race.

So we devalue rest. And we oversell the hustle. But this is unsustainable. As most current studies on this will show. Everywhere you look, a culture of relentless work has made us physically and emotionally unhealthy. With the accent always being on doing, we have forgotten to pay attention to our being.

Examine your relationship with rest today.
What is your natural pace?
How much permission do you allow for it?
How comfortable is it to rest?
Do you feel guilt, shame or like you have indulged, when you rest?
Or do you feel renewed and alive?
Is zero work-life balance masquerading as loving your work?

Most of us, women especially, carry shame around resting, feeling useless and eroding our self-worth every time we choose rest over productivity.
Today’s card is a call to reset your natural relationship with rest. To begin to release the shame around resting.

The needs of the body are a good place to start. Pay attention to your body, notice if it is asking for more sleep, or gentle tenderness, or a calming practice of some kind. Maybe tend to your sleep cycle, get some hygiene in place. Or perhaps tune back into natural rhythms — the moon, seasons, weekends — as markers of tuning down, turning in.

Remember, you don’t have to wait for permission to rest. You will not fall behind. You will not miss out. You will not end up with less. You can rest.

One year ago: Within me
Two years ago: Come on, keep me where the light is
Four years ago: The good in us

Everything hurts

Stepping up to claim space means waking up to many, many, many old hurts. And I’m currently underwater in hurt.

One year ago: These days
Two years ago: Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
Four years ago: About yesterday

In a funk

It’s just one of those weeks. Where many things I cannot digest too easily have hit me all at once. I have days like this some times. And on those days, I choose the luxury of lying low, staying in and spending my time just being in the fullness of whatever I am feeling. This week, I didn’t have that luxury. Because after three months of a very minimal, home-bound routine, I ventured out and offered my time with volunteering to collect and deliver food to the migrants leaving Bangalore by the thousands every single day.

It was meant to be something I did for a few hours every week, but it very quickly ballooned into a massive operation that consumed me mentally, emotionally and physically. The need is enormous, the situation on ground is far worse than even the most honest media reports will have you believe. And even though I was overwhelmed from the suffering from the get go, I couldn’t get myself to step back.

I didn’t make the connection initially, because the adrenalin that kicked in from the relief efforts took me through most of the week. By yesterday though, my energy was flagging and I crawled into bed at noon, unable to function. Time-wise, I have also had to de-prioritise working out and eating healthy home cooked meals, to compensate for the hours spent working outdoors. These things are my anchors in any given day, and I really felt the effects of having to run on fumes without it.

I haven’t been able to eat a single meal in peace, thinking of the thousands and thousands and thousands of people we have been trying to keep fed and hydrated with bare minimum, collected entirely from neighbourhood mobilisation activities. I could no longer think about elaborate meals, let alone get myself to plan and cook them. I couldn’t put a morsel down my throat without feeling wretched inside.

I’ve been on the phone for more time than I have in a long, long time. I haven’t been able to relax and turn my mind off. My sleep has been shot to bits again. This past week has swept me away and put me in a strange state of mind. On the one hand I am overwhelmed and filled with hope to see how much and how quickly and large-heartedly citizens are willing to give of themselves. From contributions in neighbourhoods, to people galvanising relief efforts, to the team at the sites organising migrants, processing their paperwork and giving them food and drink and setting them off. I am beyond stoked at how much of all of this is being manned and handled by regular, average citizens. With lives and work put on hold, giving so much of themselves to this effort. But on the other, there is no escaping the hopelessness of this situation. I keep thinking how did we let it get os bad? Why weren’t we looking close enough even before the pandemic hit us? Why are we like this?

On the one hand, I feel like involving myself gave me some much-needed relief and channelised all that pent up frustration from months. But on the other, it plunged me quite deeply into a funk. Today, I felt so hopeless, I had a very, very compelling sensation of just wanting to exit my body. Just leave and escape this world. Everything feels so pointless in the face of the mammoth mess we are as a country. And no, there’s nothing, no silver lining and no bright spot, right now that can outweigh the heaviness of what I have seen this past week.

I have not been present to VC at all through all of this. I have had no mental or emotional energy to spare. I have been weepy, crabby, clingy, unreasonable for the most part. But he’s let me be all of it. And I am so grateful to have a home in him to come back to, where I can be as I am. Ugly, messy, imperfect and letting it all fall apart.

On a day like today, with clearly so much going on emotionally, internally, I don’t know what I’d do without this support. Where I can just be, not spoken to, no advice or solace needed (because there is none for a situation like this), just silence and presence. Presence.

One year ago: On boundaries: how they’ve changed my experience of friendship
Two years ago: Stop chasing shadows, just enjoy the ride
Four years ago: How blue?

Notice the rage, notice the silence

I listened to the frightfully articulate Resmaa Manakem on his On Being podcast yesterday. It couldn’t have come at a better time. Many threads of my personal journey are beginning to be woven into the landscape of the larger political canvas of our very existence. It’s becoming loud and clear to me that the person is deeply political, seeing as how it is a journey of clarifying my person values. I cannot shy away from this anymore. And that truth gets a little more cemented every day.

This past week, being up close helping with the movement of migrants — sourcing and delivering food and other essentials — realising in how many ways we have actually failed our society, I have really had to look at economic and caste Inequality and Inequity, the very fragmented shards of our broken, broken system right in the eyes.

What’s hit me the hardest is that these are lives (thousands and thousands of them everyday, just wanting to get home) and yet everything about the process, every step of the way forgets and negates that basic fact. The scenes at one of the many hubs around the city where migrants are being registered and organised to get on to the Shramik trains leaving the city, are nothing short of refugee camps. And seeing it all has made my heart heavy. Really heavy.

This is just Bangalore. I think of other cities, other hubs, other states, and the scale of our collective failure as a country is too much to digest. Everyday is excruciating, and the only thing giving me energy and hope in the mind-blowing coming together of communities in Bangalore that I have witnessed. This is something I am quick to forget. It’s easy, when all we see and consume is a steady diet of bad news, high on shock and horror.

I’ve had to come to terms with just how deeply systemic, cultural and utterly entwined divisiveness, subjugation and heartlessness is. Because of the work I do, cognitively I can pin this to trauma. My brain knows this, but my mind and my heart just won’t have it. I want and expect better of human beings. And yet, the reality is something else.

The podcast is a fantastic listen. For anyone interested in a shockingly accurate perspective of what’s going on in the world — and really this lies at the heart if every kind of inequality. Resmaa’s words speak right to this truth.

Trauma decontextualized in a person looks like personality.
Trauma decontextualized in a family looks like family traits.
Trauma in a people looks like culture.

When you begin to look at healing a “thousand-year-old” trauma of a people, you’ll see how it is mirrored right down to the traumas faced by individuals, at the level of the personality. And there’s hope when I see it that way.

He is fantastically clear, speaks powerful words without mincing them. He speaks of Race, but he could very well be speaking of Caste, our very own thousand-year-old collective trauma. And that’s what touched me the most. The universality of What Hurts, What’s Broken. And I hesitate to write this because there is so much talk about taking away space from Black Lives right now. I don’t mean to take away space at all. I know absolutely nothing about that fight, to even try. But I also see commonality, and in that way, what’s going on across the planet also hurts me.

It’s been an emotionally heavy couple of weeks and I see how it has reflected in my writing here. I used to feel a bit apologetic about that, and even express it here from time to time. But one thing that’s become very clear for me very, very recently is that healing involves leaning in more into what hurts. And this blog is a space where I will be doing that.

Like Resmaa says;

Notice the rage. Notice the silence.

The podcast too, reiterated that for me. There is no looking away form the discomfort and hurt of where we are as a race. We can begin to heal by looking at ourselves. The personal, is political. We are a traumatized lot, and because we don’t want to stop to heal, we continue to pass it on. And because we are a delicately balanced lot, existing in a precarious system of inequalities, we’re always retraumatizing the most disenfranchised amongst us, making them relive the worst atrocities, every single day.

Closer home, we really can’t talk about Development without talking about healing, without doing the work to own up to and re-contextualizing this trauma. And I realise how bloody far away we are from that. These are truly dark ages. This past week I certainly felt like we have regressed, slipped further below, dragged ourselves backwards as a nation.

Give the podcast a listen. It’s essential for every human being, I’d say.

One year ago: The written word 
Two years ago: Only happy when it rains

Meeting ground

My mind has been swimmingly full of thoughts about everything that’s going on in the world. The great divisions, the poles we exist in, the massive grief of all the events that are just snowballing one after another.

what else is life,
if not loneliness and silence?

I watched Nasir (it was available for a limited time only on the We Are One youtube film festival) on the weekend, and I’ve been trying to encapsulate what it made me feel, but I just don’t have the words. In fact after the film ended, I just went quiet. Shut my laptop and sat in silence for the longest time.

So I’m just going to say this: what the film left me with was a visceral experience of how normal and mundane, regular, everyday, fear and marginalisation is for someone who belongs to a minority group in this country. Life is ordinary, and that includes the fear. The uncertainty becomes so regular, something to live and accept and fight every single day, even while trying to live a normal life and do things like hold down a job and keep your family safe and afloat.

And then I got drawn into the community mobilisation activity. A week of planning, and three days of delivering car-fulls of food and supplies to hungry, gutted migrants who just want to go home, was and experience like tearing my heart open to the pain that this country is currently facing.

And then there is what’s happening in America. Which feels so so so familiar and eerily similar to our own fight from December through March. N asked for a reading and as always it turned into a freewheeling conversation that was as important for me, as it may have been for her. We had a long, powerful chat that stayed with me long after and I woke up with thoughts.

What is the meeting ground, in times of such violence and polarisation? Where can we hope to create space for union and connection?

Many found space and form in my word salad from yesterday. And the rest, in a bonus card that I pulled more as a memento of the conversation we had. To mark and remember it because it was an important one for me.

This is your reminder, that is possible to:

  1. Feel extremely heartbroken by injustice, AND hopeful at expressions of truth to power. Feel them both, keenly and deeply.
  2. Hold the very best intentions of allyship, but ALSO have a lot of scope for learning and improvement. Listen more to those you wish to support.
  3. Be keenly aware of all your flaws, AND still be kind to yourself. Both have a place.
  4. Know a lot about many, many things, STILL have absolutely no idea about some other things. Be open to learning from those who do.
  5. Desire peace and harmony, while ALSO (unconsciously)hold polarising politics. Examine and watch yourself closer.

One year ago: Spaces in-between
Four years ago: New tricks

Transition

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

Monday Tarot Messages: Share the load

Sometimes, the burdens we carry, we carry not because nobody else will; but because we aren’t able to allow ourselves to put them down so others may have the chance to pitch-in, help, do their share of the work.

Observe and introspect on the balance of giving — physically and emotionally — in the significant relationships in your life today. What burdens do you tend to carry, what roles and responsibilities do you automatically take, what kind of dynamics do you most find yourself drawn into, across relationships?

This feels like a message especially for me, on the heels of a particularly challenging week in terms of love and friendship in my life. A week in which I became aware of my tendency to take on certain burdens that I have assumed come from my love and caring for someone, but are sometimes just my inability to say no to bullshit, or my proneness to believe I am inherently too much for my friends to handle and so to take the entire responsibility of backing away. Which is effectively me choosing inauthenticity in order to maintain a status quo. Doing this takes a lot of exhausting labour out of me, and most often doesn’t fetch me the results I am looking for. Leaving me bitter, unhappy and lonely.

Emotional dynamics in relationships should ideally be shared more or less equally, in order for the relationship to flow in a harmonious way. But sometimes the balance goes askew to facilitate something else. For example, the control or holding of power can lie with the person who does the bulk of the labour. We sometimes choose to take the entire responsibility as a means to control or steer a relationship in a certain direction.

Or it can be easy to delude ourselves about the true health of a relationship, as long as we keep engaging in “doing the work”. This labour unfortunately is then not going into healing or growing the relationship, but in keeping it from falling apart. A subtle, but important difference.

To lay down unnecessary burdens requires a high degree of honesty. When we engage with that, we are invited to get deeper in touch with our authentic selves. And we are encouraged to show up as we are. It helps us see what we can and absolutely cannot do, what burdens we can and cannot take, what roles we can and cannot perform, in a relationship. And what emerges from there is connection in a true form, free of roleplaying and people pleasing.

This process has been particularly challenging, and a painful one for me this past week as it has meant confronting some of my own judgements around the sharing of emotional labour and how I view people’s reasons for staying or remaining in relationships that have long passed their expiry date.

Taking responsibility for only as much as we can and realistically want to and should do, is an act of deep humility and respect. For the self, primarily, but also for the other. Learning this is to allow freedom, for love and connection to flow freely, and for a respectful, mutually balanced dynamic to emerge between people.

One year ago: All heart and all soul   
Two years ago: When the rainy days are dying   
Four years ago: Workspace

Authenticity is expensive

It’s been a confusing day. A day that has shown me very intensely that many times the price to pay for absolutely honesty and authenticity is loneliness.

Because people show me time and time again how they cannot value and hold it.

How they cannot handle it.

How they absolutely will compensate by bringing in their projections.

How easy it is for me to feel like the problematic one.

How quickly I feel responsible.

And how all of this can drag me back to my old narratives in a jiffy.

I’m fuckenn sick of people’s projections.

One year ago: Meeting myself   
Two years ago: Serendipity, do you believe that this makes sense?

Things that happened today

I got out of home and looked up. And I caught a view that wasn’t the same one I have been seeing outside my balcony for three months now.

I went in for an in-person therapy session today. My first in three months. And when I stepped out of my home to walk down to my therapists’ I had this surreal, never-felt-before feeling of excitement. I was a bit giddy, walking down with a spring in my step. Such strange, unforgettable times, where the idea of meeting another human being, sitting in (safe) proximity, sharing an intimate space, gave me that mix of excitement and wonder.

It was my first real “outing” that’s not for shopping, which is the only other reason I have stepped out since March. This is the first interaction with someone other than VC, my sister, my neighbours and building staff, since March. I know things around are opening up and moving back to normalcy, but I still feel a bit stuck and safe indoors. I have yet to go out and meet another human being in the way that I did today.

***

I realised that even the outings for shopping for supplies have been so limited, that I had to almost reorient myself to being out in the open again. It was so, so strange.

I desperately want to be out some more, and meet people. But I am also feeling so tentative about who I am feeling drawn to reaching out to. And that is such a strange feeling.

***

 I woke up with an intense urge to be elsewhere today. Travelling, in a cafe drinking a frothy cappuccino, in an homestay or a hotel in a new city, in a different country — anywhere. Just somewhere else. It felt like such a deep, physical need. Almost like wanting to leave this body.

I’ve been nursing this desire to “get out” since the weekend. But it’s not just physically getting out of this home and these self-imposed restrictions. But something else, I am not able to put a finger on it. Again, it feels like a need of some sort, and I can’t figure it out.

I’m ready for life, in its fullness and in a different flavour and form again. Something has got to change and I feel ready to venture out and figure it out.

***

Insane amounts of sleep. I think the three days of being in class, even though online, triggered it. It seems the therapy can have the same effects as it does when I am in class or in a workshop. I experienced the same full-body exhaustion and the need to do nothing else but stay horizontal. Extra long naps, yesterday and today. Despite which I was knocked out cold at 11 pm last night, only to wake up bright and early at 7 am today with the intention of finishing a host of chores before therapy, only to staying horizontal and in bed, cancelling all plans, till it was time to go to therapy.

I am getting good with cancelling well laid plans. So good that VC commended me on it today!

One year ago: Here you are   
Two years ago: I wrote a letter to my love

Wondering

Wondering about the balance of giving and taking and how it applies to the planet. If all we have done is take, and show no signs of remorse or slowing down, how much more can we expect the planet to keep giving, in return?

Wondering about how aggravating the destruction of public property is for governments in power. How fragile is our appetite for destruction that we deem that violent but think nothing of the violence that is hunger, tiredness, exploitation and generational persecution of minorities amongst us?

Wondering about the quality of democracy we so blindly believe in, and are so quick to uphold, when voices speaking up against the destruction of that very democracy are systematically and continually being snuffed out. How deep is our blindness? What do we make of freedom then?

One year ago: These days
Four years ago: Sairat