Shrink Wrapped Me

I have learned something new in the past few months. It’s very critical for me and I am kinda obsessed with it. To put it in simple words – we all have 2 things going on. One, what we are doing (or what is . happening to us) and another – how we go about telling a story about it! It makes all the difference!

Yuval Harari is extremely right about how we humans use language to create fiction and weave stories and if I can extend on what he is saying – we fill our world with fiction stories and tell them repeatedly to people around us.

What I didn’t know was simple. I thought if I speak what feels true to me – I would be ok. But, to my dismay I am realizing more and more that people don’t want my true story – people love it when I package it in a nice bubble wrap. It’s fascinating to me, when I started to count the number of people who would rather have my true self and true stories – it literally came down to single digit number! I mean I have more people in my life, who would rather want me to wrap my thinking, vulnerability in a shrink wrap and give it to them than give them the real deal. Also, these are the same people who would talk around in circles and keep it safe.

I think it’s ok. I am not judging them. But what’s happening to me about that bubble wrap is that – these people mean less and less to me. I actually have started avoiding them. My work and what I do mean a lot to me – but it has been so unfortunate that predominantly my work is filled with people who would rather have me bubble wrapped than be talking about work, meaning etc

I am getting used to it. But on other hand – I am also building this core group of people I open up to and be who I am. It just means that some times it’s going to be lonely. I am ok with it – as I think it’s ok to be honest and vulnerable with few than be fake with many,

Speaking my mind

I have always had trouble speaking my mind. The few close people who know me well, know this already. I always think I have two issues with speaking my mind. One, what if I am wrong? Two, What if the other person doesn’t like what I said? These two bookends dictate my life – social, personal and professional. I struggle with it everyday.

Some of the stories I tell myself to make myself feel good about this are – I have a lot of people who like me because I seem to agree with them, I don’t have any social embarrassing situations where I cringed myself to death.

This is a problem. I am working on it and at this moment don’t really have a coherent plan of action. But I just want to get this out of my head and admit. I know that my life would be far far better if I speak my mind and ask for exactly what I want. My life would be efficient if only I encourage only the things, ideas and people who matter most to me.

I feel that being agreeable all the time has turned me into a fake. I am pretty sure people have noticed it but I feel like a fake in those moments. It’s ironic – when I feel smartest in the room, I act dumb to help other and fake I am lost and when the room is filled with smart people – I fake smartness and fall for that empty feeling. In either case, I could be myself and leave others to decide who I am relative to them. But the things I do, not to speak my mind are scary and fascinating!

I don’t have any big proclamations to make. I am in awareness phase – becoming acutely aware of my problem and how inactive I am in that area. I might end up losing a lot of friends and not be popular at my work. But I think at the end of the day when I closeout, at least I don’t have to keep tabs on things where I need to be careful with some person or situation – I can just be me.

That to me feels like a relief.

Safe Places

“Daddy it’s too hard, I can’t do it”, said my daughter to me.

I followed up the cliched response -“It’s ok baby, you can do it”

Then it hit me…..

I can’t teach my daughter what I don’t know.

We were at her gymnastics class. She just moved on to next level. New teacher and a harder routine. Balance bars, flips and non-stop activity for 1 hour.

From outside it looked great to me as a parent that my daughter moved on to next level. No change in my schedule, I still keep taking her to the class at the same time. But something has fundamentally changed for my daughter and I wasn’t paying attention to notice it.

This happened last month. Since then I have been taking her to the same class every Saturday and trying to convince her to fight it. To be honest, it hasn’t been going well. She comes back crying half way through – some times I spend 30 mins talking to her just to get her to attend 10 mins of class. Those are hard moments for me and I am completely split during those moments.

I spent a lot of time since then thinking about what is it about failure, that freaks me out and avoid it. I mean the reason why I didn’t have a great supporting response to my daughter was – I don’t know how to respond to new conditions that freak me out and fail me immediately. I have been cocooned myself past several years in safe places where I am welcomed and there is nothing at risk. It’s a great place to be, but on the other hand – it had made me complacent and abhorrent of taking any kind of risk.

So to be able to honestly answer my daughter – I looked back in my life and found 1 thing that I have been scared of all my life. Swimming. Growing up in India, I never got any opportunity to learn swimming and I never made any attempt. But after coming to this country I felt like I can learn it easily, but never attempted it as I felt like I never need for it.

So after a lot of internal chatter – I joined a swim class. Boy it kicked my ass! I realized I am scared of getting my head under water. I feel completely scared to get all the way in water and I panic a lot. So far I have attended 2 classes and I fucking hate it – but I have decided to not to quit and keep facing my fear of risk.

I still don’t have any answers to my daughter. But at least I am in a place where I can sympathize with her. I may suck at swimming and can’t take it anymore but I have decided to face it no matter what – so that I can learn how to face my fears and be able to talk to my daughter about it when she actually needs my help.

I realized that the safe place I call home is limiting me in my personal growth.

Drama Therapy

Last week, I did the unthinkable! I went in to attended a Intro to Drama Therapy by Living Arts Counseling┬áIt was a tough day, Friday evening, I couldn’t get out of work till late, didn’t get a chance to eat dinner before I went in, had a kinda busy day. I had every reason to NOT go! Apart from my palpitating heart as I walked in – I had to just block out the fear and show up. And super glad I did it.

Drama Therapy is unique in a sense – that it’s based on the fact that our bodies record and store every emotion we feel. Be it good or bad – our body keeps the score. And we live in a world of action – doing things and experiencing emotions. The concept is by acting out the actions and replaying the events of past in our heads – we can re-visit those emotions we felt and thereby maybe get a second chance to look at them objectively. The idea is grand, but the process is work! Since it’s a intro class – I get to witness and participate in some of the core activities of it. The instructor was amazing – she made me realize how some people can live life fully!

In 3 hours, my heart got unraveled. I was cut open up like a fruit and on came those emotions. In that span I went through some nostalgic emotions (remembering about my visit to my grandparent’s place during my summers), falling in love (with Sangita & again with my daughter) to fear & anger (about not being accepted as I am by my father and how in one instance I missed to get one more mark, to make the cut, in a test I took when I was 12). It was raw and intense. I couldn’t feel anything for a day.

Sangita has been asking me to go for a long time. She did it long time ago and it changed her life. I always thought being an introvert and how scary it is for me to act out my feelings, let alone talk about them – would be very difficult. It was difficult but the outcome was totally worth it! It’s like a language – which gives access to all locked up emotions and trauma in our bodies. This mask we wear day in and day out is shed among a group of equally trauma inflicted people and in a very safe environment. There were moments where I wanted to leave halfway through, but being an adamant asshole I am I stuck to it and refused. There was this one act – which is called “I want it, you can’t have it” – that rattled my heart out! I wanted the facilitator to call timeout, as those 3 minutes felt like aeons.

It was very insightful – kinda assured me of my own belief that all the answers that I seek lie within me. More and more in my body locked up as emotions. I am not sure if I will do a full course, because it would mean opening up past wounds and feeling completely lost and raw. A part of me thinks I can and a part of me is scared as hell.

4 people

I feel like there are 4 people who live in me.

  1. The wild child – This is the core part, but predominantly hidden. This is the most fun part of me incidentally – but the downside of this guy is – he is so deeply hidden it takes copious amount of alcohol to bring him out. But once he is out, he is fun. Like to think up wild things and will cross every frigging line there is in humanity. Unfortunately a lot of my friends love this guy – so being sober is hard when there is such a demand for him! Oh I also love the beer!!
  2. The Mundane Normative Guy – This is the guy who predominantly lives most of my life. He is the one, who takes care of the family. Who shuttles his daughter and her friends around parks. Who shows up for her kids activities. Who pays the bills, takes the garbage out, recycles, pays taxes, follows the speed limit, automates his life around with widgets and gadgets. The good guy who loves his family and friends.
  3. The Analytical/Intellectual guy – This is the guy who keeps tracks of societal change, reads up about stuff happening around the globe. Parses what’s being reported in media. Doesn’t believe everything he hears. This guy judges, analyzes, summarizes. Nothing is sacred for this guy. If there is a holy cow of anything, this guy will put it on a grill and eat it. Very divisive thinking, but also has the capacity of breaking stuff down to basics and being creative to draw conclusions.
  4. The night time Shaman guy – This is a very secretive part of my psyche. Deeply embedded as the wild child. This guy doesn’t respond to alcohol, but lone time. As I sit alone with my thoughts and think about bigger stuff, when I look up at the vast sky and feel the sensation of Universe staring back at me – I know it’s this guy.

The imbalance I have realized is – the mundane guy has millions of people he can relate to. The wild child – has enough drinking buddies to hangout with. But the analytical guy has very few options. It’s been such a long time this guy engaged in an intellectual banter with anyone. He misses it. He feels like the world is getting dumber and dumber – iconized and minimized to an app based culture of chasing virtual stuff around. The analytical guy can’t stand the stupidity that keeps pouring around him. The spiritual guy – is totally alone. Just sitting there – in awe of the immenseness of this beautiful world around him, but none to share it with.

Neutral Now

As I meditate regularly, I see a pattern in how my mind wanders. It’s best represented as below.

nn1

My mind wanders between future and past. It continuously reviews the events in the past – reliving the bad and good ones and fearful about the future or numbing myself with fantasy. As I continued to watch these thoughts and after a great long time came a period which I call “Neutral Now”

Neutral now isn’t new – it’s just a habit of observing my own thoughts as they emerge and shuttle in the above matrix. As the habit strengthens – it becomes easy to just acknowledge them and let them go. As I let go of these thoughts, feelings, emotions, trauma etc – my mind settles on something which feels like a forever moment. Like time stopped and focus stood still. That moment is fleeting but it’s there and that feels soothing. I think great amount of healing happens in that moment. I try to get to that point as much as I can.

nn2

Arziyan

Today has been a very weird day. Once in a while I have this nostalgic days where I can’t really put my finger on what I am going through but there is this longing. I can’t express it in words and it feels like I go numb inside and just be a bystander to my life. I feel very deeply sad and just memories zoom past. It’s not a physical or mental longing. It’s deeply emotional and being how hard it is usually to word my emotions – one of these days is hardest for me.

On these days I usually tend to listen to Sufi music. It’s kinda healing. Especially a lot of Kailash Kher. As I was listening to it – I came across Arziyan – a song which I love so much but completely forgot what it used to feel like when I listened to. It made me cry. It’s a beautiful song. It’s more than a song – it’s a heartwarming homecoming for me. A warm place where I belong. It’s a very deep song – Arziyan means “requests”, in this case to God – but in a very Sufi way – where God is the ultimate beloved. Just one line explains myriad emotions that I am feeling…

Darare darare hain maathe pe maula,
Murammat muqadaar ki kar do maula

It is said in India – the lines on your forehead signify the amount of experiences you have gone through – and it could be both good or bad. In this line, the singer, is requesting his/her beloved God that his forehead is filled with lines and only He can fix his/her destiny.

There is just so much lost in translation above. I can’t explain it. In poetic Urdu – it’s just heartwarming to hear that. The song was made for a movie but since I can’t find a link to the whole audio song here it is on Youtube. It’s from the movie Delhi 6

It’s just one of those days. I can’t stop listening to it and can’t stop the pain.