The cool breeze hit my face and ruffled my hair, as I bent on my balcony railing sipping my midnight tea. The serene city lights, mingled with some motion and sparse commotion was a sight to behold. This city never sleeps, and never truly, do we.
I was lost in my thoughts and queries, and I didn’t notice that she was beside me.
‘Hey,’ she said softly.
I turned, and smiled,‘Hey.’
‘What are you occupied with?’
‘Myself, and my troubles..’
‘Would you like to talk about them?’
Why not? Maybe talking about them will help. The questions and disconcerting negativity that were always around me, and maybe talking about them could solve some of their mystery. The negativity trapped me around like a spider’s prey wound up in it’s strong and sticky silk. The more I tried to squiggle out of it, the tighter it grasped. As each day passed it seemed to engulf me more and more, and I feared one day I would suffocate through it. But, how do I begin explaining myself?
She seemed to read my mind. ‘I’ll start, shall I?’ She asked. I nodded.
‘I think it all rests in the way we live our lives,‘ she said. ‘Maybe we have just broken down life as a chore, while it has to be lived as a whole.’
‘As in, broken down our responsibilities and duties? Divided our life span into ages?’
‘That, and maybe more. We break down everything, we think it will give us answers. Science certainly has it that way. We think the smallest piece of our duties, responsibilities, spheres, habits may be the most crucial; ignoring that we and our lives are much much more than the mere sum of their parts.’
‘You mean, the more modern we become the more we fail to understand life?’
‘To an extent. Our life’s motives have deviated from making the most of what results and outcomes we get, to striving for a predefined outcome. And therein, somewhere within that transition, we lost our understanding of life.’
‘I don’t know.. I always wanted a happy, peaceful and loving life. I’ve tried to make the best of what I’ve got, even though I may not be very happy about it. I just want the best.. How have I deviated then?’
‘Ah. You know what, things we desire the most often arrive a little dull and bland when they do. Why? Because in our desires and dreams we keep no true logical boundaries. We tend to put aside absolute reason and work towards fantasies. We design and craft such an impossible product that we never realize that we are often designing our own magnitude of disappointment.’
I took that in. Was I a little less realistic and a little overenthusiastic? Maybe. At times. But I had the details, I knew what I wanted and heck, I even knew how to get it. And if I did have lofty desires of my rewards, what’s wrong? But yeah, my expectations do make me want more and enjoy what I have less. Maybe I tried to lap a hollow inspiration around with fancy words, and it just crumpled. The disappointment.. it gave a dose of negativity like none other.
‘But, even if I fail or things don’t turn out as I wanted them to, is it wrong to feel disappointed then?’
‘Of course not. Feeling disappointment is fine, as long as you use it to grow and fight.’
‘When I failed, and I had to face those who had invested in me, I took in their snides and their retorts. All I could see was negative things all about me. People never said a good word about me.’
‘A lotus isn’t polluted by the muddy waters. A submarine isn’t affected about the salt water around it. A spaceship doesn’t let the emptiness around it bother it’s functioning. It doesn’t matter what’s around you. The problem starts when either the salt water enters the ship or the air inside the spacecraft leaks out. Do not let the outside negativity sink you and never allow your inside positivity to drain out to emptiness.’
‘But you know,’ I said, frustrated. ‘I just don’t seem to pin the problem. I feel forbidden to some things. I feel there are ways to do things, methods to deal things with.. I seem to never be, you know, free. I feel I’m always in a constraint. I don’t like many things, and when I do I feel uneasy to share them! And it’s like I am supposed to be so and so and I cannot be anything else! You getting me?’ I looked at her, hoping she would grasp my question truly in my desperation.
She smiled, ‘You know what the problem is? The problem is that we define a lot. We define what kind of humour we like. We define what kind of music we enjoy. We define what kind of love we want. We define what life we want to live. We strictly define what we like and what we don’t like, and when something breaks that definition, it short circuits our functioning. Stop categorizing your pleasure and wants. If you like something, you like it. If you don’t like something, you don’t like it. You are not obliged to like something just because you’ve liked something similar in the past. You are not supposed to dislike something just because you’ve disliked something similar in the past. Maybe then you’re in a different state of mind, in a different setting. You can like black as well as white. You have no obligation to be something, except to be the best of you. Things are simple. Let them be.’
Again. The same gist. Take it in. Keep it simple.
‘Yeah. You know, what I don’t get is, why is there some or the other fight always on? Why is there no real happiness? Or peace, for that matter?’
‘I think that’s because for every true cause, there are multiple agendas. You know what trips me everytime? That we chose to live by agendas, not ideals. We drag everything – small or large, frivolous or crucial, obvious or hypothesized – to fit our agendas and their predispositions. We create stories out of thin air, we stretch facts so much into thin layers that it hardly remains the truth. Nothing related to our agenda misses us. We see it everywhere, even where it isn’t present. Our agendas don’t escape us.’
‘Or maybe we can’t escape from our agendas!’
We caught some breath. But I still had a raging question. ‘Can a situation affect people differently? and if it does.. what does it say of those who change?’
‘“The same boiling water that softens a potato, hardens an egg.”’
‘Yeah. Exactly that.’
‘Never underestimate the ability of life to teach two different people two different things using the same stroke. There’s no shame in being softened by a circumstance which maybe hardens some others. Maybe at that time someone needed a lesson in humility, and someone needed to toughen up. There is no shame in being an ‘egg’ or in being a ‘potato’. As it is said, every new change is meant to teach, but what you learn depends on who you are. Remember, what the potato has the egg doesn’t, and what the egg has the potato doesn’t.’
We shared a quiet moment. The breeze was still on, and it helped me process her words. I sipped on my cup a few more times, and she said, ‘Can I ask you something?’ I gave her my attention, and she said, ‘Do you ever feel that there is a need of someone around you? Someone who can bring the best in you? Someone who is willing to bear with us to the end?’
For once, I had the answer. ‘I think, what we need is someone who will tear us apart. Limb by limb, sense by sense and cell by cell. Someone who will take the pains to break us down, to see what we truly contain. Someone who wants to see what hues and habits and traits we expose about us. Someone who won’t flinch when our lighter and brighter hues are followed by our darker and bold ones. Someone who will keep on digging, beyond what wrath we lay on them, to find that one hidden jewel within us that truly defines who we are. Someone who will tear us apart, put a piece of themselves in us, and then sew us up again – whole, complete and reincarnated.’
She bid me night, and went to sleep. Left alone to my concoctions once again, I now thought on what I had learned today. As I finished my tea, I smiled. So basically, all I need to do is be myself. Or a better version than before. Someday, somewhere, today’s tête-à-tête will help someone else by my words and hope so by hers as well.
Try to give something of you and try to keep something with you, at every situation or place you’ve been to. That way, you will always have something different to give everywhere and something new to take every time.