No One

The thing is, I keep telling people that the world needs more “unmasking”, that we need to stop “posing” and acting like everything’s all right when, in fact, we’re breaking down inside. But do I follow any of my own advice? Nope. Hardly ever.

There’s a comfort in knowing that, even if I’m breaking down today, maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow. And why bother someone with the details of what I’m going through, why ruin the flawless impression they have of me, when I don’t really need to? I’ll bounce back in no time, on my own. Right? Or, maybe I won’t. And I’ll just suffer quietly for as long as this exterior mask will last. The question is, how long can I keep the charade going?

And what if I do tell people how I really feel? They’ll most likely say the most inane things, which, despite being well-intentioned, will just bug the shit out of me. If I am a little too honest about how I feel regarding my mother, my spouse, or my best friend, those are words I’ll never be able to take back, and relationships forever altered. I want to be comfortable being me, but without any of the collateral damage I fear it will incur. Perhaps the biggest fear is that, in being me, I’m really being no one. Because, let’s face it, I am no one. The voices in my head have done such a phenomenal job of convincing me of this. No amount of therapy and medication has been able to undo this belief. I am no one, and all I want is to be a someone, a me who I can be proud to represent.

I’ve always thought I had great faith in God. He will get me through this. Every night or day I cry, I beg Him for some help, some strength, a sign, perhaps, of what my next step should be. “Please steer me in the right direction, so I can climb out of this black hole.” I have lost interest in everything, even the things I used to love – movies, books, family. Writing. The things that used to make me feel a sense of connection with the world. They just don’t make me feel the same way, anymore.

I think I am craving connection. In this world of 7.5 billion people, why is that so hard to find? Do any of you feel the same way, too? Is anyone even out there?

 

 

 

There is a Space

There is a space

where words run out

and logic meets emotion,

the metaphysical meets the metaphorical,

and our entire human experience can be distilled into one basic premise:

Oneness.

Logic tells us we will thrive if we unite, and suffer if we divide.

Emotions tells us it is when we feel connected to, and loved by, others,

that we feel our best.

Science tells us that the planets revolve around the sun,

the electrons around the protons,

and everything around the universal laws of nature.

Our storytellers describe the paths of protagonists as being arduous,

yet surpassable if conquered with others,

and the outcome of villains to be loathsome and lonely.

Just as there exists a soul within each of us,

there exists a collective soul in the entire human race,

an unfolding story,

from Creation till today,

a developing vision,

of tomorrow and beyond.

There is a thread that connects us all,

our predecessors to our progeny,

one race to another,

from tribe to tribe,

and warrior to warrior.

If we acknowledge that bond and base our life around it,

there is no obstacle we cannot overcome,

no goal too far from reach.

But if we ignore the thread, or worse,

forget about it,

even snip ourselves free from its “burden”,

then we are on our own,

each man for himself,

survival of the fittest,

law of the jungle.

Who do you want to be?

What is really in your best interest?

Sure, success is a valid form of measurement,

so long as it’s based on the prosperity of the whole,

not the wealth of the few.

How far we’ve come,

yet how far we’ve fallen.

Do you think there’s still hope?

Well, we are still standing,

at least for now.

Let’s give it our best shot.

Let’s let go of all this disingenuous “othering”,

and allow ourselves to melt into the earth,

and meld into each other.

Magnify our One Voice.

Manifest a future free of fear.

Let’s immerse ourselves

within the space

where words run out

and logic meets emotion,

where what I want

is what you want,

and all we have to do is get there,

together.

Walls

I’ve been hearing how satisfying it is to allow oneself to be vulnerable.

Tear down those walls, they say.

Only then will you feel real joy.

Live each day to the fullest, they say,

doing whatever it is you were meant to do.

Follow your passion, they say,

but first figure out what your passion is.

What they don’t really focus on, though,

is how terrifying it is to do any of this.

I built these walls three decades ago.

I know what to expect.

They protect me from feeling too much,

when the news has only death to deliver,

when my spouse says something hurtful that will stay with me for years,

when my boss overlooks me in favor of my colleague.

These walls have kept me from drowning in sorrow.

But they’ve done something else, too.

They’ve removed me,

made me irrelevant.

I’ve spent so long crouched within them, I no longer feel like a part of this world.

Is that what’s happening to all of us?

We’re not just building walls to divide borders,

we’re building walls around our hearts?

I don’t like what’s happening to us.

The isolation,

the fear,

the paralysis,

allowing others to take over,

allowing power and money to take precedence over life.

If tearing down my walls is what I need to do to become more a part of this world,

to the point where the sorrow might overwhelm me,

but it might move me, too,

and push me out of my comfort zone,

then that is exactly what I’m going to do.

The thing is,

it’s terrifying.

I cry every day.

My heart shudders all the time.

I feel more scared than ever.

But I don’t want to hide anymore.

I don’t know why God made me this way,

a hulking mass of depression, anxiety, and pessimism,

but I need to believe that I am who I am

for a reason.

The truth is,

we are living in monstrous times.

The worst monsters are the ones we can’t see,

but that manipulate us anyway.

How can we get rid of something we can’t even see?

Well, we built invisible walls around us, didn’t we?

If we can create invisible forces,

we can certainly learn to get rid of them, too.

If we shed the walls, we shed the chains.

If we shed the chains, we’re free to “fight” the monsters,

the ones we can see, as well as the ones we can’t:

the power that corrupts

and the people who wield that power,

the imbalance where money is more valuable than human lives,

the suffering of those people, who,

even though we can’t see them or they’re just a soundbite in our system,

and they feel so far away,

are still a part of this world,

and a part of us.

Just because the powers-that-be thought it best to divide us into nations, races, and religions,

doesn’t mean we should let them separate us in spirit.

We are all one.

So to hell with it if I cry when I watch the news.

At least then I might actually take action

in ending this misery,

because the truth is,

we live in monstrous times,

but these are the only times we’re going to get.

Let’s turn them into something else,

so that years later,

when our children and grandchildren remember us,

they’ll say,

“Man, those were such wonderful times.

Everyone cared, everyone was an activist.

Everyone did their part in unifying this world,

which is the main reason

we live in such peaceful times

today.”

An Act of Fearlessness

Lately, I’ve been suffering from anxiety, which is new for me. It feels like there are a thousand spiders crawling underneath my skin, like my body is full of toxic chemicals, and all I want to do is scream. I snap at my closest loved ones over the smallest things. I wish they would go away and just leave me alone. My head feels muddled, my speech gets tongue-tied, and my hands shake. My heart races and I keep trying different things to calm myself down – deep breathing, light reading, watching a funny show. Nothing seems to work, except sleep, of course. Sleep feels like the answer to everything, sometimes.

Perhaps the Universe is using anxiety to spur me to write more. I usually end up feeling better after writing, but the act of saying “no” to all the daily demands of life, finding a quiet corner, and putting pen to paper can feel more overwhelming than just dealing with all the shit life throws at you. Sometimes I think I’d write more, if only I could get a break, a few days with no one around to make demands of me. I know that wouldn’t help though. I mean, I’d love the free time, but I know I wouldn’t write. I’ve been in that situation before, and I did everything from cleaning the bathrooms to binge watching old sitcoms, anything to avoid writing. How can one person want so badly to write and yet run away from it at the same time? All my life, I’ve heard people say, you know you’re a writer if you always feel the desire to write. I hardly ever want to write, but I know I’m most alive when I do.  For me, writing feels like an event, an act of fearlessness. Does anyone else ever feel that way?

 

Bare Naked

Bare yourself naked, they say.

Be who you really are.

Allow yourself to be vulnerable;

only then will you achieve genuine happiness.

No matter that you’ll feel genuine sorrow, too,

and pain and love and passion,

the whole gamut of emotions.

What does it mean, though, to be vulnerable?

Should you unpeel yourself like a piece of fruit?

First, the outer, strongest layer,

the one that protects you from pain,

but also the one that prevents you from truly mixing with the others who are so like and unlike you,

the banana with the mandarin,

the apples with the strawberries,

the pomegranate with the pears?

If you strip away this outer layer of ego, what will happen?

Only the pulp will remain,

the substance,

the spirit.

Imagine unpeeling even further,

till you get to the core,

till you understand what exactly is at the center of your being.

It’s a mystery, and yet, you want so badly to know, don’t you?

Is there a black hole inside you, swallowing your emotions,

leaving you feeling alienated and numb in this world,

a black hole that, one day, will swallow you up entirely?

Or is it more like a white light, which illuminates your mind,

and pours through your pores,

making you shine like a gemstone,

dissolving your outer surface,

the sharp edges and rough texturing,

to reveal the hidden quartz inside?

What will you find at the core of your being,

if only you would examine it,

excavate it,

empower it?

You have a theory.

You think God might be hiding inside of you,

playing the longest ever game of hide and seek,

and you haven’t been able to find Him

until now.

He’s hiding inside you,

but also inside him and her,

and within the bark of the trees and the veins of the leaves.

He’s hiding in a light bulb where a moth will burn if it gets too close,

and in the center of the sun,

where you’re warned not to look for fear of going blind.

He’s hiding in your parents and grandparents,

in your children and grandchildren,

in the puzzle pieces you used to play with,

clapping in triumph when you’d finally put them all together.

He’s hiding in books and movies which have moved you to tears, laughter, and awe.

He’s hiding in the music which lifts you, and makes you want to dance,

or meditate on meaning.

He’s even hiding in your enemy, isn’t He?

Showing you what it means to be “other”,

because only then will you know what it means to be human,

and how to bring the world closer together.

What does it mean, then, to be vulnerable?

It means just letting yourself be,

travelling deep within and unlocking the gates,

exposing whatever there is inside –

the dark, the beautiful, the glistening, the gray –

allowing people in and allowing people out.

It means learning to become comfortable with being uncomfortable.

It means doing the things that scare you the most,

‘cause what’s life without a little adventure?

It means using your voice to change the world,

but first,

going in search of that voice.

I bet it’s hiding in there somewhere,

maybe right next to God.

Go find it and don’t come back till you do.

 

Bare yourself naked, they say.

Well, are they ready to hear what’s coming their way?

Are they ready for you?

Are YOU ready for you?

It’s about damn time.

The Wrong Rabbit Hole

I’ve always wanted to make other people happy, to shield them from the kind of depression I have experienced for more than a decade. But is it possible that I’ve been going about it all wrong? I mean, if there’s one thing I’m an expert in, it’s what it feels like to be depressed. I never thought that expertise would mean something to anybody else. Maybe it can, though.

For me, depression is the dark rabbit hole that Alice never fell through. It has no ending, only temporary landing ledges for brief respite from that constant feeling of falling. It’s self-hate, filling up your insides like bile, making you feel like you’re always on the verge of bursting. It’s the feeling of being a tree in the forest who fears it will fall, but no one will ever be around to hear it. And so, if that happens, does the fall even count? Does the tree even really exist?

It’s the world closing in on you till you feel you can’t breathe. It’s always looking for a way to escape your own mind. It’s wishing you were a different person, a happier person, living a different life. It’s the feeling that everyone will sooner or later tire of your negativity and leave you. It’s a haziness in your head, and a desire to give in to that haziness, and sleep all the time. Warm, joyous sleep, where, when you dream, your every next step is unpredictable. You feel more alive when you’re dreaming, than when you’re awake.

It’s feeling like you’re not good enough for this world. Even when there was obviously some Power that specially created you. But it must have been a mistake, or perhaps, this hell is punishment for your behavior in a past life.

Depression is falling into a pit and feeling like there’s no way out. Ever.

What does depression feel like for you?

What is Happiness?

I believe there is infinite beauty inside each of us like a locked treasure without a key. But instead of trying to unlock that inner beauty, most of us spend our time watching spectacles on TV like a child at the circus, or running around a hamster wheel in the pursuit of money and the happiness it cannot buy. The irony is, no one is happy. In fact, research shows that the happiest people are usually those with the least amount of possessions in this world – the weak, the sick, the elderly, and children. Because they know what it means to be truly grateful. And so, I believe, the secret to happiness is gratitude.

I am grateful to the master architect of this world, the artist who created a diversity of landscapes, and scattered them with creatures of all shapes and sizes. I am grateful to the sculptor who created me from clay and deemed me worthy of this beautiful world, who breathed into me my soul, so that I could remember. But instead of remembering, I walked the path of forgetfulness. It seemed like the right path since that’s where everyone else was going. My parents tried their best to guide me. But it was hard for them, too, because, to some degree, they struggled with the same sense of directionlessness, as I do now.

I am grateful to the chess player who placed me on this side of the checkered board, under the watchful eye of this king and queen – my father and mother – because they were always kind and loving and principled, and they always provided. That is all a parent can really do for their child, isn’t it?

I am grateful to the script writer who always kept me on the move, journeying from one country to another, to another, to another. He kept me on my toes, like a choreographer showing me the beauty of each movement, the thrill of each twist and turn in my story. She taught me to keep my head down, my heart open, and my body full of grace, like a ballerina pirouetting through life; not the best ballerina, though, because I stumbled often and sometimes fell flat on my face. Puberty, boys, friendships, fights, secrets, the use of words as weapons, the heart divided, thinking what it wanted and what it should want were two different things, completely. I am grateful to the negotiator, who coaxed me through this barbed wire and helped me get to the other side, intact.

I am grateful, too, to the one-who-shall-not-be-named because, without him, I would never have experienced the most basic sense of duality, good versus evil, and I would never have known which direction to go in. He kept me thinking all my life that my lack of confidence was actually my humility; my silence, my strength; and the noise around me a thing of beauty and intelligence, which had to be heard with a sense of urgency because that noise would guide me, and tell me how to stay young, make money, sound smart, and look sexy. The noise would keep the voices at bay, the ones he had snuck inside my head. Those voices told me exactly what he wanted me to believe – that I was worthless, burdensome, ugly. That the only way to rise up in life was through worldly success.

But now, I know better. The voices were only his minions, a way to keep me quiet and walking in the wrong direction. I am grateful to the teacher who uncovered, for me, the truth, who turned me around and told me to shut off all the noise and listen, instead, to my soul. And when I consciously experienced my soul for the first time, it was like my black and white world transformed into technicolor. Like I was seeing the world for the first time, through a child’s eyes, full of wonder and awe. The teacher coaxed open my memory and suddenly, I remembered. I remembered Him. I remembered my promise to Him. I remembered She loved me, and was merciful and forgiving. I remembered She was scary, too, like a parent trying to discipline her child. I remembered that I loved Him, for providing for me, food, water, shelter, yes, but also my senses, my comforts, the people in my life, the challenges that made me struggle till my knees buckled under, the moments of grace when I understood just a little more of His grand plan.

He is like my parent, my lover, my child, my best friend, my everything, all rolled into One. I am eternally grateful to Him. And THIS is what makes me happy.

This piece is a reminder for me, more than anything else, to be grateful. Do you feel grateful? If so, for who or what? I’d love to know.

Home

What is home?

And if someone knows, can he/she please tell me where mine is?

When you’re young,

home is simply mother.

The giver of all your milk and love.

The receiver of all your poop and tears.

Slowly, home grows to include father,

and then siblings,

and finally,

the concrete walls within which you sleep and wake every day.

Home stays that way for a while, and continues to impress itself upon your memory,

with its smells of mac’n’cheese and aloo gosht,

the sounds of your brothers practicing with their band in the basement,

the sight of sunlight pouring in from specific angles every day,

just so,

the feel of your fuzzy stuffed animal collection,

or the soft, pink hairiness of the carpet in your room.

But what happens when you’re suddenly uprooted and swept away to another continent?

Does home remain where it was,

something to be nostalgic about in later years,

something that will seep into all your future dreams?

Or will it become this new city, where, apparently, you were born,

and everyone tells you how much you’ve grown?

The place your parents called home, before the idea of you even existed?

With time, this new place turns into home,

with confiding friends, loyal cousins, first love, and hating homework.

In this new home, no one needs to keep asking you how to pronounce your name,

or where you’re from,

or where that is.

Things are good.

Things are really good,

until you leave again,

this time, by choice,

for the sake of education, on the surface,

but really,

for adventure.

This will be temporary, you think.

So it doesn’t matter if your new, makeshift home keeps changing from one claustrophobic dorm room to another,

because this is a rite of passage,

and you know you’ll fly home one day.

Then suddenly you wake up and realize

seven years have passed

and you never went back.

When it’s time,

home changes, yet again,

from your parents’ home to your husband’s.

This home is lovely,

new and exciting, but fraught with its own tensions.

This home will stay, you hope.

No matter which part of the globe you’re in,

no matter how many cities you visit,

or how many times you have to buy new furniture,

this home will stay.

Does that mean home is not a place then,

but rather, a person?

People can be so unpredictable.

They come and go.

They have their own tales of home to deal with.

They’re fickle and hard to control,

in fact, not at all within your control.

A decade on, and you start to feel that home is not a person or a place.

It’s you.

Because you’re the only one you can really control,

and trust to be there during every up and down.

Your body, the skin and everything within,

this is your home.

But wait!

Even this home is starting to feel different.

It’s no longer as energetic as it once was.

Aches and pains have erupted in hidden corners of the body that you always took for granted.

This body is aging,

and you realize it won’t be around forever.

What, then, is home?

Not a place,

not a person,

not a human body you think you control.

What is home?

Home is still you,

you eventually conclude,

just not the physical you.

That part is only temporary.

Home is the source from which you came,

and where, hopefully, you’ll one day return.

Home is an invisible being

who embraces you every day

especially when you need it most.

Home is the soul and all that it’s connected to,

which, very conveniently, follows you around the world,

without any moving fees,

or emotional goodbyes,

anxious first days,

or troubling sighs.

Your home was here all along,

the one place you didn’t think to look.

Silly rabbit!

Now that you know where home is,

you need to make sure you take care of it.

Clean it, regularly, of clutter and toxicity.

Warm it with kindness. Beautify it with light.

Take the time to sit in your home for a while,

even on your busiest days.

Really sit

and reflect

on your home,

so that, with time,

this home will show you the way to your next Home,

and everything you must do before you get there.

This home will never leave you.

At the very end,

you’ll be a home within a Home

which will feel like such abundance, because

you started out so clueless,

with no idea of what home is,

and you ended with an infinite array of possibilities.

You learned that you’re the creator of your own home.

You learned that you are home,

but also that

you are home.

*My lovely readers, what do you think of when you think of home?*

Most Days

 

Most of my days are mediocre,

going through a cycle of pre-planned routines,

relying on handy little coping mechanisms,

sneaking in predictable bad habits like eating a hidden stash of sweets or sleeping later than I should.

On most days,

there’s child-rearing,

tv-watching,

phone-talking,

errand-walking,

job-searching,

journal-writing,

food-prepping,

mortality-facing:

all the usual suspects.

And throughout it all, a feeling of boredom I have come to depend on

because boredom is better than being in a black hole.

 

On my best days,

I feel like singing.

I’ll imagine my life is a musical with a song and dance for every occasion,

and romance,

oh-so-much romance.

I let go of all my anxieties

and instead of feeling depleted,

I have so much love to give.

Wisdom and warm hugs abound.

On my best days,

I feel like my best self,

and I want so badly for that feeling to last.

I’ll read uplifting stories, listen to inspirational music, watch intelligent videos.

It’s not long, though,

before the monotony of life sets in again,

and the feeling of being free is gone.

 

Most days,

I won’t sing out of fear someone will hear me

and think I’m tuneless.

I won’t write or share my work for fear someone will read it

and find out I’m a fraud.

Most days,

I avoid difficult conversations and distressing confrontations.

I’ll wear the veneer of an optimist who’s got it all together –

a fulfilling family life, a successful professional life, even a peaceful spiritual life –

but in reality, I’ll steep myself in the negative,

the fatalistic,

the frightening.

Most days,

my mind is like an obstinate child who will not listen

as I try to guide it towards positivity and love.

However, the mind has a mind of its own, and,

when left unchecked,

has the power to seduce me into a black hole of my own making.

 

On my worst days,

my mind is like a dominating overlord who takes joy in my torture.

I feel invisible,

isolated,

ignored.

I am weak in the face of all those voices in my head that tell me I’m useless,

that I won’t amount to anything,

when actually, I’ve already amounted to so much,

that I’m lazy,

when actually, I’m scared,

that I’m talentless,

when actually, I’m the only person in the world

who knows how best to be me.

On my worst days,

I feel unloved,

and that is the worst feeling of all,

because if nobody loves me,

then what’s the point of my existence.

On my worst days,

I wish I could just disappear.

I forget that there is someone out there who loves me,

the same being that made me,

that deemed me worthy of creation

and a place among the cosmos.

I forget

that to some people

I am the whole world,

and to others,

I’m important,

though perhaps misunderstood.

I forget that the people around me aren’t all out to get me,

but are flawed themselves,

and just want to be accepted for who they are,

despite their quirks and occasional cruelties.

They have their own black holes to battle.

On my better days,

I realize all this,

and I see the world through the eyes of an observer, not a performer.

I sense the beauty all around me,

in the human capacity for kindness,

and the majestic presence of nature,

the miniscule place our planet occupies in the universe,

and my ability to forgive.

There is beauty in every moment,

if only we could feel it.

 

On my best days,

I don’t fully inhabit my body,

and float, rather than walk.

I feel at one with the universe

and allow my spirit to guide me,

come what may.

“Just try to enjoy the ride,”

I tell myself.

“Coast through calm waters,

navigate around the rocks,

hang on tight during waterfalls,

but be sure to soar through the skies

with eyes wide open.”

 

On my best days,

I feel like singing,

and so,

without giving it a second thought,

I do.

Why so Lovelorn?

Ever feel like shit? A rhetorical question, obviously, because we’ve all felt like shit at some point in our lives. Tired, overworked, under appreciated, not really feeling the love. As if, despite the number of loved ones we may have, there is no one we can honestly share our feelings with. That would mean making ourselves truly vulnerable. And what if the person we choose to share with doesn’t understand us? Or worse, doesn’t really care? Being vulnerable has only ever caused us pain, so better not to say anything, just to stay quiet. Except the problem is, we’re still boiling over with all these negative feelings, feeling drained by life, possibly even depressed. We feel unloved.

“Lovelorn” means feeling bereft of love. And to some extent, I think we all feel this way. We have moments of feeling unloved, whether it be by a parent, a partner, or even the Universe, in general. We feel unloved and perhaps even unworthy of love. We take desperate measures to get attention or try to change ourselves to please others. We do horrible things from the lack of love, and get the sense that being horrible is just who we are because no one ever told us otherwise. One of this world’s greatest superheroes, in my opinion, Fred Rogers, aptly summed it up when he said, ““Love is at the root of everything – all learning, all relationships – love, or the lack of it.” I cannot help but agree.

In a world of hyper awareness, of processing and re-processing the news of just how vicious mankind can be, where we feel increasingly isolated and alone, and like the worth of human life – indeed, even our own – is negligible, it is only natural to feel lovelorn.

I’m sure someone out there feels the same way I do, and it might help to know that you are not alone. The pain is real and, sometimes, torturous. Full disclosure: I suffer from depression. And even though I receive treatment for it, the pain never completely goes away. Maybe it’s not supposed to.

I believe that each of us is a part of something greater than all of us put together. I believe that we are not only loved, but also needed. I believe we each have special gifts we bring to the world, and we need to identify those gifts and share them. I believe all these things, and yet, have trouble remembering them because there’s always that constant nagging feeling within me, that feeling of not being worthy, of wasting my time in this world and not being productive enough. I start to think, if only I felt loved, things would be different. It becomes this vicious cycle then, where I try to chase love, never feel like I’m getting as much as I need, and so, keep searching for it. And instead of using my energy to fulfil my purpose in life, I’m wasting it on this futile quest.

Recently, I heard Sufi teacher, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, say, in a podcast episode of Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations (yes, I listen to Oprah!), that this hunger we always feel, this emptiness, this longing for love, is really just a longing for the Beloved. For Sufis, the Beloved is God. I’m a pretty spiritual person, so I think there may be some truth to that.

But the fact remains, regardless of why we feel this longing, we feel it still, and it can be painful. This site is my attempt at sharing that pain. Who knows, maybe my purpose in life IS to share my pain. It doesn’t sound like a very glamorous or divinely inspired job, but, hey, what do I have to lose?