Day 134: April

Last month in worries-vanish-within-my-dream

April came and went in an absolute flash, perfectly blending a few busy days where I had no time to do much else but keep swimming, a whole lot of time with family, and a very liberal dose of Goa-tinged nostalgia. It is almost like my subconscious steers me in the direction I need to move, without my ever realising or noticing it. In March I felt a bit run down and tired from not having enough time to myself. And almost in response, April gave me a lot of that.

April had so much family time — mostly down time spent at home, with them, or reading and catching up on TV. My grandmother came down for her annual summer trip and this year, more than ever before I got to spend time with her. This year, more than ever before we have actually engaged, chit-chatting as she spirals down her rabbit hole of memories.

I marvel at what it must be like to be in her 80s, in 2018, having experienced the sea change the world has seen in just one lifetime. Changes not only in the world around, but closer home, amongst her family, her children and grand children. Life today, is nothing like it used to be when she was younger. It isn’t even bear a remote sliver of likeness to what it must have been like when she was younger — having witnessed the Independence movement, the onset of liberalisation and the boom that followed. If I live to be 80 or more, I wish for at least half the agility, quiet calm and wisdom she has to watch peacefully as things change.

Time spent chatting with her also spiralled a lot of contemplation for me. And I’m thankful for the little break from hectic work and assignments to allow the churn to throw things up like it did.

Last month, in severe contemplation:

  1. I realised it is impossible to seek happiness alone, without a host of other feelings.
  2. Priorities, and the busy-trap
  3. Musing about punctuality (or the lack of it), passive aggression online, and cats
  4. On the necessary autumns of our lives
  5. Some more thoughts about my body and how it has changed as much as how I feel about it has changed
  6. A visit to LifeStyle and more thoughts about accepting our different bodies happened
  7. Self-improvement is usually two steps forward and one step back
  8. Self-improvement, change and how it sometimes affects relationships
  9. On the meaning of ambition, success, productivity and finding myself outside of it

Last month, in what happened:

  1. I read two books about marriage
  2. Unexpected catching-up with long-lost friends
  3. I finished 100 days of posting this year, on exactly the same day that I moved to Bangalore last year
  4. Some overt self-love lets itself shine through
  5. Work took over our home for a week

Last month, in indecision:

  1. I realised my Bangalore honeymoon is officially over, and this city is getting to me
  2. Consequently, I spent a whole week home-sick for Goa, and contemplated thoughts on living well and how much the city around matters

Last month, in gratitude:

  1. Because everything is never as it seems
  2. Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
  3. I got mad, mad love
  4. All the small things
  5. Just a stirring in my soul

One month ago: Day 92: March
Two months ago: Day 60: February
One month ago: Day 32: January

Two years ago: Day 134: Things about VC I never want to forget #16

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Day 121: They say it’s your birthday, it’s my birthday too

No. I really, don’t think so.

Looking back seems to be the flavour of the month. I’ve been doing a lot of nostalgic reminiscing of late, and it’s no different today, even on my birthday. When I think back to the specific numbers, I’m agog — like OMG I was a wee 24 when I got married, piddly 25 when I upped and moved to a new city where I knew nobody, stupidly naive at 30. Still not much wiser at 34. But in my heart, 24 feels like it could have been just last week. Okay month, maybe.

But you get the drift.

As I turn 34 today, I’m looking back on birthdays gone by — just the ones I’ve documented — to remind myself and bring back a little something from each of the years I’ve crossed.

  • From 2010: Keep doing cartwheels — literally, figuratively.
  • From 2011: Allow yourself the surprising joy of rediscovering old loves of all kinds — habits, hobbies, comforts, people, cities.
  • From 2012: Dance.
  • From 2013: You’re over the fascination with alcohol. That’s perfectly a-okay.
  • From 2014: The only permission you need for making most things is your own.

    Start making your thing

    Sound advice from here.
    And, calm down.

  • From 2015:
  • From 2016: The cure to most things is salt water — sweat, tears or the sea.
  • From 2017: I didn’t write a post, but I know from memory that it was the year I began to just be more open. To everything. And I am better for it.

And so, here we are.

This year, in an attempt to start something new (something I’ve learnt from this mad talented girl), I’m going to start writing two letters a year to my future self — one on my birthday and one on New Years Eve — to be opened five years down the line. I’ve been meaning to do this ever since I first read about it, but never got down to starting it.

Today feels like as good a day to start as any.

Happy birthday, to me!

Past birthdays: two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, five years ago, six years ago, seven years ago, eight years ago

Day 120: Looking back, over my shoulder

Feeling all kinds of aching heart looking at this Goodbye-Goa video that VC* made, pinched out of this post from same time last year, right after I wrote this post last week, and sent out a version of it as a newsletter** last night. Clearly, the melancholy hasn’t lifted. All weekend I’ve been running over a world of feelings and thoughts about home, about second chances, about belonging and about roots.

Right this moment, if someone were to present an opportunity to go back to Goa, I’d up and GO!

***

There’s also this video from our holiday in Sri Lanka, from this post two years ago. And it fills my heart with a longing to go back to this country I couldn’t get enough of, even after three trips.

https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js

***

Tomorrow, I will finish another whole year of being alive and clocking a circle around the big ol’ sun. In true Type A fashion (the vestiges still remain, and crop up time and time again reminding me I have still some more work to do) I’ve been feeling all omg-time-is-flying and putting that quintessential what-have-I-done-this-year pressure on myself. I wish I’d remember the hard-won wisdom I’ve stumbled on before, rather than keep slipping back to conventional and useless ways of measuring my days.

But right in time, just when I needed a reminder, N sent me this beautiful article last week about living long. More importantly, living well.

And surprise, surprise, the answer does not lie in eating better, exercising or any such thing, but in looking at our relationship with time, and what we do with what’s left of it.

If the goal is to have a longer life, whatever the dieticians may urge, it seems like the priority should not be to add raw increments of time but to ensure that whatever years remain feel appropriately substantial. The aim should be to densify time rather than to try to extract one or two more years from the fickle grip of Death.

Once again, a reminder to focus on quality, not quantity. On what I want to feel, rather than the stuff I think I want to fill my days with. On living mindfully, and with intention.

Every word in the article resonated, and had me longing for the wonder of childhood, when time stretched, even as it was filled with endless discoveries. Such a sharp contrast to adult years where every year seems like it’s flying by faster than the previous one and time is always short.

As I turn 34 tomorrow, I’m going to re-examine and add a resolution or two for the year ahead. This seems like a sane advice to go by.

We should be aiming to lead lives that feel long because we have managed to imbue them with the right sort of open-hearted appreciation and unsnobbish receptivity, the kind that five-year-olds know naturally how to bring to bear. We need to pause and look at one another’s faces, study the evening sky, wonder at the eddies and colours of the river and dare to ask the kind of questions that open our souls. We don’t need to add years; we need to densify the time we have left by ensuring that every day is lived consciously – and we can do this via a manoeuvre as simple as it is momentous: by starting to notice all that we have as yet only seen.

***

It’s getting impossibly hot. The only respite has been mangoes, fresh juice every morning thanks to my mother, and light dinners of roasted veg and salad.

Like some lunatic, I’m headed to Goa. Mad heat aside, I’m really, really aching for not just time away from this city, but specifically time in Goa. I’m going for a small bit of work for the course I’m doing. And hopefully amidst the sea, sun and sand, with friends I’ll keep practicing going with the flow and figure out what belonging everywhere and nowhere at once means, what turning older has in store for me, and how much I can bend time.

*If you’d like to see more video work done by VC, commission us some work or recommend us to someone who is looking to tell stories through film, head to our website, follow us on Instagram or browse our portfolio.
**If you’d like to subscribe to more verbal diarrhoea and navel gazing via my newsletter, head here: https://tinyletter.com/HaathiTime/

Two years ago: Day 120: Birthday weekend in progress

Day 115: Today I don’t feel like doing anything

I’ve been going over my blog posts from last year, and the ones from April 2017 particularly with a sort of fascination, like I can’t believe it’s stuff I wrote myself. I shouldn’t be surprised, really, because in those very words, I see the seeds of threads of my existence that sprung to life, bloomed and thrived into full, lush breathing organisms in the months after.

But, when I think back to the time, all my conscious mind remembers is the confusion. And the efforts to stay with the confusion and move through it rather than avoid it all and busy myself with easy distractions. With enough distance, restrospect is a wonderful thing. I feel oddly satisfied to see now, that I’ve been on the right track, steadfastly stuck to listening to the cues, simply going deeper, and on my way.

It’s a refreshing change from the many years before, when I flitted from this thing to that, one thing to the next, restlessly, anxiously in search of some consistency.

One post in particular really stands out. This one — that I titled Serendipity for some reason — and wrote just one day after I landed in Bangalore (clueless that I was going to in fact have to move back here).

In the essay I linked to and talked about one of my all time favourite essays — The Snarling Girl, by Elisa Albert. Notes on—and against—ambition. So much of it still speaks to me much the same, with as much intensity, if not more. But it’s nice to see how entirely different segments of it pop out at me today, 12 months after I first read it.

Same fantastic essay. Same essential thread of continuity in my life. The same thing I’ve talked about only so many, many times. Same idea, different expressions. Different times, different quotes to remember.

Same excellent essay. Give it a read, and maybe like me, you’ll find yourself going back to it so many, many times in any given year. And yet, find something entirely new and different speak to you every time.

Sample this:

The work, not the hearts and likes and dings and dongs. And maybe I can float the possibility that the work is best when it’s done nowhere near the hearts and likes and dings and dongs. Maybe I can suggest that there is plenty of time for hearts and likes and dings and dongs once the work is done, and done well. Maybe I can ever so gently point out that a lot of people seem rather addicted to the hearts and likes and dings and dongs, and seem to talk about and around writing a hell of a lot more than they actually do it. Maybe we can even talk about how some self-promote so extensively and shamelessly and heedlessly and artlessly that their very names become shorthand for hownot to be.

No prizes for guessing why that spoke to me.

On the solitary-ness of figuring out The Happy.

Nobody can tell you how to be happy because being happy is one of those things you figure out by figuring it out, no shortcuts. Or maybe you don’t figure it out, maybe you never figure it out, but that’s on you. Everything worthwhile is a sort of secret, anyway, not to be bought or sold, just rooted out painstakingly in whatever darkness you call home.

On the dangers of generalising “ambition”.

And isn’t everything we do, everything we reach for, everything we grab at, each of us in turn, a way of struggling onto that ledge, that mythical resting place on which no one can fuck with us? Don’t Fuck With Me seems as good a feminist anthem for the 21st century as any.

But the mythical resting place is … mythical. And trying to generalize about ambition is like comparing apples and oranges and bananas and flowers and weeds and dirt and compost and kiwi and kumquat and squash blossoms and tomatoes and annuals and perennials and sunshine and worms. Wanting to be first in your class is and is not like wanting a Ferrari is and is not like being the first in your family to go to college is and is not like wanting to get into Harvard/Iowa/Yaddo is and is not like wanting to summer on Martha’s Vineyard is and is not like wanting to rub elbows with fancy folk is and is not like wanting to shatter a glass ceiling is and is not like wanting to write a lasting work of genius with which no one can quibble. Our contexts are not the same, our struggles are not the same, and so our rebellions and complacencies and conformities and compromises cannot be compared. But the fact remains: whatever impresses you illuminates your ambition.

On finding rhythm, contentment and possibly ambition too, in the everydayness of life. On rejecting the glorification of striving.

Taking care of myself and my loved ones feels like meaningful work to me, see? I care about care. And I don’t care if I’m socialized to feel this way, because in point of fact I do feel this way. So! I am unavailable for striving today. I’m suuuuuper busy.

On the difference between what I call what-I-want-versus-what-I-want-to-feel.

What I would like to say (so that I might be forced to align myself) is that there is nothing material or finite that I will allow myself to rest on wanting. Okay, so dresses and clogs and art and peonies float my boat. But fool myself into thinking that these things constitute an end point, or that their acquisition will make me whole, or that people who are impressed by these things are my friends? Nope. No way. Not for a minute. (Well, FINE, maybe for a minute. But certainly not for two.)

On external validation. Possibly a la social media.

Sixty thousand shares is not a win, see; it’s a random, synchronistic event. The number of eyeballs on a given piece of writing does not confer nobility or excellence upon said piece of writing. If the number of eyeballs on a piece of writing excites and impresses people around me, that’s great, in that it makes possible more of the work I want to do. But it doesn’t make said work any easier! And I’m going to do said work regardless, so… what?

So What? Let’s add it to our list of proposed feminist anthems: So The Fuck What?

AMEN SISTER! If I had a penny for every time that someone told me I was wasting my talent by not pursuing my writing more seriously and sitting around at home, I’d be RICHHHHH.

I mean, writing is liberation. And for some of us who can afford to keep it that way, it is enough.

I don’t write because I “want to be a writer.” I don’t want to be famous and I don’t need my ego inflated. I write to make sense of things, to make order from chaos, to make something from nothing, to examine my own thinking. Because what I have found in the writing of others sustains me. Because while I am struggling to live, the writing—a kind of parallel life—helps me along. Because language is my jam. Because I never learned to play the guitar and no one ever asked me to sing in a band.

I mean, writing is liberation!

On the problematic assumptions around which ambition is conventionally defined.

Here’s what bothers me about conventional ambition, the assumption that we all aspire to the top, the winner’s circle, the biggest brightest bestest, the blah blah blah, and that we will run around and around and around our little hamster wheels to get there: most of these goals are standardized. Cartoonish. Cliché. Beware anything standardized, that’s what I would teach my daughter.

Try to be vulnerable so you’ll come acrossbetter?

Yeah, I need to tell myself this every time I have the passing thought about a blog post that I really need to write (because it’s my way of making sense of the jumble in my head) comes out feeling like “it’s not good enough,” or like “I’m so self-indulgent”.

“Try to be more vulnerable,” he said. “You’ll come across better.”

Come across? I don’t have time to orchestrate how I come across, dude. My job is to write shit down. More vulnerable? I feel like I’m walking around without skin most of the time, hello. Anyway, my vulnerability is not for goddamn sale. I’d rather suck a thousand dicks. I was overcome with weariness, and I thought: Fuck it, I give up. But no, that’s not true, either. Nope. Not at all. The snarling girl is still out there, in here, flailing, desperate, and who’s going to throw her a rope? I will. Onward.

It’s probably hard to believe that I haven’t pasted the essay in entirety down here, but really, I haven’t. These are just a few of the gems in there. So do yourself a favour and read it. Even more so if you often toss up ideas of ambition, success, productivity and find yourself struggling to choose what your heart really wants because you’ve been taught by your family, society, people in general that it isn’t enough — read it.

One year ago: I get by with a lot of help from my friends
Two years ago: Day 115: Mean things I want to say out loud, but can’t

Day 100: To the gypsy that remains

Two milestones today. And I’d like to think that too is not a coincidence: finishing 100 days of writing this year, on a day exactly one year since I landed in Bangalore, in what ended up being the first step in a series of many many steps towards uncertainty and an open ended kind of oblivion.

I have many, many thoughts about how far we’ve come since we took this leap. Of faith, and so much else. It was not just the start of life in a new city, but the start of a committment to tuning into myself and cutting out the external clutter and noise. So, it makes me extremely happy today, standing where I am, to look back at things I wrote 365+ days ago, and see I was already on this journey. And that I’ve steadfastly stayed focused and committed to it. And that I’m all the better for it.

It’s truly gratifying to see how one year ago I was talking about all of the same things. Back then I was eager and yearning for change — my voice was filled with trepidation, yet it was hopeful. Today, I feel a confidence and conviction, even as I am still talking about the same things. I can see the journey Ive made so far, and I know which way I am longing to go, in the coming future.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this journey. Of the place mindfullness and self-care or self-improvement or growth or authenticity (to me, they’re all different words for the same thing) has come to occupy in my life, and what an incredible value it has added to my daily life. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll do a look back. But today, at the exact moment that I realised it was the anniversary of moving here, I was in this sunkissed office, and something about the way the golden light streamed in and set everything aglow, gave me a moment to ponder. And all I wanted to do was to give thanks for every little thing that went into pushing me to do this. And all that continues to hold me up, helps me keep going and make all this movement continually possible. And no, I’m not talking only about moving cities. But you already know that.

To me, moving to Bangalore has been something of an inflection point in life. But it is also a symbol of possibility. A reference point of what happens when I suspend thought. A memory of the ultimate move of self-serving love. A prototype of the kind of agility I want for the rest of my life.

Day 92: March

Last month in everyday-is-a-winding-road:

If I had only two words to describe what March was all about, they’d be family and work. And not necessarily gracefully balancing the two as near well as I’d have liked. But such is life, eh? We get along, we get better, and we get by.

March really was dominated by all things work, and when we weren’t at work, it was with family. Sending an inordinately huge amount of time at VCs, me spending time with my mum with the house left to our devices, Niyu’s illness that brought us all together, and squeezing in work in between it all — I feel like it’s just been one thing after another.

We had an uber-productive month as far as the business goes. Satisfying, creatively as well as monetarily. We even travelled out of Bangalore on assignment. And I can’t help but notice how when the going gets good, it’s really effing good. And yet, it hasn’t been the most orderly month. But that in itself has been revelatory. Yet again, pushing me to let go of the rails and the impossible urge to tame, control, curb and bring order to an energy that at the moment just won’t have any of it. I have to pat myself on the back and say I’m getting better at this. And for that, March has been really, really good.

I’m really not prepared for the dry, punishing heat that the summer has brought. But, there is the promise of fruit. A visit to our home in Goa, and a holiday in Thailand (again!), so we’ll get along, we’ll get better, and we’ll get by.

Last month, in things I published:
In India, fighting menstruation taboos that silence women

Last month, in what happened:

  1. On the heels of VC’s granny passing on, we rushed off on a work trip
  2. The entire days and all that time spent with VC’s family during the 13-day time of grieving gave me a lot of fodder to mull on. Not just about VC’s family, but about the ways of the patriarchy and maybe, just maybe, I even made some sense, some peace of it
  3. VC is getting awfully good at reading Oracle cards. I can no longer call these chance coincidences. Here’s a card he picked for me, that reflected my current reality perfectly
  4. I indulged in a little bit of TV and of course I had opinions, of course I did
  5. There was some rumination and music-related nostalgia, thanks to an unexpected Apple music trip
  6. Some more TV and movie-watching
  7. And when I finally got sick of being off the bandwagon, I squeezed in some quick reading, and managed to finish up some fun books

Last month, in Therapy and Healing:

  1. On turning down my aversions and being open to change
  2. On patience
  3. On re-learning boundaries
  4. On how empowering self-acceptance can be
  5. The story of my body as things stand right now

Last month, in New Beginnings:

  1. I’m making baby steps and learning something new
  2. New-found gratitude for a peaceful agreement with where I am

Last month, in Gratitude:

  1. Let’s get one thing straight now
  2. The real, deep-down you is the whole universe.
  3. Love, let’s talk about love
  4. I get the strangest feeling you belong

Two months ago: Day 32: January
One month ago: Day 60: February

Two years ago: Day 92: Fullness

Day 78: People say I should forget

R was apparently listening to the Dev D soundtrack on Apple music last week. And the sneaky little tool announces it to the whole world. So of course I hopped on and gave it a listen early this morning.

I suppose that’s the point. Listening to the album was like closing my eyes and taking a free-fall into the past. Diving headlong, into the abyss of the way we were (Thank you Barbara Streisand).

There’s some music that I will always, always associate with my life in Goa. Just like there’s certain other music that will only always remind me of growing up in Bangalore. My music memory archive is tagged by phases in my life and there’s actually very little overlap between them, each phase having its own distinct soundtrack so to speak.

So now, when a song or track triggers a memory, it’s one very specific time. Sometimes a particular phase, but often times I can drill it down to a particular event. As insignificant as a drive home from the supermarket, sometimes. No other reason to really remember it or retain it, allowing it to hog shelf space in my mind. But it’s there, simply because of how the music playing, either in my car or on my computer, at work or at home, or at a party, has framed it for posterity.

And so it was that I listened to the Dev D soundtrack again, after something like six or seven years. And it took me right back to year one in Goa. I had this pendrive loaded with the most random — some would say eclectic — selection of music, specifically for my car. It had to cover all bases — driving music, upbeat stuff, a touch of trashy pop, some classics and favourites like Coke Studio and other very disjointed singles that Id just taken a fancy for. It had everything from Dave Matthews Band to Dev D so you can probably gather its purpose.

So listening to the soundtrack the other day, specifically this track, nostalgia scooped me into her arms and took me back to that first monsoon, an extra dark night thanks to a city wide power cut.

We had friends over for dinner but fed up waiting for the power to come back, we decided to go out and drive. In the pouring rain. As we got into the car and set off, this was the first track that came on. And all of us — VC, S, J and I — were silent. No talking, just listening to its hauntingly heady beat and that silly “my/by God” refrain.

The streets were inky black, silky swift and all the while the storm howled on. There’s something cinematic about the memory etched in my mind. My black car bumping along the then Miramar highway, with its quaint streetlights (that we’re off) the median with ghosty lanky trees swaying in the rain, all only lightly magically illuminated by our far from adequate headlamps.

We took it in, in silence. The song, louder in my head than it really was.

And all these years later, when the memory of it bubbles up to the surface, triggered by the opening chords of the song, the evening plays out like a scene from a movie, untouched in my mind. And the song, it just as loud.

Two years ago: Day 78: Abandon

Day 60: February

Last month, in a life less ordinary:
I realised, time and time again, that I am actually easily pleased with engaging my whole self in simple, unadorned, ordinary things. I want to go deeper in my commitment to a more basic, but wholesome routine for myself. Because I realised what doing little things, mindfully, wholeheartedly, and for myself, does me a world of good. It has a way of grounding me, feeding that very primal urge to create and engage in the most simplistic form, without any fuss, frills or fanciness that goes a long way in creating a kind of contentment that I have somehow just not found through the bigger more fanciful prospects of life. I’m still juggling the simple, everyday existence with the very real needs to keep life moving ahead, ie: work and other such obligations. But I believe finding a balance between the two, and making a way for the two to converge rather than be at cross purposes is not only key, but also very achievable. The hard part is that it requires an unrelenting focus on staying with the memory of that simple joy, every time that it is created. The good news is that every time that I reach a moment of truth in this regard, it points me right back to the basics. Time and time again.

Last month, in things I published:
The thing that drew me to social media, also led me to quit it.

Last month, in Things I Talked About:

  1. I attempted to walk 100kms with a team of friends. And it was all kinds of painful, and thrilling. Eventually, I recovered and felt all kinds of happiness.
  2. I watched a couple of movies.
  3. I read a fair bit. Okay, I read a lot.
  4. I re-started my newsletter. Because apparently even writing a post every single day, I still have things I want to say!

Last month, in Therapy and Healing:

  1. On why I’m no longer on any social media platforms.
  2. On coming back home, to my body.
  3. On making “empowered choices”.
  4. On why I write, and why this blog is a took to track versions of myself. Every single step of the way.

Last month, in Frustrations:

  1. I ranted about some aspects of work (even as I gave thanks for some others)
  2. I ranted about this city.

Last month, in Gratitude:

  1. The future is no place to place your better days.
  2. You guys, I must be the luckiest alive.
  3. Let it blow through you, don’t let it move you.
  4. I’m glad that I’m alive.

One month ago: Day 32: January
Two years ago: Day 60: February

Day 51: Stop this train, I want to get off and go home again

In November last year, I removed myself from all social media. While the trigger was completely unexpected, it was a decision that had been coming a long, long time, for a range of reasons that were festering (consciously and unconsciously) for about as long as I’ve been back on various platforms.

For the last many years I’ve harboured a love-hate relationship with all forms of social media. I’ve reacted strongly in favour of some, and ranted vehemently about others, depending on what my opinion was at the time. There’s no denying the tremendous value being online, social networks and using technology for communication, has added to various aspects of my life. My entire career as a freelance writer, for example, wouldn’t have been a reality today, if it weren’t for social networking. But I’ve always slipped in and out of the love and hate sides of the fence, when I become aware of the performative kind of existence being online demands. And no matter what we may think or tell ourselves, the lines between real and virtual worlds tend to blur.

This is something that has troubled me, for as many years as I have been online — both as a creator as well as consumer of content. I’ve been blogging for over a decade now, so the idea of curating slivers of my life is not new to me. My writing life has thrived because my blog has been a legit means to record and reflect on things in the only way I know how — in writing. It has provided a creative outlet for my writing. Sharing my blog online has allowed me to amplify my voice, push my skills as a writer and create an audience for it — professionally and personally. So there’s no denying how much I have benefited, and continue to benefit from it.

However, most recently, my angst came from the glaring truth that despite all the online chatter, putting myself out there, baring it all, sharing snippets of my life avidly on Instagram and my blog, there were entire chunks of real life developments that I was unable to share with some of my closest friends. Not for the lack of space and time to do it, but for reasons I couldn’t fully fathom then.

Over time, I realised that while technology definitely makes staying in touch and communicating over distances easier, there are many ways in which virtual connectedness does not make for enduring relationships.

What I was missing in my real life relationships the intimacy, the real space and a sort of closeness that I found was slowly slipping away, even as I felt connected and one amongst a large community of likeminded folks, online.

The more I thought about it, the more aware I became of certain patterns, that all traced back to the mediums and platforms of communication that we use. It’s easy to mistake the ease and immediacy that tools like WhatsApp and Instagram provide, for openness. But increasingly, I felt like I was always at arm’s length, at bay, behind a screen. There were so many things I’d much rather have talked about in person, over a cup of tea, or sitting across a table, or sharing a lazy afternoon, or a glass of wine, or while taking a walk. I have desperately missed making memories that don’t involve swiping my fingers hurriedly over my phone keypad, and collapsing entire gusts of emotion into a flattened emoji.

There is something about the way in which these tools lull us into constantly being an audience behind a screen, that slowly but surely creeps into the way we are in our real world relationships too. They do a fabulous job of creating the illusion of being in touch, while actually allowing us to (quite unconsciously) keep everything, including our closest people, at arm’s length. The weight of this irony hit me in full force in the months after I move to Bangalore.

Part of this conflict also crept to the surface because in the real world, the changes and transformation I’ve been seeking, have increasingly pushed me to pause, seek solitude, re-examine, rewire and reimagine a new way to move ahead. To listen to the voice within and do what makes sense to me, rather than follow a path already laid out. But the constant and habitual consumption mode that being online makes a habit of — the being an audience, the habit of instant gratification, instant judgement, immediate decision-making — meant my patience had worn thin, and I had no juice left when the going got tough and required me to slow down and go the long haul.

My real and virtual worlds were officially at loggerheads. While my heart was always telling me to slow down, the constant exposure to media, information, social networking and the like, the constant consumption had caused a deep mental fatigue, from just sheer information overload.

My brain isn’t wired to be on all the time. And being online was doing exactly that. The streams of information blurred, the chatter and subconscious preoccupations take over, and the conversations and engagements around things seen online were truly weighing me down.

I attribute a large part of the inexplicable restless that crippled me for over three years, and the constant need for certainty and regularity that gripped me, to this.

Anyhow, what started as random reflection many, many months ago, culminated rather unceremoniously one evening in November, with me taking an impulsive decision to quite social media altogether. It isn’t the first time. I stayed off Facebook (in the years when it was really the only big social network, before the hype around Twitter and Instagram grew) for over two years before. During that period, I didn’t ever miss it and the only reason I came back was to sell my home-baked cakes. Similarly, despite many reservations that popped up ever so frequently in the last few years, I had kind of made my peace with the hows and whys of continuing to be on Facebook because it was where I generated, found, promoted my work. I’ve taken several breaks from social media too. Month-long detox stints — how very first-world it all sounds.

But that evening in November, something definitely snapped. And this time I have a very safe, sinking sort of feeling that it is likely to be for good. This is the first time that it doesn’t feel like an experiment, or a detox with a time limit. This is the first time it has slipped in naturally and almost three months in now, I can safely admit that I’ve literally never felt the urge to go back.

It is also the first time that I have acknowledged that I can complain as much as I like, but ultimately the power to choose to be online or not rests with me. It is ultimately a choice. Completely in my hands.

A month into getting off social media (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook), I also cut into Whatsapp by turning off data for 10-12 hours every night. This felt like the harder ask, personally. And even though I am asleep for the most part of this time, I know for certain the world’s of good it has done for my efforts at mindfulness. Within mere days, I realised, as I’d suspected that absolutely nothing changed online. The world continues to spin, people continue to exist and stay in touch. You’re just not compelled to respond instantly.

Offline though, I am having relaxed and purposeful dinner time, more engaged and intimate conversations with VC that we’d lost touch with, and a colossal amount of time gained to read. That’s just the boost in terms of time, which is typically most noticeable and measurable.

And I suspect it’s just the tip of the ice berg.

Day 32: January

Right, so I guess it’s safe to say now I’m going to be blogging through this year, much like I did right through 2016. I wanted to gather enough steam and continuity before I confirmed it even to myself – hahaha.

No it isn’t a blogathon, it is just me making yet another attempt to find one thing that I can sit my ass down and do every single day. The last time I did this, my life was very different. I lived in Goa, I was quite fed up with the comfortable plateau it had brought me to, and an inexplicable restlessness pervaded through my entire being. It was the year I began to contemplate a different kind of life, and that required me to examine a lot of things about myself, my personality, my attitudes to many things and also my demons and fears. It was the year I worked harder and more than I had ever before (or after). It was the year I started therapy. It was the year that set of a lot of the changes I came to face in 2017. All of this gave me a lot of very concrete, tangible things to write about.

Through the erratic, tumultuous time that 2016 was, keeping this diary of sorts played my constant leveller. It gave me sense of sanity and regularity, when around me things were anything but normal. No matter what happened (and a LOT happened!) I found it useful, reflective, meditative and just productive to record it here.

This time around, I find myself not so preoccupied with what is going on around me, but within me. I’m aware this doesn’t make for very glamorous reading. I also am aware it isn’t very unique or refreshing. No longer being in Goa has reduced a lot of the novelty in my blog. But that alone, was never the purpose of my writing, this blog, or taking to write a post a day. I write because it makes sense to me, primarily. Everything else is secondary.

Without Facebook and Instagram, where I’d usually post about my blog and announce updates and garner readers, I sense the silence around here. The numbers of visitors are far fewer, the comments non existent. The emails though, they still keep coming. And it is oddly satisfying, reassuring in a way that statistics will never be. Because it tells me, time and time again, that no matter what I may be going through, it is not new or special. There’s always someone feeling the same way, experiencing the same things. It creates a bond, a special connection, and it is simultaneously humbling.

Despite the silence, in the absence of promoted posts, social media numbers and shares, to still find a space for my voice and to know that I am heard, is all kinds of satisfying. Perhaps, this then, is why I write.

***

I’m going to also continue to reflect on every month gone by, and that makes me balk that January has passed me by in a flash. Consequent to what I’ve rambled on above, I guess these recaps will be far from exciting. But I’ll do it anyway.

Here’s what occupied my mind right through the month:

Reflections:
Growth, change and healing — Right from day one I’ve been determined to move ahead and it showed in my rumination on:
Friendship — A lot of churn in the last month of 2017 in this area of my life meant reflection, altered beliefs and a lot of reassurance.
Gratitude — One thing I know for certain, the more I acknowledge the goodness in my life, the more goodness finds it way to me. And so there is going to be a lot of giving thanks, like so. And also a weekly habit of looking back and giving thanks, overover and over.
Fitness and body-positivity — Last year, I went on a six week food plan. At the time I thought I knew what I was after. It did me a lot of good, in some ways, but six months down, with the benefit of retrospect (and some much needed honesty with myself) I realised it also damaged me in far worse ways than I realised. It’s been an ongoing struggle this month, but I finally feel like Im coming back to myself.

Reading:
Looking back on all that I read through 2017 probably helped me set off to a good start with some fabulous fiction this year.

Tales of travel:
I recapped our December holidays — a cycling trip to Wayanad and a quiet getaway to Coonoor.

Other rambles:
I’ve revelled in the extended winter, talked about what I’ve been watching, felt got a bit consumed by love.

I had an opinion on the Aziz Ansari debacle, conflicting feelings about Uber in Bangalore and even a brief cynicism on patriotism.

Two years ago: Day 32: On creative happiness

Day 9: The hardest part

is admitting that you were wrong. But once you’re over that hurdle, it’s like walking into the light, or unlocking the next level of a mystery you’re desperately trying to solve.

For someone so convinced I was an out and out introvert just over a year ago, the past year has seen a big change. The developments of recent time, specially the last six odd weeks have only confirmed what I have known to be true for a while now: I have changed, in ways I know, but more so in ways I am only getting to know slowly.

The more willing I am to sit still and observe, question and think about the changes I see, the more I know this to be true. And that willingness is the hard part. Because it means accepting that it may be time to let go of some rigid truths, or that I might need to soften up on some of my staunch aversions, or it means letting go of the safety of labels that I use to define me. It means instead, to look at the very real circumstances that are shaping me in entirely different ways.

It means finding new connections.

It means sometimes standing alone.

Daunting as it sounds, and is in some part, it is also incredibly energising. Nobody talks about how refreshing and life-giving the process can be. It is not without tedium, and there’s really no escaping the bitter realities that you’ll have to stare in the face, but once you’re over that hurdle, it is like a breath of fresh air. Light, rejuvenating, and puts the spring right back in your step.

Perhaps it is the mistaken ideas of adulthood and becoming-who-you-are that we have inculcated, that makes this journey seem one way. The pursuit of prescribed ideals, boxed definitions and perfection itself makes looking back, revisiting old versions of yourself and admitting less than ideal facets of yourself impossible, and a waste of time. Shame, envy, inadequacy, confusion become bad words we don’t want to believe are parts of us.

But the truth is, growing up involves going back and forth all the time. It is acknowledging these unsavoury parts of ourselves that unlocks the potential to plummet ahead. Never before have I valued retrospection so much. For it has helped revisit so much, only this time with a softer eye. Less self-loathing. Less judgement. More acceptance.

With every passing week, I realise I’m not the introvert I was in the months before I left Goa. It was circumstances that made me withdraw and seek my own company, closed in from the world. But I didn’t understand why or how it was happening. It was simply the playing out of what N articulated perfectly — Everyone can’t go with you everywhere — a truth (and several others) I’m only realising this now. And I’m changing, because of it.

Even until weeks mere ago, it was hard to say if it was a change brought on by changing circumstances, or if the shifts brewing within me in turn were reflected in my circumstances. Mostly this has been a revelation about how wrong I was.

I noticed around the middle of last year how suddenly I was much more willing to go out, be with people, socialise and do things outside of the four walls of the introvert cocoon I’d settled into. The frequency with which I’d surprise myself by volunteering to do something I thought was uncharacteristic began to rise, till I realised it was too frequent to pass it off as “exceptions to the rule”. It was, in fact, the new normal. Try out a new restaurant, I’m in. Want to come to xyz, with abs, def, (who you don’t know), sure! Want to try out a reading club where we’ll read a book on self-esteem, why not? Poetry reading, yes. Movie with the family, yes. Dinner with extended family, okay to that too. Cooking for fifteen people over two days, count me in.

Slowly I found myself feeling a lot more energetic and willing to to put myself out there, in situations I’d told myself were never for me. The clincher was willingly joining VC in his new business, and taking on a client-facing role.

Conversely, I don’t fancy spending as much time all by myself at home. It helps that amma’s home is in the next building, so I always have a cocoon of comfort to jump into when things get overly solitary around here.

This is a big change for someone who in Goa barely ever left home, and loved being alone. The most joyous moment on any ordinary day then, would be when VC left for work and the help finished for the day. I would savour the solitude slowly over the course of the day, wearing my space and isolation like a comfortable skin.

It’s true what they say, the company you keep really does reflect your state of mind. And maybe this, in some measure also explains the dissonance and distance I’ve felt with those I’d most easily turn to for daily kinship. I’ve carried this feeling, that something has changed, but I’m not quite sure what to do with it, around uncomfortably for a few weeks. Eventually, the truth dawned on me: in the face of all this drastic change, I feel less and less inclined to stick to fixed anythings. My faith in the rock bed of certainties has shaken, so I’m finding it very counter-productive to stick in places I am feeling restless. Whether that is a pattern of friendship, the habits I think I need to have, or fearing breaking them because it means being alone.

The last few weeks saw me do both. And surprisingly, it got easier. The fear subsided and I felt charged with an energy I didn’t know possible.

Do you know what it is like to watch yourself move from being a somewhat passive, this-is-who-I-am-and-I’ll-just-stay-here-until-the-right-stuation-happens to a let’s-go-out-there-and-find-a-way-to-make-this-work state of mind? It has been like dipping into a secret reserve of self-worth I have suddenly discovered.

We really underestimate how much we are capable of growth. How much we are in fact changing all the time. Drastic growth brings with it such significant shifts in the mind and body that inevitably, it leads you to the reality of leaving things behind. By definition, it is what movement entails.

So whether it’s a time (it’s futile being torn up about moving on from the perks of full time employment, for example, because it doesn’t have a place in my life or in my current reality), place (similarly, so meaningless to wistfully long for my life in Goa when this is where I am now and it is what I know is most necessary), or even company (If I am changing all the time, surely every body else is too. So what then am I hanging on to so tight?), the need to loosen the grip and ease up on expecting a pre-defined kind of certainty has slipped under my skin.

Much like hanging on to older ideas of a version of myself did nothing but delay the movement that was waiting to happen in my life, I’m realising that hanging on to a fixed, rigid idea of the kind of friendship I am made for, or what I am capable of in relatonships, has made it hard for me to find deeper, authentic connections suited to where I am now.

 

One of the things that has become utterly clear to me in the recent past is that my life has little meaning without connection. I’m craving it all the time. In people, in activities, in experiences, in spaces, in habits. I’m only now learning how believing so hard in the fallacy that I am a complete introvert, has held me back in this respect.

It was hard to acknowledge that my introvertism was a temporary shield I donned, while I waded through emotions I didn’t want to face. I mistook a streak of introvertism to be a personality-defining thing, when actually it was just me seeking safety in numbers, in memes that scream relatable truths that made me feel like I belonged. Because I wanted to belong anywhere, but to the real self that was desperately running away from feeling all the feels.

Until, I was ready to break out and do all of that — face those scary feels, be as vulnerable as I possibly could, acknowledge how wrong I was, look at new and intimidating ways of being that my situation now required.

Now, I’m less afraid to make connections.

Similarly, I am less afraid to stand alone.

This shift in my attitude has already brought tremendous positive change — I see it in the most significant things like the way I was able to accept moving to Bangalore to the smallest, seemingly insignificant things like suddenly embracing hot pink lipstick with a casual comfort that was alien to me.

I see it in the way I am suddenly more outgoing. Accepting invitations to meet new people, pushing myself out to events, trying out new restaurants, making plans to beat traffic and increasingly seeking new experiences, over the comfort of mundanities, when it comes to people. I’m reluctant to keep going over the same motions out of habit. I have little to share in terms of mundanities, and the lack of conversational sharing does mean I’ve fallen out of the loop. But I’m dealing with that, and even with its difficulties, I feel it’s better than the hollow, exhausting efforts of continually trying to flog a habit I’m clearly not in the space to hang on to.

I am so not that person anymore.

Accepting that was the hardest part.

This business of looking back at the trail we’ve traversed now seems like an essential healthy practice, one that I should probably do more often. To see where we were, how far we’ve come, to ask crucial questions about where we’re headed, why, and if we’ll actually be happy once we get there requires so much reworking of of our old selves, to take what’s best for us and to let go of all that no longer serve a purpose.

But I won’t lie, that is the hardest part.

Day 4: Going by the book (and all that I read in 2017)

It’s safe to say the reading habit took a big bashing in 2017. I started off so great, and went full power until about August. Which is exactly when life took over — the physical, logistical aspects of shifting were done and I was in the throes of adjusting to living in Bangalore, figuring out work and the rest, and basically finding a new rhythm. And you know how we all have that one thing that takes a hit the minute there’s a time crunch or heavy demand on our mental faculty? That one thing that you’re most likely to give up in a pinch? Well, reading is that thing in my life. When the going gets tough and I’m pressed for time, I push reading on the back burner. So yeah, I slipped. First to infrequent reading, and reading so slow I didn’t finish a book for yonks, to eventually just giving up and thinking “oh well, the new year is around the corner, I’ll just resume in January!”

I even went back and sneakily edited my Goodreads challenge to reflect a success! Yeah, I know. I hate losing. The odd thing is half way through the year I was more than half way mark as far as the number of books I promised myself I’d read. So I was on track to finishing, and I fucked it up. Anyway, I still closed the year with some good books under the belt.

Which brings me to where we are now. Last week, right before we left for our weekend in Coonoor, I quickly downloaded a book I thought I’d finish over the 2-3 days we were away. I didn’t want to dip into something I already had, or try and finish any of the books I’ve been struggling with. I wanted something I could start and finish before I returned to Bangalore, and I didn’t want something too frothy or vapid.

I picked The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson because I remember reading an article of the same title, on his blog a few years ago. Also the books been showing up on my Goodreads for a while now. I steered away because I’ve not had a very good experience with self-help in recent times. But, I’m happy, albeit a bit ashamed, to report this one hit the spot. The cleverness isn’t so much in the content — which is to say a lot of it is common sense and you wont really read anything revelatory or that you haven’t heard or thought of before — but in the way it’s packaged into neat little precise truths. Truths that hold good for each and every one of us, without exception.

In this latest book, Manson presents what he calls a counter-intuitive approach to living a good life. And he boils it down to simply re-prioritizing what you value and want to care about. IE: What you want to and don’t want to give a fuck about. As the title suggests it’s about choosing not to give a fuck about the most common things that we tend to, and pick other more valuable things that will result in a fuller, wholesome life. Like I said, nothing earth-shattering, but maybe it’s the fact that he uses relevant and relatable examples, anecdotes and experiences, or the fact that much of what he dwells on — overcoming the need to be right, letting go of the need for certainty, figuring out toxic relationships and learning boundaries, to name a few fundamentals in the book — is stuff I’ve been pondering about a lot this past year, or it was just the right time for this kind of book in my life, that I rather surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the book. My only gripe: he does come across as trying too hard to sound cool and cocky at times, and sometimes he’s downright sexist. I nearly put the book down at one point when he goes into a particularly sexist example of the differences in the way he and his wife approach differences, but I decided to count to ten, breathe deeply and finish the book. I’m glad I did.

I suspect I’ll thumb through some parts of this book again and again, as the journey he describes in the book is a lot like the one I find myself on. Figuring out what/who I truly care about and how much of my time and effort I want to spend indulging it, all while being better every step of the way, and becoming my own person has consumed me off late. This is why the book spoke to me. I’ve committed myself this year, to make this journey an active part of my life, and not something that happens at the fringes or in my free time. I want to mindfully, actively participate in my growth, and if you’re familiar with his work, Manson’s craft is really fine-tuned for this.

It was also nice to finish the year with a book I closed on the very last day. Clean slate for the year to come, and a good time to look at the year that’s been. In terms of books, of course. Much like I did last year.

  1. Sula, Toni Morrison
  2. The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin
  3. The Rachel Papers, Martin Amis
  4. Girls of Riyadh, Rajaa Alsanea
  5. Things that Can and Cannot Be Said, Arundhati Roy and John Cusack
  6. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  7. The Smoke is Rising, Mahesh Rao
  8. The High Priestess Never Marries, Sharanya Manivannan
  9. Karachi, You’re Killing Me!, Saba Imtiaz
  10. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Ann Shaffer
  11. All Grown Up, Jami Attenberg
  12. Baaz, Anuja Chauhan
  13. Heartburn, Norah Ephron
  14. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  15. About a Boy, Nick Hornby
  16. Present Over Perfect, Shauna Niequist
  17. The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion
  18. Bird By Bird, Anne Lamott
  19. Sex Object, Jessica Valenti
  20. One Part Woman, Perumal Murugan
  21. Bangalore: A Graphic Novel: Every City is a Story, Jai Undurti
  22. The Rosie Effect, Graeme Simsion
  23. Men Explain Things To Me, Rebecca Solnit
  24. Dongri To Dubai : Six Decades of The Mumbai Mafia, S. Hussain Zaidi
  25. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  26. Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler
  27. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson

Looking back I realise I’ve done absolutely no justice to fulfil my desire to read more fiction last year. If anything I’ve read a lot of non fiction, a lot of writing by women, and despite repeatedly telling myself self-help probably isn’t for me, I’ve reached out to several titles because some excerpt, some nugget somewhere spoke to me.

My current want-to-read list is bursting at the seams. It’s a good mix of fiction and non fiction, but I want to try and broaden me perspective this year. Not just in terms of how much I read, but what I read too. Essays are still my most favourite format, I realise. But it is possible to go deep and read essays that talk about life and times in places and scenarios so very different from mine. I’m looking forward to that.

Let’s see how it goes.

Two years ago: Day 4: Love letters

Crossing over

It’s looking-back time, I know. But I find myself only filled with wishes for the year ahead. I ended 2016 with a strong burning need to find my place — physically speaking — as I dealt with the growing certainty that it was not Goa. but I had no idea how that search had little to do with location or city or anyplace. And everything to do with looking within.

I moved cities, back to Bangalore, a move I didn’t imagine possible even ten to fifteen days before we took the decision. And it was merely the start of a series of unexpected, but so necessary, changes that would surprise and challenge me in equal measure.

2017 has been one heck of a year and the thread unifying it all would have to be one of transition and transformation. It’s been a time of letting go of the reins in order to figure out a new way ahead. In a strange space of being back on familiar ground, yet recognising so little of the city I once called home, I found fertile testing ground to stretch my ability to allow change, move with it and realise I actually enjoy it. Physically, it took wrenching myself out of the comfort zone to find myself again.

How odd that it took cutting the roots off to find belonging. It’s been a year of discovering that belonging and my place. In family, in work, in friends and camaraderie, in connections, in extended family, in my marriage, and most of all, within myself. It’s been a year of peeling back a few more layers and getting closer to what’s at the core. A year of understanding, with extreme clarity, how necessary it is to be so wholly comfortable in my place and in my skin, in order to belong to each of the systems that I do, need and want.

This will always be the year that I realised with astounding certainty how much I need and love my family. I’m closing the year rich with memories and experiences of time spent deeply engaged with my parents, amazing times with my sister (who fortuitously moved back home around the same time that I did), VC — my truth-teller and fellow braver-of-change, and a handful of friends who have walked along with me as I navigated the shortest. I feel so much gratitude for the gift that was 2017. Even with all its oddballs and challenges it was a gift to realise and claim a whole new set of values to go from here on.

For all my life I have craved stability, consistency and the safety of roots. This year I let that need go and turned my life around in the most significant way possible. The truth is, I have seen how different the entire year turned out to be, as a result of it. I took a wild chance, shut my eyes and jumped with little idea of what was waiting for me. I’m happy with how taking this chance has turned out. Because it turned out that at the bottom of that jump, I had an army of support waiting to hold and bolster me. Giving me a huge step up even as. Picked myself up with okay feet and wobbly knees. It’s been an incredible year of vulnerability that tested my resilience, but gave me surprising revelations and staggering opportunity for personal growth. And it wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t changed certain fundamental truths and values I held to be mine.

I’ve seen as much loss as I have, gain, this year. People have come and gone. Work has transformed. My sense of home currently lies in shambles (and it’s okay). Like I said before, it’s been an incredible year of shedding. But all the room created by it has only opened me up that much more for what’s to come.

I’ve already signed myself up for another year along this path. To discovering more. To talking less and doing more. To belonging more and more to myself.

Same time, last year: Day 366: December

I shake off all that no longer serves me

I started to write this post on the 1st of this month, and wanted to add in a fitting song because I realised all of 2017 has passed without a single music track/link being posted on this blog. That is utterly unthinkable. But guess what, the silence and an inexplicable energy-saving mode of sorts has crept in so deep, I didn’t get down to finishing the post and I have now forgotten what song I wanted to add in.

Pardon this jagged, rushed job of a post. Its long winded, repetitive and very roundabout. I’m aware because I haven’t even bothered to edit or prune it. It is an attempt to get going and have it out. Something, is better than nothing, I tell myself. Letting go of my obsession for perfection and finishing all business to the T has been constant work in progress and this too is an attempt to express, and write even when the words aren’t coming out the way I’d ideally like them to.

*****

It’s December, and funnily that expected panic and omg-how-is-it-December-already feeling hasn’t hit. I don’t think it will this year. Possibly because I’ve spend most of the year in a state of churn, and haven’t really felt settled in the real sense of the term. There’s been a fair bit of travel and moving around always makes me feel like I don’t have my feet firmly on the ground. I vascilate between the comforting mundanities that bind my daily routine, and the little surprises it throws in terms of things to do, travel out of Bangalore, meeting new people and trying out new things.

The rumbling workings of moving from one phase to another is what 2017 has been about. Even as I think back and feel like I don’t have much to pen, I know this has been a big year of shifts, change on multiple fronts. It feels so full and hectic, even as I realise I don’t really have much to show for it, in tangible, tactical terms.

And so I have written this entire year off to WIP, a state of transition, with no expectations of having done big stuff, ticked things off the proverbial list and the like. It was much needed because it meant letting go of control, the very notion of it, and the contents and parts I tend to try and have a hold over in my own life.

This year more than ever, I let go of patterns, fixed ideas and considering the relocation back to Bangalore, I had no choice but to make space for the physical change it brought. The only way to make sense of it and move through it with least angst was to go with the flow. Truly go with it was what I was aiming for. It took a lot of conscious effort, but for the first time ever, I may have succeeded in some part. In doing so, I got a taste of what it is to surrender to the what-will-be-will-be philosophy that so far only sounded too good to be true. I got a better sense of what is important to me — personally, professionally and otherwise — and began to focus on it. I am coming to terms with constantly allowing space for change, not only within and around myself, but also in people I associate with. It has meant accepting changes in relationships, allowing myself to feel disappointed and shaking it off quickly rather than brooding over it, and most importantly it’s brought people I had turned my back on for good back into my life in a pleasant, refreshing way.

I’ve realised this year, more than ever before, that my feelings towards people and the longing for kinship of a certain kind has always been fraught with angst caused by my own tendency to remain fixed to a pre-meditated and cookie cutter idea of the nature of relationships I want in my life. This year, I accepted differences, tonalities and diversity in people and I know I am all the better for it. Differences matter less, disagreements bother me lesser, and my life feel full of people, even as I’ve trimmed some folks out.

All in all, If I spent the last two years anxiously in wait for change (not knowing I was actually laying down the path to move ahead), this year I stomped ahead and claimed that path. So there really isn’t much to take stock of. On paper, I have little to show for what happened and what was accomplished this year.

Yet, so much has happened. Most of it has been internal, and even though I pontificate and ruminate over it in cyclic fashion on this blog, I’ve found it hard to bring it into conversations with people around me. Even those who have been a part of and shared much of this journey with me. I’ve found myself conserving energy, feeling silent and sitting with the shifts I am experiences, craving more and more of it, and consciously moving towards a place of intensifying growth and becoming better with every passing day and week.

This was the year I shed a lot of my fear of change, examined more aversions that I’d like to admit I had, and recognised how much I was getting in my own way and how much of this has been keeping myself from getting ahead. But that process in itself has been the journey, and there’s no easy, short-cut to get around it. It takes painfully long, and my days are often dotted with tedious introspection and reflection.

The funny this is, it slows down time and yet this has been the fastest, most brisk year to have zipped by, yet. I know I say this every year, but 2017 has really made me feel it. The general theme has been wait-and-watch, rush nothing, look before you leap, but let go and move with the flow.

While I’m cursorily looking back on the year, its clear as the first rays of morning sunshine, that this has been a year of a great amount of shedding. The first step to a lot of that has been to truthfully look at everything in my life — people, habits, attitudes, work, likes, dislikes — and accept where it is and what purpose it serves. Many times it has meant coming to a painful conclusion that something/someone I love, or who makes my life look and feel a certain way, isn’t actually serving me any good anymore. Some times it has meant letting go of a stupid idea I believe defines me, when actually it defined me two or five or ten years ago, when I have actually moved on and hanging on to it is actually keeping me away from a fresh experience. There has also been the odd yet very humbling instance of seeing my own harsh and judgemental outlook on so much around me, and trying every single day to consciously be gentler with myself and with people around me, with the words that pass through my brain and the lot that carelessly slip out, has opened up something for me.

It is constant work. At being present. At being conscious. At being mindful and watchful. At being gentle every chance that I can. At allowing space for change all the time. At moving closer to a deeper, more granular level of honesty. At choosing kindness. And all the while reminding myself that nothing, not even all of this, is forever or permanently written in stone. What works today, may not have a few years ago. And may not serve me well in the years to come. Understanding this, is what has required the work, the mindfulness and the repeated need to quieten down and tune inwards.

I shake off all that no longer serves me. Again. And again. And again.

Same time, last year: Day 348: The last of the books for 2016

Acceptance is a small, quiet room

About my post earlier this week: I see I’ve come full circle, from this post I wrote a year ago that echoes much the same feelings, albeit in an entirely different context and environment.

Acceptance. Peace. Contentment. Call it what you will – it doesn’t need the perfect situation. It doesn’t even need most things to be just right. It needs just the right things to work, and a little faith, is all.

It almost never comes with bells ringing and celebrations of pomp. It comes silently. Quietly. Sometimes when you’re all alone.

Illustrating my point exactly.

And while you’re at it, check out this post too.

Same time, last year: Day 320: One day in Bangkok (or day one in Bangkok)