A new kind of alive

The interesting thing with difficulty and pain is it is so much easier to acknowledge it once it has passed. When in the throes of it, I’m often so focused (even if in a quiet, non-active way) on letting it pass that I may or may not acknowledge it out loud. This is perhaps changing ever so slightly. But even so, once the pain has passed, the hardness has lifted, it becomes easier to see it, talk about it, acknowledge how present it was. How hard things really were.

I’ve been in that headspace looking back at last year. Especially the months between March and October. Even as I was living life, thriving in so many ways, I was also in the darkest darkness I have been. Internally, spiritually. In retrospect, as I’ve said before, it was possibly the most spiritually rich and “productive” time in my adult life. In restrospect, though. Now, I can look back and feel chuffed at the progression, but back then it often felt like having my teeth extracted in slow motion. Like constantly walking in the dark. Like just havin no idea at all if and when the light would come.

But it did. The light showed up. It always does. When things began to shift in about November. Slowly at first, and then with a steadily building gallop. By January, I felt like a new person living a new life all over again. Even though virtually nothing about my life, on paper, had changed. It was entirely internal. Like shedding everything for a brand new world.

So bright, full and positive has it been in fact, that it was only when N reminded me at therapy last month, how very dark and bleak the days were and how challenging, roundabout and clutching-at-straws my sessions were, that I remembered that it was true.

I’ve been thinking about this since. How the lifting of pain, in this way that it does at the end of a cycle, with a heave and a ho, actually made so much room in my life.

It wasn;t literal room of course. Like I said, my life remained unchanged on paper. But this is probably what we call “expand” in therapy speak. An internal sense of opening, unfolding, stretch, limitlessness. And externally, it does manifest as a vastness, tinged with a sparkly newness that’s hard to really put words to.

The other interesting thing about it was how long this “transition” lasted. I put it in quotes because I imagine dtransitions to be long, but even my idea of this frame of time is short and brisk, compared to what these soul shifts are like in real life. And the shift is almost always preceded by immense pain.

I realise now much of the inexplicable, intangible, wordless pain that I experienced was from being slowly broken open. Like a slow hatch from the darkness and warmth of an egg where I’ve cowered and grown silently for years now.

That state of hibernation has made me go within, withdraw from my surroundings, from people around me, from friends, from groups I belonged to, from my work as I knew it, from habits, from routines and rituals, and it quite literally put me in a self-protective space. Almost as if in preparation for the tender, vulnerability that would inevitably come from it. I have longed for this coming out, but it was just not time. Until about December, when I began to feel the natural, organic shift away from the inwardness. For the first time in years it wasn’t taking effort, coaxing, willing of energy. And in the weeks and months since, I have reveled in watching the shell fall to the side.

I feel so alive. Eager. Burning with desires to move, to do so many things, to open myself up, to experience. And I am so very eager to see what becomes of this vast, wild, open unknown.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Tend to your masculine side
Three years ago: Please press pause and try again
Five years ago: Seeing the sunrise

Moving ahead

One of the most gentle but impactful shifts in my thinking last year was to really shed the idea that my low points are an indication of having moved backwards in self-awareness. I realised at some point last year that this thinking was also deeply rooted in perfectionism, and holding myself up to an unreal, terribly high expectation, and worst of all — needing to have it together and be a projection of someone who consistantly “moves ahead”.

I don’t know when specifically what shifted to change this, but suddenly I don’t know what “moving ahead” even means anymore. What feels more empowering is to notice the low points and how I hold myself, react and move through them. And it is only when I started looking at things in this way that I realised how much has actually changed, and how whole and healthy I feel.

What feels like progress is knowing so deeply that I cannot judge myself for what I think or feel when I am going through a low or turbulent time. That if anything, I need to be the kindest I can possibly be to myself at such a time. It is in giving myself permission to falter as much as I need to, and instead being aware of my emotions and thoughts as I do.

It has made an enormous difference to the quality of my life. It isn’t that my life of I have changed, as much as it is that my gaze, my lens and my way of seeing my life, myself, has changed. Being kinder to myself, my mind, my body has felt like the truest act of love lately. And it moves me and fills me with an immense strength to just think about how much I can be there for myself.

One year ago: Lockdown things/thoughts/shenanigans
Five years ago: Fitter and stronger than before

Liminal

Like I said: light and shadow.

And last week, the space in between the slow transitions. The easy, relaxed, unrushed way in which the morning light shifts across that one hour I spend in bed, after I have woken up. Just watching, soaking, toasting. Sometimes with curtains thrown open, sometimes through the balmy, diffused effect of the grain in the fabric that remains shut.

As a former person of extremes, always existing in the poles — this or that, one must decide! good or bad, pick a side! lef tor right, what must I choose! — it has been a steady unlearning, relinquishing of control, of identities associated with the poles and embracing the uncertainty, unsteadiness and fluidity that the “in between” space offers.

It is at once liberating, because it is in essence a thoroughly unbound state to be in; and also unnerving because there’s nowhere ot hold on to, and everything becomes excrutiatingly slow. I identify this (and imagine) it is what Jung refers to as the “third space”. Or what happens when we feel safe to let go of the shores and swim the great unknowns of our lives. The opportunity to honour the journey from what once was and what is yet to be. Which anyone who has done any work in self reflection will know is not as easy as turning a switch. One doesn’t simply transition from one state to the next. There is a vast in-between — that offers the chance to push boundaries in our own time, to unlearn old ways of being, and trudge slowly into newer ones. the same space that is ripe and fertile to sow seeds of change will also challenge the old ways, excrutiatingly, luring you back into the past. A constant push and pull that I have after many years of trying to game, effort, fight, fix and work at, have realised requires only to be witnessed. I am not a machine, and no two days are the same. One day being nothing like the next is not an indication of having “moved ahead” or not. Nothing have beaten this fact home than my attempts to find the light. My flirtation with swimming — on my back, limbs splayed, floating in a cool blue pool, eyes squinched from facing the glare of the summer sun — in liminality and letting it take me where it must.

One year ago: Eerie days
Two years ago: Happy spots
Three years ago: Flowers in the window
Five years ago: Moved to tears

Confessions

Confession: I’m finding it hard to bitch, gossip or rant about people these days.

Which is not to say I don’t do it. I do, because I’m human, with full capacity to get petty, jealous, excited at someone else’s fuckups, etc and give in to the urge to share those moments with someone via nice thick bitch. But, lately, it’s become hard to do it without feeling pretty immediately like this path is not one I can walk very far on. Without simultaneously pulling my gaze within to notice why the gossip has been delightful, by looking at what part of myself and my worth it is fulfilling. Without checking which part of that judgement that I am placing outwards, is also being directed inwards within.

It’s a bit annoying that I’ve become self-aware about this, because it gets in the way of sharing a good gossip session with friends. And I don’t get have the words to express this to them. So in the past few weeks, I have come across as rather brusque when I:

  • questioned a friends judgement at a social media post (in my mind, to myself), but resorted to ignoring it entirely because I don’t know what an alternative response could be
  • had to really think long and hard before habitually, casually aligning with a certain judgemental line of thinking about someone just because said friend shared it lightheartedly
  • realised the ways in which finding sameness in loathing someone has been fundamental to some of my relationships
  • felt the reaction that came from me now pulling back on this way of connecting in those same relationships
  • had a major reaction of revulsion to a message someone sent, blatantly calling someone we apparently know in common (that I can’t for the life of me remember now) “breathtakingly ugly” — I just can’t deal with this language and turn unresponsive instantly

***

Confession: I validate myself and my journey by often going back to read posts from  the same day in past years. It is revelatory, fascinating and almost always a sweet ride to see my words and state of mind from the past. Because it is almost always a testament to how far I have come. We all move, slightly, subtly and gently sometimes; rushing ahead in big strides and gallops sometimes. It’s a thrill to look back on that some days, and feel good.

Yesterday, Instagram threw up a post from exactly one year ago. “My search for myself and a search for a way to belong have merged,” I wrote. It felt surreal to read those words from just 365 days. Because I know now, where I am, my current headspace and how much more belonging I feel within myself today than I have ever before. And how and what it has impacted in the outer world around me.

Looking back brought up so many emotions. Softness for the innocence of a younger me. Compassion for where I was. Happiness for how much I have moved since then. Gratitude for all the resources I have had that encouraged me to keep going, keep looking, and supported me through the past year.

If I could go back, I would tell old/past me that growth looks different all the time. From one phase to another, it’s different. One day to another, it’s different. Don’t look too hard for markers you’ve come to expect, keep going and let yourself be surprised. Growth is doubly satisfying in hindsight.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Find your tribe
Three years ago: But if you try sometime, you’ll get what you need
Four years ago: What I’ve been reading
Five years ago: Telepathy

Love quiets fear

Kindness eases change.
Love quiets fear.
And a sweet and powerful
Positive obsession
Blunts pain,
Diverts rage,
And engages each of us
In the greatest,
The most intense
Of our chosen struggles.

— Octavia Butler

I have a sneaky feeling she was talking about self compassion, because I’m feeling fueled by it’s softness in a way that is making my veins burst with a life I didn’t think was possible. The gradual waning of fear excites me. The space that has oened up feels gentle, cottony, welcoming.

One year ago: Standing tall
Two years ago: Mornings in Benaras
Five years ago: No. Just no.

All of me

At some point last year, going to therapy became less about trying to get a handle on everyday “issues” that were challenging and in need of ways to understand and overcome them, and slipped into the territory of looking at all experiences (easy, difficult, good, bad, sad, happy, high, low) as just that — experiences, with all their effects on me. On witnessing and holding myself as my life had an impact on me.

Somewhere in this process, I realised the importance and absolute inexcapable necessaity of looking at my depth. The depth I had been digging, burrowing for, for years now. The inward spiral, the dive into the abyss. Except, for years I had held that space as a “serious” stoic place of strength and believed that I could go there easily. In fact, that I was already there.

That wasn’t an accurate understanding at all. It was, in fact a lie. A lie I believed because it was easy, comforting and helped me cope and stay afloat. It was necessary at the time.

But something about the topsy turvyness, the abject isolation and loneliness of 2020 took me deeper. And I realised that the depth that I looked at so fondly, was actually a terrifying darkness. My own darkness. The space of strength that was somehow also my biggest undoing. The depth and the darkness that were in fact the same place.

Facing this space has been extremely scary and very confusing and nerveracking. But I’ve had the greatest help and support in the form of a therapist who is perfectly suited to the way I think and understand the world, my work that keeps me rooted in this space of finding the tools to better know myself, my family that keeps me light and free, and my delightful husband who keeps it real, knocks the wind out of me when it gets to my head, props me up when I go too low and keeps me grounded. A whole team of people who knowingly and unknowlingly see different parts of me, and therefore help me see all of me.

But like I said before, sometime ago, the shift in the process last year has been in recognising that the darkness exists. It always will. It isn’t something I need to fear or be ashamed of. If anything, I need to own it, embrace it and derive strength from that wholeness. Sometimes that journey is like taking a deep dive in a dark well and not knowing if I’ll drown or come back up. Sometimes it’s like a swim in a dark lake, but on a full moon night. Sometimes it’s like dipping my toes into an inky sea. I have the capacity to choose how and at what pace I want to dig deep.

I’ve struggled with this, but I am slowly only now seeing my darkness as my strength. It took a long circuitous root to getting to this place — this deepest depth, the darkest darkness. Many layers below the depth I thought I was at. A part that I had locked away, that I needed to befriend. A part that asked for as much nurturance as the lightness in me. A part that is deserving of so much more compassion that I have given it. A part that continues to ask for and bring out from my depths, loving care, attention and intention. A part that awakened a love for life itself. But most of all, a part that I now look at with curiosity and respect.

I feel tears pricking the back of my eyes as I put these words down. It has taken a long, long, oh so long time, but it is this seeing of the darkness that has brought me to where I am today. A space where I finally feel like I have begun to love all of me.

One year ago: Soft, rested, easy
Two years ago: As Goa as it gets
Five years ago: Because I want to remember

Rewarding, on my terms

Responding to the deep ask of giving my life attention, love and observing it without judgement has been immense. It has been so nuanced, asking for so many different things of me at different times. At times it has felt overwhelming. And not always in a good way. But that too has been a learning curve. To know when I am feeling the flow and aligning with an innate readiness to deep dive into that state of presence, where everything slows down and holds meaning; versus when I my body is telling me “No, not today.” and I am able to observe that too, skim the surface, see what I need to and knowingly say, “I am not going into this today, I’ll file this away for when I feel better.”

Ultimately, I realise the summation of this entire process of looking within, healing, self-development…call it what you will.. for me, it has been about befriending myself intimately. Finding a deeper relationship with myself. Really knowing what I am about. Even when it is to see that I am not doing okay. Without attaching any more meaning or judgement to it. Knowing that that too is a part of the process, a part of who I am and how I can sometimes feel. Not making those periods/days/phases a time that needs fixing or “bettering” somehow.

I am getting so much better at riding through the days, all kinds of days, just watching and noticing the minor ups and downs in my energy and emotions. It helps me function well on days when I can, and go easy and cut myself slack and be kinder on days when I cant, for whatever reason.

In a session with a client today, I found myself speaking about going with the flow and how it holds a meaning absolutely nothing like the one I used to associate with it some years ago. I had this notion that I was a go-with-the-flow kind of person, and it used to me I was chill and easy-going. Maybe I was, for the most part. But a very large part of me wasn’t — a large part that I didn’t want to acknowledge. And noticing and seeing that part, understanding why it desperately needed and craved rigidity and control, and most importantly, looking at it with compassion and kindness, has somehow made me make space for it. Allow it. Let it be. Rather than fix it or let it go. This, is probably a truer representation of going with the flow.

It presents itself as an organic moving through with life, rather than trying too hard to shape everything in it. And of course it’s taken me years to understand that I have to find a sweet spot between working hard and actively moving towards my goals, and leaning into what is not in my control and aligning myself with that component of the process that is the flow of energy beyond and outside of me. Knowing the difference between when to exert energy, and when to ride the wave.

An analogy one of my mentors used very often was of a casual boat ride. How choosing to actively paddle, steer and guide the boat in a certain way would result in one kind of journey, while understanding the natural flow and current of the water and finding a rhythm between paddling a little and sitting back and enjoying the ride a little would result in an entirely different kind of journey altogether.

This has been coming up a lot for me lately, because I am suddenly seeing, actively, how I am working much more (in quantity) and much harder (quality) than I have in a long time — probably since 2017 — and yet the quality of my life is slow-paced, comfortable, easy-going. And I seem to have ample time to do more of the things (work and life) I want to, I feel happier and much more in the flow with life, than have to work against it, somehow.

I have always associated busyness, hard work and the like with the conventional definition of “the hustle”, only to realise that my inherent rhythm and energy cycles cannot hustle quite the way the world would like me to believe is rewarding. I had to find my own rhythm, my own idea of the hustle, my own sense of what is a good reward, and give all of that to myself. Observe, listen and loving all of this about myself has been a key factor in finding a way that is rewarding on my terms, that doesn’t feel like too much effort for too little payback, and most of all — not constantly feeling tired and holding that like some goddamned badge of honour.

One year ago: Chasing sunlight
Four years ago: Kitchen soup for the honesick soul
Five years ago: Shine one

On slow living

Life has been full lately. My days have been quite packed, I’ve been out and about, I’ve worked hard and taken time to enjoy the fruits of my work.

Externally, life has been moving fast as it usually does. It is a welcome change from the collective energy of p-a-u-s-e that 2020 was. And yet, I feel slow and measured internally. My mind isn’t struggling to “keep up” with my body or vice versa. There is an unsaid synchronisation and we’re all just keeping pace gently. Like a quiet working together. Slow, mindful, peaceful coexistence that seems to be enduring, staying, becoming a constant. This wasn’t the case before. I would find pockets of this amidst the chaos that is usual life.

This is different. This is new, again.

Inside I feel pleasantly slow. My mind staying with my body most of the time. And it occurred to me that I usually associated this “slowness” to the privilege of empty time. I waited to earn that down time. Periods of no work, autumns of rest and recovery, nights of sleep. But somehow now, there is slowness within, even in what has been some of the busiest weeks of the last two years.

Slow doesn’t mean that I am not working or otherwise engaged. It has come to mean I am moving through my (busy)days, intentionally. I’m being present, and this has become a touch easier lately. My mind stays where my body is, my body finds my mind, most times.

Slow isn’t the lack of activity. It is intentionality.
Slow isn’t emptiness. It is filling me up.
Slow isn’t a luxury or privilege. It is a hard won gift.

Even when I’m rushing around, the slowness has allowed me to find moments to appreciate where I am, the beauty around me, feel gratitude for this natural change, enjoy where my life has brought me to. Even as I navigate this godawful mess of a city. Even as I dream about taking the metro again. Even as I run from one thing to the next. Even as I dream and schedule quietly, scrub dishes, cook my meals, type away on my computer.

The slowness has given me new life.

One year ago: Monday Tarot Message: Strength
Five years ago: Let go, already

Into the wild again

I’m slowly getting out, make plans, meet people, do things like in The Before Time, in Bangalore again. It’s been oddly disorienting. Like learning to walk again. Strange how much like pyshiological muscles, our social/emotional muscles also forget how to flex and stretch when they’re not in use, I suppose.

It’s been a strange mix of so badly wanting to go out and hang out with peeps, but also feeling like the thought is overwhellming and asking for too much effort. Also, so much has happened with me and my friends in this time of distance, I no longer know where I stand with many of them. The ones I am currently closest to live overseas and we connect more often than we ever have, over video chat. Here, with the folks I share a city with, I have chosen not to reach out or make plans since March last year when everything went tits up. I don’t know what to make of this strange love-hate thing happening. This odd mix of wanting, but also not wanting; of craving company but feeling very, very pricey about whose company it should be, when I am really not in any position to be choosing at this point. It’s not like there’s a buffet spread in front of me. My circle is down to 2.5 people again.

I don’t know if I’m being shy? Or if I’m feeling awkward? Because this past year has felt like five, in terms of growth and change within me. I feel like an entirely new person and much of this has been a private exploration that I have enjoyed in my own solitude. In an older time I’d be updating my friends on the daily about everything that I am thinking and feeling and going through. But that has not been the case though 2020. So I wonder if I’m guarding/hiding the person I have become over the course of this year? I know that part of the reason the journey has been so rich this past year is the absolutely minimal peer contact and “pressure”. There’s a sense of having tasted something special that I am feeling a tad greedy to let go of. I notice this in myself, and I ask myself why do I want to hide? What am I hiding? And I notice how the part that wants to hide is at direct loggerheads with a significant part that really doesn’t.

I shared the weird feeling with S on Saturday night when we caught up on a late, late zoom call. Him nursing his end of day doob, and me drinking mug after mug of hot water. Interestingly, when I described this whole saga, he said it’s how he feels every time he returns back home from wherever he is in the world. It is like reorienting to a time and space you left behind, to an older time when you were an older version of you, to a set of people who knew you differently. And there’s confusion about which way you should be, or how you will be received if you didn’t have to choose.

I know that the lack of any kind of social interaction for 10 months in-between — some forced, and honestly, some chosen, has made it somewhat worse. Thus th feeling of having to learn how to do this all over again. This time, with a frigging mask on.

Two years ago: Safe and sound
Three years ago: The heartache lives on inside
Four years ago: Commitment issues
Five years ago: Begin again

Sunkissed

14 degrees out these days in the morning. Deceptive bright sunshine with biting cold kind of weather that has been making it super hard to get moving to exercise every morning.

Frigid muscles, stiff bones, dry and burning nostrils, heavy breaths, everything taking longer to ease up. I have to admit this has been harder this year than every before. I notice, my body is getting older. Perhaps these are natural ways my body reminds me to payheed to how it is changing. And for a change, I have been listening, not trying to force it to action, whip it into shape, force it to move in ways it is unwilling. I am mostly going the way it is taking me, only gently pushing some boundaries. Largely really steering clear of even trying to push those that I know won’t.

It takes longer these days, but I still crack a sweat and get my heart racing within the first 30 minutes. And by the end of the hour, I am always glad I gently pushed through that starting trouble. That’s how good R’s routines are for me.

Post workout, I go right back to the balconies at the east side of our home to bask some more and stay warm. Then a leisurely hot bath, warm clothes and back into the sunshine for a while.

One year ago: Bombay meri jaan
Two years ago: Weekend highs and lows
Three years ago: May your feet always be swift
Five years ago: Blush

Unbridled joy

Barring the boost of forced optimism that January usually brings, the month hasn’t been a particularly good one for the last many years now. Pockets of sunshine aside, I have had deep, brooding Januarys for the last 4-5 years now, where the energy has been more downwards, into the depths than otherwise.

This year, I daresay, I feel distinctly different. Optimism feels like too shallow a word tod escribe how I feel. There’s a deep, deep rootedness that I feel firm in the soles of my feet, that has enabled a sort of springing up. An ascent, a growing out, a maturing, a heart-opening that I have been witnessing slowly come together since the beginning of December.

I have been afraid to acknowledge it, or fully revel in it so far. Wondering when the January sheen will wear off, and the real colour of 2021 will begin to show. But today I said, fuck it. I’m here. I feel really good. And I’m down for it. I’m going to own it, in whatever shape or form it has arrived. Because God knows, it has shown up very differently this year. The joy, abundance, happiness and contentment in my life looks nothing I have come to expect or I have experienced it before.

I’m here for it. With every cell in my body, I’m here for it.

One year ago: Maximum city
Two years ago: Mini thoughts make incremental change
Three years ago: January
Five years ago: On creative hapiness

Old-new Instagram vibes

At the start of the year, I resurrected my old Instagram account from yonks ago, after a three years hiatus (during which I really looked down upon and curled my nose up at the idea of Instagram itself).

I’d say I’ve come full circle. And with good reason — the stuff I’ve saved for my written journal hahaha. I was spurred by the sense of having turning yet another corner, enjoying this new feeling of wholeness and being present in my being in this point in time, palpably shedding the need to hide parts of myself that I have so far, and wanting to just separate my work and life/word sharing a bit.

And so I’m back. But I wanted it to be new. So I archived the entirety of my old feed, and what an exercise it was. Scrolling back over 2k pictures, all the way back to 2012, when I first got on the platform.

It was like turning the pages of a life of an entirely different person. Fascinating and wonderous, the things I have done, the thoughts I have had, the stuff I have shared. It brought back vivid memories of events and experiences, many that are slowly receding and could have done with a jog back of this kind.

There were so many good memories! So many, many good times. Because let’s face it, I only shared the good times hahahaha.

In the past I found all the lightheartedness and play that I have longed for in the last few years of my life. And I felt a kindred spirit for the person I am today, once again sparking this facet of myself.

But it was painful seeing many of the pictures because it brought back equally vivid memories of experiences, events, holidays, meals, and so much more, shared with people no longer in my life. It felt like brief frames with a limited shelf life, snapshots of a time when I was blissfully unaware of who I was and who these poeople would eventually be to me. I truly believed — and this was so apparent in my words — that they were my people. It hurt to once again recollect how wrong I was. And how easily and badly I wanted to believe that.

I took some really really shit pictures. Both in terms of the complete lack of aesthetics, but also in terms of what was being photographed. AND WHY???

For many years in the beginning, I took some really shit pictures. Aesthetically terrible, but also shit in terms of content. Pictures that really needed no sharing. Pictures that possibly didn’t ever need to be taken. Reams of pictures that I looked at and went “why?

Later, especially in the last two years before I quit, when I started to really get into the aesthetic of picture taking/memory making itself, I took some really good pictures. Content-wise, still questionable, but at least they were beautiful pictures to see.

I consistently and continually wrote some seeeriously dorky captions. I probably thought I was really funny (and maybe some of it was, at the time), but from where I am today, I had an ache in my heart thinking of the person I was. There was a serious amount of posturing, and trying hard to be the person I was on Instagram I think what began as an accidental projection, continued into a moulding a convenient facade, and an active effort to maintain that image. Cool, casual, non-chalant. No matter that the reality of my life, especially the last 2-3 years before I left, was rife with upheaval that was far from cool, casual and non-chalant.

I felt a bit gob-smacked to see this in myself. It is something I was oblivious to back then, and have only known in varying degrees over the last three years since quitting Instagram. Yet, nothing made it hit home like revisiting my feed did.

That hurt. It’s an odd feeling, this. Hurting for an old version of yourself. In a way, there is so much distance and movement ahead, it feels like a faraway ghost of myself that I actually can’t relate to anymore. There is disbelief. But there is also an inherant connection, and almost a longing to quickly go back in time and soothe myself. The knowing of all that was going on in my life then is alive. And there is familiarity mixed up even in the distance and the disonance that the passage of time   creates.

***

I also massively, and I mean massively, culled my follow and follower list. So, some other observations and thoughts I had along the way:

Those who were voyeurs then, are voyeurs even now haha. I am personally very bored with that kind of Instagram that I was into back then. Looking at the lives of people. I have gradually growing bored in that format over the years, especially peeking into the lives of strangers who remain figments pieced together from a collection of pixels and our perceptions, but it has probably peaked and turned into an abject disinterest. There are a couple of people I follow in this category now because theyre seriously compelling in some way or the other. But just following someone for pictures of their cute baby, their furniture and decor ideas, their daily lunch plate — you get the drift — it is so, so boring.

I revisiting the old follow list I had, and my god there were SO MANY in this category. And it was interesting to see how many people I saw still into it.

I did some entirely unnecesary photo challenges like that godawful “FMSdaily prompt challenge”. UFFF, why why whyyy did we do those things, and why did nobody tell us how awful our pictures were? I posted one too many terrible pictures in the effort to finish those daily challenges.

I followed some seriously problematic people. Seeeriously problematic. I guess it’s a sign of what I have learned, and how I have grown/changed in the years since. My politics and my sense of the ideas that shape my world are definitely very different, than they were back then. It made me slightly uncomfortable to see some familiar names following people I wouldn’t dream of following now. I had to bite back and reflect on my judgement here.

Some people that I followed for their cute baby, now have two. Some distant acquaintances who were single are now married and have babies. Why is everyone having babies, what’s going on, what happened in this pandemic year?

My ideas of so many things are just so different now. Fitness, food, art, aesthetics. The handles I followed then based on my interest in these things are so different form the handles I follow now. I have next to no food on my feed today, I have some fitness, but it’s of a very different kind from the handles I followed back then. There is a lot of art, comics, and illustrators, but again of a very different style and content. It was fun to see what has changed, and how much.

I obsessed over every little thing I cooked, believing it was an accomplishment. If people told me back then how stupid it was, or how unnecessary, contrived and self-obsessed it was, I wouldn’t have taken it well. I should have stuck to my food blog, where I did a half decent job of documenting the food I enjoyed and cooked. There was absolutely no need to put a really bad pictrue of every little thing I ate or cooked on my Instagram. UGH. Terrible self-obsession. I thought everything I cooked was gorgeous enough to be photographed, which is seriously a joke.

I believed I was very self-aware and honest on my social media. And maybe I was, to a large degree. But looking back, and through my feed three years on, I saw so much lies. So much conspicuous posturing of the kind I loathed seeing in others.

If there is one thing I know for sure (and I try and not articulate too many conclusive, sweeping statements of this kind these days) it is this: I am ordinary. I am small. I am not special. Just like every one else.

So it was such a cringe fest seeing some of the posts, especially those on days that were truly miserable, or when something really forgettable happened, but I chose to post something entirely different to distract from it and to lure myself into the belief that there was something inherently special about me and my life.

What a ride.

Two years ago: Solo Saturday night
Three years ago: Obscured by clouds (Coonoor, 2017)
Four years ago: Inconsequential posts you really don’t need to read
Five years ago: R&R

Ghosts of people past

Still have Joan Didion’s words thrumming through my body and brain, a whole day later, in the form of questions I have arrived at and asked myself many, many times before.

What happens to the people we used to be, past versions of ourselves, as we gently tend to growing some parts, letting others go?

Sometimes I’ve had answers. Sometimes I’ve only felt like I have come close to having some semblance of an answer, letting myself kiss the edges of knowing, but settling fully into the un-knowing. Dipping myself into the masochistic discomfort of it.

But, most times the answer has been a statement — I wonder.

Or some variation of it.

One year ago: Clear
Two years ago: I am the universe
Five years ago: Shiny new guiding lights

Year-end feels (#3)

2020 really got me to trust myself. Trust the world. Trust timing. To go easy and not plan too much or too hard. But most of all, to allow myself not to have all the answers. To go in blind, to feel my way around, to allow things to emerge.

The world is big. I am small.

One year ago: Friendship fires
Two years ago: Lay down all thoughts
Three years ago: Morning song

Year-end feels (#1)

(UH-OHHHH, if you think you smell a series, you’re probably right.)

It took the wiiiild ride that is 2020 to know that my heart is soft, but I can love ferociously. That I hold it in a small and finite space in my chest, but it can be unbridled, free and flow endlessly. I’m still getting comfortable with letting the love flow. And show.

None of this was easy to allow, because it involved (and continues to involve) challenging many notions about myself. Many that I’d like to think are set in stone.

I am embracing softness slowly and gently. Inside and out.

And this might be the first time I can say this with faith and honesty: I love the person I am becoming because of it.

One year ago: Away and around
Four years ago: Cutting the fat