In the past few years, I have developed a peculiar habit. Whenever I witness a change in my life, I secretly pull out my memory catcher, fish out the emotional moment and silently put it aside in my box of memorabilia.
I did something similar a month ago on my last ride from the campus to the airport. While the cab was waiting at the crossing, I glanced back at the deserted road of the campus in the silence of the night. There was a sudden surge of emotions when out of nowhere, Stevie Wonder started singing on the radio, ‘I just called to say I love you and I mean it from the bottom of my heart’. And it was at that time I knew I was heading towards a change and I should freeze that moment forever.
So you see I have inculcated this habit of invisibly documenting changes in my life. As I think more about it, I am left more puzzled with this five letter word that has put me on an emotional roller coaster ride multiple times. So I finally decided to make friends with it and solve this puzzle once and for all. Just as I began to follow the clues to learn more about my new found friend, I felt it was just as double faced as us.
At the very first instance, it introduced me to a familiar face that made me smile. It was the face that would pop up every time I would try to voluntarily introduce a change in my life. A change that could be as minuscule as losing body weight to as big as moving to a different country. No matter how big or small it was, I always welcomed it with open arms because it was voluntary. But just as I became comfortable with our friendship, it revealed a lesser known face that dissolved my smile. It was the same face that appeared when I stared at the deserted campus road. It was the face that made my heart heavy. It was a change that was involuntary and therefore was not welcomed.
Seeing the different faces of change, I felt that I could no longer sustain this friendship. It made me reconsider if I should let go of someone who despite being double faced was honest and upfront? Or did it deserve a second chance like all of us? During the prolonged period of deliberation, I realized that change has become an integral part of my life. I had unknowingly held its hand forever. But neither I could be friends with it nor we could be enemies. So considering the twin side of our connection, I have decided to officially stamp this relationship as ‘frenemies’ and appreciate its presence in my life .
PS – I still love my memory catcher and hope to use it more often. 🙂
Are you someone who feels incomplete if you do not have a plan? Do you panic when things do not go as planned? If your answer to these questions is in affirmative, fear not, you are still sane and sorted. In fact, you can pat your back for inculcating a business lesson in your life – ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’. While majority of you must have breathed a sigh of relief, somewhere in that crowd there will be a poor soul among us who would be hesitant to shamelessly blurt a no. So I decided to end this month long hiatus from writing by analyzing what goes on behind the curtains when a person decides not to plan.
Just a couple of days back, one of my friends mentioned how planning becomes redundant as we grow and progress through different phases of life. Initially, I felt that the statement was completely flawed. I wanted to argue that planning becomes all the more stronger force as we progress . We lay out a perfect plan of how we want to see our life and relentlessly work as per it. And we become anxious the moment things go awry. I can literally vouch for the same as during my formative years, I meticulously planned each hour, day, month and the foreseeable future. But today I surprised myself when I sheepishly agreed with my friend and topped up the statement with my own two cents, ‘It’s better to live in the moment’. There you go! I am the shameless soul who no longer feels incomplete without a plan and who doesn’t panic because I no longer have a plan at the first go.
When I reason out such a drastic shift, I realize that planning is like a drug. A drug which if used to experience abrupt periods of high in life will not do any harm. But if you become addicted to it, you will soon be seeking help. And now when I reflect on the past, I realize I had unknowingly become a drug addict. I enjoyed the momentary highs when the plan worked and experienced long periods of disappointment when it failed. Maybe this was a way of life teaching its own version of a business lesson – ‘failing to live in the moment is planning to fail in life’.
In my rehab years, I realized that while it is good to be methodical and planned in your approach towards life, but excessive planning overshadows the present. How can you expect to live in the moment when all you want to do is plan your tomorrow?
Thankfully, post rehab I have grown more cautious and have learned to appreciate that after a point, there are certain things in life that cannot be planned. It is important to let life take its own course while you can submerge yourself in the moment, worry a little less and smile a little more. It is okay to go with the flow but paddle in brief intervals. After all, only dead fishes go with the flow.
PS – I had tried to pen down my thoughts just based on the ending quote of this post a couple of months back, but it did not fit in and I ended up writing nothing. And today, it made its way effortlessly. 🙂
There are instances when you experience moments that transport you to the past and you cannot help but reminisce the good old days. On one such occasion, on my way back to the university, I came across a group of undergraduate exchange students from India in the campus bus. While I was lost in my own thoughts about how our quest for happiness changes as we grow, the energy of these youngsters in their early 20s enticed me. I could easily sense that they were making memories in that moment. Moments that will be forever etched in their minds as the complexities of life will turn happiness into a sorcerer’s stone. And as I started thinking about memories and moments, I slowly drifted away to the joyous past.
It sometimes surprises me how unknowingly we can experience happiness in the purest form and in the most simplest of the moments. But what amuses me more is how we can spend our entire lifetime looking and praying for that ‘one big happy moment’ just to realize that years later we will find it in the form of laughter shared with school friends on a movie day, the dance of the butterflies when the childhood crush reciprocated the smile or the hearty meals with family when dine outs were a once in a year soiree.
Unfortunately, as we evolve, our notion of happiness becomes complex. We start looking for those big moments to define our life – qualifying that one big exam, securing that one big promotion, buying that one big car, and splurging on that one big fat wedding. While the idea of happiness is extremely personalized, I sometimes feel that we truly miss out on the real journey that itself leads to the big moments of life. The joke that soothened the anxiety pang just before the exam or the nervousness to meet the last sales order that lead to the promotion or that last one dollar that made up for the down payment of the car or the years of togetherness that culminated into marriage, all are overshadowed by that one big moment.
May be this is the reason that why most of us are leading an unhappy life. We pretend to be happy, but we are still confused if we are really happy because the concept of happiness has become blurred. In our quest for happiness, we end up climbing up the mountains, diving in the ocean, and trekking in the dark forests, just to realize that it was always sitting next to us. And maybe, it is then we realize that life is nothing but an ensemble of little pleasures that makes us truly happy.
PS – I hope to get this tattooed someday as a reminder not to overlook the little moments of joy in life. 🙂
Last week, I visited the biggest city of Java island as a part of my South East Asia sojourn. As I prepared my itinerary, I decided to spend some time at St Mary of the Assumption Cathedral and Istiqlal Mosque on the first day of my three day trip. When I took the motor taxi to visit the cathedral, I was pleasantly surprised to see the mosque located right opposite the cathedral on the other side of the road.
While this was not my first visit to the church, I attended the daily mass for the first time. I was mesmerized by the enchanting recitals. As I was about to leave the church, I could hear the azaan and see a group of men heading towards the mosque. With an already simulated spiritual self, I was intrigued by the tall minaret of the mosque glistening in the evening sky. I followed the men, cleansed my hands and sat in one corner of the prayer room. As the namaaz was in progress, I couldn’t help but appreciate the peaceful coexistence of two different religious groups in the same neighborhood and how seamlessly the locals have embraced diverse religious beliefs.
While I was impressed with the serenity, it still made me question whether differences can always invoke equitable and ready acceptance. Do we really embrace differences or do we feel embarrassed of them? A simple yet powerful instance from daily life reminds me of our general intolerance towards differences. Just a couple of days back, I saw the lawn mowers plucking the weeds in the garden right at the backside of my residential block. This regular exercise of weeding out ‘different’ looking plants exemplified our lack of acceptance in daily routine. May be we are so used to living a life modeled on a visible pattern that we tend to become hostile if we encounter any deviation or difference. Be it in terms of religion, sex, color or beliefs, we create such high barriers that we cannot appreciate anything that comes in a different figure or form. I couldn’t agree more with the thoughts of one of my fellow blogger, Bamboozled who recently posted about our general inability to embrace the different.
Being embarrassed and being able to embrace are two extreme shades of human reactions. Our brains are by default set to ‘embarrassment’ mode when we see someone or experience something that comes with a stamp of ‘different’. But then there is another mode that our brain is not used to, ‘embrace’. Probably, switching over to this mode will demand us to become more open and respectful towards life in different forms. While for an individual it may take years to become more accepting in nature, it may take a lifetime for humankind in general to move from one ‘E’ to the other. Probably, the day when the lawns will be sprawling with greenery and plants of all form, shape and size, we can truly regard ourselves as educated. Till then, we still have a long way to go.
PS – I have not seen my garden for a long time now. May be its time to go back home. 🙂
Long time ago, I had nurtured a dream to travel the world and write about my backpacking adventures. But as years passed, I lost track of my dream and buried it away just like other secret Christmas wishes. Maybe Santa Claus and his reindeer were as mythical as the Christmas folklore or maybe I was too innocent to believe in them. The fact remains that when we live in our own utopian world, we rarely make conscious efforts to reconcile it with the hard realities of life.
This probably explains the endless wait for Santa to secretly fulfill my wishes all these years. But with growing up, I realized that we have to become our own Santa sometimes if we want to keep the magic of Christmas alive. So with the start of the second quarter of life, I decided to revive the old dream and took on the journey to the secluded archipelago of Philippines with the intent to bridge my world with reality. The bridge seemed a little wobbly at the start, but with each step I could feel my fears wither away as courage made its way.
As a writer, one is expected to have the natural art of transforming emotions and thoughts into a melody of words. To be honest, all throughout the journey, I was jotting down my delirious thoughts to build a story. But when I eventually started working on it, for the first time I was rendered short of words for what I experienced. I could feel so many hues of emotions – gratitude, happiness, and solace all at once. I felt at home when I swam with fishes, explored the secret lagoons, joyously swung on the beach, and experienced the warmth of sunset. Closeness to nature was so overwhelming that I think I will not be able to justify the moments of joy by etching them into words. So I would want to safely keep this experience in my magical trunk of memorabilia.
While I may be short of words, I cannot thank enough the people I met during this journey. Be it my wonderful French host in El Nido or the lovely Filipino family who shared the scenic island drive or my co- travelers from Netherlands, US and Chile who kept me engaged in delightful conversations during snorkeling tour or my fellow hosteler from Brazil who warmly expressed his love for India or the honest and jovial local guide who taught me to pronounce “Mabuhay”, all of them reinstated my belief that the world is indeed a beautiful place!
And for the incapacity to describe my experience this time, I hope these few shots by the novice photographer would explain the reason for the loss of words.
PS- I still believe in the magic of Christmas and I hope to meet Santa someday. Till then, I am happy to be my own Santa and will continue to surprise myself by fulfilling all the past and future Christmas wishes!
In this fast paced life, you come across individuals from different age groups each having unique aspirations and goals. However, I am more fascinated with the people in their 20s. Their stark ideology about life makes me wonder if they are really travelling in the same boat.
20s is a phase when newly classified adults are actually struggling with the title of being an adult. While for some, it may be a smooth sail but for rest it may be a long arduous journey. Some like to stick to the usual norms of the society that marks successful accomplishment of their transition to adulthood whereas some prefer to just make their own rules. While each to their own, I couldn’t help but think about the ones who take their own time to accept adulthood in its full form.
In these few years of conscious living, I have come across extremely motivated, inspirational and energetic guns in their 20s who are really clear about what they want in life. Not only are they happily working towards the predicted milestones set by the society, they tend to overcome the biggest hurdle of defining the purpose of life that daunts some of their counterparts who may not be as receptive. So does it mean it is the end of the road for the struggling 20 something individuals who are slow, indecisive, unpredictable and unsure about their life?
Right from childhood, we are encouraged to plan our life well as every action is linked to the future. We are taught to think about the future and work towards it. We are expected to have a vision in life – what we want to become, what we want to achieve and where do we see ourselves in the next few years. We become so accustomed to plan our future that it becomes a part of our life and we feel motivated to work towards it every day. But do you think that all of us can easily assimilate what we are taught from childhood? May be no. And this explains the reason for the poles apart thought process of people in their 20s. Probably, the ones who could not accept this process in their formative years tend to question its purpose when they prepare for transition to adulthood. And it is these slow yet inquisitive fellows, who would want to experiment and fail till they make their own rule book that they can happily follow.
I think at the end of the day, our purpose in life is the same – happiness. But our journeys are so different that we tend to judge people on the basis of the paths they chose in their life. I have noticed that the sorted out 20s tend to frown upon their peers who decide to take the less dictated path. Therefore, as young individuals, it is important for us to embrace different ideologies about life and celebrate the struggle of the ones who cannot fit into the predictable pattern of leading life that is usually preached by the society. Probably, 20s is the only time when we have all the rights to make and break our own rules before we standardize them for our 30s.
PS – I tend to fling between the two ideologies frequently but I think I have a rule-book “almost” in place that combines the best of the worlds 🙂