Dear,


Dear fear,

Dear guilt,

Dear confusion,

Dear Youtube,

Dear Buzzfeed,

Dear Superwoman,

Dear Justin Bieber,

Dear Miley Cyrus,

Dear chronic backpain,

Dear insomnia,

Dear depression,

Dear weed,

Dear uncle,

Dear ex lover,

Dear future lover,

Dear Ria,

Dear Pema Chodron,

Dear Anne Waldman,

Dear Reed Bye,

Dear CA Conrad,

Dear Jane,

Dear Liat,

Dear John,

Dear money,

Dear woman,

Dear mother,

Dear Vassar,

Dear Social Justice Warriors,

Dear activists,

Dear Buddhists,

Dear white people,

Dear Americans,

Dear Indians,

Dear junk food,

Dear porn,

Dear Mom and Dad,

Dear Dada,

Dear incomplete sentences,

Dear

At Sea: Growing up, Seeking Home


” I have been learning the language of analysis, criticism, and theory, unraveling this incongruent world concept-by-concept, word-by-word.”

Luna Beller-Tadiar

http://www.blackgirldangerous.org/2014/05/sea-growing-seeking-home/

One of the most lyrical and beautifully written pieces I have read in a long time. It resonated with me on a deep deep level. Articulates my thoughts brilliantly. I encourage you all to give it a read.

 

The quiet places in your mind

Quote


 “There are quiet places also in the mind,” he said, meditatively. “But we build bandstand and factories on them. Deliberately—to put a stop to the quietness. We don’t like the quietness. All the thoughts, all the preoccupation in my head—round and round continually.” He made a circular motion with his hands. “And the jazz bands, the music hall songs, the boys shouting the news. What’s it all for? To put an end to the quiet, to break it up and disperse it, to pretend at any cost it isn’t there. Ah, but it is, it is there, in spite of everything, at the back of everything. Lying awake at night, sometimes—not restlessly, but serenely, waiting for sleep—the quiet re-establishes itself, piece by piece; all the broken bits, all the fragments of it we’ve been so busily dispersing all day long. It re-establishes itself, an inward quiet, like this outward quiet of grass and trees. It fills one, it grows –a crystal quiet, a growing expanding crystal. It grows, it becomes more perfect; it is beautiful and terrifying, yes, terrifying, as well as beautiful. For one’s alone in the crystal and there’s no support from outside, there’s nothing external and important, nothing external and trivial to pull oneself up by or to stand up, superiorly, contemptuously, so that one can look down. There’s nothing to laugh at or feel enthusiastic about. But the quiet grows and grows. Beautifully and unbearably. And at last you are conscious of something approaching; it is almost a faint sound of footsteps. Something inexpressibly lovely and wonderful advances through the crystal, nearer, nearer. And oh, inexpressibly terrifying. For if it were to touch you, if it were to seize and engulf you, you’d die; all the regular habitual, daily part of you would die. There would be and end of bandstands and whizzing factories, and one would have to begin living arduously in the quiet, arduously n some strange unheard-of manner. Nearer, nearer come the steps; but one can’t face the advancing thing. One daren’t. It’s too terrifying; it’s too painful to die. Quickly, before it is too late, start the factory wheels, bang the drum, blow up the saxophone. Think of the women you’d like to sleep with, the schemes for making money, the gossip about your friends, the last outrage of the politicians. Anything for a diversion. Break the silence, smash the crystal to pieces. There, it lies in bits; it is easily broken, hard to build up and easy to break. And the steps? Ah, those have taken themselves off, double quick. Double quick, they were gone at the flawing of the crystal. And by this time the lovely and terrifying thing is three infinities away, at least. And you lie tranquilly on your bed, thinking of what you’d do if you had ten thousand pounds and of all the fornications you’ll never commit.” – Aldous Huxley

I am keeping my cup full


cup full

 

Meditation is hard. It is not about sitting down as a way of de stressing. It does things, it changes your life. It makes you take actions that mark the death of the regular habitual part of you. For instance, you begin to notice the noise that you surround yourself with- your phone, your laptop, your social media, specially Facebook; you notice the effort attention seeking demands- constantly being under pressure of having to look good, having to impress, having to better yourself and being under the radar at all times. Attention seeking doesn’t signify a bloated ego nor does it denote a crime committed solely by movie stars and the media. It is human and it is what each of us do, on a daily basis- going through multiple romantic partners as we seek validation from one to the next, taking up multiple projects to decorate our resumes, constantly pleasing others to fit into their model of perfection, and always needing to be perfect, right, attractive and successful. While all of this sounds familiar and not necessarily bad, the effects that attention seeking has on our psyche are downright violent and toxic.

Attention seeking becomes like a pleasure inducing drug we all chase, going after the next big dose when the small dose ceases to please us. We are all drunk on the idea that attention and only attention can heal us. Only that final seal of approval from the girl/boy will make us complete, only having that PhD will make us good human beings. I talk about meditation often these days because of the ways it is gradually but noticeably starting to impact my life. It makes me realize the need to support the growing quiet in myself. I recently had to let go of an amazing service project I was appointed leader of to spend more time with myself. I had to cut down on the number of classes I wanted to take to focus only the ones I really wanted to study. I had to say no to myself over and over again when the desire to talk to an ex arose only to save myself from the additional pain and toxicity the interaction would bring. I had to stand up for myself during a heated interaction with my roommate. I had to acknowledge how mentally violent I was being with myself while I kept running from one thing on my to do list to another. I had to stop talking to a friend only when I needed attention. While all of this sounds impressive, it was no mean task. It took a lot of reflection, tears and letting go. It took a lot of painful nights. Starting to let go of the need for attention and validation has certainly not made others happy in my life, but has given me more peace. It has allowed me to make mistakes; it has given me the liberty to be imperfect. It has made me feel more comfortable in my shoes and above all, it has given me space to breathe.

It’s self-full to put yourself first, to be as good as possible, to take care of you, to keep you whole and healthy. You want your cup to be full. ‘My cup runneth over.’ What comes out of the cup is for y’all. What’s in the cup is mine.- Iyanla Vanzant

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.

We


Identity.

Id-entity?

I’d entity?

I had an entity?

I have an entity.

I.

You.

We.

Let’s put a sex on this I. She.

Let’s put a name on her. Rachel.

Let’s put an age on Rachel. 20.

Let’s put a nationality on 20 year old Rachel. American.

Let’s give 20 year old Rachel from America a race. White.

Voila! You have a person with an identity!

Sex, name, age, nationality, race.

I bet you have many other labels too.

We hold on to these labels: he, she, they as if they will somehow define us.

We hold debates, write angry poems, and hold protests on capitalism, nationalism, colonialism and a million other isms as if they will somehow make the pain of our human existence more interesting than “theirs”.

We. I know you don’t like this word.

It makes you uncomfortable; I can see you squirming in your seat already.

It scares you; I can see you forming arguments in your head already.

It makes you afraid, it dissolves the line between you and I, him and her, black and white, Asian and American and makes us.

Tell me friend, are your labels the same ones that weigh down your brain with their countless terminologies and divisions as you struggle to sleep at night?

Do they make you different from that Asian guy in your class when you both reach out for the glass of vodka trying to forget these same definitions?

What makes your need for validation different from those heterosexuals as you both grind against a stranger in drunker stupor?

What makes you different from me when you say water and I say water in different accents when we both sound the same underwater?

We.

I know you’re still afraid of that word.

I know you’re not willing to let go.

I know you’re still clinging to those three words you have been taught- I love you.

I know that you’re terrified that if you let you and I drop, only one word remains.

Love.

And we certainly cannot have that.

Home


Frozen I thought as I looked at the icy ground underneath. Through the sheer glass of the ice, I could see the blades of grass trying to wriggle out, squirming uncomfortably, trying to retain the last signs of life they had. I had found myself in the same position many times already. I had tried wriggling my way out situations and instead landed in the shiftiness of my body. I squirmed uncomfortably, in my million body aches, and tried to subside them by means of will, “I release and let go and I forgive. I release and let go and forgive myself,” I repeated mantra, an incessant effort to subside pain. I needed to forgive myself for many things- my inability to sustain myself, my need for validation, my constant quest for meaning and my need, almost addiction to bad company. As I thought about my “friends” I thought about how many of them I could actually call my own. There were none.

I realized how essentially alone I was. In conversations and fake smiles and love talks and gestures, I remained empty. I was a hollow vessel, waiting to be filled- by just anything or anyone that came along. Friends failed the test, alcohol let me down miserably, and love remained dry and blank, like a sheet of paper. In all instances, I was waiting, waiting to be filled. And then there was him. The soft perfume of his skin permeated mine and filled my senses with a wonder that was astonishing. Even in the passionate embrace of love, I remained incomplete. I was going insane. My body shifted uncomfortably, deforming itself to fit into pieces too small for it. It looked through the keyhole of hope and squeezed itself through it till it came out, painful and raw in its contorted form. Hope was what kept it alive. Hope for another day, another time, another man, and another light. But hope seemed to be an illusion- the more I chased it, the further it evaded me. It was a mirage, a distant possibility promising fruits in the future and disappearing in the timeless pain of the present. Nothing seemed to bring repose. My body was weary, my mind tired and I wanted rest. I wanted peace. I wanted home.

Home. I rolled the word around in my mouth with the whipped cream of the hot cocoa I was sipping. “Sorry,” I said, rolling my Rs like the way I had learnt it here as I accidentally bumped into a girl. Learning to be white I called it, as I picked up a new trait from the Americans everyday. I learnt that plastering a smile on your face while holding doors open for multiracial strangers was considered courteous, while excluding them out of conversation wasn’t. I learnt that open dialogues consisted mainly of individuals eager to discuss and determine their sexual identity while conveniently leaving out a majority of voices who defined identity otherwise. I mastered the subtle differences between a latte and mocha, used terms like “cultural appropriation”, worried about the fate of the country and complained about the throes of life to my therapist once a month. I was trying to erase the earth from my skin, the monsoon showers from my tears and the light from the dark of my eyes as I gradually donned the white of America.

In the crevices of my being I longed for the kiss of the sun, the earth of my land and the scent of hot frothing chai every morning. I missed the rainbow of my homeland; I had been living in white for too long. I longed to feel grounded in familiarity; I had imagined her smile soft and welcoming, her arms open wide promising settlement. But the more I looked down that road, the farther away it seemed. Would things be the same when I returned? Would anyone remember my absence? Would anyone even notice? I tossed around in my bed mulling over these questions trying to find solace in the darkness of my eerily quiet room. I was lost; I had contorted beyond my own recognition. I couldn’t settle anywhere- I felt incomplete in the face of love; I lacked recognition in my mother’s eyes and I felt lonely in the company of friends. Not a single soul was ready to anchor mine. Lonely and desolate, I proceeded towards the bathroom and pushed open the door. Scrawled across the wall in black letters was, “You can’t make homes out of human beings. Someone should have already told you that.”

The lover’s blanket


I feel your love surrounding me like a blanket, keeping me warm. Hold me close, lover; for when the wind blows your blanket away, I do not wish to face my wounds that you keep so lovingly hidden.

I am flawed, lover. Terribly and terrifyingly. In moments of despair I see my ugliness, my extraordinary ordinariness and my darkness and I run. I run for life. I do not wish to see these monsters. I want to be hidden safe and sound in the blanket of your warmth, your touch, your taste and your smell.

Yet, despite the love, I tremble. From beneath my toes to the tip of my fingers, I feel fear, gripping and raw, tunneling into my heart. I see demons, terrible, dark and menacing, threatening to kill.

And I give in.

There is only so much time before my fault lines show again and divide the ground on which you and I stand. There is only so much time before I shiver, holding your blanket close one last time. There is only so much time before I can take solace in three words that you so incessantly utter every day and every night.  There is only so much time before the trembling begins again.

I need to let go of your blanket lover. I must go and spiral into the incoherence of my tunnel.

And so I have.

I have held my misery and let it rain stones till I sat helpless and vacant, with tears as my only companions. I have let pain claw into the crevices of my being, stretching me apart and miraculously back together again.  I have been touched by the center of my sorrow in the naked solitude of the night and have found myself still alive, breathing and clutching at the pouch of my heart.

In the midst of it all, I can feel a noise: a gentle knitting, a weaving of threads that dissolve and mold into each other, a soft whispering, a reminder, that joy stands at the threshold of my door. I feel the threads taking a form, a form so utterly unique that I can call it mine.

I am building my blanket, lover. I am learning to walk. I am learning to see the beauty in your face, in your presence, in your voice and in your being. Above all that, I am learning to see the beauty in me.

The human experience


Stand at your window. Nonchalantly notice the greenness of the tree leaves and observe your windowsill. Let your eyes wander till they settle on a speckled red flower. Observe its yellow markings and lose yourself in marvel. Feel the stillness surrounding the trees surround you and hold it in your hands. Look at it- its overwhelming presence, its nauseating fear, its piercing clarity- feel the gentle thud of your heartbeat pounding against your chest in synchronicity  with the trees’ movements. Realize that the trees breathe too. Feel connected. 

Hold a rabbit in your hand. Feel its heartbeat running a million miles a minute, notice the gaping terror in its eyes, feel its pulsating clock reverberating with the rush of your veins and realize you hold life.

Fight with your mother. Know that the fear in her eyes brings tears in yours and turn away. Become numb, stoic and insensitive. Clench your insides and draw yourself into a shell. Bend over and internally release the silent conflicts. Let them play havoc in your heart. Feel the anger shaking within making no effort to release without.

Hug a lover. Feel the invitation of his heart stretch itself wide enough to make room for you and feel welcomed. Feel the throbbing vulnerability of his being as he kisses you. Feel loved.

Lie awake at night. Watch your heart, twisted, clenched, and dirty, suspended in mid air and hear its blaring conflict. Ponder over your miseries and your need for fervid self annihilation and know that you are gloriously, infuriatingly and inevitably human.