More feels

Oh how far we’ve come. How low we’ve fallen. How depraved and deranged a time we now live in. How despicable and desperate everything seems.

In contrast to a time like this.

Watch Bismillah Khan sing praises to the spirit of Benaras, reliving his days and life there, where the duality of Islam and Hinduism found peaceful coexistence in one of the holiest cities in the country.

A reality that seems unbelievable and impossible to retrieve today.

SHAME.

One year ago: Winter joys
Two years ago: You’ve been on my mind

Things that have punched me right in the gut

Right up in the feels. Full blown emotional reactions. Some tears. Some swelling pride. Some solace. And still some despair.

Will this go down in history books as the Revolution of 2020? I sure hope that at least from the digital documentation and all the spontaneous, raw and brutal art coming out from it, it does. Because the news channels aren’t getting the full force off the ugliness off it all. Not even a little bit.

And with the way things are going, I don’t think we can depend on the history books to provide any degree of accuracy to the actual goings-on of this country and the dark times we are traversing.

Sab kucch yaad rakha jayega. By Aamir Aziz, of Acche Din Blues fame from some years ago. If you haven’t heard it, you need to. Now.

Mere paas bechne ko kuchh nahi so bech raha hun ghaflat,
Daal bohot mehengi hai so log khareed rahe hain nafrat.

And then there was this: Vaastvik Kanoon, by Naveen Chourey.

And then this grooooovy sample from a Cubbon Park anti-CAA/NCR Cypher. (We have cyphers now?!? Woooot.)

Ah. I have never witnessed joy and pain sit in companionable silence together like this before.

One year ago: The morning after
Two years ago: Video killed the radio star

On anger

I have been confronting ideas of anger, lately. Anger that’s held in my body. Anger as a mere idea, and how my family has felt about it over the generations. Anger as something I have not been very much in touch with at all, growing up. Anger that I only mistook for rage. Anger and shame. Anger and guilt. Anger and permission.

Anger as a woman.

Anger towards the injustices we’re facing as a country. Anger at basic, everyday disappointments and rejections. Anger at the personal level, as well as the level of the collective.

It’s also been up in the air, around me.

Personally too, at therapy over the last many months, I have visited that place of anger, really opening the door, laying out a red carpet and allowing it to enter my mindspace in its full potency. Airing it, fanning the flames and sometimes letting it billow into a huge all-consuming fire. Sometimes watching it erupt, but fizzle out quickly, leaving a spot of singed skin. Raw, asking for the comfort of cool breath.

In the process I’ve had to examine my relationship with anger, and how much the ideas of anger, and the beliefs the adults around me held about anger, have shaped my own. How much that has made me either turn away from my anger, or bury it the moment it has raised its head. And consequently how much that has caused repressed, festering wounds that would just be gone if only I was in touch with my anger.

And now, with frequent entry-points into my anger, I have learned to go back to points in my life where anger came up but didn’t find a way out, and tell myself that that then, was the experience of a child who didn’t know better. A child who had to choose between being herself in the full flow of the emotion she was feeling, versus being accepted and loved.

I have had to reconcile with the fact that I have grown up believing that my anger is bad. Sometimes, the unsaid message has been that anger, in women specifically, is difficult. Other times it was that my anger makes me too much for people around me to take. That my anger has been a huge burden.

As I have processed much of this, and in turn built a safe container in my adult self to give room to that anger to find it’s way out, I am now, slowly, seeing a mellowing down in my current relationship with anger. I am angry, but I don’t act out as often. I am angry, but not rage-y or vengeful in that misguided, out-of-control way that I used to be. I respond, more than I react.

I am angry, but with purpose. I am angry, with energy.

And it is entirely because I have tapped into my anger as a life-force. Anger, that actually warned me when I felt unsafe. Anger that actually cued me to claim my place. Anger that made me realise when I was let down, disappointed and dejected. Anger that signalled something I was deeply passionate about.

Anger that kept me safe.

Anger that should have had a significant, life-giving place. Anger that didn’t find a way out.

And when I numbed that anger, I also numbed joy, passion, energy and purpose too. I numbed life itself.

Historically too, women have been taught to keep anger under wraps. It’s a centuries-old tactic to keep women in check. To keep our emotions locked away, to keep our power diminished. However, the greatest revolutions and steps forward that women have made, have been born out of moments of blinding anger and often destruction. Even culturally, essential female archetypes of death and destruction such as Shakti, specifically Kali, embody anger, red hot power and strength.

She embodies that heart of anger that is the umbilical cord to out full power, and our emotions. She is life, as much as death. Birth and fertility as much as rebirth. Her demand of us, is to be vivaciously alive, passionate and deeply committed to truth.

We know this all very, very intimately. And yet, we continue to give anger the bad rap it doesn’t deserve. I know this because I am suddenly so, hyper-aware of the great levels of discomfort around anger (especially in women) in my own family. I also understand that some of it is well-intentioned and modelled around wanting to be better human beings — more gentle, loving, forgiving, kind, empathic and peaceful.

What I know now, is that the only real way to be all of those things, is through feeling anger if and when it comes up, and not side-stepping it. Through realising that anger is a life-sustaining energy, primal force, that it comes up to signal danger, cueing preservation and safety. It is impossible to make those choices and move forward, without fully accessing anger.

For generations, women have had to bypass their anger in the effort to be more pleasing. Palatable. The kinder, fairer sex. For generations, even those of us who have talked of anger through our myths and legends and religious archetypes, have simultaneously managed to never feel it ourselves.

So is it a wonder that expressions of anger are then seen as the horrible, ugly things that they’re made out to be?

***

Here’s another thing I’m working hard to rewire: my relationship with anger. By accessing it fully when it comes up, freeing myself from beliefs and reactions coded in my childhood, and navigating through it in safe, adult ways.

And so, it is no surprise at all that I am having anger come up in so any different conversations around me. Speaking with VC two days ago, I told him I have been feeling deeply angry on his behalf, because I noticed and paid attention to something that is brewing in me. To notice it, allow it, acknowledge it and let it play out its natural course without judgement or panic that the world is somehow going to implode because of it, is a huge step for me.

Yesterday, my mother mistook my emphatically and emotionally voiced opinions to be an angry lash-out. It absolutely wasn’t and not too long ago, the mere mention of anger might have triggered off a fit of rage. However, I surprised myself by a spontaneous chuckle that escaped from my chest, and the surety with which I was able to say I am not angry.

This post in fact, is an outcome of many meandering thoughts that have been swimming in my head for months now, but that somehow found bright crystallisation this morning, in a chat with my aunt.

Later in the afternoon, my sister shared with me an insight about how she has noticed how she holds anger in her body and wonders how to process it as an adult.

Anger. It’s in the air. All around me. In so many forms. Asking to be seen, to be held and examined closely.

This kind of synchronicity, when things repeat and show up again and again, are my markers. Deep affirmation that what I’m on to is really important for me.

***

I’m learning to love my anger. To touch it when it shows up. To see what it has come to teach me, before I bypass it in a rush to feel better.

But anger rarely comes alone. It often brings along its friends fear, judgement, guilt and loneliness. But as I am also learning to sit with all of that, simply as it is, it has been a revolutionary idea: to love my anger. To drop the weight around it. To allow the adult in me to redefine what anger means to me now.

Fear not the pain. Let its weight fall back
into the earth;
for heavy are the mountains, heavy the seas.
The trees you planted in childhood have grown
too heavy. You cannot bring them along.
Give yourselves to the air, to what you cannot hold.

Rainer Maria Rilke

One year ago: New light
Two years ago: Block rockin’ beats (Wayanad, 2017)
Four years ago: Come undone

Of another new beginning

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

James Baldwin might very well have been speaking about the hate filled bigots that walk amidst us today, when he said this.

Some more protests down, more feelings emboldened within me, fresh art on my walls.

Still, we’ll rise.

Every time that I am at a protest, I feel like I belong. Like I can stake my claim on this country and refuse to be pushed to the corners and feel like a victim.

As a woman, this fight feels particularly raw and cuts very close to the bone. It has touched a dormant nerve so deep, that has triggered that generationally old place of oppression. Women know it best: if they get away with this, it won’t be long before they turn on us. And our children.

This is the very nature and established pattern of institutionalised subjugation by people in positions of privilege and power.

However, I feel a wave of newness. A fresh breath of hope. Politically too, I believe that the end of the year brought things to a new, barely ever seen before crescendo. I am firmly of the belief that this is going to be a long, slow and perhaps painfully violent march to a new freedom and a new beginning. Things turned when people got out on the streets and have continued to, in unimaginable numbers, back the idea of freedom and love that currently has no single face steering it. For over a month now. No political party affiliations. No single religious groups agenda. No single faction leading this. A true melting pot of unison, and a fight for love over hate, more than anything else. The older generation doesn’t know what to do with this because it provides no answers to their endless whataboutery.

And I find this immensely hopeful.

One year ago: Breathing space
Four years ago: People puzzles

On emptiness

Committing to a life of getting to know myself a little more intimately has meant consistently peeling back layers and layers of protective fluff that we as humans tend to gather around our hearts. As I told someone in a reading today, this is human nature — the need to protect and keep the heart safe at all costs. Even from seeing the truth that needs to be seen, before we move forward. This process also takes us further away from the core of our humanity as well. Creating layers between our outer and inner worlds, keeping us away from our own  selves.

So then, to commit to a life of getting closer  human to try and confront whatever it is we are seeking protection from. To do it in a gentle and compassionate way, that facilitates integration and forward movement in life, is super important. The goal then has been to be more touch with that which makes me human. What lies at th core of my spirit, when all the layers have been shed.

I have been thinking a lot about this — about the very core of humanity, and what it is that makes us the way we are. And the process of getting there through constant cutting of fat, peeling of layers, letting go of all that doesn’t serve me, processing all that does, often requires culling away and gracefully shedding many things. People, emotions, beliefs, ways of being and living, even. And very, very often, staring at the emptiness that remains.

It has taken me to the depths of understanding the heartbreaking, but liberating, price of living in a way that deeply honours the needs of what lies at the core of my spirit.

I have been witnessing emptiness in my life so often, in so many places and forms, these past couple of years. But the simultaneous process of filling myself up in a healthy way, of finding inner solidity of and from myself, has made all the difference.

This mornings edition of the daily aha moment while on my run was this: that I have discovered the difference of looking at emptiness from a place of emptiness, versus now looking at emptiness from a place of being quite filled up.

It means I am less compelled to be uncomfortable as I once was, by that emptiness. Less troubled, less thrown, less inadequate because of it. And I am less drawn to immediately fill it up with something else. Less inclined to do anything at all, actually. I have somehow found the ability to just see it and acknowledge it for what it is — emptiness. Necessary emptiness. And I am able to hold it as it is, more often than not. And the discovery thrilled me no end this morning.

One year ago: Solo Saturday night
Two years ago: Obscured by clouds (Coonoor, 2017)
Three years ago: Inconsequential posts you really don’t need to read
Four years ago: Lessons in letting go

Full moon, moon shine

Full moons are already times of release, of purging the old and making intentional space for the new. With a lunar eclipse added to the mix, it makes for a really potent time to let go of the past, remove self-imposed blocks and barriers, and re-evaluate and release beliefs we’ve held (with good reason) but that perhaps no longer hold good or serve a meaningful purpose.

This first week of the new year has already been such a sharp and steep contrast to not just the last year but the last many years, for me. It has been like going from sleeping to standing up tall and taking strides ahead.

I keep saying it has been sudden, that I woke up in January and suddenly everything had changed. But this is untrue. It is also doing myself and the work I have slowly and steadily done over the past many years a huge disservice. The truth is that the last couple of years have been a time for germination. Of slowly chipping away at myself, getting to the core and seeing how I can nurture and nourish what makes itself seen there.

And like with all germination, it happens slowly and in a hidden way. Beneath the surface. It’s hard to tell from above the ground what is at work or how things actually change. And then “suddenly” after many days of nothing, and staring at plain crumbly brown ground, there is a tender shoot that pokes thru.

I am that shoot today. January saw the beginning of that waking up and emerging into the world. And I can’t help but feel the sacredness of all that is already so new and different from before. I am heading in ways that are drastically opposite to what I have thought good for me in the past. And to be moving thru steadily, slowly chipping away, with a quiet confidence and clarity every step of the way is proof. Change takes time. A heck of a lot more time than we are usually willing to give or notice. But this process of letting go of the old and welcoming the new. It is such a special journey. Sacred. Important. Life giving. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

One year ago: And so it’s done
Two years ago: A hazy shade of winter
Three years ago: Happier: perpetual WIP

On listening

In a full tilt turn from last year, 2020 is already off to a very full beginning. So full that I am making good use of the delightful little planner that S got me as a present for the holidays. I didn’t see this coming. At least not this soon, even as I was planning and making motions towards directing my energies towards a new kind of work. I didn’t anticipate this. So even as I am trying to work the pace, I am also consistently reminding myself to listen to my pace.

It’s easy to get carried away in the first flush of the new year. That squeaky clean energy of a new beginning, a new shot at trying this efficiency thing out once again. That gust of enthusiasm to go, be, do, that we all feel at this time of year. Sure, it maybe all of those things, because it has well and truly begun in full josh. But, what I have also been feeling quite intensely this past week is that a lot of what’s coming at me now is a reflection, a rebound, a return present of energies I have been consciously and unconsciously putting out for months now.

I am in receiving mode, now more than ever. And what a paradox it is, because what’s brought me here is actually putting myself out there in service of others. What I am receiving is the opportunity to work with and for others.

Since the very next day after I returned from holiday I have had packed days. Not the kind of busy like the headless-chicken and aimless-hustle I usually associate with packed days, but the slow, deliberate, intentional packed.

I’ve done multiple readings every day, sometimes with follow ups. And there’s another change that occurred to me today. I am suddenly also in listening mode. For years now, my healing journey has been about making my voice, my mind and myself be heard. Incessantly, selfishly and singleminded-ly so, sometimes.

It seems as that need finds more and more comfort and integration, I do have a largely undiscovered and untapped capacity to also listen. And I mean, listen deeply. Doing readings for absolute strangers, speaking to them for the very first time and having them often immediately share a vulnerability or a deep difficulty means listening first, and speaking minimally, but thoughtfully. It has meant listening respectfully. It has meant remembering that this is not about me, that I am in service.

Professionally, I have always been in the business of words and communication. I have always prided myself in doing the “speaking” in that way. In giving voice to unsaid things, shaping words where none exist. And now I am learning to listen. Between the words, beneath the words. And to hold all that I hear with care and compassion.

It occurred to me today that there was no way to learn to listen in this way, without working on building a container to hold and all that I have been hearing. And to do that, I have had to learn to have myself be heard fully. Within and without myself. I have had to do enough honest talking in my outer world, as well as to myself in my inner world, and integrate and accept every kind of response I have received. In the process I have encountered contradictions, disappointments, difficult dualities and discomfort, as much as I have the joy and jubilation. I am beginning to see that there cannot be one without the other.

When I listen carefully, I am able to do it because I know that I am, and I feel, heard.

One year ago: Changing seasons, changing reasons
Two years ago: I’m just too good at goodbyes
Four years ago: On waiting

Clear

Just taking a moment to acknowledge how much clarity has emerged so quickly and suddenly from seeming nothingness. To know what I want to do and have the avenues emerge and show up, and have the sudden confidence to walk the path — this is a big one for me considering where I was even just six months ago.

Every day, in at least two different ways, I kind of surprise myself at how I am conducting myself in conversations, relationships and how certain dynamics in my immediate world are changing because of it.

It is a bit astounding. And sometimes frightening. But I realise that’s my old brain always ready to kick in, bringing back the fear and diffidence. I am quicker to check myself lately and listen to the old voice that rears its head every so often, but also confident in firmly but gently telling it to bugger off.

This has been a refreshing change.

One year ago: I am the universe
Four years ago: Shiny new guiding lights

To Mysore and

…back to the wild.

In four vignettes.

8 am at home.

11 am on the road.

1 pm at Mysore Railway Station.

4 pm en route back home.

Mandatory picture of parental unit, as seen in my adulthood, on a road trip rushing through just-planted paddy fields in that golden 4 o clock sunlight.

It’s a bit overwhelming, that I get to enjoy this peace and quiet, right here in my life without having to getaway or make space for it in anyway. I do have to physically get away to get here, but that suddenly my life is somehow fashioned so this is possible, and possible often kind of amazes me. Even now.

What a privilege and a blessing it is.

One year ago: Inhale. Exhale.
Two years ago: What is life
Four years ago: Reminders and notes to self.

Where focus goes, energy flows

I have to say it was lovely to be so off the grid (my phone has zero network and I bum my father’s hotspot to post and send messages a few times a day) that I didn’t have to spent yesterday morning making and answering obligatory calls. Those that I wanted to wish, I did. I received way more than I have this new year’s day.

Despite not having connectivity, I made a small step in a new direction with an offering of the work that has held and helped me find my feet and know myself a little deeper these past few years.

It’s ridiculous how I got into this without the faintest clue I would be here today — sending out messages into the world about taking on clients. It’s surreal, but also very happy making. And a real-life testament to the power of this work, how deeply it has touched my life and how much movement it has introduced for me.

I spent much of the day looking out. And it hit me that I have left the life of the hustle far behind. Or at least the hustle the way I used to know it, driven by the idea that I have to struggle to make a mark or get anywhere. To be sitting in the boondocks without network, and yet be able to send off my humble little offering out into the world, receive enquiries, messages cheering me on and excitement all round, felt like so much momentum from minimal, but intentional, effort.

There is power in quietness too it seems.

It’s true. Where focus goes, energy flows. And I have waited a long time to see and feel this.

One year ago: Food and friendship
Two years ago: Gratitude. That’s all.
Four years ago: Love

Curtain call

 

New Year’s Eve has been something of a non event for years now. But this year we may have dropped even lower. And something tells me I could get used to the go-nowhere, do-nothing new year’s eve of this kind.

Snapshots from yesterday’s evening walk through the village, VC stopping for pictures and my father stopping to say hello to every single person we met.

We walked all along the river side for a good one hour, VC changing his mind and turning back halfway through.

Happy to be closing the year spending theseast few days (and the next few) in simpler ways and a slower pace.

We’ve had splendid sunsets for two days now. I hope today is spectacular too.

2020, I’m ready for you.

One year ago: December
Two years ago: Crossing over
Three years ago: December

Back to earth

This past year, I have felt drawn back to the earth in so many different ways. It has come up over and over in conversations, hidden desires, thoughts and dreams I’ve nourished privately and some that I’ve acted upon to bring into my life, in the events that have panned out and also the way in which I have strangely been on the move all year long.

Whether it’s the desire to finally really tangibly act on using less plastic, or the sudden life-altering need to grow a garden — I now see the source for both developments is the same. A need to find literal, real earth for my energies that were being directed into dropping new roots and finding new ground beneath my feet.

I realised today, happily, that this year I spent more than the average time I spend at the beach. Somehow, I listened and heeded the curiosity to see the hills for the first time in my life. And I’ve nurtured a year long desire to go back to the forests, harking back to the numerous family jungle safari trips we have made in my childhood. And right on cue, as with every other desire to earth myself, the means have opened up and happened. I’m ending the year amidst ancient trees, foggy, misty mornings and I’ve spotted two snakes, a baby crocodile and at least a dozen adorable pond turtles right in our backyard in my fathers home.

This year has given me a newfound respect for the planet, not just through these surprise desires but also through umpteen opportunity to pursue them.

I feel a deep reverence and a sense of being my own size when I’m out amidst nature. I think that is what essentially grounds me.

One year ago: Expand your mind, take a look behind
Three years ago: All the books I read this year

Sunset

I had my last session of therapy for the year today and it was such a good culmination of the work I have done since I resumed again just over a year ago.

Today, as we talked about where I’m at — the cusp of a new unfolding in possibly every different space in my life — I had a moment of almost disbelief at the way in which I was even holding myself and articulating the things that I was.

Today, I reiterated and reaffirmed to myself the uniqueness of my own journey, the need to honour my pace and place, without judgement or measuring it up against anything or anyone else.

Today, I felt like I turned yet another corner in my becoming.

***

The fundamental building blocks of doing things to please others (and in that way make myself agreeable to them) because of the firmly held belief that doing things to please me will inevitably and always be “too much” for them to take, or might make them upset, or unhappy, or confused, or hurt, are shifting. This has been an unsaid code and way of being in my family. Especially for generation after generation of women.

In moving out from that space, that way of being, I have had to slowly let the foundations — those very fundamental building blocks that decide how I will be in the world — slowly crumble and fall away. There is no rebuilding new and healthier foundations without undoing the unhealthy, unsafe and unstable ones that have held me so far.

There is tremendous power in doing this. The proverbial endpoint seems promising,  liberating and great. And it is. But the journey to there is seldom uniformly great. It is downright painful, difficult, isolating and harrowing even. Milestones and in fact many important pivotal moments along the way are often the ones that have left me shaken up to my core and like I have lost the very ground beneath my feet.

But one of the most powerful experiences I have had this year is of letting myself crash and drop so low, allowing myself the ability to dive and sink to depths so low, and meet vulnerabilities so raw and deep that the only way from there has been up.

And the person I am today, as the year draws to a close, definitely feels like a transformed version of the person I was at the start of this year. I am ending the year feeling solid from within. Truer to myself, more in touch with my body and emotions, and very, very unafraid of seeing and holding my vulnerabilities

It’s true what they say. True strength only comes from being intimately and ruthlessly honestly in touch with those deepest fault-lines that exist in all of us. If only I learned earlier that there is no glory in that outward facade of strength and powering-through facade that comes at the cost of bypassing real pain that is asking to be seen and heard.

Today, I felt extra gratitude for all those whose help and support I have sought and leaned on during this time. Fellow truth-seekers, truth-tellers, some professionals whose work it is to help shine a light in spaces we are unable to journey alone, some friends and confidants who have offered everything from a kindred spirit, silent holding of space when I’ve been in the lows and cheered me on through my highs. All the people who have joined me on and off along the way, sometimes holding my hand, sometimes leading, sometimes being led by me, sometimes holding up a mirror or a light, sometimes stopping momentarily and letting me go on so I can journey those necessary parts on my own.

Meeting myself has been equal parts thrilling and terrifying, but I hold close those moments that I have been in touch with recently, the real fruit of all these years of an inward journey — moments where I have felt in love with myself. It has been life-giving like drinking sweet, sweet nectar. And somehow it makes all the heaving difficulty, the bouts of pain and loneliness so worth it.

What a ride.

One year ago: Be kind to the growing mind
Three years ago: Rewind

Through the years

The sadness of a really good time, of the sort that uplifts and nourishes and fills you up, coming to an end hasn’t hit me in literally years. The last memory of such a deep post-good-time of this degree sadness is from when I was a young child and my favourite aunt and uncle would visit us once a year, leading to endless bunked days of school and just too much fun all round. So much fun that when it was time to leave, even as young as 9, 10, 11, 12 years old, I remember feeling abject sadness and finding it difficult to slip back to normalcy and function as usual once again. It always took a few days to get back to the regular rhythm of life.

And that’s the degree of sadness that hit me yesterday once S had left. Thankfully, I had a meeting with S in the evening to soften the blow of the hard knock it could have been. And today, I met S for drinks and brunch at mid day which is always uplifting, and certainly helped fight the gloom that I would have inevitably felt if I was left to my own devices.

Talking to S this afternoon, about friendships as we always do, I realised for all my complains and cribs about disappointments and dissatisfactions about people, especially in a year like this one that has seen the most upheaval and shaking of the ground beneath my feet, I have also received the best and mellowest gifts of love, affection and friendship. I am not very quick to notice it for what it is, and that is something I am trying to change.

The last week spent with S and VC was life-affirming in that sense. And I want to acknowledge the many ways in which it was so good for me.

It gave strength and validation to my deeply held belief that friendships that are based in simple truths and genuine connection don’t take work. They work beyond distance, infrequent meetings and all else. And they have that wonderful ability to rejoin and pick up exactly where we may have left off, even when either party has undergone massive transformation in the time spent apart.

I realised S and J are amongst the handful of people (that I can count on one hand) that I have this absolute and utter privilege with. They honour me with a kind of friendship that some of the relationships closer home that I have struggled to keep going haven’t. That ability to cut through the fat and come straight to the heart of the matter. A high degree of respect and space for vulnerability, even as we hold space for the silliness and laughter. A genuine warmth and being excited for the best in the other.

These are folks I talk to maybe 3 times a year. It’s only in the last six odd months since we started a whatsapp group between us (yes, it took us that long) that there is some form of frequent banter. But otherwise it’s restricted to the timely wishes and brief catch ups on each others birthdays and new year, at best. And yet, somehow, by hook or by crook, we seek each other out at least once a year. Making plans to meet somewhere or the other, dedicated time to spend catching up and reliving the old days. This, is not something I have with literally anyone else in my life. The effort and the follow-through on this, year after year. And today, I realised I really love that we do it.

This past week, I laughed harder than I have in a long while. VC admitted he enjoyed our company more than just being the third wheel he usually makes himself feel like. And I came away feeling like we are grown up versions of ourselves from 2012-2014, with something at the heart of it all, intact. To have each been through some seriously diverse experiences, some transformative times, and still find it’s possible to connect. And connect long and well, and enjoy every moment of it, is special.

So, when I got home in the evening I dug out pictures that pock-mark the many years of our friendship. There are folks who have lifelong friends. I haven’t had that luck as yet. But here, I see solid potential of being stuck with each other for life. OOPSIE – hahahaha.

I realised I have a picture for nearly every year since we split ways, and that we’ve met in six cities and four countries in the years gone by. Again, not something I see myself going out of my way to do with too many people.

From 2013, when we did routinely took off for a staycation when we all lived in Goa.

This was taken on this summer trip that I documented, but several day trips and wanderings — way way too many to count because we’d go out literally every weekend — that probably went undocumented. When we weren’t out and about, we lived out of each others homes. We shared way too many common loves — for movies, music, art, travel — that made us converge on more things than not.

In fact, I cannot separate my association with monsoon listening of Coke Studio from S and J at all. I write about it here. I shared my most impactful professional year, the one that had more far-reaching consequences that I knew, working with S. We’ve cooked way too many meals together and shared way more beers for our own good.

S left Goa in the end of 2013 and moved to Bombay. He visited us in Goa again in 2014, but apparently we took more pictures of the food we ate and absolutely none of ourselves at all.

In 2015, we visited S in Singapore.

In 2016, S flew in from Singapore to Bangkok to catch up with me. Many shenanigans ensued, and ended with this very drunken picture that was taken at 2 am in a bustling street market.

Somehow, we missed meeting in 2017, as S reiterated today with a “WHAT HAPPENED IN 2017??” when I shared these pictures with him. I was caught in the landslide that was moving to Bangalore and the year zipped by without any big travel.

In 2018, we made it to Paris where S now lives. And he and J plotted to surprise us, with J flying in from Hamburg.

Again, way too many shenanigans ensued. And I’ve written about the ways in which I felt so filled up from it all here and here.

Last December, we caught up in Goa, just months after we had returned from Europe.

And then, a whole year later we connected in Bangalore, making a trip to Coorg together. I have a new picture to add to this collection — the first one in the post.

I want to say this is fate or destiny or some such, but I think it isn’t just that. It’s also a lot of deliberate intention, and sincere keeping up of our word and following through on the things we plan to do. That is a deeply cherished aspect of friendship I have coveted for years now.

It’s not too late to acknowledge that for all the knocks and falls I’ve had in the last few years, and especially this past year, as far as people and friendship goes, I am still one lucky girl, for all the love and connection that has stayed and found it’s way to me, despite it all.

One year ago: Take me to your heart
Two years ago: Shut up and drive
Three years ago: Time

Friendship fires

 

Two nights of feeding a fire to keep it going long enough for us to stay snug and warm, talking intimately and candidly huddled around it, listening to the best music is what it took to end a year of massive friendship lessons on a positive and love-filled note.

There was warmth in the silences. Life in the conversation. Fuel in the feelings shared. I am mildly changed by the three days I have spent away in the company of VC and S.

Something fundamental has shifted as far as my perspectives on adult friendships go. And after months of not knowing what, this trip away illuminated that something for me.

I’m just sitting in the afterglow of it.

I’ll say this again. I’m grateful for those who left, almost as much as I am grateful for those who remained.

One year ago: Lay down all your thoughts
Two years ago: Morning song