On a perfect day

On a perfect day I wake up early in the morning, refreshed after a good night’s sleep. My mind is calm because I am well-rested. I am eager to start my day’s work. I take a shower and drive to work. The traffic is smooth and I reach my office early….almost no body has arrived yet. The place is quiet. I enter my office, open the windows and fresh morning air fills the room. I never turn on the air-conditioner in the morning. I am focused and feel motivated to start my work. After checking emails, glancing at the news for few minutes I am all set. I am able to concentrate well and the day turns out to be quite productive. Every hour my fitbit signals me to take 250 steps and I walk around the corridor or go to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee and these breaks help me to stretch my muscles. I finish work and drive back home. Again traffic is peaceful. I call my parents to check on them and everything is fine. I get ready for my evening walk. One or two of my neighbor friends join me and we have animated conversation. We don’t even realize how one hour gets over. My fitbit count is significantly higher than 10,000…something around 12000 or 13000. It feels good. I come back to my apartment and cool off. I take a shower and there is still some time before it is time for my husband to return home (he has a long commute). I spend few minutes on meditation, I practice my music or read something. My husband comes back. We spend some time talking about our day. Just being in each other’s company is what we need to unwind and this has not changed even after eleven years of marriage. Finally it is time for bed. I read some more and drift to sleep.

Over the past few months I have not had a single perfect day. Is it too much to ask for?

On love and empathy

 A perfect whirlwind…..that’s what it is. For the past few months, my life has been totally spinning out of control. I was not living, I was just rushing from one day to the next, one hour to the next. I don’t like this mode of fast paced existence where I don’t have time to pause, time to breathe. One after another thing kept on coming and simply overwhelmed me. There were times I felt desperate, lonely, inadequate, impatient, angry and some other times when I felt excited, proud, accomplished. Almost all the time I felt tired, stressed and rushed. Needless to say I had no time to blog, because I had no time to pause and reflect. I don’t want to go into details of what all transpired that threw me into this vortex, but I do want to share some lessons that I learned, out of first hand realizations that I had during this time.

1. Power of love. Love is the most important thing to feel, during this limited time we have in this wonderful world. It does not matter who loves you, and how much. What remains with you is how much love you feel in your heart for others. This love that resides in you, gives you strength and assurance. In some difficult times that I had to go through recently, I surprised myself with my own strength. In an emergency (in the true sense of the word) I just needed to realize that somebody I love, is in a difficult situation, and needs my support. Rather than getting paralyzed with worry (which would have been the common response of most people in similar situation), I stopped thinking ahead, stopped thinking “what if” and focussed on what was unfolding before my eyes and what needed to be done at that moment. On retrospect, it turned out that I made some pretty crucial decisions during that time which took things in the right direction. I shudder to think what would have happened other wise.

Was I stressed? Hell, yes. I felt a tight knot in my stomach (really I could put my hand on it and feel the tightness) and totally dried up throat pipe…..these are physical symptoms of stress. But my mind was working with precision and never for a moment my mind allowed me to feel confused or scared. In that emergency situation, I felt in control. It was possible because of love. Nothing else mattered at that moment, just the simple truth that this person I love is in distress, and I just have to rise to the occasion and take charge. Because I can not bear to see someone I love, beaten down…nope…no way…wait for me, I am coming to stand by you, shoulder to shoulder, and we will deal with it. This love urged me on, gave me courage even when I should have been scared, kept me focussed in the present moment. After all was over, I marvelled at the limit to which our abilities can be stretched by this powerful emotion called love.

2. Many people we see around us, appear to be too full of themselves. They seem to be always after their own interests, and completely insensitive to the needs of others. I know many such people among my colleagues, my neighbors, my relatives, my other acquaintances. These people are all the time preoccupied with their own lives and just do not bother about anyone else. I never wanted to live like that. I always want to keep one part of myself ready for listening, helping with, taking interest in things that others may want to tell me. But in this last few months, I was so overwhelmed with things that I realized I am not left with anything to offer to another person. On multiple occasions it happened that when somebody is telling me about their own problems, I am thinking “I don’t want to deal with your negative emotions right now. Stop bugging me.” I was being selfish I know, but I was also feeling helpless about it. One day I was taking my brisk walk in the evening and one neighbor joined me on my walk and soon she was talking about some issues she was facing in her family. I listened to her but was resenting that I have to listen to this after my own long and hard day. I felt she was (unknowingly) drowning me with her own negative thoughts, as if I did not already have enough on my plate. I am not proud of these thoughts but they did cross my mind.

I know I don’t want to be like this. I want to step out of my own little world and actively communicate with other people. I want to actively feel what another fellow human being is going through, I want to listen with sympathy and kindness when someone is narrating me their problems. The impatience or irritation I felt was hopefully temporary and I am now consciously trying to get over it. I believe if a suddenly increased stress level has caused this response, then it is really temporary. I also believe that if I am thrown into this crazy whirlpool too often, again and again, then I will soon get the hang of it. I will learn to deal with this one-after-another-after-another… chain of stressful situations and still live my life where I am able to save a part of myself to respond in a meaningful way to what others are telling me. Most importantly, I realized that I have no right to judge those people who I think are “just too full of themselves”. I don’t know enough about their lives and what they are going through. May be they are so overwhelmed that they are unable to look beyond themselves.

3. I strongly believe that universe has a way of teaching us what we need to know. May be over the time I was slipping into a mode of being too judgemental? Then my own life started this crazy dance and I caught myself doing the exactly same thing as what I resent in others. I harshly judged some people as selfish, callous, insensitive and here I was, behaving exactly like them. I hope I never forget this.

From a dark corner

How fragile my frame of mind is? If I say “I am happy” or “I am sad”, how robust that claim is, against the dynamic backdrop of my daily life? Of course a big event can completely change our lives. But even small small details in our daily life can have surprisingly strong effect on our outlook.

I had to face some disappointment at my work last week. To cut a long story short, I have been denied the credit for something I had done, and somebody else “stole” it from me. This made me reasonably disappointed and upset. Then last weekend I had a bit of a fight with my dear husband and the reason for the fight was as always, HIS MOTHER. And just like that, these two back-to-back incidents managed to put me in quite a dark place. None of these events are significant in the long run, I know. The workplace problem is unfortunate but it is not as if my life depends on it….I know I will move on. The tension with my husband will also dissipate out after few days. Right now we are giving each other the silent treatment but our interaction will eventually be normal again (I hope).

Yet, at the time I am going through this, I feel quite different from my usual self. My default modes have changed. To a specific comment, specific situation, I am responding differently than I normally do. And that difference is more towards the darker side. When someone says something jokingly, instead of reciprocating with a hearty laughter or another witty come back, which I normally do, I am now responding in a more grim way. A cheerful environment is making me uncomfortable and I feel like a misfit there. And one part of me is observing this difference and taking notes with interest!

In our daily life how much we take for granted? The way I interact with other people, the way I handle a given situation, is so closely connected to whether I had a happy chat with my husband last evening. In a normal day, after we come back home from work, we have dinner and tell each other how our day went….we share with each other our moments of joy, excitement, disappointment of that day. Our conversation stays casual, relaxed and sometimes even turns vague…..yet that bit is crucial to keep me going. When things go right, we sometimes fail to appreciate them. Only when something starts going wrong, we realize how important role it played in shaping our perspective.

This little episode has once more opened my eyes towards mindfulness. Paying attention to every little blessing that comes our way, and also paying attention to the ripple our own actions are sending out to the universe. We are all connected and in a brief, seemingly insignificant interaction, we can alter another person’s state of mind. We need to always always keep this in mind and stay sensitive towards that connection. As I write this, a famous quote from Mary Oliver fills my head…..“over and over announcing your place in the family of things”.

While I make my slow journey back to my normal life, out of this dark place where I am living right now, I wish all of you bright days, filled with light and laughter and I hope the ripples you are sending out, are making positive differences in many many lives.