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.

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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.

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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

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.

4: The man who hid his candy stash

As a young girl, my mother was very close to a Punjabi family that lived in her neighborhood. The family had five sons and three daughters. She was friends with the youngest daughter and was treated like a sister by all the five brothers. The eldest brother in particular liked my mother, and never treated her any differently than her own sisters. He was a kind man, very spiritual in his outlook and had a golden voice. Just listening to him talk was like a lecture on faith and positivity. This was more impressive since he had to struggle to make ends meet and sustain a huge family. When my mother bought her first tape recorder she recorded some of the songs which he sang. We would often listen to that years later. After my mother’s marriage, the family migrated to different cities, while the eldest brother moved to the United States. They hardly stayed in touch except for the occasional news which we got to hear of them.

A year ago, however, the eldest brother called my mother from the United States. My mother was no longer the feisty, comical person whom the brother knew. She had been worn down by years of depression and family troubles. Naturally, she was overjoyed to receive that call and to listen to a familiar voice. The eldest brother sensed my mother’s need and promised to call her often. From that day, he would call at least once a fortnight, if not more. Each time he would call, my mother would be filled with hope and optimism. He would tell my mother stories of his life in America. How he was living his dream. How he exercised daily and led a healthy lifestyle. He would send pictures of himself on Facebook which I would share with my mother. Once, my mother was very worried about my life choices, so she forced me to speak to him. I was very hesitant at first, and thought there was no chance that a man of eighty years would understand my point of view. But to my surprise, he did. He told me that he had received very little education and was not as educated as I was. But, from whatever his experience had taught him he had learned that if it was in my destiny to pursue what I intended to, it would happen. He told me not to worry, that the universe already had a plan in mind, but I would have to give my hundred percent towards my goal. Talking to him felt like speaking to a friend, and I was so reassured after the conversation that it became easy for me to open up to him and to respect him. My mother often cited his life as an example for us to lead ours. In every sense, he was an ideal person and a great human being.

We stopped receiving phone calls for him for a month early this year, only to receive the sad news of his demise. We were all very sad, especially my father and I, because he had such a great impact on my mother. Nevertheless, we decided to remember his kind and motivating words and move on with our lives. A few weeks ago, we met his relatives to offer our condolences. What perturbed me was when I found out that his life was far from ideal in America. He had stopped exercising for a long while and his desk drawer was filled with a stash of hidden candy wrappers. It was so ironic that a man who taught others to live positively, take care of their bodies and practice restraint, was himself struggling with life threatening habits.

Overtly positive people often hide their deep seated pains. If everything else seems okay on the surface, dig deeper. We are all broken, after all. Some of us do a better job at plastering the cracks. The person whose life you covet on social media, may be as fucked up as yours. Our scars make us human and testify that we have lived a difficult life, and have survived.