In these days of an isolated living, I have vivid dreams. Concerns replay themselves; unresolved past issues keep raising their voice and I often wake with a pain in my heart.
But I’ve been here before and the pain has passed. The particularities change, new anxieties replace the old and the tiniest discord of the moment seems hard to discount.
Dreams occur in the dark of night. The day brings simple joys. I smile at a stranger in the market and receive a grand wave, I let an old lady ahead of me in the queue and she responds with a warm thanks.
These gestures are so easy when the heart isn’t caught up in itself, and is able to be present to whatever is in the very now.
But all days do not play out with such grace. Often the slightest things are infuriating, and its almost like I’m being predatory and looking for someone upon whom I can unload my irritation.
And yet, and yet underneath this shadow dance of varying moods there are always encounters of nourishment. A sip of a delicious sweet hot ginger tea, a waft of cool breeze upon my clammy neck, the naughty little puppy who insists on following me with his big soppy eyes – these and a hundred more.
But these and a hundred more are what I take for granted. I crave the extraordinary – the affirmation of someone important, an invitation to a gala ball, a million-dollar lottery.
Yes, I’m exaggerating, but its only when expectation is seen in its extreme that the ridiculousness of desire makes itself visible.
Otherwise, what we want appears to be so rational, achievable and necessary. Little does one realize that in chasing unsubstantiated ambitions all one does is create friction. We live in battle between what we want and what we need. Just what we would simply like to do.
Gosh I’d really love a slice of hot buttered toast, but I’ve just gotten off the scale and the two kilos I’ve gained feel like I weigh a ton. Stress.
God wouldn’t I really love to curl up and read all day. The inconsequential to do list can wait for another day. But no, my perfectionist self won’t let me be.
These are merely the tiny fragments of pain that gather around my soul gnawing away at the essential lightness of being. With a burden of ideals I carry into the day, when dusk falls and the night is near, the more serious matters get ready to surface and haunt.
I’ve spent the day trying to logically look at solutions, brainstormed and sought counsel but there is no solution that seems evident other than the wisdom of time and patience.
Could another word be acceptance, or perhaps surrender …? I don’t mean that in a defeatist sense but rather as a response of a mature person whose lived life and seen its ever-changing hues and faces.
Even the most taunting dreams must be endured, and even the faintest inner voice which sometimes says my best is not good enough needs nothing other than to be acknowledged. I don’t need to respond to the vagaries of mind. Then pain passes like time. Unbeknownst to me. Like each breath I take never knowing I do.
The human heart understands how to endure struggle and strife and yet remain ever open, giving, loving, caring. All I need to do is step out of its way with my petty insistence on instant resolution and immediate gratification.
A long peaceful night’s rest is the way of nature. Its disturbance is the work of misunderstanding our place in the universe of things. In separating myself from the all-encompassing current of consciousness I create division where none is necessary. I build a dam and then ask why the river does not flow to sea …? I want to remain a drop and then ask why I cannot experience the vastness of the ocean …?
I am only but a child of this magnificent world, not totally independent, not utterly sufficient and self-sufficient and certainly never will I be its master.
In the interconnectedness of family, friends, acquaintances, strangers, society, country, continent we become a whole. Individual, distinct but indivisible.
Then the demons of the night pass like dark clouds on a stormy sky, and the rain that touches my naked skin is filled with the promise of benevolent grace and forgiveness.
Desire and wants dissolve and I find myself just standing upon the earth unafraid and for once content.
Isolated but not alone.
Though my childhood was difficult and complex, these challenges forced me to look for happiness in things beyond the conventional givens of material possessions, career and marriage. Decades of philosophical reading, exploring meditation techniques and alternative therapies, culminated in meeting my Guru, Ramesh Balsekar. It was during the six years I spent attending his daily discourses that my innate love for language developed into editing books and doing some writing of my own. Learning from hard-earned personal experience I was finally able to overcome my unresolved issues. Today, this journey has allowed for me to be an emotionally present mother, a caring partner and a dependable friend. Indeed, suffering can be a gateway into becoming a more complete human being.
This series of blogs has been reviewed by Drishya Warrier, Aditi Iyer, and Pratishtha Bagai, of Symbiosis Centre of media and Mass Communication, Pune. We are students that have completed our first year. Through this NGO Internship Project at MHAT, we explored the field of mental health while pursuing our interest in creative writing.