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

Going under

It’s safe for me to let the waves that come, touch me. As they can. And they will.

One year ago: Love and belonging in politically charged times
Two years ago: Find my direction magnetically
Four years ago: Too much nature ho gaya

This year

Everything has changed.

And so have you.

One year ago: More love
Two years ago: Take all my world and shake it

Reflections

It’s been so dreary, rainy and cold this week. I usually love this weather and winter in Bangalore is one of the redeeming joys of living here. But this incessant rain, constant clammy wetness and bone-chilling cold has me feeling very, very gloomy.

This morning though, I woke up to this view at 6:40 am. Sunshine after the rain has fallen. Crisp, bright, snappy. This balcony view has been a constant for more than 75% of this year. From feeling comfortable with life minimised to just this, to getting fully sick of it and feeling stifled and resenting it — I’ve gone full circle. Currently I’m somewhere in between lets-get-out-of-here and when-can-I-settle-in-again.

It’s officially that time of year, whether I like to or not there is looking back. And there are reflections. Pandemic year epiphanies have flown thick and frequent but I’m boiling it down to just a few things. 2020 has consistently (and deeply) shown:

  • Humans are more alike than different. Our lives and similar are intertwined in ways we really will never know, but if we allow to lean into this our small, simple worlds suddenly open up in enriching ways.
  • Our daily existence is small, needs very little to get by. While humbling and liberating, this has also shown me how little it takes to shrink into a tiny, isolating little world.
  • There will always be something to despair about. Every day developments, big and small, that will spin me into a kind of smallness and helpless that makes everything seem overwhelming. However, there is tremendous power and agency to be found in my smallness. In just simply owning it, without trying to be anything else.
  • The best, most healing practices that I have returned to time and time and time again, to find peace, grounding and clarity have not been meditation or journaling or even therapy and the like (though, all of that has helped too). This year I turned far more frequently to simple, small and mundane activities like cleaning up, cooking, working out and tending to myself, my home, my immediate environment, my needs to bring myself back. When the world shrank and closed in, the plants in my balcony, the oven I cranked up more times than ever before, the broom and mop, my running shoes and earphones have given me a solid way to feel present and in the moment.

It reminded me of this Rainbow Rowell quote I first read in 2017 about the goodness in building a capacity for joy in small, ordinary things that can really, really steady us. I wrote about in such a different light back then. I see how different my world was, hoe differently I felt. And how much I’ve changed since then. And how differently the same quote speaks to me today.

One year ago: Friendship and owning my power
Two years ago: I need to free my mind and see what I’m feeling

Moving on

Remember lipstick? Yeah, I’m doing that again.

Two years ago: Leaves are falling around, it’s time I was on my way
Four years ago: Like coming home

Love yourself

When they said love yourself, what did they really mean?

Did they account for the times when one feels utterly shitty, inadequate, useless and terrible?

How can I learn to love parts that I never have, parts that I didn’t even know I had boxed in, and some more parts that various people told me are simply not good enough? I’m trying everyday, as I sit with many of the terrible, dark, seemingly insurmountable facets of myself that are showing up lately.

I sit with it. Simply. And I try (and sometimes fail) to merely bear witness. To watch the comings and goings of my own feelings towards all that’s coming to the surface. It has meant accepting with grace, the contradictions that I hold, that are beginning to stare me in the face. To find gentlessness rather than judgement in viewing it. To slowly dismantle the heavy dualities I still sometimes impose on myself that are beginning to wear me down. To go easy on how I view past transgressions. To dig deep and find a capacity for softness where I have piled layer upon hard layer. But the hardest thing of them all has been to resist the urge to do a damn thing about any of this.

The only job I feel called upon at this point in my life is to embrace it all. To view it, own it, accept it as a part of who I am. To give myself the permission to be a bit more human everyday. To be real about the average, ordinary, imperfectly-perfectly person who doesn’t have it all figured out, and is still getting on okay, somehow. That has been the hardest thing of all. And I sit here, watching that too.

I call bluff on the love yourself  clarion call I felt so drawn to in my younger years. I’m switching this around now, to see yourself. It’s okay not to love it all. Because as long as the goal is love it, I’m going to be only looking for the parts that feel palatable and easy to accept. And I am hungry to learn how to be here for all of it. For all of me.

One year ago: Movie misgivings
Two years ago: But if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: the sweet taste of acceptance

Silver linings

Of course now that the worst of the shittiness has passed, it’s been easier (and lighter) to reflect and look back on the silver linings in the shadows. The gifts amidst the tribulation.

Meeting myself in a deeper way, I’ve learnt yet again during this time, means encountering parts of myself I didn’t know I had, some that I thought I’d dealt with and dusted, some that I’d hidden away unconsciously, that make me hella uncomfortable to now see, leave alone embrace and sit with, will keep surfacing again and again. Until the work of looking it all in the eye without flinching, but with empathy, is done.

Making room for all those parts is harder than I imagined. Even after all these years, even with all the work put in. It has been humbling to remember yet again that this is not a big deal — just the human condition.

I’m flirting with the idea that meeting future versions of me may very well be surprising, sometimes just as discomforting. Can I look at this as training then? Preparing the muscles of courage, patience and acceptance for when I’ll really need to work them and do the heavy-lifting again?

One year ago: A little bit of this, and a little bit of that
Four years ago: Soloism

Brain noodles (the beach edition)

Some thoughts I’ve got running about my mind and body today:

  1. is it possible that staying is sometimes a necessary act in moving “forward”?
  2. can I move on without necessarily running down/shitting all over/devaluing where I currently am
  3. does moving on always require some dissatisfaction to be the fire that fuels action
  4. is shame/anger about some aspect of the present a necessary ingredient in choosing something in the future
  5. sometimes moving on means coming back too
  6. perhaps there will be some golden opportunities in life where I won’t have to choose at all, and I can have two/multiple options available to switch between

Three years ago: More Goa postcards: yellow
Four years ago: Notes to self

Missing

Do you sometimes miss (parts of) versions of yourself from long ago? Even when you’re happy and content with how far youveoved and grown?

Like missing fragments of a time that came before. A view from a phase, a kind of day from a season long gone? A street you once roamed? A city or home you once lived?

Specific days and moments? Events you would do over a hundred times again if you could?

Goa brings this longing back in me like little else has in recent times. I sometimes miss the carefree girl that I was in 2010 who threw all caution to wind and wrapped up my city life to move here. No prior experience living alone or outside of Bamgalore. Not a soul known in Goa. And how wide eyed and curious I was to figure it out.

I miss how easy and spontaneous life was. How fully and hungrily I went at that new life and all it threw at me — the joys and pains alike.

***

Some parts of September and all of October have been brutal. I use the word very consciously because I’ve been slowly but surely reaching the end of my tether with the general ups and downs of thispandemic year. I’ve been feeling worn out from the constant grief cycles and feeling all the feels. My personal work has taken me to the darkest depths that I have stayed away from. Cumulatively, it has been hard. It has been a lot. And yet I have had my periods of ebbs and flows and mostly I have gotten by. But lately I have been feeling like I can’t do this much longer.

The uncertainty has made me feel frail. The despair and darkness has made me afraid. I feel deep loneliness even just thinking about a life “after” because in my head every single person in my life from before has moved on. And there has been crippling aloneness, inwardness and wordlessness.

VC and I have had consistent life challenges throughout this year, but along came the last six odd weeks, throwing a jackpot of woes at us. Too fast and too thick for us to even keep up with. I’ve spent way too many days during this time feeling completely untethered and unmoored. Bringing to question many of the crucial changes that I have embraced lately. I’ve felt tested and stretched in many ways and much of it has been unpleasant to experience.

It was hard to kick back and enjoy the first few days of being in Goa too. Much as I wanted the break, getting here to terribly stormy weather while a whole other storm was raging in my was not fun.

But then that familiar longing came along. Thinking back to times past was good perspective on where I am and how far I’ve come.

There’s other fragments like that that stick out from all the years done and dusted. And I enjoy the experience of looking back with this semi-yearning-semi-content space where I’m not missing much else.

I realise the upgrades to my inner systems have worked out well. The ways in which I’ve strengthened my framework has stood the test of time and the growth plan I opted for has kept me moving ahead, through many a challenge. perhaps not exactly quite as I’d imagined, but definitely exactly as I have needed.

This is the bittersweet way of life I suppose. This constant up and down movement. A test of grace and delicacy, demanding softness even when facing the the most jagged edges.

***

The longing for parts of older versions of me from my life in Goa definitely feels regret for not going to the beach more often. This time, I’ll do better. And I’ll do justice to living closer to the beach now.

One year ago: Good juju
Two years ago: Come if it feels right, now is the right time to be
Three years ago: Postcards from Goa
Four years ago: Stuff

Going within

I’m in what seems to be an enduring phase of inwardness, aloneness, quiet and solitude. I want to say it’s another phase, yet again. But the truth, as I have been coming to terms with it, is that this is what I have been for the greater part of this year. I almost feel unable to be with people at this point. I find myself retreating even when I feel a covert urge not to.

One year ago: Surprises
Two years ago: I been moving calm, don’t start no trouble with me

Out and about

It’s been a whole year since we left Goa last. This wasn’t the plan. The plan was to visit every couple of months. But then 2020 happened. And here we are a whole year later.

Strangely though, it doesn’t feel like such a long gap. Probably because it was pouring down even then, like it is now.

We came with plans for this trip. A lot of random odd and ends of pending paperwork to be closed, the house to be sorted one way or another, a visit (or three) to the beach and meeting our friends and THEIR DOGS.

But the rain has other plans, and we’re being forced to go with the flow. Much like it happened last year at around the same time, when we came with an agenda and ended up staying for nearly a month just waiting for things to clear up so we could get to work. Last yer we were stuck indoors because of the crazy rain. This year it’s the crazy rain layered over a pandemic. But I’m at that point where I feel my paranoia and my willpower both fading. I realise it’s a gamble, but life needs to now open up and get going. I’m also fully fed up of this limbo, it is making me all kinds of disoriented.

So today, I treated myself to my first solo lunch out at one of my favourite restaurants. Because it was the only place that met the two criteria I was looking for: safe and open. It was good to take my mask off and have that un-rushed feni cocktail, roast pork, and they even let me use their wifi on a day like today when my cell network went bust at 8 am, and they played the Buena Vista Social Club the whole time that I sat there.

I realised how much I have missed having time to myself. All to myself. All alone. Solo. As much as it has been lovely to be stuck at home with company I love, there is something about solo time, unencumbered and easy, when I’m not answerable to anyone, that I have missed. Without realising how much.

My fish thali joint will probably be out of bounds this time around, but I do hope we at least make it to the beach. For a sunset or two, if not a swim. And I hope that our list of to-dos gets knocked off.

This trip feels different from trips before. For one, neither of us lives here anymore. But so much has also changed in Goa in the year gone by. Some good, some not so good. I feel a strange sense of homeliness, but a whole lot of distance and like I’m a visitor again. I haven’t felt this since 2009, when I was last here on holiday.

One year ago: Milestone
Two years ago: All along this love was right in front of me

Time out, in service of moving ahead

The end of something usually means it’s the beginning of something else. No? In this year of massive endings, death, loss and grief, I’ve held on to this simple thought just to get through the days. Days that were mostly filed under “I-don’t-have-a-fucking-clue-what’s-going-on-anywhere-anymore.”

Like much of the world, I have spent a greater part of this year in a state of Not Knowing. A stage that has felt decidedly like an incubation for What Comes Next. Nothing like the stage before, yet not fully inhabiting what lies ahead.

Like an em dash between all that I have experienced and learned and everything that is yet to bloom from it.

It’s been a stage that’s asked of silence, solitude and stillness of me. Retreat, reflection and rejuvenation, for a slow marination of a new sense of my world, my place in it and a desire to bring forth new expressions of my voice.

It also felt like a culmination of the last few years that I have steadily, relentlessly shifted the focus from Doing to Being, in an effort to move my axis, find a new centre of gravity to anchor my life.

This transition now though, has gently slipped an invitation to bring in a some Doing again. A crystallisation of the work I feel drawn to. More aligned to a new sense of myself.

I’m taking a short break from Monday Tarot Messages on here and on Instagram, to rest and to reflect, in an unencumbered way. But mainly to soak, in some of the ideas for Doing that have been brewing. The need for integrity to myself is high and I feel a great desire to bake in it.

I realise in retrospect that accidentally skipping the reading last week was not entirely an accident. It came from a need that I have felt grow during this week.

It seems that this topsy turvy time is potent or personal work. Providing tarot and family constellations sessions has not only kept me grounded and going, but also been the guiding light through it all.

I plan to resume weekly readings in November. I will continue to consult and take private sessions though. If you’re curious about or would like to book a tarot or family constellations session, please reach out to me.

One year ago: Mornings
Two years ago: They’ll be making sure you stay amused
Three years ago: Things change
Four years ago: When the going is crazy