Drama Therapy

Last week, I did the unthinkable! I went in to attended a Intro to Drama Therapy by Living Arts Counseling It 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.

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.

 

My Dad, a big fish

Like most people I have my share of childhood “stuff” or trauma to blame it on my parents. I do however have come a long way to accept most of it as my very own karmic debt. Last month was my dad’s 9th year death anniversary. I have been thinking about him for quite some time and I think I have coherent enough thoughts now to put them on here.

Growing up me and my sisters watched my dad make a lot of proclamations. Huge and big ideas which at that time sounded like he was bragging. Some of it, he probably was but what I realize now – now that I am a parent and how I sub-consciously imitate my dad’s style to my daughter sometimes! he was actually a big fish in a small pond.

My dad saw some of the toughest situations in life. He was part of family of 8 siblings and my grand dad (whose name my dad gave me) was an extremely poor man who tried his hands at anything to keep his family going. Having not much of education, my dad literally ran away from his hometown at the age of 15 to make and build his own things. What he endured for the next 10 years is – all this magic stuff he was made of. I believe he endured a lot of pain. On streets and no food and doing some odd jobs. Through that process he developed a story. Basically an amazing response to his reality around him – a story he told himself to keep him alive and survive. He believed in some higher force guiding him and helping him and him doing amazing things while going through that period.

So, when he had kids – he would relay parts of that story to us and I never understood most of them. I know he believed that a strong will is a choice and can be built through practice. He also believed miracles would happen out of thin air and told us a lot of stories. Some of them may not be true through scientific lens but what I realized is that – that was “his” story. That story was hand painted colorful because the paleness of reality was too much to bear.

These thoughts reminded me of the movie Big Fish – whose story line kinda fits with what I had seen in my dad.

Now that I reflect back – I think he passed on a lot more than just the name to me. I believe in the same force guiding my life. Every moment. I am spiritually inclined in stuff which he showed me in my early life. I tend to read books about these amazing fakirs, babas and Gods – who my dad claimed to meet and has been blessed and transformed.

On a day like this – where the candles are lit around me and I can still smell that incense and all this peaceful ambiance around me – the one thing I miss most is – I wish he is here relating me one of those stories to me. Today, I would give anything to sit and listen to his stories without judgement. I miss you dad.

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Nostalgic Water Pot

Today has been a weird day. I am exhausted physically and mentally. When I do, I think what happens is I tend to get Nostalgic and long for some spiritual connection. I don’t know what it is but I can only sense a longing. It’s not physical or mental but just a little flickering presence of spiritual longing. I catch myself humming bhajans which I have long forgotten and I keep wondering about the path I am on.

Our lives are defined by destinations we seek. At least at this worldly level. The spiritual world is however is defined by moments. A moment of awakening and a moment of just pure witnessing. I don’t know what it is – I can’t put my finger on it and say this is it. If I do that I will bring it to this physical realm and it loses it’s meaning. But I feel like these are moment defined by images and music. That’s the best I can do.

Last time I was visiting India, visiting my grand parents in a remote village – I came across a woman who was heating up a pot of water. It was twilight. People are back from fields and they are done with their chores, worries and anything related to physical world. That single mud pot, boiling water under a fire created with twigs etc – was etched in my memory. It was my window to the other realm. At that moment, I stopped and took all of it in. The image of what I was seeing was trivial, but what it represented to me at some deeper level was profound. I can’t express it – but when I think of that water pot, it reminds me of something big. Something beyond me. I just had a glimpse but it felt like eternity. I captured it and am carrying it with me. That moment.

This feeling of longing also reminds me of a particular song. Here it is. When I listen to it, it completely takes me over and makes me forget everything around me. It plucks the nostalgic strings that not know of.

It is indeed a rendition of a beautiful bhajan. A bhajan that captures how Radha used to feel when she used to miss Krishna. Again those things are labels, names, ephemeral – the essence of it is – longing. Which is exactly what I am feeling.

The Astronomer in Me

When I was a kid, I don’t know when exactly but I wanted to become an Astronomer. I used to tell people and the inner me that when I grow up I will be an Astronomer. It made me immensely happy. That kid in me was just dreaming up things. I used to visit my grandparents’ place – a remote village where people slept at 7pm and skies were clear – I could see million stars in the sky and never have to think that it won’t be possible to touch them one day. I was a dreamer.

As I grew up I changed my life goals. I switched from Astronomer to a Number Theorist. I was obsessed with numbers and would dream up numbers. Then came a phase where I dreamed up of being Physicist. Like a serious one. I even dreamed up of becoming an Astrophysicist! Sigh.

Tonight was an emotional night. I met a lot of friends and couple of drinks later, as I laid back in a hammock to witness the night sky with my daughter as I started to tell her stories of Moon and Stars – I witnessed a bright sky (8PM) and one single star. The ambient light of Oakland has let only one star to glow in the sky. It was a sad state. It moved me. It looked like my lonesome dream of Astronomer stuck in space time. It was pretty sad.

I spent some time on feeling nostalgic about it and realized that dreamy Astronomer boy is still within me. I had a very rare glimpse of that boy who would spend hours just staring at sky and wondering how they lit up, far far away. I miss that dude. I miss that Astronomer kid. Long time back when we moved into our new place I was excited that we have a new place and ample space to finally have our own Telescope to look at sky – but then Sangita mentioned – that in this country having a Telescope is creepy that you use to look into your neighbors houses! Thanks Hollywood for killing millions of kids dreams!

It’s ok. I can still look at bare skies and transcend into that kid who still has that gleam of excitement about being made out of stardust. I love looking up night skies and having that feeling.

Incomplete Me

This post has been stewing for quite sometime and I think if I don’t just write it up as it exists in my mind, I would never come around to it. So, here it goes.

Recently my boss mentioned a very dear book to my heart – GEB and it kinda triggered the thought that I need to write this up sooner.

Ok, so Godel is my hero. For some unknown reasons I stumbled upon GEB couple of years back and since then I am a big fan of Godel. Recently while we were on vacation in Hawaii I read the novel – “Mad man dreams of Turing Machines“. A fascinating book. The writing style is filled with metaphors and it will be an extra twist every para you read. It also show cases how *crazy* like literally Godel was. I don’t care about it. I think all Geniuses are kinda crazy and all successful people are kinda psychopathic. That’s fine.

Here is what Godel’s theorem says – in very basic terms. Geometry arose based on certain assumptions which are called ‘axioms’ in mathematical lingo. Theorems are proved axioms. So, geometry has this set of axioms which were crafted some 2000 years back and based on those axioms there have been further Theorems proved and accepted. This is an exception to Mathematics. Nothing in mathematics is based on pure axioms.

So, a lot of people took a look at it and said, Oh that works well for Geometry and I wonder if we can do something similar with another part of mathematics – say Logic. So, a lot of work has been going on either to prove the basic axioms to be true or to transfer this methodology to other areas of math in 1930s. Whitehead and Russell just wrote an epitome on Mathematics and basically tried to apply the Geometry’s method to Logic.

Godel comes around and proves that any system built on assumptions/axioms will never be complete. In other words – screw you Geometry and Bertrand Russell. This was phenomenal.  A lot of people were pissed because this means that it’s useless for them to try to perceive their ideas and make the system complete.

So, where do I come into picture here? All my life, I have been striving for something. That something is “Perfection”. In every aspect of my life, I have always wanted to be perfect. I know, I know – it has it’s roots in my childhood. My dad wasn’t happy with my education. If I close my eyes, I can see that day crystal clear where I was in my 2nd grade and we were doing some kind of show at school. I was part of this show we were doing. I think we were showcasing the animals. I was dressed up as some animal, I don’t recall. But we were supposed to go up on the stage and say something and stand back. I was nervous probably or confused – heck I was just 6 years old. They gave these soda drinks to us to drink before we went on stage. I still had mine in my hand and I wanted to drink it. My turn came in and I walked on stage with my soda and froze and forgot what I had to say. Someone stepped in and pulled me back and the next kid came up.

That night – my dad, mom and sisters were in the crowd along with all other kids’ parents. I am sure my dad was disappointed. I knew something was off and I know he would be mad. As we walked back home that night. I can still recall the path we took to walk home. My dad walked in front of me and talked to me how disappointed he was to see me froze and how unhappy he was about it. It went on and on. I know there have been many other put downs throughout my life but this incident is still fresh in my heart.

What happened after that was and is much more painful than that actual incident. I have always felt this gap, this incompleteness within me. I am never happy with myself. I am always thinking that there is more to do and more to achieve. I always talk to myself that I am not good enough – just like my dad used to. This is the prime chatter that goes on in my mind. I am never enough or perfect. I know it sound terrible, but believe me I have pushed myself to do some crazy things only because of that talk. Even still I don’t think I am perfect or complete.

Recently I started to notice the other effect of this. I would have normally lived the rest of my life with this chatter but I have noticed that my chatter is expanding to the most dearest thing of my life – my daughter. I have observed that I am using the same critical lens which I inherited from my dad and use it on me, onto my daughter. I was shocked. She is 16 months old!

I had to think really hard and shrug that scary moment off. I am becoming my dad to my daughter. I was shocked. I put it on a back burner and let it on and have been thinking. So, this is where Godel steps in. I think Godel’s theorem not only applies to Mathematics but to any system in the world. This system of ME. If you think about it, my self-image is based on the perception I have about myself. This is subjective and highly volatile. Which means that I have to assume somethings to be true to just live. Which in my case is – I am not perfect. And all the rest of my life has been setup in such a way that I am trying to prove that I am perfect. But if I apply what Godel said, I can never be COMPLETE.

This made me realize the fallacy of my logic. This shattered my illusion. Today I drop this assumption. I know it’s going to be very hard since I live with this every moment but I am bringing in awareness that I am not perfect and I can never be complete in a sense I want it to be. I am human and I will be a mix of success and failures from my point of view. And that’s fucking OK.

It’s like all my life I have been trying to be something like ‘Sri Chakra‘, but now I realize that it’s actually a ‘Mandelbrot‘. Oh if you think beauty is in the eye, then perfection is in the mind.

Today is Father’s day and I have been thinking of my dad too. I know I just portrayed my dad as the villain but he was the best. He is the sole reason why I am what I am – in all ways. The open mindedness he brought to me, the learning he encouraged in me and the faith he put in me are all allowing me to be the person I am. I am proud of myself and I am proud of my dad. His only thing was  – restraint love – which he believed to be good for various silly reasons.

I am thankful for you dad. I accept the way you were to me. I release all negative emotions tied up with that day and every day onwards. I need to let go of it to become the person I am to be to my daughter. I need to step out of that perfect circle I have been trying to built around me.

I am what I am and I love every part of it. I will be the best dad to my daughter because of all I am and because of all I am not.

Happy Father’s Day People.

Hues of Memories

Finally I got access to some decent internet. For a country seeped in IT, it’s kinda ridiculous to have an easy internet connection. Better start with low expectations.

So far the trip to India has been quite wonderful. I always like how I feel when I get here the very first moments. It’s like my brain has been away from home long enough to forget about so many things. And when I get back all those memories just pounce back. When we landed it was early morning and as we drove from Airport to home – all these memories just play a beautiful sonata in my mind. “There is the place where I used to hang out”, “There is that galli where I walked every day for an year to learn Hindi through tuition”, “There is that old debilitated house where we used to live when I was a kid”, “There goes the road where I fell off my cycle and broke my teeth”

It’s a whole different set of them when I get home. Seeing my mom – makes me feel like I am home home. We have been living in this house from the past 25 years – tiny pockets of memories locked in every corner waiting to be triggered. I love all of it. Even though a lot of the house and the neighborhood has been re-arranged I can still see the old things that used to be there instead in my mind.

The feelings stay with me for a day and then my mind gets used to it. Everything is normal and it’s like I never left the house. I adapt and get my self lost in the oldness of these new feelings.