Of old lessons

Originally posted on 30 September, 2010

When in doubt, run to friends. Their station in life or the grades they got in school regardless, they will come up with responses that light up your life. Serious, concerned, pertinent answers or witty, in-your-face humour. Years back, I ran (virtually) to friends, implored them to help me remove the cobwebs in my head. I take life too seriously, you see. It becomes a humongous task to not analyse my contributions in my own life. This particular situation arose from the doubt that I was probably being too impatient with humanity in particular and myself in general. So, I did what I feel most comfortable doing. I wrote. And sent mails to a few friends who I knew would be honest. The following is an excerpt.

“I am introspecting again… It’s like spring cleaning…. I need your feelings on this. It may seem strange, but I’d like to know my faults/weaknesses/what have you. I am terribly uncomfortable with saccharine praise. Is it possible for a person to do things and not make ANY mistake?… There needs to be a not-so-nice bit in people somewhere.  All this praise makes me feel unnecessary conceit… I look for validity of all that we see around. I want to believe. In compliments, smiles, expressions of approval. And try as I may, I don’t see any validity. It’s a lonely place to be in.

…Cynicism makes me dizzy with fear. I am alone here in this world, usually. Loneliness is the last thing any of us chooses, right? I fear spending my time peeping at the world from behind a veil made of cocksure I-am-okay-by-myself attitude. … that loving is a lonely thing to do. And it is such a sorry plight. I am scared, because I have stepped into this threshold of accepting loneliness as the only way out of an insane desperation in search of something that is so wonderfully wholesome, that it overwhelms you for the rest of your life.”

(You must grant me bravery. Now that I am reading these words after a gap of seemingly zillion years, I admit I must’ve been quite a character back then. Who spring cleans the nice bits? Why analyse when you can live? Whatever. It was back then.)

And they wrote back. And lit up my life. Good Samaritans, all.

Don’t lose your spirit trying too hard!

OK just don’t sound so cocky when you answer calls. You might scare people away.

Forcing humility or self-evaluation has no value attached to it.

Conceit is not a problem as long as it is not apparent.

Talk because you want to, because you want to share. And there shouldn’t be the feeling of wanting to say the right things to get approval.

Each one’s emotional investment in a relationship can never be to the same degree as yours.

You simply have to be able to open your mind and speak.

I honestly believe that even though we lend power to everyone for the way we feel..at the end of the day we believe in ourselves through other’s eyes because it’s convenient. It’s easier to blame others than one’s own self.

Try doing things for some one else. Unless that coincides with what you want  to do too, it’s a strain, you have to push yourself, things don’t go right, everything is generally miserable because we are trying to go against nature.

…..and you definitely don’t need their (people who don’t know better) adulations.

Anything they don’t understand, they just idolize and antagonize.

I see the shelves at bookstores crammed with books on improvement, and how to live a better life… everyone seems hell bent on trying to teach the world how to live and how to improve (and wonder of wonders, the reviews point out that it actually works for people!!) I say this again – I’m not evolved enough to understand how I can improve by accepting parameters set by people whose views on life, and whose beliefs are probably poles apart from mine.

What we have to learn is  that every minute we live is important . Everything we do, think, see, taste, smell, blah, blah is important.

Look for peace within you. If you are not calm , no amount of love from the outside can be a balm. You are your own disease and your own medicine.

Well, phew. That’s a lot of lessons in a short time. Begone, unnecessary ‘introspection’! Reading and re-reading this (and all the other stuff they wrote) reminded me of the importance of simplicity.

We spend our times wondering whether or not we did the right thing. Or whether we received what we deserve. It can become an overwhelming whirlpool. Getting out of it requires much more than the knowledge of swimming. And some don’t even know that.

In such situations, skepticism may become necessary. Cynicism, however, is just hogwash.

(Skepticism – it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.)

(Cynic is one who “shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasm.”)

My leanings towards a lonely road of disappointment at the moral and emotional inadequacies? They were curbed.

I have believed (and thankfully still do) in living and letting live (one friend did point out some enlightened souls like Mr. Axl Rose who believe in living and letting die). In the path of leading such a seemingly indifferent life, I may and do encounter times when I want control. Control things for the sake of love or self-preservation or both. But as long as my own harmless existence is not threatened, it is suicidal to want to be in control. As long as I remember to sip from my own wellspring of soul-wisdom from time to time, things normally turn out just fine!

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26 thoughts on “Of old lessons”

    1. I love the photos, too! The goldfish is Monster. He is a real bully, and hence the name. The cat is a prowler around my parents-in-laws’ home. I love his style.

      As far as friends are concerned, yes, I am indeed happy to have non-judgemental friends.

  1. I hang on to control as though it were a lifeline, keeping me from suffering all sorts of imaginary disasters and temptations. And, because of that, I forget to live in the moment and to treasure unexpected pleasures. I am so afraid of losing control, I won’t even relax into a massage. But you have the right idea, Priya, and your insights and willingness to look deep inside directs you on the path to being the person you want to be. Bravo to you.

    1. “…being the person you want to be.” Hmm. Will it take a lifetime? It must, because most die pining for this, or that. The idea is to enjoy, you know?

      My hands were clenched in a fist the last time I lay down for a facial massage. The beautician said, “Are you worried I am going to wring your neck?”

  2. How I wish so many of the posts I read would neatly bound in a book I could keep at my bedside. These life reminders – bits of advice – are timeless. Always useful – always creating a moment of pause. Thank you, Priya.

  3. “Wellspring of soul wisdom”. “Simplicity.” Words that are salve to my soul. Many thanks for sharing this, Priya, and the wisdom of your friends. One response that especially speaks to me is the one that says that I am my own disease and my own medicine. Though the “Dr.” is ever present – within – I can so easily forget to take the journey from the head to the heart.

    So what do we do with all the adulation given in blogs? I find it a worthwhile, but challenging, feat to deal with my ego in all the rituals around blogging. I question what I am doing continuously. I write what I am moved to share, yet the important journey is within – not making an outward display. While sharing the beauty that lies within, how do I keep it from turning into a display of “look at me”? I can write in the “we” with the camouflage of an army officer. It’s about as subtle as a wooden sock! 😀

    1. Being ones own disease as well as medicine is such a wise thing to discover and understand, Amy. Nothing stops me like myself. And nothing can motivate me like myself either. The question is whether I will remember it when I need to remember it the most?

      I have been debating about the idea of blogging in my head, and with a few friends, Amy. Why do I write in a blog? If it is not for the adulation or recognition, what is it for, then? I kept a paper diary for years — I could resume the habit. After months of trying to find an answer, I am beginning to see some light. Here are a few things that helped:
      A friend’s response to my ‘loud’ thinking — “I think that doing stuff like writing, painting and drawing, photography and music, as I do, fundamentally requires an audience, or it is a pointless occupation. It would be like writing a novel, and on finishing it, putting it away in a cupboard, or even worse, straight in the waste-bin. Any art needs an audience! But then we don’t want to turn into pushy arrogant self-publicising bores do we?”

      An Idealist Thinker’s very honest post, and the comments of fellow bloggers below it: http://anidealistthinker.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/who-do-we-write-for/

      I like the sound of what you wrote above: “I can write in the “we” with the camouflage of an army officer. It’s about as subtle as a wooden sock!” But for the life of me, I cannot understand it! Could you help?

  4. It’s no surprise that you have people in your life who care enough to offer such honest feedback. And that you had the courage to ask for it in the first place says a great deal about your character, and your own desire to grow. However, your self-assessment that “I must’ve been quite a character back then” forces me to wonder: Do you really think that part has changed?

    (Uh oh.)

          1. Thank you for liking it, Charles. I used the mirror-up option to click this picture. If you try the same method and the moon still does not come out this way, you’ll have to admit that you just need to be me to take such a picture.

  5. You are fortunate Priya, to have such friends who you can go to without the fear of being judged. It is a blessing.

    Just yesterday, an ex-colleague sent me an email which touches this perennial thread about living (- something akin to what I wrote about on my blog; ‘nature’s magic wand’). I felt it’s relevant to your post, so have forwarded it to you 🙂

      1. I liked it too.. it kind of encapsulates the secret to a happy life?
        But the person who put it up there tinkered with it. ‘Have fun’ & ‘Be Sincere’ – two totally different things. I am sure you agree.

        1. You’re right! I did notice the change in the heading, but didn’t think much of it when I read the note itself. My fault. Should’ve found a better source.

          “Have fun” and “Be sincere” are two very different things. Although I don’t see why one can’t be the other!

  6. Oops! I made some mistake about updating your blog. I was reading your other post of 2010 and I jumped to make a comment here.
    Happens sometimes.
    That’s why I advocate mindfulness.

    1. Yes, Nishant, such things happen. But that doesn’t really mean that your initial thought of me needing more time and ideas can now be forgotten. Of course I need time. This eventuality happens sometimes, too! Thank you for coming here and liking this post. I quite liked what I saw in your blog as well. “आंखें खुली हों, तो पूरा जीवन ही विद्यालय है” How very true! I’d love to go back there and explore more.

  7. Beautifully written Priya!

    I specially liked the line “Look for peace within you. If you are not calm, no amount of love from the outside can be a balm. You are your own disease and your own medicine. ”

    A friend once told me a story about the dying moments of the Buddha. His principle disciple, was distraught, to see the great master fade away in his presence. When Tathagata asked him the reason for his sorrow, the disciple said, “Who will guide us now, who will answer our questions?”. Before he closed his eyes, for one last time, the great master said, “Be your own island, you will find the peace you are seeking.”

    Peace!

    1. Good to see you here, Desi Babu, and delighted to know that an accomplished writer such as yourself feels that I’ve done all right here. Thank you.
      I particularly liked your point of view in this post: http://peanutexpress.blogspot.com/2011/08/pay-money-to-pay-money.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePeanutExpress+(The+Peanut+Express). And I believe many readers here will, too.
      Also, your latest translation of a Hindi poem is so very well worded: http://peanutexpress.blogspot.com/

      Thank you also for the story. I wish I could understand what being “your own island” means. Does it mean cutting yourself off from the world? Or does it mean being your own terra firma?

      Peace to you, too.

  8. “We spend our times wondering whether or not we did the right thing. Or whether we received what we deserve. It can become an overwhelming whirlpool. Getting out of it requires much more than the knowledge of swimming. And some don’t even know that.”

    This post has gotten me all teary eyed.
    How do you write lines like that?

    1. Maulika, I am not sure it is these words that touched you, or the feeling itself. The feeling, on its own, is so strong, that it can be overwhelming on its own, without a career. Thank you for these periodic visits. I look forward to them.

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