The violence of strength


I want to emphasize on the violence involved in the warrior approach that most survivor tales take on, after the death of a loved one, loss, or a break up. There is often implied aggression in the survivor tales we see being portrayed time and again in the movies, songs and other popular media. In a sort of Bildungsroman, the protagonist must go through the break up/loss to come out with a cleaner character, he/she needs to take on an approach of that of a warrior where he/she is taking charge and control of his/her life. It is because our society discourages failure. The helplessness we so often seek to combat catches up with us in the end. The aggression or the hatred stemming from the break up is often channelized into a hardened personality, one that of a “tough” individual who goes about life in an almost superhero way. The portrayal of these characters, specially females, overly aggressive “radical” feminists shows the assertion of anger at a very core level; an escapist attitude from the ultimate helplessness that we all want to avoid. We don’t like being helpless, we want to be bigger than our problems, we want to tackle life, and we want to be in charge. All this war terminology creates an armor that not only hardens, but also defeats the individual. At a core level, our soul is being crushed.

The true essence of the soul is not that of enmity, struggle or combat, but that of a relaxed surrender to the realization that we are all powerless in this grand orchestra of life. It is due to my continued practice of meditation that disallows any hardening; I have come to realize that struggle is not the way to achieve personal growth and change. That we do not own the powers to overcome every situation, that things happen in their own time, that love does not disappear easily despite a bad break up, and that we will make mistakes repeatedly. The marginalization of failure, of reality is one problem that must not be undermined. You are very likely to wake up with an aching heart or worse still, a sleepless night tomorrow. You will probably be quicker in doling out “I love yous” to your lovers than to your parents. You might skip a day in your exercise regime. Life is not always rosy and successful. We are creatures of comfort and ease and are highly unlikely to go through a character arc overnight. Sitting with failure is hard, when all you want to do is to rip out someone’s head or maybe even yours. It is harder to admit that you are powerless. But it is only through surrender to this failure that we learn to recognize the true strength in ourselves and emerge as the compassionate, loving, softhearted beings that we really are.

Freedom…salvation…redemption…


girl-waiting-for-train

The engine wheels chugged in, belching smoke on to the station. She looked at the clock. 11:53 am. He had promised to come at 11.

She sat on the rusty platform bench, mopping her brow with the loose end of her shirt. She could feel it coming- the shortness of breath, the perspiration, the anxiety, the confusion of it all balling into a giant mess. She could feel this mess, she carried it within herself, day in and out- a leaden weight in her heart- expecting someone to come along and make sense of it all.

He had come, a few months ago in the dawn of winter. In the dead silence of the night enveloped in his embrace, she had found the corners of her heart being tugged, gently indicating…maybe, just maybe, her time had come. This was it- her ticket to freedom, her time of salvation, her shortcut to redemption.

12:00 pm. No sign of him. Tired and sleep deprived she questioned the validity of it all. Her initial months filled with honey like sweetness had turned into a battle of existence, of making it through. But had she done enough? In the months of their romance she had flitted between the desire to love and the desire to take for a million times a minute. She was tired now. Yet, her love of those words continued to haunt her. Freedom…salvation… redemption…

She said each of them out loud, enunciating every syllable. Oh how well she had relished their piercing illumination and agonizing beauty! She wanted it all back.

12:00 pm. She looked at the faces in the train. The newly wedded couple whose dreams intertwined in a shared space no less than paradise holding hands, their eyes promising each other of happily ever afters; the old man, decrepit and withered, gazing at the station with soulless eyes; the young entrepreneur gazing listlessly at the pages of a book titled “You Can Do It” and herself, sitting on the rusty platform bench, waiting.

They were all looking for answers, be it in the eyes of their lover, in the hope of a miracle at the end of their life or in the leaves of a book that promised inner transformation.  Yet, they were all waiting.

She wanted to tell herself that in those silent moments of waiting, she had experienced a profound revelation…that she had taken charge and boarded the train after promising herself a better life…that he suddenly appeared and whisked her away. The cogs churned in her head, calculating her triumphs and misfortunes, her yearnings and desires, her pitfalls and failures. Freedom…salvation…redemption… She wanted them badly.

Didn’t they all?