It was raining outside; heavily, but not harshly. The dark clouds had made the afternoon sun vanish and the daylight had dimmed as if nature had a sudden case of low voltage. I sat there, with a book in my lap, gazing out of the window at the sour sky and watching the raindrops lash against the window rim. Once a while an audacious droplet would charge to attack my face and even more rarely, one infinitesimal drop would make it. I closed the window, pulled the curtains; dipping my room into a familiar shade of darkness – perfect for brooding, reflecting and concocting.
I settled myself on my bed, leaned back and waited. Waited for the tide to flow in, and retreat leaving behind memories I thought I had dumped forever. Before I could decide what to do with those awash memories, new waves would flow in, bringing a new charge with them. I had been here before, and I shall be here again. I decide to walk on the shore of thought and choose memories that will tear into me today. I had given in, given in to the cascades of solitude.
Solitude – an imaginary mind’s paradise, a rational mind’s school. It is an exception, yet a humdrum of everybody. Solitude isn’t loneliness, it’s not the despair of lack of companionship. Solitude is embracing the loneliness, finding peace in the quiet, settling out yourself with respect to yourself, and setting yourself free. Loneliness turns into seclusion, which yields solitude. In solitude, I found myself. It gave me a scope to unleash both, the angels and demons within me. Unrestrained, uncontrolled, and unbounded, I let them shape me. Soon I was in a quandary – should I negate my demons or pamper my angels?
I remembered my first foray into the spiral of solitude. Realisation and it’s crude holdings had freshly struck me, putting myself in a null. It was the first time I let my thoughts run amok, and run wild they did. I took it all in, from the lack of invites to the cordial ignorances – the first blow of loneliness is always the strongest. Somewhere between a forearm covered in ribbons and bands on Friendship Day during school and sitting alone, listening to music and reminiscing about the past, I grew up. My memory had nothing but bitter rejections, cut offs and a feeling of hostility – all completely unwarranted.
It’s quite funny actually, how ninety nine people would give me compliments and one person would say something negative; and I would end up spending hours on that one negative comment without even giving a second thought to the ninety nine praises. In my initial forays into solitude, I had no control over my cognition – I let myself believe that I was always disgraced, left alone and unattended. I made trust my mythological Holy Grail – while it was nothing but a smile away from me.
Sometimes it’s trust that makes you trustworthy. When someone trusts you, you feel to start trusting yourself. I remembered how I found it difficult to trust someone, until somebody else trusted me. Somebody else’s trust, which I couldn’t honour. And in that moment, all the times when my trust was broken seemed irrelevant. It didn’t matter how many times I was wronged, I had eventually done the same wrong to someone else. How could I blame someone else for doing to me the same crime I did to many others? I was no different than my culprit, and I had now become a criminal myself. How badly I wanted to turn the clock back in actuality, not for revenge, but to correct an error made in an innocuous moment. Oh life! What a sneaky little pest it is! The perpetrator of an event I try my best not to hold a grudge on to, it shows to me every single day. The face I wanted to express to and couldn’t, never crosses my path again.
I gained control – learned to control my demons a little, and gave true flight to my angels. I acquired their solace, I listened to their teachings. I realised, that I had started wrong, but on the most common path. I realised that I had a choice between misplaced negativity and possibly reaching a higher level of sense and maturity. I understood that you can allow your pain to do two things; either let it fool you or let it fuel you. I decided to no longer answer the complaints of my heart, instead I started asking it counter questions.
We have always asked the wrong questions. We ask, what makes someone to love? Or what causes happiness? Or what causes a sense of success? Actually, all these are default, initial or perceived situations of human life, they’re not caused – particularly the latter one. A baby, a toddler is loved by almost everybody who sees it, and is happy and excited about the smallest victories of life. The first chortle, the first word, the first step. The real questions, then, are what causes hate? Or what causes sadness or what causes disappointment? Why is it, that we’re all apart, tearing more and more into our own – at the bear minimum – biological kin? It’s a shame that humankind has progressed along the lines of ‘survival of the fittest or smartest’, like other animals. With our ability to think better, our crimes became more heinous. Had we progressed along the lines of ‘survival of the ethical’, or even ‘the righteous’, we’d be living in a totally different world right now.
Nowadays, I seek salvation in solitude. Gone are the days when I would accuse, whine, feel sorry for myself and play the victim. I now think over ordinary things in life.
An incident with my father taught me a lot. When I was a kid, we used to travel in our car with me often in the front seat. Once, I saw a huge pothole in front of us and braced myself for the inevitable crash into it. I closed my eyes, and waited and waited, but the drop never came. I opened my eyes and saw that we had passed the crater without any problems.
“Dad, what happened to that huge pothole?”
“We passed it, son.”
“But how didn’t we fall in it? It was big, and just in front of the car! ”
Dad smiled, “We did go over it. The thing is, the car did, the tyres didn’t.”
Years later, I realised something. We are a vehicle on the road of life. Our tyres are our pillars, things and/or people closest to us. Whatever craters and bumps we encounter on the road, they represent the problems and frenzies of life. You must negotiate the bumps with your tyres in full harmony or even the positives can become uncomfortable. Moreso, you must protect your tyres while encountering the craters. Sometimes, dipping into a crater is inevitable, and it must be handled with care, approaching it with caution. Your car runs on your tyres, you need to protect them. Similarly, take care and handle your pillars with care because help you stay up and make progress during both, positives and negatives.
But sometimes, you need not worry, as you’ll pass over the pit without your pillars even knowing it.
The rain had not subsided, and neither had my thoughts. I knew it could go on and on and on.. but I was now the commander of my solitude. My Solitude Angel agreed, and I closed the session, succumbing to sleep. But once in a while, I do let my demons get some fresh air too; just to keep it interesting.