16: What I fear the most right now

I am the kind of person who becomes one with the people I am physically present with. With people I forge new bonds; I laugh with them, listen to their stories and become completely invested in their lives. Occasionally, you meet some people who become a part of your story and you feel love and joy and sorrow like no other. When that happens, you wish that you could remember that feeling forever, because nothing lasts forever and when the time comes, you will have to say goodbye. But no pictures, videos or paintings can capture what you feel now. That rapturous feeling of joy, that seething agony of longing, that sense of overflowing love which introduces you to new depths of your heart, they can’t be captured. They are only etched in your memory like writings on the sand. As the new waves come, the letters begin to fade. That is scary if you cherish what you wrote. If you took years to write what you did, if the writing is a part of you. Soon the love you feel right now will become a distant memory. One day you will ask yourself, did I really feel that love for someone. Did I really cry for that relationship? Did I really try that hard to save a friendship? What you do right now won’t make sense later and yet it would make all the sense in the world. That’s the curse of memory. It is susceptible to erosion and corruption. I wish we had a pensive for feelings, where people would be transported to how they felt at a particular stage in their lives. But that’s not how things work. Life is like a mandala, you take days to painstakingly  create a beautiful pattern, but once the show is over you wipe it all out and forget that it ever existed. You proceed to make a new mandala. You start making new memories.

15: You are in your own ‘time zone’

A friend forwarded this message today, and it instantly lifted my mood and took away some of my anxiety. I am sharing it verbatim below.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Hope you are all enjoying in your own ‘time zone’. You will ask, what is this time zone? This is a very important factor in one’s life and life moves in this very factor. In order to understand more, read the message below:

Kenya is 2 hrs ahead of Nigeria, but it does not mean that Nigeria is slow, or that Kenya is fast. Both countries are working based on their own “Time Zone.”

Someone is still single while someone got married. Someone after marriage waited for 10 yrs before having a child, there is another who had a baby within a year of marriage.

Someone graduated at the age of 22, yet waited 5 years before securing a good job; and there is another who graduated at 27 and secured employment immediately !

Someone became CEO at 25 and died at 50 while another became a CEO at 50 and lived to 90 years.

Everyone works based on his or her ‘Time Zone’.

People can have things worked out only according to their pace, working in their own “time zone”.

Your colleagues, friends and even younger ones might “seem” to go ahead of you.
May be some might “seem” behind you.

Don’t envy them or mock them, it’s their ‘Time Zone’
You are in yours!

Hold on, be strong, and stay true to yourself and make your life happy and full of aspirations, goals and pursuits. All things shall work together for your good. You’re not late … You are not early … you’re very much on time! Because you are in your own ‘Time Zone’. Best wishes

14: Is it possible to be liked by everyone?

 

I am very suspicious of people who are liked by everyone, and who are friends with everybody. It’s not that I doubt the capacity of human beings to be nice to a wide variety of people or that I am jealous of the fact that they have more friends than I do. But, to me it seems an impossible feat to impress everyone on a personal level. It’s different when you are a famous person and everyone like you. In that case, people only know you for your talent or a slice of your personality and their interaction with you is not personal. In any case, even famous people do not like all their fans.

Being friends with everyone works in two ways. First, you have to genuinely like everyone to be friends with them. This means that no matter what the person is or does, you are okay with them as long as they are nice to you. That idea itself is preposterous to me. What if a person is nice to me, but is otherwise a really shitty person to everyone else. What if a person does really nice things for me but is otherwise a hateful bigot with the most repulsing ideas. How can I reconcile with that? It is said that in order to judge a person, look at how they treat their subordinates; meaning that don’t judge a person simply based on how they interact with you. So, when a person is friends with everyone including the people you know for sure are rotten, it draws suspicion. Then there is this familiar argument that even the worst kind of people deserve friends. So, what’s wrong if someone is friends with everybody? The argument is fair, but in reality, if you choose to be friends with such people, you are either ignoring their worst attributes or you may be telling them that they are wrong but they aren’t listening to you. In both cases you are turning a blind eye towards an integral part of them, and are complicit in their wrongdoings.

Second, in order to be friends with everyone you have to be liked by everyone. It’s rare to gain universal likeability if you are true in your portrayal of yourself. Nobody is perfect and there will be something about you that someone may not like. If everyone likes you, then in all likelihood you are faking it; hiding your vices and attenuating those qualities that people may like. It’s problematic because you lose your transparency hiding behind that opaque wall of positivity.  Vulnerabilities are important as they make you less robotic and more human. It’s important to admit our worst qualities as much as it is to flaunt our best ones. It’s important to offend some people, in order to stand up for the right cause. In my experience, most people who are friends with everyone, don’t usually do that. That is why, you should always approach such people with caution.

13: Letting go

The most difficult part of losing something, a person, a dream or a memory, is to surrender and accept things for what they are. You see the person, the dream or the memory fading away, and all you want in that instance is to hold tight. But, the more you try the more you fall apart and sink deeper in the pain. It’s like riding a roller coaster or trying to survive in a quicksand. You have to be able to give up and let go, in order to survive. The person, the dream, and the memory may be precious to you, and you might feel that you won’t be able to live without them. They might be the best thing that happened to you, and gave the desire to live. But their value is not absolute, it’s all relative to you. The value of a person, a dream or a memory cannot be more than life itself, your life. You have to lose control first, in order to gain it back. For when you let life nurture and flow like a river, many new people will enter your world, that lost dream will make its way for another, the faded memory will be replaced by a more vivid one. You have to believe in the possibilities that life has to offer.

Imagine yourself in a train journey, the first destination might have been amazing but don’t get stuck there. If we stay in one place for long enough, we become obsolete. Allow yourself the chance to explore many more destinations in your life. Give yourself the chance to get back on your journey and who knows you might end up at the same places where you started.

12: Should we use the word ‘love’ sparingly?

I have always had a great fondness for people. People bring out my best spirit (and sometimes my worst). I love the kindness, tenacity, and spirit of people, I love their talent and zeal for life. I find something to love in everyone I know; and when I say ‘love’, I actually mean love. My heart swells with joy and I am struck with admiration and respect for them. I never hesitate to tell people when I love something about them. Very often, people are unaware about their own qualities and I like to remind them that they are special. A lot of people have difficulty believing it when they hear their own praise. It’s because they don’t believe those things about themselves and they struggle to figure if I am being genuine in my praise or merely trying to flatter them.

All this changed when I first fell in ‘love’. The experience was so overwhelming for me, that I started questioning every other time I used the word love in my life. The feelings of joy and other emotions associated with it were so intense, that everything else seemed bland and not worthy of that label. It was the kind of selfless love which makes you cherish everything about the person, the good and the bad, and prompts you to be a better version of yourself. I decided then that I would not use the word ‘love’ for anyone, unless I come close to experiencing similar emotions. In doing so, I was also trying to ensure that, that one particular love remained special. I wanted to give that relationship its rightful place in my life, the highest one, so I demoted every other one in my life. I would proudly say, I love only a few people in my life also meaning my love is rare, cherish it. But, reality does not always play out as we like and things do not always remain the same, so when the dust settled on the ‘one love’, I found myself at a place where I felt that I wouldn’t ever be capable of producing love for anyone else. Everything from here on would just be a game of charade and pretence.

But, I was wrong. All this while, it was I who was stopping myself from finding joy in the world and people. The world never ceased to exist and be beautiful, it was I who was looking the other way. The moment I let myself fall freely in love with anybody and everybody, I gradually started to fall in love with the world again. I thought I had just one heart to give to the person who deserved it the most. It turns out, I had a thousand more from where the first one came from. The more I give it away, the more I feel complete.

10: Does everything happen for a reason?

Remember the old story of the king whose minister tried to convince him that everything happens for a reason? One day as the king goes on a hunt, he is injured by a thorn in his path. He asks his minister what good could come out of his injury. The minister is proven right when the king gets lost on his way and is captured by a tribe, who want to offer him as a tribute to their gods. However, when they discover the king’s injury they let him go, as the tribute needs to be whole and healthy. This story has been told in many forms to Indian children to teach them that everything happens for a reason. The merits of this belief aside, it does offer solace during difficult times when nothing makes sense. It provides the hope that it will all make sense later. But, do things happen randomly or  is there any method to the madness?

When you meet someone special in your life, you feel that there must be a reason why you met the person. It must be because you were meant to be together. Why else would you be where you are? Sometimes, this helps to overlook the hardships which comes with the relationship. If it was pre-ordained, then you have to work it out. But when things don’t work out, and you finally decide to part ways, you wonder what could have been the point of it all. Why did you waste all those years on something which did not achieve fruition? As time passes, you begin to realize the lessons which you learned from your experiences. It starts making sense again. The more time you give it, the more it seems like it happened for a reason. So, are we merely discovering those reasons or are we just connecting the dots in an attempt to rationalize our experiences. Nobody knows for sure. But, here’s the thing. Whenever in doubt always look to nature. At the most microscopic level, all matter is a summation of randomly colliding particles. However, as we gain some perspective we begin to see shapes and sizes and color. We begin to identify objects we are familiar with. Same is with the universe. As we live, we find ourselves in a sea full of human activity and chaos, but look from the space and all you will see is a calm blue planet in its rightful place circling the sun. The truth is that distance gives us that perspective to see things for what they are rather than what they appear to be. That’s how meditation works, it helps us visualize our lives from a distance, and from that position everything happens for a reason. So, do not despair if things don’t make sense. After all, we are nothing but a summation of our random life experiences.

9: Unconventional love stories

Every love story is special, but what makes some stories worth telling and not others? The greatest love stories show us our own potential for unconditional love, through others. The greatest love stories are also the ones which show us that love is nothing but supreme sacrifice. When a person is ready to sacrifice their happiness for the sake of someone else, the seed for a great love story is laid out. How often does that happen in the real world? Not a lot, which is why we have only few stories worth sharing. In most cases, love is used as a romanticized term for an arrangement. We ‘love’ somebody when we decide to be there for them, in return for them being there for us. We provide emotional and physical support in return for the same. If either parties falter, we move on to a new arrangement. That is why people say ‘love’ is work, you need to put in as much effort as your job. In contrast, real love may have nothing to do with romance. Every day I fall in love with someone, a little bit. I don’t even know them and may never see them again, but that love leaves it joyous imprint on me.

Unconventional love stories are my favorite kind of love stories. That’s because the characters cannot usually provide what is naturally expected from them. In the absence of expectations, unconditional love flourishes. A guy who stops pursuing his crush for a mentally challenged girl who loves him unconditionally; the man who devotes his entire life looking after and saving the life of a boy whose mother he deeply loved, the girl who prioritizes her sick brother over her own romantic needs. These are all some of the beautiful tales that history has told us which shows the human capacity for unconditional love and sacrifice. There is an old Indian couplet, which translates us, Do not love like the birds, which fly away when the lake dries; Love like the fishes, who die when the lake dries. Contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not an advertisement for self-destructive love but only illustrates that the transformative power of love which changes you (for the better or worse) when that love ceases to exist.

When we all love unconditionally, we are taken care of by each other. But what happens when you love people unconditionally but remain unloved throughout your life? Is that a risk worth taking or should we just resort to mutual living arrangements a.k.a relationships. That’s a choice which everyone makes in their lives at some point of time. The greatest love stories remind us in our mundane lives, that if we choose to open our hearts to the fullest without being afraid of the consequences, that will be a story worth reading, a thousand times over.