Not afraid to be ordinary

I have to admit right at the outset that ever since I was a kid I disliked anything which was ‘normal’, ‘regular’, ‘conventional’.  I would often ask why rituals are done a certain way or why do I have to follow social rules which my brother didn’t have to follow. And you know what the rest of the why’s would look like..

The story began one afternoon when I was sitting in our family’s apartment balcony and looking at what people in the apartments living opposite to us were doing( I know it wasn’t a nice thing to peek but hey..everything was too close not to watch when the curtains are open) . It was yet another sunny day in Mumbai and I had just returned from school. While I was watching,  I noticed one apartment in particular where the kids were playing and the maid was drying the clothes in the balcony. They weren’t doing anything extraordinary and in fact they were doing exactly the same thing as they did the day before and the day prior to that. It was then that I wondered:

  • Will I die one day and no one would know?
  • Will my existence go unnoticed?
  • How can I be different?

Trust me when I tell you that I was all of 10-11 years old thinking about such glum stuff. In that very moment

  • I decided to be different.
  • To not follow the routine, mundane and mechanical life.
  • To create my own rules and
  • To learn everything on my own ( this wasn’t a smart intention to set but I did set it that way)

This existential thought storm also triggered a resistance towards anything normal. If someone had a normal childhood i.e. sans any major struggles or discomfort then that didn’t interest me, two people who got married with ease didn’t give me as much a kick as did an odd couple i.e. Older woman marrying a younger man, if everyone was afraid of the walking alone in the dark then I would surely try and see what the fuss was all about. I wanted to be above the rest but not in the normal competitive manner where you tried to score better than your peer. I got above the rest using some spiritual and philosophical understanding. Being competitive also meant being normal so I wasn’t going to engage in it.

Fast forward some years and some first-hand experiences , I craved normalcy and all I wanted was a normal life. I was at a point where I was tired of ups and downs and desperately wanted the comfort of the plateau, the known. I needed certainty/ stability and thankfully I was able to achieve it after some challenges. The truth is that had I not tasted these challenges where being able to make ends meet in a foreign land was my daily concern, then I wouldn’t have been able to value normalcy. I am stubborn like thatJ

With this new found respect for normalcy and my 10 year old still inside of me, today I have reached a point where I can say that no matter how ordinary you are, there is an inherent uniqueness in each one of us which can never be suppressed (unless you choose to suppress it). You don’t have to try too hard to be extraordinary.

Accepting the beauty of normalcy takes courage. Accepting somewhere that most of life is lined with routine tasks which are not to be fought with but won over. The ‘difference’ lies in the choices we make while leading an otherwise ordinary life. There is an ease in this approach to life. An organic wisdom if you will. It is the beauty of a homemaker who sings while she cooks, the compassion of a man returning from a 9-5 job who helps a wounded animal on the street,  the courage of an otherwise ordinary bystander to stand up for a woman who is being eve teased.

In my opinion, if we can simply learn to be good at being ordinary with an elevated consciousness/humanness then we will never be ‘just another’ person who lived/died. As long as we keep fighting the normalcy, that’s what we stay busy with and staying busy in our own head doesn’t mean that we aren’t ordinary. This constant battle we create for ourselves can induce more fear in us than needed.

I am not suggesting here that you shouldn’t challenge yourself or try to grow or be complacent. If you do any of the above then you are not respecting your inherent uniqueness and not allowing it to express itself. What I am saying here is that not everyone needs to be a Mark Zuckerberg or a Bill Gates to make a difference or to live a life that has created an impact. If you live your life with authenticity then it will indeed be a life well lived. Some of us spend too much time and energy focusing on what we are NOT in this moment. You don’t have to know everything OR be restless at all times because you aren’t doing enough to get somewhere.

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Dead wild goose

My typical drive to work wasn’t as typical today. I left home knowing that I was running late ( well..coz I woke up late). I was driving on my normal route which had regular traffic as you would expect in a busy Chicago suburb. While passing through one of the intersections and singing along with the radio, I couldn’t help but notice a goose fluttering its wings by the side of the road. It was a busy intersection with an exit to an interstate. I couldn’t stop right away and drove a couple of miles while my mind was trying to reason whether or not to turn around since I was already late. My conscience won the battle since I knew I wouldn’t have been at peace knowing that I could have perhaps done something to help the innocent creature lying on the street. I turned around and prayed that I get some help if I need any. Right when I turned by the spot, another man did too. We knew why were there. Our hearts couldn’t simply pass it by. I asked him if he thought we could help the bird. He looked and said it’s probably dead and checked to confirm the same. I asked if we could just move the body to a place where it wouldn’t be hit again although it was dead. He said, he would if there was something to lift it with. I searched my car and found some papers I didn’t need. The gentleman then moved the bird and we parted ways.

If it was me alone over there, I would have simply acted out of emotion and tried to move the body with my own hands without bothering to protect myself. I wouldn’t know how to check whether or not the bird was actually dead.

What I learned here was that while we try to do a good deed, we also need to think about our safety which is easily forgotten or frowned upon several times. Also, letting your conscience take the final call is a good idea. It only hints to the notion that one is capable of compassion despite the busy mechanical lives we lead. I also knew in that moment that I perhaps did what I could and worrying about how the body will be dealt with by some landscapers working there wasn’t going to help. I prayed over it while I was with the body.

As I am getting ready to post this blog, an image of a white swan pops up on my reader. Wonder what’s that about:)

Sending my best to you,

Pooja

Hello again..

I know it has been a while since I last spoke to you. My last conversation with you here was about the changes I was experiencing in my life. In the midst of those changes I had to ask myself- Who I was and who I wanted to be? Whoever tells you that this process is fun is definitely not telling you the truthJ

The environmental factors which weren’t in my control were reshaping me in such a way that I saw no better way but to surrender and quieted this side of me.  I had surrendered with a prayer that if this piece was still needed of me then it would flow back in with ease.  What I can tell you is that it has been easy in a way and not so much in many other ways (internally).

When I saw it coming back I questioned it and felt like I didn’t know anything yet again. This isn’t a comfortable feeling to have if you have experienced it. The thing about questioning is that it can soon turn into self-doubt.   It very easy to feed into a mind trap which makes you believe that you perhaps aren’t good enough to dive back in. It took a couple of months  of battling with doubt, asking for signs to guide me and promising myself that I would take action when I get my sign.

One of my signs was in the form of a woman whom I admire and her mere presence reignited the life within me. You know it when you feel it and there’s no other way to describe it. After a 2 year hiatus, I logged back in to my WordPress and clicked on ‘forgot password’ and ‘reset my password’ which is only another metaphor to my current state. Simply loving this! There couldn’t be a better time for this to occur than the spring season.

Thank you for reading and relating to this,

My best to you,

Pooja

Blog-Spring 032816

Tidal Basin, Washington D.C.

P.S: I only write when I so choose to and I am grateful that I can do so.

The Changing room-II

It is scary..to not know. To not know where you are headed when you have always felt like you did. You took pride in your clarity of purpose and alignment of every thought, action and word. It makes you question the very foundation that you once stood on and built yourself. Fears and insecurities begin to surface and your sense of certainty in who you are isn’t certain anymore. It is a place where you feel that you are simply ‘in between’. Every aspect of your life is being gently ripped apart. Tears flow through the eyes unexplained as if the soul needs to be cleansed. Almost as if the well inside is full and needs to pour outside. You feel slightly embarrassed sharing this with friends who have known you to be their anchor in trying times. Friends who have seen you as somebody who is sure of her dreams. It is that ‘sure’ which I am no longer sure about. There seems to be a state of confusion or transformation to be more precise. It is something like you are standing in the center and everything else around you is moving and you are a mere spectator, clueless and yet in it.

As often cited in textbooks, these moments catch you and begin to surface more when you are alone. You can ignore it once, twice perhaps thrice but the fourth time you simply cannot. I have postponed the welling up of these thoughts several times until now and somehow today I could no longer do it. I knew that I had to write it down. A lot of my dreams in the past few months had signaled me towards change and transformation. However I did not exactly know what that ‘feels’ like. It feels like something is being pulled out of you..a sense of death and dying in a way. Sometimes you feel lost and begin wondering ‘how did I get here’ and ‘Do I need to be some place else’. It is soul wrenching and a quiet pain. It is subdued for the most part but it for sure is there. Any traces of ‘ I know who I am’ and thereby the swollen ego syndrome is all washed away. Perhaps this is what the tears are for..to wash away, to cleanse, to make you humble and more human in your imperfections.

There are moments where I want to hide my face into someone’s chest, someone who can assure me that ‘this too shall pass’ and that I am with you no matter what. The anxiety of being human and the need to be rescued. Feeling as I do, I also have no choice but to be with myself right now ( I laughed as I wrote this). Is it the dark night of the soul? May be. All the times when I would wonder ‘how can someone be afraid of change’ and one just needs to have faith are all being offered to me as personal experiences. Don’t know if anyone likes being in this phase but as always I am hoping that I can shine through this and emerge a clear diamond. I often say that strong headed or stubborn people need harder lessons to get through their tough heads and guess what..I am in one right now! Taking my bow to life and spirit!

Seems like I need to simply surrender and then my ego comes right back at me telling me to ‘do’ something. It says, you cannot simply sit back and let this happen, you need to take charge. These are perhaps my mind’s attempts to hold on to whatever I know, that is if I know anythingJ