A story and beyond..

I have done it all, mostly. I am not saying this as a bragging right, or as a world weary person. But as someone in her 40’s who has led a life in a zig zag and absurdly contrasting with every decade that I feel exhausted when I look back. Hell I feel like a 70+ year old with all the stories I have experienced! And then I wonder how extraordinary it has been so far. Every year to every decade has shifted within me so much, that I no longer recognise the woman I was in my 20s, 30s or even a couple of years ago.

I am a social recluse and it was a conscious choice, a very conscious choice. If you were to ask my close ones how I was before, you might be gobsmacked and wonder if I could be that wild or crazy. Well crazy I still am but that craziness took a detour to do something else.

Why am I writing this today? I wanted to write a post on this but how can you encapsulate all your thoughts, your reflections in a brief story post? Maybe it’s a boring monologue you might waste your time with here, maybe you have gone through or are in the midst of this conflict, where you are is not what you want to be, maybe you do have an idea where you want to be but not hesitant to take that step towards it..

No matter how much pounding you get from your childhood that you have to ‘plan things’ right from studies – engineering or medical( sadly the parents still think the only two options) to a career with ‘lotsa money’ to ‘settle down’( never ever understood this shit) I am sorry to say it’s never that.

Somewhere in this planet, in this realm there is an unseen energy and force that keeps giving us challenges, keeps spurring us to make choices, hard and easy to define us every day. Call it God( which I believe in totally) or any term you wish to call it, it pulls us into directions that we wouldn’t have dreamt of even a year ago.

Mankind has been racking their brains to define what is the purpose in life? Beyond the materialistic, beyond family, beyond doing the rituals of birth-childhood-youth-marriage-children-old age and finally death. Is this all there is?

Why is the world more unhappy than before? Than 200 years ago? Because honestly this is the best life you can live in this life, in this generation and decade. You have technology, you have infrastructure, you have transportation, women are more independent than before, luxury has become common place. Everything around you is accessible then why the unhappiness?

Because it’s mostly external, mostly. “What do we do next “ is the thing that drove humans from the spectacular to total chaos. It drove brilliant minds to the advancements today and it’s the same mind that is causing dissatisfaction, unhappiness and suffering.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with one of my close friends, a friend whom I know for more than a decade but never so much as spoke to her in the past few years as I ought to. But today I wanted to speak to her, it was love, it was because I was missing her, and it was guilt too as she would keep reaching out to me and I was genuinely at a point where I couldn’t pick up and say hi. Not because I didn’t want to but because whenever we spoke, it would be hours long conversations or nothing. That’s how our friendship has been. Two wild out of the box gemini gals who bonded strongly over the years.

And when I apologised to her she said something that shook me. She said, look Ganges( that’s how she calls me and I love it) I know you, you went through a total shift since 2018. This was the year where I shaved my head, removed every bit of hair strand that I felt was the ego and roamed about bald and happy. The kind of freedom I felt after doing it, I never looked back. I altered my lifestyle totally. She reminded me that’s when the shift happened. She knew it. Gone was the social Swapna, gone were the hip dresses and parties, gone were the days when I would stay out so late I would see the mornings. Maintaining a large social circle primarily because of the cafe and bar I ran and the need to be amicable to everyone no matter what a jerk or arseholes they were.

She said the ones that will understand this aspect of you, that you are not the same anymore will somehow find a way to be in your life and the rest, well they don’t matter anymore. And you know? You do need that reminder from someone who truly cares about you to say that. And it was a big reminder today that my life has changed again from this year..

From being a solo traveller around the world, truly jet setting, from travelling business class only at one point in my life to becoming a hippie traveller to a luxury traveller to a trekker to an athlete every possible thing done and dusted, I am moving into another phase in my life.

The past 3 years of covid has shown me and given me the opportunity, to express my love for animals which pre covid I wasn’t able to do. I didn’t know a way until Covid happened. And then my own life with my family along with the family of strays I make where ever I stayed at. To facing loss to finding love again. It all happened. The universe doesn’t give you what you want, it gives you what you need, always..

So in 2023 what is it going to be? I have only one word. ‘Grounded’. That’s it. There is no desire to keep trekking in the Himalayas, not this year at least. I have done that for 7 years and now it’s time to practice in reality what all the mighty Himalayas have taught me. This year is to stay put, imbibe everything I have learnt over the years in my daily life, step by step. The Himalayas will always be in my heart and soul. She has given me affection, strength, nurturing, discipline and tough love like a mother does. And I know she will continue to do so as I move along.

All I can say now is that if anyone of you out there feel lost, conflicted, you have to make tough decisions. It doesn’t matter how hard or impossible it may seem. We always have a choice, always. Keep it ‘SIMPLE’. Life is not complicated, no Sir, it is not. It is not a jigsaw puzzle or a maze, it is mostly based on the choices you make, the rest is destiny of which you have no control.

And a very important thing that I must address and that’s very specific to our culture, is the spirit of ‘sacrifice’ the ‘martyrdom’ that has been ingrained for generations together. Thinking that taking care of everyone’s problems and feeling deprived of not taking care of the self means ‘ you have fulfilled the duty of a good son/ daughter, wife/sister, mother/father’ it goes on and on. It is what I think a toxic codependency within the self.

It’s more to do with you than in your relation to others. You get addicted to the eternal conflict in you, between making your choice to making a choice that you think will keep them happy. We want them to change, we keep hoping that one day they will see your supreme sacrifice and change. But you know what? It’s a baggage you have added on your own. Either you put that down or keep carrying it feeling sorry for yourself for the rest of your life still looking for approval. If you don’t change, how can you expect others to?

I leave you with a Buddhist story I heard at a meditation workshop and it is a reminder every time when I know I am getting ahead of myself.

Two Buddhist monks were walking across the forest. Right after the forest was a river, the level of the river was high and they saw a woman standing nearby. She was scared of water, but she had to cross it because her village was on the other side. When she asked the monks for help, one of them offered to carry her across the river. To place her arms around him so he could carry her safely. The other monk was infuriated by this. How could a monk sworn to celibacy even touch a woman, forget carrying her? He grumbled, he forbade the other monk to do it. But the monk quietly carried the lady across the river safely. The lady thanked him profusely and left.

The monks resumed their walk, now the other monk was still angry, still upset at breaking one of the vows they took as monks. How could he break it?? He went on and on, complaining all the time. As they were nearing their destination, the monk who kept quiet throughout finally said to him, ‘ My friend, I had left the lady long ago after we crossed the river, but you my friend are still carrying her on YOUR shoulders. ‘ 💙

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