“Do I matter?”

Gosh! It’s been exactly a month and a half since I last wrote. I’ve been away for various reasons – all personal. And then I hide behind the most trusted of all excuses which won’t ever give you away: work. :).

I had fallen off the grid with my walking, yoga, meditation, journaling, blogging and my routine was all over the place. Why? Because I was intensely focused on creating a ‘wow’ experience for my mom for her ‘surprise birthday party’. The intention was there, the focus was there, the determination, belief and action, all were there. And was it a wow? You betcha! (Hidden nugget: recipes for success are all here – focus, determination, belief, action and detachment from outcome – just got to do it.).

Well anyway, I’ve gotten back to my morning walks. Slowly, but I did it, I took one baby step at a time. I’ve gotten back to listening to podcasts like this one on the Unmistakable Creative, which I found very enlightening. During the course of Samantha Bennett ‘s conversation with Srinivas Rao, the host of UC, she mentioned, “Do I matter? Does anyone see me?” and it immediately struck a chord. My primeval being heaved when she (my primeval Renu) heard “Does anyone see me?” and I knew that this is a BIG thing. A question that I’ve battled with all my life.

Let me ask you this. Have you ever felt:
a) that you’re the kind who’ll always be the silent behind-the-scenes type but unlike a set designer or a director of a movie, or even a spot boy, you never get credit for everything you do? Maybe you don’t want it, and that’s your personality, but come on, at least sometimes it’d be nice to get all the credit for everything right? Right?

b) that somehow there are people who’ll always say, ‘hey let me do this, I got this’ and then you find that you’re the one who’s doing it, but later everyone around says the former did so much heavy-duty stuff? What a great help he/she was?Aaargh!!!

c) in a community or in a family or even in a team at an office, no one gives credit to the original idea that started something, anything, but everyone goes cheek-bussing and hi-fiving and the credit goes to perhaps the last one who wrote that email and said, ‘let’s do so and so at this time. Let’s meet?’ and you look forlornly and wonder, is this how it’s always going to be? You shrug and realise YES!

d) that those who’re seen to be doing something all the time even though in actuality they’re doing zilch, are the ones who’re credited with being ‘active’, ‘amazing’, ‘brilliant’ whereas you, if you’re the one who started the movement, oh well, sorry pal, not this way, the EXIT’s out the back-door, and shut the door silently behind you will ya? Er…who’re you?

e) suddenly on those occasions when you do make a sound and question, everyone looks at you, doesn’t like the sound of the question and what it purports to be, (perhaps makes them feel uncomfortable) and then suddenly you don’t matter? You’re not in the consideration set anymore, because you dared to ask a question and there in one fell swoop you’ve been swept to the background again.

f) the need for closure when some people you knew well, laughed with, were friends with, suddenly for no reason (seemingly) avoid you, look through you, turn their nose up at you, frown in your presence or just ignore you? Do you want to naturally gravitate towards the back of the wall or the elevator and agonise about, “why me”?

Each and every one of those instances has happened to me. I’m not a diva. I’m not an ideas-machine. I’m not a self-aggrandizing attention-seeking cloying sycophant who needs to prove anything. Correction! I do need my day in the sun! I do need external validation. Yes, I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t matter. I do need someone to applaud and say, ‘Brilliant job! No one else could’ve done better.” I do need for others to raise a toast. Yes, it’s important. I won’t lie, it is important. And I do crave for it. But that’s the one thing I’ve realised – the more you crave for something, the farther away it gets from you. But I’m human. For once I don’t have smart alecky answers or guide posts on how to cross this oh-so-human-failing of mine. Because all I ask is, “Don’t you see me?” 

If you’ve felt this way too and have found ways to make your peace, share. Sharing is caring! Lots of love to you!

 

 

 

 

The Inconvenience of Truth!

 “It’s mercy, compassion, and forgiveness I lack. Not rationality.”                  The Bride in  Kill Bill – Vol.1 

The Inconvenience of Truth 1:
Firstly, apologies that I’m a day late on my writing schedule. The ‘silver lining’ way to look at it? Thank God, just a day late and I’ve got something to say :). My mother and I went to see this Hindi movie called ‘City Lights’ on Sunday last. The movie had got great reviews and the actor is from among a new breed of actors in the Bollywood pantheon who’s a find, a bundle of skill and talent, he’s the reel and real deal – Rajkumar Rao, take a bow. The movie lived up to some of the reviews and I liked it. Gritty and real with some extremely fine acting.

The long and short of the storyline – a young man, his wife and his young daughter leave their village in Rajasthan, a state in North Western India, come to Mumbai seeking hope, love, dreams and fulfillment – trying to live an honest dream. What the city does to them as a family in search of living, is the crux of the movie. The movie held me in thrall, most movies do as I’m a lover of movies and if a movie doesn’t hold me in the vortex of its storytelling then it’s a truly truly truly awful film. Because I can sit through almost any film, barring horror. That’s a genre that I abhor and have stayed away from. I value my sleep and I don’t need horror films to teach me about  beauty and love and gratitude and forgiveness and I don’t need arguments that without darkness there can be no light. Thank you, but no, thank you! Aah, I digress, woe be me! :). Blame it on the lure of the words and the seduction by the keyboard :).

So to get back to the movie ‘City Lights’, the movie asked me a few questions to which I honestly had no answers:

a) What is it to be homeless and would I be able to sleep on a pavement besides a garbage dump with my mother if I ever found myself to be in a situation like that? {she’s the only immediate family though my close knit and extended family of aunts and cousins might take umbrage to that statement, but you know what I mean – like I have no siblings or a father (at least I don’t know if he’s alive and I’m hoping if he is that he’s fine, God bless his soul!)}

b) What kind of person does it take to cheat a naive, simple, poor soul of all his monies and leave him and his family dejected, homeless and bereft of hope or belief in the goodness of humanity? What would I do in circumstances like that?

c) Would I be able to dance in a strip club and have men leching, lunging and lusting after my body and objectifying me as a pure sex object? So what if the money’s showered on and over my titillating body? Would my pride, ego, intrinsic cultural ethos and conditioning prevent me from doing what it takes to survive especially if I was a mother with a young child?

d) Why do we teach “honesty” as a value? Why don’t we temper these values with riders and caveats with a dose of practical reality? It’d be so much more easy to live down our own truths. I mean, really, how honest can a person be in this world that we’ve ensured is dishonest? And then to seek honesty and goodness and spirituality in the Himalayas or Hawaii by doing yoga or becoming a monk or whatever else that you’ve identified is food for your soul, isn’t going to cut it is it? if it does, why are we all always seeking? I’m not deriding seekers, no, not by a long shot. Please continue to ask, seek, search and find whatever it is you are seeking to give you peace, purpose and pleasure and make the world a better place. I’m a seeker too for cyring out loud and it is in that seeking that these questions emerge. Why don’t we teach our children therefore, that be ‘as honest as you can by weighing the circumstances and the context’?
Because let’s face it, there are no absolutes, are there? We’ve all cheated, lied, and been dishonest at some time in our lives, white lies et al. So who are we kidding when we say, ‘be honest, don’t cheat, be good’. Really?

e)  Would you make peace quickly (I dare not say easily), with your spouse’s death even after realising that it was a deliberate sacrifice on his/her part, so that you could live with dignity and purpose, with the monies that can afford you those twin attributes? In fact would it be okay to live on the monies that are in effect ill begotten wealth so to speak, and on the memories of a sacrificed, tarnished life?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. The world we live in is the same. But it isn’t right? Because the prisms through which each of us lives it is so different. Therefore there are a billion plus realities, not just one. Your reality is different from mine. And yet, we come up with a Standard of Values, that’s supposed to be the underpinning of societal mores and values that drives us, helps us (supposedly) live civilised lives. Hrmph!!! What baloney! That’s why perhaps it’s liberating when we ‘break the shackles’, ‘break the rules’, and ‘do your own thing’ and sing ‘it’s my life’! And yet without rules and values where would we be? Still bludgeoning women with a stony club or a hand axe I guess and have incestuous lives or adulterous lives and run amok looting and plundering and not adhering to any rules I guess. Hmm…come to think  of it, put like that, it sounds terribly akin to 21st century no? Oh the conundrum of being human!


The Inconvenience of Truth 2
During my morning perambulations yesterday and my usual routine of listening to a podcast, I had an epiphany. The podcast I was listening to was The Unmistakable Creative’s interview with this amazing modern-day monk called Dandapani. During that interview, he asked a simple, oft-asked question: what do I really want? It’s not something that I hadn’t asked myself before, but there’s always something about the timing, the place, the context, the mood, that all adds up to a connection and a sudden burst of clarity – in short, an epiphany. What did I really want? The answer was: to know if I mattered!

——————————————————————————————————— Truth is inconvenient. Truth gives us an ulcer which no amount of Eno or other antacids can assuage. Truth is a tool for manipulation. Truth is malleable. Truth is bitter. Truth hurts. But in the end…

The truth always sets you free.

And while you mull that, here’s a query that can perhaps help you in that quest of the Truth.

The Walk Of Life!

All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.
Friedrich Nietzsche

 

I go for a walk as often as I can. The alarm on my cell phone tears into my ear drums at precisely 5.15 am. It’s been set to shake me up from my dream state for months now. It gives me the satisfaction of waking up early, sliding the darned thing to silence (yes in these ‘smartphones’ everything’s a slide now), and going back to the land of nod even if it’s only for a few extra minutes. I finally rouse myself around half an hour later, sometimes it’s even an hour later, drag my track pants on, brush (more often than not I brush my teeth after the walk, I know, I know Egads! but I don’t care, it’s not like am getting up for a passionate lip-lock or anything right?) or not, select the podcast that I’m going to listen to during my walk, lace up my shoes and am out of the house. It’s a wonderful feeling actually. I wonder then why I don’t do it more often. That’s something to probe – if it gives me pleasure, then why don’t I practice it more? I think I am lazy. I don’t think there’s any getting away from it :)). Well sorry to digress. Where was I? Out the door and the feeling of embracing the day bright and early and all amped up. Yoo hoo day, here I come!

I listen to a podcast usually by Srinivas Rao of the Unmistakable Creative or by Lewis Howes. I like the people they interview and I like their interviewing skills and I like what their insanely inspiring guests have to say. So while that’s running in my ear, I’m also looking at the trees and the flowers and the grass and the hedges around the gardens and everything green in the driveway around our apartment complex, smiling at the many regulars who also go about their daily ritual of walking, at the neighbours who play badminton in the grounds out at the front and so on. So while doing my thing the other day, I realised some crazy but helpful lessons that I could learn from, from my daily perambulations. I’d love to share them with you, let me know if it resonates with you at all :). Here goes:

a) Don’t keep count – I have a habit of keeping count of the number of rounds I complete in the given time frame that I’ve set myself – 50/55/60 mins and 10 or 11 rounds mostly. I realised recently that I’ve slowed down a little, yes, my pace of walking has slowed down by say 2 mins overall. Am sure for world-class athletes that’d simply mean – RETIRE! For me it simply means “Renu, you’ve grown older and you’re body’s slowing down!”. However, I realised what’s the point of thinking about fast, slow, age, retire, number of rounds, time, etc. I am walking. Why not be fully present in and to the act of walking? Just enjoy it. Why keep count? It doesn’t serve a purpose right? Like it doesn’t serve any purpose to:

  1. Keep count of the number of emails you receive in a day or the number of unread emails looking darkly at you from your InBox.
  2. Keep count of the number of times your parents have forgotten to make that to-do list and purchase those items from the grocery store (it could be your lover/ spouse/ children/ room mate/ friend with benefit, etc.). Does it matter?
  3. Keep count of the number of times your friends have gone on a vacation abroad.
  4. Keep count of the number of times your colleague has changed his/her car in the last 5 years.
  5. Keep count of the number of ‘likes’ someone you know gets on FB.
  6. Keep count of the number of friends anyone has – having 999 friends doesn’t mean shit – on FB or other social media. Ask the person to list down the 999 by name in alphabetical order and I can guarantee you that by the time he/she’s on 85 it starts getting difficult and the person will start blowing air and puffing his cheeks like a toad.
  7. Keep count of the number of designer clothes or shoes or bags or whatever else is ‘designer’ nowadays that anyone you know possesses. Gucci, Pucci,Choo who?
  8. Keep count of the number of promotions  and salary raises or client wins or fantastic breakthroughs someone you know has had. So what does it do for you if they have had the breakthrough? If it can inspire you to do your best and put your ass through the grind, to try and achieve the results you’re hankering for, sure, go ahead make it count.
  9. Keep count of the number of men/ women who’ve come and gone from your life. It wasn’t meant to be. Or just be happy for the enriching experience. After all how many of your friends would be able to proudly state that they’ve dated 20/25 men / women in their lifetime? Enjoy the moment, be unapologetically you in every encounter and live the experience.
  10. Keep count of the number of degrees your friend’s son acquired over the years and squirm with shame at the (unfair??) comparison with your child. Should labels and degrees matter?

b) Acknowledge your co-journeyer – Yes, journeyer isn’t even a word. But hell if YOLO (You Only Live Once) almost made it to the Oxford lexicon, then maybe journeyer can also be a legitimate contender. So what do I mean by this eh? See, we’re all on the journey of life. There are a ton of other souls who are journeying with you and it’s no big deal to smile at them along the way. Life is no fun when soul mates aren’t there along the way to smile at, greet, thank, learn from or be inspired by. Competition, comparison, envy, maybe the go-to terms in the Ivy League colleges of the world intended to keep you in the rat race like hamsters on a wheel, let’s acknowledge them but not bury ourselves in them on our walk of life shall we?

c) Look up, look down, look all around, notice – While you acknowledge your co-, journeyers, take a moment to look up at the sky, the birds if there are, the fluffy white clouds, simply breathtaking sight of the plume of fuelled smoke that a plane 30,000 feet above farts away to glory, the tops of trees swaying in the breeze, the hedges of shrubs protecting the turf around which they’ve been arrayed, the different shades of green, the flowers that have sacrificed their lives and lay mute on the ground wondering about the next step that’ll trample them to oblivion (or moksha maybe??), the child that stares at you unblinkingly making you wonder if he’s attracted to the halo of energy that you exude, the elderly and their measured walk and the inevitability of ageing, the young and their unbridled enthusiasm, yes notice, notice, notice. Why? Because it means you’re paying attention to life. Your life. And it’s not a blur of ‘to-do’ lists, missed goals, shifting goal posts and emptiness. Life unfolds in every moment, it’s up to us to notice, and live it. There’s so much to live for ain’t it?

d) Piece of shit doesn’t a walk mar – Yup. Shit happens. We shit bricks. Dogs shit. Everyone poops. The shit hits the roof. Your job is to notice that shit (refer point (c) above) and deftly by-pass it. Notice if you must without being squeamish, that it looks brown and beige in colour perhaps, maybe lumpy, loose, and smells like?Mmmm….shit?! Bypass it and leave it behind. Getting the shit out of your system is the best thing you can ever do,or else it can cause the toxins to build up and eventually who knows, you would have to undergo painful enema. Ye gods! Why go through such pain when all you have to do is notice it, recognise that it’s shit, sometimes acknowledge shit’s presence, maybe even smell shit from afar and realise that something ugly, messy, shitty is about to hit the roof. And in the ultimate shitty analysis also remember that shit gets wiped out / trampled upon/ bites the dust/ washed away/ obliterated as it eventually will. Let it go.

If I were to summarise the above 4 lessons I’d say this: don’t be too attached to the outcome of your journey, just ensure that you’re wholeheartedly, soul-fully, immersed in that moment, in that journey, acknowledging those who’re there behind, ahead of or around you, being grateful for their presence in your life, step with confidence, one foot in front of the other, so what if you do step into shit once-in-a-while, it will eventually get ground to dust belittling its own significance, be thankful for the bounties of this wonderful, magical, delightful, mystical absolutely gorgeous and abundant Universe and finally being grateful that you’re an integral and unique part of the warp and weft of the pattern called Life. 

That’s what life is all about. It doesn’t matter where you’re going honestly, because when you’re walking many paths open up, yours for the taking, leaving you with choices and opportunities, beckoning you to be adventurous, seducing you with promising bounties and wondrous experiences along the way. Walking is life my friends, wouldn’t you agree? I urge you – keep walking!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=087Bv3p4KLQ

(God knows I love Mark Knopfler!)