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.

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?*