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

Hello, old friend

I’m going through a somewhat strange phase. One could say my old friend, loneliness, has been visiting. But one could also say that I’m getting better at entertaining him. Yes it’s a him. And by “entertaining,” I mean that I don’t lose my shit when he arrives, instead open the door, look at him and say, “oh, it’s you again (fuckme),” without the urge to shut the door on him. Except this time I’m also not wanting to throw my arms around him in a welcoming embrace, not wanting to roll out the red carpet and offer him snacks and drink and a comfortable spot to settle into. I just feel very, “meh, you again? Oh well.” And I go about my life. His hanging around is hard to ignore so there is a definite pall of gloom, but it’s just there and life goes on. Albeit shaded a slightly different hue or blue.

He comes bearing old reminders and new lessons. Old triggers. New perspectives. Old stories I’ve told myself. New reckoning of how much I’m not willing to tell myself those stories anymore.

He comes with a punch to the gut. As per usual. But I’ve been working on my core strength so it hurts. But it hits differently. It hurts less. I don’t fall down. I notice the pain. And sometimes I even smile. Because it reminds me of how far I’ve come.

Punch.

Does that hurt? YES.

Do I want to give up? NO.

Am I better with the pain? YES.

Am I “over it”? NO.

All the statements above are 100% true.

This time the trigger was different too. A visceral reminder of people who were once in my life, that couldn’t handle who I was, who I was becoming and what that made them feel. (Heh. Incredible how entitled people can feel about others having to manage the feelings they can’t handle themselves. Ridiculous how I mistook that for presence, empathy and friendship.)

One person, when they couldn’t handle my drawing a boundary and how I was changing, told me blatantly, “you haven’t changed, you do the same thing over and over again, this is who you are,” about my need to move on from people when they didn’t understand me. It only affirmed my belief that they indeed didn’t understand me. It was deeply painful, but I had to let it go.

Another one, whose fondness and intimacy I couldn’t reciprocate because they stifled me with their strangely aggressive display of love, told me the distance I needed “felt like a breakup.” That stifled me even more. I hadn’t signed up for a relationship that deep and I felt I was being manipulated into staying. And so I shut it down and bolted.

Recently, as recent as one year ago, I got told my brush with success made a friend jealous. That it was too much for them to take. That my doing well made them unhappy. I have worked through this one, but I am not over it. It still stings when I recall that conversation.

And there was the other one, who when we began to drift, said they would visit me and talk it out in person. That was over three years ago and the more they seemed incapable of walking the talk, the less I trusted them about how close they claimed they actually felt towards me This too, was prompted by an instance of me changing in a very fundamental way. In a way that made me behave a little differently. In a way that was too much for them to take I suppose.

I’m not waiting any longer. But it’s hard not to be triggered when there are reminders of that intimacy we once shared, and worse, reminders of how it couldn’t grow and change along with how we were changing as people.

But to even just see it as this, articulate it and sit with the pain rather than immediately say “I’m fine, I don’t need anyone” is a big deal, for me.

I miss these people. I feel heartbroken that I changed or grew in ways that they couldn’t stomach. It reminds me of how much I have played small and stayed small to keep relationships intact. And how once I began to not do that anymore, people began to drop off from my life like flies. Which brings me to where I’m at today.

A vast famine in terms of honest relationships of equals. The only person I truly have this with is my husband. And it hurts that I can’t free him from that burden of carrying the husband as well as best friend mantle. I’m grateful for him, and yet I wish there were another outlet.

I’m at that point though where feeling the hurt is about just that: just feeling the hurt. Not fixing it. Not moving on from it. Not letting it go. Just standing here and feeling it.

And when enough of the feeling is done, I always come out knowing I am better for it. Better for growing. Better for not shrinking. For learning who to trust. For wanting better.

For waiting. Even if it means standing in the desolate loneliness for a bit.

I still hurt. But these instances of seeing and feeling the hurt help to remind me that I will not be loved wholly by everyone alike. That truth lands different these days. It doesn’t cripple me. It hurts. But the pain sits happily side by side with the gooey part that is loving myself that is always ready these days, to take over and coat everything around it in that peaceful, quiet acceptance.

It sits side by side with the part of me that knows in a bone-deep way, that I am enough. I don’t need to play small. I don’t need to be polite to keep the status quo going. I don’t need to tolerate excessive niceness to stay in spaces that don’t feel right. My success isn’t too much. My happiness isn’t too much. My growth and love isn’t too much.

Loving myself is a powerful thing.

Sometimes I have these epiphanies on Whatsapp.

One year ago: Lightness
Two years ago: Not my country
Three years ago: Pretend like there’s no world outside

Pleasure

I’m allowing myself to follow what feels pleasurable. What feels delicious. What feels light and freeing.

One year ago: Seasons
Two year ago: Move, move, move
Three years ago: There’s nothing here to run from 
Five years ago: Major leaps, minor struggles

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

The deep relief of being in presence

I’ve been in a near eight week-long social bubble. Diametrically opposite to the isolation bubble that was the greater part of the year gone by, most of which was spent experiencing and confronting abject loneliness. It hit me somewhere in the midst of hanging out with my family, that it was a circumstance I had willingly, actively, enthusiastically chosen. A circumstance I would previously not go out of my way to make happen. Mostly letting my busy schedule and other preoccupations take precedence.

So what’s changed?

In the before time, so long as I had the option, the choice, to choose connection over isolation, I reveled in dipping in and out of it. Since I had the privilege of creating and protecting my personal physical space, I dug my heels in and made the most of it, often at the cost of connection. When I felt lonely, often from my own making and of my own choices, I turned to things like books, my handful of friends (also loners), therapy and smaller groups of my liking to bond over a set of interests and pursuits that we had in common. Anything outside of that felt like too much.

The vast disparities that extended families usually present have felt too much for me in the last many years. Being physically isolated in Goa (in the years between 2010 and 2018) unconsciously made it easy to remain in my mental bubble, and reinforce the idea that I was on a different page and we could never find commonality. The already glaring differences grew wider still and it felt physically impossible to commune over anything at all.

So what’s changed?

2020 turned a switch in my brain. Something about my craving for connection and touch coinciding with a time when I was forced into physical isolation and distance, did a real number on me. Where I’d once hold my personal space, my boundaries and my solitude hard and tight, I have been watching as the edges have melted slowly away, and I’ve been finding a midway that emerges quite organically, without effort. A way to connect without losing myself or my sense of personal space and identity that I build around it.

2020 made me see how much I wanted to tap into the collective experience of what was a global emotional crisis. That so much of what we experience anyway is collective, wide-spread and shared, and that it shouldn’t take a pandemic to finally see that. Isolation somehow made my radar for what is held in the collective super sharp and I felt desperate to create physical space for our collective experience. At a time when I…couldn’t.

My emotional/spiritual journey has bene largely private until last year when I threw the doors open and put myself in the thick of things by beginning a practice. Until then, I prided myself in processing everything on my own, in my meticulously developed capacity to detach. I wore my ability to walk away, draw hard boundaries and remove myself from situations and people, like a massive badge of honour. And yet, at a time that forced that upon me, I felt glad that I had a heads up on this moving away from the tangible world, but felt a deeply heavy sadness about suddenly having to process it all alone.

2020 was a googly I didn’t see coming, but that in retrospect I can’t thank enough. The isolation, the strangeness, the collective death and grief, the incessant handwashing and germophobia of 2020 has turned upside down on its head, what I thought was my “natural instinct” when life gets hard. I thought isolation was my normal. I convinced myself it’s what worked for me, what I loved and needed. And I was so absolute in my resolve around it.

But 2020 with it’s forced isolation and distance, in repsonse to my desire for connection and intimacy, that was deeper than it has ever been; it’s denial of any collective experience and shared spaces to process the mammoth emotional toll of it all; it’s default mode of detachment from all things real and “normal”, leaving everything uncertain and up in the air; made me see that even sadness, fear, loss and grief made me want to come together. All the thigns I would once take away into private, shut the door in on myself and sit with all alone, convinced the world couldn’t help me, now convinced me I needed to be out and with people. Specifically the people I love, my family and some chosen friends who have become family.

Something about being forced into being sanitised, and in that way less human, I found the very crux of what makes me alive and human.

That’s what changed.

I spent most of 2020 feeling feelings that I believed were rather uncharacteristic of me — craving the warmth of company of more than one body, the comfort that only comes not from the intimacy of shared physical spaces, connection from spening time being with other people. This was all very strange for me considering how much of a self-made, self-declared introvert/loner/not-more-than-two-people-for-me person that I have been.

The last eight weeks though, I have felt a profound relief from sharing spaces, conversations, bodies and warmth in communion with friends, with Goa, with the sea, and with my family. There have been several moments where I felt that relief. That comfort seeping into my cells. That internal settling and relaxing that comes from a bone-deep consolation and reassurance that only someone’s presence can give.

What a ride. WHAT A RIDE.

Two years ago: This too is Bangalore
Three years ago: You can taste the dishonesty
Five years ago: Pain

Doséy

VC and I ventured into CTR today. It was our first CTR dosa since March 2020. And certainly our first in the last six weeks of being away.

We sat side by side, as opposed to across from each other, because of the plastic partitions that now separate oppsite sides of every table.

Socially-distanced CTR felt absurd and amusing. I chuckled through most of it, devoured more dosa than I usually do, in the bargain. Follower by a coffee, also something I havent done in a long time.

N, PK and I have a Whatsapp group called “Doséy” on which we literally only exchange pictures when we’re eating beautiful dosas. There is little to no other discussion that happens on there, unless it’s about dosas. This momentuous occasion of returning bravely to CTR deserved sharing. So I sent them a picture, and got into a discussion about said dosa and our willpower in staying away for 10 months.

All in all, I was so overwhelmed from the experience, and the deliciousness of the dosa and the need to share it all immediately, that I did not mindfully, quietly eat the dosa. I did not savour every bite slowly like I could have.

I guess I’ll just have to go back.

Two years ago: Learning to let go
Three years ago: Sorry seems to be the hardest word
Four years ago: Work, but also life
Five years ago: Hope

Year-end feels (#2)

Fear and panic is contagious. But so is peace, rest and calm.

Of course it took a year of abject loneliness and severe lack of intimacy to realise this. I’ve known this in theory, as the Polyvagal Theory that suggests our nervous systems are primed for connection, and comes equipped with the capacity to reach calm states through “co-regulation” simply by sensing and responding to calm states in the other. Through non verbal cues, like breath, and social cues like smiling.

2020 has been the loneliest time of my entire life. And it took me months to accept how much it hurt. As someone who virtue signalled a lot (if you’ve read this blog long enough, you’ll know) about the privilege and joy of solitude, I really hated and struggled a lot through it. To a point where it got physically painful and manifested in really heartbreaking ways.

Yes, a lot of the time I need quiet and stillness from solitude. But this year, I realised that I feel dead without connection. It is what we are born for. Community, conversation, camaraderie, collectiveness. And as I sought it in virtual spaces like yoga, zoom workouts, many, many, many more video calls than I have ever made (both for work and socially), shared drinks and food and stimulants across a screen, in cooking, eating, housekeeping and cuddling with my homebodies, I also settled into the grief of it all. Accepting that this is also a part of this life that I cannot escape. A dance between retreat and rest, and connection and action that has its ups and downs.

And as always, the place of calm returned in the middle ground. In allowing silence and retreat, but also venturing out when I needed to. In not feeling ashamed to ask for the time and attention of people I love when I needed it, in not feeling like I am letting my tendency for solitude down by wanting connection, or vice versa. In dropping labels like needy and hyperactive.

I can do both. I can have both. I can be both. I can trust myself to know when I need what. And they can both contribute to my calm and peacefulness.

One year ago: Coke Studio love
Two years ago: Relax, take it easy

On love (and connection, and life)

I’ve been carrying this on-the-brink-of-happy-tears feeling around in the pit of my belly, trapped in my throat, jabbing right behind my eyes for over a week now. It felt like a storm of emotions brewing in my stomach. Like the slightest nudge would break me. The feels sloshed around in me, threatening to spill…and yet they somehow would just not flow? Just sat there bubbling, kissing the edge of spillover and nothing more.

That upside-down splish-splosh feeling sort of just became omni present. I thought it was about the (surprise) excessive happiness of the good chill time I have been having with my husband and my best friend, juxtoposed with the shit year I’ve had. But as the days wore on, the feeling grew in momentum, intensity and and two days ago, riding the ferry across to Chorao, in a yellowed hazy sunset, it hit me that it was more than that. It was coming from more than just being in Goa and having this welcome, unexpected break. There has been an over abundance of joy, lightness and laughter, but with a very different quality. I feel very overly emotional about the joy. Like how is that even possible, to feel like I could cry buckets from happiness. Like so full and expansive that if someone touched me I could burst. And so, that state of being on the brink of happy weeping constantly just lingered around.

***

S left last night, and VC has been away on assignment since Saturday. So I took myself to the beach all by myself this evening. It was a flat, unusually blemishfree sky when I got there. Over exposed cloudless, exploding with hot white light. But at about 5:40, something turned and just as I was planning to leave and head home, I witnessed yet another spectacular sunset. In those few moments, something was also set off inside of me. It slowly broke me, gently chipped away and eased me into a swivel of happy tears.

Somewhere in the hour that followed I realised what I am feeling is the contentment of being seen. Just as I am. Not too much, nor too little.  And the tears were a combination of having my heart pretty much splintered by this experience I’ve had over the last two weeks. Equal parts overwhelming joy from having the space to be entirely who I am, happy sad, in pain in joy, messy and fulfilled, awkward and alright, all of it. Without adjusting myself to make it better or palatable for the other. As well as equal parts grief from going over oh so many past friendships/relationships where I have gone looking for it, having a pre-defined shape and form in mind, expecting it to be something I will be offered, and never really having found it.

The simultaneous delicious surprise in having stumbled on it most unexpectedly, in a shape and form like absolutely nothing I had imagined, in a confusing medley of emotions, and heartbreaking realisation in how long I have waited for it, looking high and low, waiting for it to be somehoe given to me, when it was here within me, waiting to be had all along, has been a lot to process.

Today, I sit in the comfort of a warm lap of that grief for how much I’ve gone thru, and relief at looking back and knowing it has all added up to lead me here. This silent work I’ve done between one ruptured relationship where I wasn’t met and the next, has brought me here, to this place of being so willing to show up and be seen as I am, in the right moment. That when I was met with a willing, equally authentic recipient, something clicked.

And it feels like love. Pure and simple love. With no labels, no boxes, no pre-defined form or extension.

***

The last time I felt this swirl of inexplicable happy-crying, my-heart-can’t-take-it-anymore love was this day, two years ago. And I see now that the common thread has been the element of being seen. Being received. Having space to just be — authentically, in everything the moment has to offer.

These past two weeks have felt like my parched soul found an oasis. And I am still drinking of it’s soothing, hydrating, healing love.

Authentic, intimate relationships are pure love. Authentic connections are pure love. Authentic support is pure love. We were born for this connection. And I am here for it. All of it.

One year ago: The ground beneath my feet
Two years ago: Love in a thousand different flavours

Protected: On love (and connection, and life)

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Grow gardens, everywhere

Literal gardens.

Metaphorical gardens.

Imaginary gardens.

Virtual gardens.

Dreamland gardens.

Future gardens.

Symbolic gardens.

Turn over the earth with gentleness.
Make space for birth. For roots.
Palms open, to the sunshine, the soil, the air.
Sow seeds with love and patience.
Nourish.
Tend, till, trim.
Wait.
Build. Nurture. Support.

Watch them grow. Like pieces of you, that you gave to, from yourself.
And then like whole beings. That have nothing to do with you.
Gathering life all on their own.
Chord trimmed, trainer wheels clipped.
Blooming, furiously forth.
Filling spaces inward and out.
Creeping like slow life into vacuums, taking over overflowing vessels.

***

These past twelve days, I tilled away at the friendship garden in my life

Ravenously digging, sowing, watching, gobbling, growing it all. Making up for a year of emptiness and drought. Barren, cracked spaces (some, not all) of loneliness in my heart filling up with fresh rain and bright light, a winter breeze to top it off.

Expansive and open, I feel the tingling buds of beginnings again.

I wait, hopeful, of new gardens that will grow.

(This is the soundtrack of these last two weeks.)

One year ago: Better than yesterday, ready for tomorrow
Two years ago: Wait, can you turn around?
Three years ago: Clarity
Four years ago: Misty mountain hop

Above and beyond

An entirely unplanned break within a break has happened and I haven’t sat at my computer long enough to write today’s tarot message.

It wasn’t planned but it has been totally welcome. To have the general vibe of 2020 turn around slowly, just for a bit. To suddenly feel free, to roam, to enjoy the outdoors, feel together, bond with friends, share spaces, intimacy, laughter, sadnesses and fears as easily as food and drink, to feel flexible and allow indulgences, to re-discover home with my homies (VC and S) again.

It was entirely unplanned but totally serendipitous. And I have learnt to accept these instances with a bow and both hands outstretched. There was a lot of going with the flow, even more than I am used to, and it was freeing to be able to just chill out, and not be afraid of how far out we were venturing.

It was time to pause and hit refresh. And allow myself to relax my shoulders, shake my limbs out, swim in the sea, climb mossy seaside boulders, find hidden beaches, count the stars, eat greasy food, pet sandy dogs and breathe easy again. Even though I hadn’t planned for it.

I’ll be back with a tarot message in a few days.

I checked our odometer today and it seems we’ve clocked 1200 kms since leaving our doorstep in Bangalore over a week ago. In addition, I have enough sand in my feet (and sunset images in my mind) to have made up for nearly nine months of going nowhere limited movement. I wrote “going nowhere” earlier and on Instagram, but that is untrue I realise. I have been lucky to get out. Wayanad one, twice to Goa and a fair bit of freedom and luxury to move around in both places. But if I’m being honest, even that was with some reservation, self-imposed restrictions and a whole lot of retrospective fear. We have felt very weighed down by that.

This time aorund though, we have let loose, snapped, relaxed (while still taking care, of course) and that has been very freeing. I have just had so much fun these past 10 days. It’s been a bubble of friendship, warmth and a shared intimacy — all, of the kind that’s been very hard to come by this year.

In an older time I might have enumerated all the events and experiences, but I’m finding it hard to do that today.

One year ago: All I want for Christmas
Two years ago: I got this feeling inside my bones
Three years ago: I shake off all that no longer serves me
Four years ago: Indian Women Speak Out About Not Wanting To Have Children

I get by with a little help

Plans and talks of having S visit us have been in the works since October. And yet, now that we’re here together in Goa, it feels a bit surreal that we’re hanging out in the flesh and not across a Zoom call.

What a year it has been, I think this thought umpteen times even now. And to be finally hanging out with a friend, ending the year together with someone who has played a big role in getting through 2020, feels all kinds of absurdly grateful.

We’ve been visiting markets, taking walks, cooking, catching up, sitting in silence listening to music, chatting, watching “content” together. But the highlight so far has been the daily jaunt to the beach to catch the sunset. I don’t know when, and this wasn’t planned, but maybe it’s going to be the thing to remember this trip by. And the skies have been the gift that just keep giving.

Uncannily, this is the third consecutive year where spontaneous plans have brought us together In December. Another one to add to the album.

This is day 4.

One year ago: New love
Four years ago: Looking back

Of people and trees

There’s a strange dichotomy that’s been brewing. An aching need to be around people again, growing alongside the deep desire to be with nature instead of people.

It feels easier somehow to sit amongst trees, than reach out to people. And even so, this past week I’ve reached out and ventured out more than I ever have this past year.

It’s always fascinating to notice. And this time around I am observing who there is ease with and why, and what my interactions with them are like.

I’ve grieved so much loss, past and current, in terms of people and relationships this year. Not just loss as in the severance and disappearance of connection, but the ways in which change and growth (from both sides) has irrevocably altered so many relationships. At times it’s been like watching it all get wrecked in slow motion and feeling the slow twisting of a knife in my gut, reminding me just how alone we all are.

And yet, every now and then, just as I have made some peace and found some comfort in the discomfort of that inalienable truth, surprises come by. Being at the receiving end of someone else’s need for connection, a chance for shared vulnerability, honest conversation, a joyful reminder for laughter and ease even through the pain.

After months of being entirely inward, pulling away from all sides and retreating into the abyss of my aloneness, I felt drawn out again this week. Chatted with S several times, and discussed fervent plans for their trip to India and Goa, drumming up much excitement. Chatted with N for over two hours, across time zones, and unexpectedly again in just a couple days, planning some new ways to collaborate and hold each other’s hands in the coming weeks. S and I went to Cubbon Park for a walk one evening, Airlines for a coffee and then hung out leisurely at home another day.

Friendship and belonging has changed so much in 2020. And I’m finding happiness in accepting that this too is okay.

One year ago: To be or not to be
Two years ago: I’m feeling outshined

Life is green

Today was a good day.

It was nice to get out, meet S, walk amidst the greens, take our masks off, gab as we walked till we lost track of time. It was nice to feel normal just for a bit.

Considering it’s been so hard getting myself to meet anyone, it particularly was refreshing to hear that S has been having many of the same feelings. Yawning distance that’s only growing, so much inward focus and a feeling of being somewhat incapacitated with where or how to pick up with people again.

And yet, since Monday, I’ve been feeling like life is slowly creeping back. Green, fresh and juicy.

One year ago: Ammama vs me
Three years ago: Hotel hangover
Four years ago: Invitation

Put down the weight of your aloneness

There is something about being seen/witnessed by the quiet power of nature — whether in the presence of an immense mountain, a roaring river rolling by or the great wide ocean — that gets the big thoughts going and puts them in small perspective.

Thoughts on friendship and aloneness abound once again. And I notice I didn’t say friendship versus aloneness. Because I see finally that I don’t have to choose. I can have both.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation.
The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterable themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte

One year ago: Flying the nest
Two years ago: They say you were always enough