That connection I felt

Last night something woke me up. I realized it was some loud conversation right below my bedroom window. It seems in our apartment complex someone had a party and the guests were leaving. It was 2:30 a.m. and this group of people were not even trying to keep their voice down. They were saying goodbyes, they were making plans for the next gathering, chit-chatting, completely oblivious to the fact that it was late at night, that it was a residential complex and people are sleeping. My initial urge was to get up, walk in the balcony and sternly ask them to keep it down, reminding them the time of the night. And in most cases I would have done just that. But for some reason (may be because of the cold), last night I stayed in bed and tried to calm myself by actually listening to their conversation. Okay, I grant that these people are perhaps being inconsiderate right now, but how different they are actually from me? Turns out, not much. True, I can’t see myself making noise in the middle of the night like that but these people also are going about their lives, making plans with friends and family, urging people to visit again, accusing some others that they do not keep in touch often enough. The glimpses of their lives I could see (rather hear) is something so familiar, so wholesome, so lively, that it soothed me, it reassured me. It filled me with a sense of peace and love, with a sense of belonging. The thought came to me that I don’t need to be anywhere else right now, this is exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment, with this flow of life going on around me. The life that so many people have built on love, on companionship, on kindness, on eagerness to hold onto each other. I felt at peace with everything.

I wish I could write that I finally drifted back to sleep, my heart overflowing with love and gratitude but unfortunately that did not happen. I could not sleep at all afterwards and for the whole day at work today I was tired and miserable, could not concentrate at the task at hand.

But I wish to experience such moments again. When I am able to feel connected with everyone, when I am able to see how little difference is there between all of us….I wish I could put myself in this frame of mind more often. I wish I am able to do this when I feel angry at a driver who cuts be off in traffic, when I feel impatient with a colleague who complains about everything, when I feel annoyed with a stranger for taking enormous amount of time at the supermarket cash counter…i.e. in many situations in life when I feel “I deserve better than this” and hence immediately disconnect myself from the ‘living’ that is taking place around me. I wish I could fall back on this mindfulness, on this conscious choice of connected-ness at those moments.

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Compliment gone wrong

I am far from my home now, attending some work-related meeting. I had to give a presentation here and I was slightly nervous about it. Because I have never gave a speech in front of this community, and I was not sure how they will take it. In particular, there was one person in my audience who is very well-known and highly regarded by everyone. I also heard that he is an amazing person, really kind and humble. Many people with his level of success and accomplishment would be too proud and arrogant. But this guy was super nice. Anyway, my presentation actually went well and afterwards this person approached me and made some supportive and encouraging comments. I was thrilled and happy about it. The next day morning he again told me he really liked my talk and he thought I was very smart. I was….well…glowing with pride. I even called my husband and told him how my hard work is being appreciated here.

After some time it hit me. Shit…..this guy was nice. How could I manage to forget THAT? He says nice things to everyone and that does not mean I was doing well or anything. He was just being NICE to me, nothing more than that. Oh god….how I made a total fool of myself. What everyone must be thinking. Everyone here must have noticed me carrying myself with my stupid head held high, and my stupid eyes shining bright with pride, and they must have been laughing behind my back….hey, look at that stupid woman who thinks she is really smart, she took some polite comments too seriously. I felt like crawling under the carpet and stay there for the rest of the meeting. Although everybody was really good at hiding their sarcasm and behaved very normally around me, but you can’t fool me twice in a span of just two days. Come on, I am not that stupid. Oh my god….am I topic of some joke now? Something like: be careful, don’t go and tell her ‘Hi, nice to meet you’ she will think ‘oh, everybody is thrilled to meet me, how popular I am’.

Why did I even decide to attend this meeting? What was I thinking? And that famous person, who is behind all these, who is solely responsible for misleading me with his kindness? Well, let me just go back to my comfort zone once again. After this mortifying experience passes, and I am back home again, I am going to tell everyone what he did to me. I will need to be careful though, because many people think of him as some kind of saint…but this warning must go across. Otherwise there will be other victims like me, who are so naive that they believe when they hear what they want to hear. And I can’t let that happen. I have some responsibility towards my colleagues, towards my community, towards human kind. I need some plan though how to go about this. Because most people will totally fail to get the point and will dismiss my ordeal as something like “you are being over-sensitive about it all. This guy was indeed nice and cordial to you. And no body made fun of you….it is all in your head.” So I need to carefully design my plot.

This is how an amazing person with his nice behavior and kind comments ruined this trip for me.

That elite group

I mean that elite circle, group of our peers who are highly successful and smart, the people we all look up to. At school, college or university, these are the people who top every exams and look like they are set to go somewhere with their lives. At workplaces, these are the people who are known as the best hires, they excel at every projects they undertake, and very quickly climb up the ladder using their talent. More often than not, they also form an elite group, where they compete with each other, and measure themselves against other elite members of that circle. This rivalry is demonstrated in different ways at different stages of life. At school level these young bright students are trying to outsmart each other at exams, at assignments, they challenge each other with some particularly difficult math problem….at university level they keep an eye for who is going to bag the most lucrative job offer, and so on. In some form or other this rivalry stays on in their lives. I personally know many such people who were part of the same elite group during their school days, but even in their mid lives, they still keep tab on each other. It sounds ridiculous, and they would often deny that they do so. But if you happen to know them well, and know their ways well, then you can spot it, no problem.

Needless to say, other people look up to this super smart group, they long to be part of that circle. If you are part of this group, it can really push you towards excellence, it can keep you motivated to work harder and smarter. This peer pressure, if processed in a healthy way, can really take your motivation to a new high. However, success and accomplishments can also sometimes bring in arrogance. These elites know they are smart, they know they are talented, they are intellectually superior and this often makes them arrogant, snob and sometimes outright nasty.

Recently, I got a visit from a dear friend of mine. This friend is one such member of the elite group. True, he is super super smart and has been immensely successful in his career, but like many other of his peers he was also quite arrogant. He has been part of my life for so long now, and I have been awfully fond of him for so many years now, that although I know these limitations he has, it has never affected my love for him. For that matter, he also is familiar with so many shortcomings I have, and never bothered to stop loving me. That is what good friends are for, right? They are too well aware of our limitations and love us nevertheless. So while I love this friend, I know that sometimes he can be really arrogant and cutting in his behavior towards others.

But this time I noticed a difference. Something has shifted inside him. He has become more grounded, more rounded, lot of sharp edges have gone away. I could perceive it within an hour of his visit. My old friend has changed and in a good way. Slowly, as we began talking, catching up with what is happening in our lives, I came to know that he has been facing some problems at work. His promotion has been delayed, delayed and then denied. It seems somebody higher up did not like him for some reason and decided to play some nasty office politics. Now, this is certainly not a unique problem and many people face similar issues at their workplaces frequently. But for my friend, who has always moved in elite circles, such things are unexpected, unacceptable and simply something that happened to “other people”. He has always received escalated promotion for outstanding performance. Promotion being delayed or denied is not something he can stomach easily. This experience has shaken him and humbled him. While my friend had many other adorable qualities, modesty or humility was not one of them.

When we were talking, I naturally felt sorry and angry that despite doing very well, his promotion was unfairly denied to him. But I was also pleasantly surprised to have my old friend changed in such a beautiful way. And to me this totally feels like a bonus. I mean, I already had this person in my life and liked him so very much. Now the same person became even better…..does it not feel like a totally unexpected gift? I felt such a sense of deep gratitude welling up inside me, I didn’t know whom to thank. Thanking that vicious guy at his office who caused all this, sounds like a very wrong and ‘disloyal’ thing to do my friend. But I do feel thankful for the changes I see in my friend. And it does not look like a temporary change, it seems he has changed his way of life for good. He now responds to life in a more tolerant, patient and kind way, which shows in every single of his interactions.

Has it ever happened to you? Somebody whom you love anyway, despite some aspects of their nature, suddenly shake those disturbing traits off and you just don’t know what did you do to deserve this gift? Would love to know your comments on this.

Childless-Childfree

I don’t have children, and I am in my early forties, which means I don’t plan to have any either. No, this does not mean I am a child-hater or some such thing. I love children, and actually I am the most favorite aunt of many of my friends’ and cousins’ children. It is just that I never felt any urge to have my own. People talk about ticking biological clock….somehow it never ticked for me. As a result, having a baby never seemed like a natural thing to do in my life. I am career-wise quite successful and being a mother would have meant making some big adjustments in my priorities, and I found no reason to do that. I was perfectly happy with my life and lacked nothing. And thus I reached my forties, without creating a “little me”.

However, the problem comes from the society. I am based in India and in my country the society is a conservative one. So “childfree” is actually interpreted as “childless”. And immediately you are flooded with sympathy from people. When I was younger, many people, after learning that I have no children, would encourage me to get medical help. Some relatives would even pass me contact details of some very good gynecologist they have heard of, who have helped lot of women like me. Yes, in a conservative society, where assumptions are rigid, boundaries are often not maintained. As I became older, thankfully these advises have stopped. Now I just get sympathy, heart-felt sympathy from people. I have actually learnt to accept it gracefully. I don’t feel any need to actually explain to these sympathetic and kind souls that I am really happy and miss nothing in my life. They would think I have gone crazy (for failing to become a mom by a certain age) or I am outright evil.

Having or not having babies should be an entirely personal decision. Specially for women, whose body is going to be affected by this decision in a major way. Even if there is no other reason, I can simply choose not to put my body through this extremely uncomfortable and painful process. Unfortunately, most people do not look at it that way and would actually find this point of view quite shocking. But in my opinion that is sheer ignorance on their part. I am not the only one, there are lot of women like me who feel no maternal instincts and would like to opt for a life without children. But they are often not taken seriously. Imagine a college-going girl, who announces that she would never ever become a mother. Elders are always telling her in a loving way, knowing way, that she would change her mind someday. Or suppose you try having a sterilization surgery when you are well-within your child-bearing age limit, and when you have not had any child yet. No doctor would do it for you.

It is funny that how reaction from the society would make an issue a big one. In my life for a long time, I have never really thought much about being or not being a mother. I was a very bright student all along and from a very young age I was completely focussed on my studies. Yes, I was a nerd. If I will get married, what type of husband I want, or if I will have babies, etc. were not the questions that would bother me even when I was in my early or mid twenties. Rather, I would sweat about my career options, whether I am making good use of my potential, how to move my position up the success ladder etc. I had lot of friends, had good amount of fun, but all along I was looking for a solid ground beneath my feet, just like other male friends I had in my circle. I met my husband while pursuing my career. However, as I reached my late twenties, early thirties, mid thirties, I was having to face questions like when I am planning to have children, if I already have any…..and slowly this became an important thing and my views on this issue became an important part of who I am. Funny, isn’t it?

My childfree choices allow me to live the life I want, I am able to travel, I am able to focus on my job that I am so passionate about, I am able to spend quality time with my husband. For many many friends of mine, whenever they land in this part of the world, their default place to stay is our home, because we have time for them, because our schedule is flexible. Particularly, those friends who have small kids, will definitely not stay anywhere else since the kid is so fond of us. In our extended family, if anybody is faced with some kind of medical emergency, we are the only people they can count on, since all others are so busy with their children. I am not trying to argue that my choice is better than somebody else’s who has children, I am just pointing out how this works for me.

I hope you are also happy with the choices you have made in your life. Those choices may be acceptable by the society, or may be frowned upon, but what matters is you are happy with your choices and don’t feel burdened by them, what matters is these choices are working out for you.

Please share your thoughts, your comments  below.

 

About me

Hello reader.  Welcome to my blog.

I am a  woman in my early forties, based in India.  I am happily married and I don’t have children. I have a great husband whom I love dearly, intensely, passionately, deeply. He is also my best friend and I consider myself lucky to have him in my life.

I am what you can call  a successful career woman. I have a job that I love and that pays well. I have worked very hard all my life to reach where I am today.

I started this new blog because I wanted a space where I can share some thoughts. These thoughts reflect the way I look at life and the way life happens to me. I would love to hear your comments about what I write. I am not trying to have a large number of followers and hence will not ask you to follow my blog. However, please feel free to leave your comments. I am really interested to have conversation with you, to get to know your views, to exchange ideas.

Thanks for stopping by.