‘The Lotus’ (Part-2)

“The purpose of life is not to beat yourself over finding your purpose. The purpose of life is to live… purposefully.”

I hit ‘Share’ after I was done putting the required hashtags. People can consume content so fast on Instagram, it’s almost as fast as reading it off your mind. Three likes in as many seconds and I turned off my screen and put my phone in my pocket. There were other things to do during the rest of the day. One of the most important things on my list was ‘thinking’. I had begun to spend so much time thinking off late that I had actually begun to realize just how tough ‘thinking’ can be. It’s a whole different discipline within itself.

How much thinking is ‘healthy pondering’ and just how much, is ‘over thinking’? There’s a fine line but with enough practice, you can decode the puzzle. ‘Thinking’ done the right way is a ‘methodology’, a complex one. With enough thinking, you are sure to arrive at the solutions to most of life’s problems. With too little of it, you are sure to keep running into roadblocks. And with too much thinking, your brain begins to over write previously arrived at conclusions and the whole process becomes useless.

That is what ‘anxiety’ is. Anxiety is that point in the ‘thinking’ process, when you have visited and revisited a particular scenario or solution enough times to have been caught up in the loop of almost reaching the solution and never ever, quite reaching it. At the state of mind I was in, I wanted to accelerate my thinking process and reach the answer that I desperately sought from my conscience; that of finding my purpose in life.

Repeating the question over and over to myself had been proving futile. Leaving my mind idle had hardly been having the energizing effect like I expected it to, and searching for the answer in all external cues that life could offer, had become too cumbersome.

“You can’t do it. You just can’t.”

There comes a point in your life when everywhere you look, for the answers you seek, you reap only more questions. That’s it. There’s nothing anyone has to offer anymore at that point. They’re all question marks for you.

Even the omens that you would read routinely for the right answers, the angels, the gods, the religious texts, philosophical texts, anything you can possibly think of.. none of them prove to be of any help to you.

It’s during times like these that the universe is guiding you to look within. All the angels, all the gods, all the religious texts, all the spirits of all the philosophers, leaders, writers, poets et all are guiding you in just one direction: within.

It’s almost like they’re all asking you to step up your game and step up to the plate and take full responsibility for your life. Don’t look to Jesus, or Buddha or Krishna for your answers, look within.

“That’s the whole point of giving you a mind as complex as that! ” They all seem to be shouting.

“We can’t do anything for you unless you decide to do something for yourself !” They all seem to reason with you, when you turn up on their door, yet again for answers.

Introspection is difficult. Very difficult in fact. When you begin to introspect you realize how sparsely if ever, you have quality conversations with yourself. You can’t just look within and pick a single issue and resolve it like that. On your first forage inwards you shall realize that there are many many unresolved issues lying all around your in your head.

So when you begin to introspect, the first reaction can be to abandon yourself and withdraw to the outside world. To try to distract yourself from the real problems, the real work that needs to be done…within yourself.. and keep looking towards the outer world for answers.

That works sometimes. Sometimes it doesn’t. The process is a lot like breathing. You go within, then release yourself without. You hold your breath and dive into the pool, then you exhale as you’re swimming up to the surface. The process of journeying within isn’t a one day process or a one go process. It’s a step by step process and you need to be patient with yourself.

It was 7 am and it felt awfully lonely on the park bench I sat on. I just sat there sitting snugly, in the nippy morning air, with one leg on top of the other. Just watching the world, as I sat smacking the butt of my cigarette on the chain of my watch. The morning Sun seemed to soothe my mind somewhat but this day felt just as gloomy as any.

“Ah.. bugger..” I yawned. Life was boring. Too boring. I sat observing, as everyone around me seemed to be running and hustling to get their day started, in a huge contrast to me.

A gang of ‘fat women’ who actually weren’t fat anymore owing to their fast walking routine over the past few months were huffing down the track at top speed. A middle aged man, who was a regular in the park at this time of the day was performing yoga stretches. An old man, who came every morning to feed wheat flour to ants was sprinkling flour anywhere he could spot an army of ants.

And among all of them, I could see a destitute old woman just standing near the park gate like every other day. Actually, I have never been able to figure out what she wants or if she really is destitute. I have seen a couple of old men hand her a tenner every other day ‘to buy herself a cup of tea’ but she never begs or asks for anything. When I tried once, to give her some money, she withdrew almost as though I had tried, to insult her.

There were so many different kinds of people in the park at any given day around the same time that it was baffling to understand what day of the week it was. The park was just as full on a Saturday or Sunday as a Wednesday or Friday. The 7 am crowd seemed to be an awfully punctual crowd to me. I saw most of these guys everyday without fail, no matter what day of the week it was.

A little further from me stood a pothead, smoking a joint, wireless headphones on his ears. He gazed in my general direction as I lit my cigarette. We could’ve waved to each other but I didn’t think he would’ve liked it. He generally seemed to me like he wanted to be left alone. I guess when you’re the kind of person who smokes weed at 7 am in a public park, you’re not really keen on pleasantries.

I was in the mood to savor the taste of the fine tobacco and lull my mind to sleep anyway. I had been awake all night the night before and was looking forward to being able to sleep after all. The insomnia coupled with the nicotine rush was enough ‘high’ for me.

Two or three drags of nothingness later, I realized how I was one of the regulars of the park too. This had been my routine for some time now. Sleeping at 10 am, waking up at 5 pm. Others most probably viewed me the same way I viewed them. I was the ‘guy on the bench’ for them, probably. The thought made me smile. It made me smile to think this way. To realize how we’re all really in the same boat, sailing in the same general direction, despite the differences in our approach or mindset.

I was not sure if I wanted the same things as the rest though. They seemed so certain about their ways and routines while I had become uncertain about everything off late. What did any of this mean at all? Eat, Sleep, Work, Crap.. repeat the same everyday until you die. If I was not feeling inclined to indulge in the same routines as the others, while being in the same routines as all others, there was an inherent flaw in my approach!

There must be a deeper meaning to all of this”

I murmured to myself, with my eyes closed and my mind perplexed. People had it all so sorted in their ways and I was just too hung up on finding the ‘larger’ meaning, looking at the ‘deeper’ picture of life. “This is why you’re in utter crap!” I thought to myself, as it slowly began to drizzle.

I didn’t care to move however. The shade from the thick branches of the tree beside my bench was enough to keep me from getting wet.

People on the track however, all began to respond to the rain in their own ways. Some began running to the exit so as to reach home before the rain intensified. Some sought shelter under the trees. A select few, just went about their daily rituals unperturbed. I glanced at the spot the old woman stood. She seemed to have left, probably to have a cup of tea.

I don’t normally like being indoors when it’s raining. I think many people probably feel the same but there aren’t as many shady trees in the park as there are people. Even if they all wanted to, not many would be able to stay without getting drenched. Hmm. Seemed like an interesting thought.

I kept sitting on the bench by which time the rain had intensified from a drizzle to a steady shower. I was in no hurry to get back home and miss the soothing morning Sun being replaced by beautiful dark clouds as they went rushing by, the sun rays peeking through them still.

The colors changing, the lights changing, the trees waving in the freshness of the wind… It made for a beautiful sight. For a moment, I completely forgot I was in the city and not in the mountains.

“Why would you leave a lovely morning just like that and rush into your house just because of the rain?” I smiled and shook my head from side to side.

It’s true, there are ‘things’ you need to do. But maybe, you don’t need to do the things you think you need to do. What’s there to be had in leaving a perfect situation to just keep on track with an imperfect life? Why leave the rain? Why not sit under the shade of a leafy tree like me and enjoy the refreshing shower like the birds and the trees? Delhi is a hot city mostly and we don’t get showers so often unless it’s the monsoon.

At that moment, a busy jogger huffed past me, drawing my attention to himself with the patter of his jogging shoes on the asphalt track. The rain didn’t seem to have deterred him in any way.

“Yeah that’s one way too.” I thought to myself as I raised my eyebrows, unconvinced of his approach being the right one either.

He seemed a tad too driven I felt, laughing to myself as the rain intensified and I heard a powerful thunderclap. The tree couldn’t shield me from a thundershower so, comparing the distance back to my house and to a picnic hut a little further inside the park, I decided to run towards the picnic hut before it began to pour. That was a good decision. I got just a little wet as I jogged there and it rained continuously for the next one hour. In fact, it rained well until noon. I was able to get back home without being soaked, by opting to jog back within the small gap in which the rain had reduced back to a drizzle.

I went home, went to sleep, woke up at 5 pm and walked back to the park as soon as I had had a cup of tea for a cigarette. I sat down at the same bench I usually sit on and lit a cigarette. Still trying to ‘think’, still trying to introspect. When I began to think about the little episode from the morning, it opened up my mind to life, in a completely different way.

The way I see it, we are all doing what we are and functioning in the normalcy of our everyday lives, like the people at the park; the 7 am crowd. When we are faced with challenges, pleasant or unpleasant, we all have a different mechanism of response based on our life priorities.

The first category of people are those, who march on day after day, come what may, like the jogger I found too driven. Such people find peace in keeping up with their routine unlike ‘everybody else’. These people maybe referred to as crazy by those in the second category.

Which brings me to The second category of people are those who derive satisfaction from functioning on the plane of ‘least resistance’. They prefer that their lives function ‘as usual’ and throw up as few surprises or upsets in routine. Such people have their own boat to keep afloat. They run their lives like a tight ship and have clearly defined aims. Most people follow in this category. If they don’t, they are taught to fall in this category.

Then there is the third category of people, those who are in it, for the experience. They are in it just to explore what’s next. These people may be referred to as crazy by the people in the second category.

I realized that day, that I fall in the third category. I didn’t care if it rained continuously for two hours or more. I didn’t care if it rained only for a few minutes. The bottom line for me was that I loved the rain and I wasn’t about to rush indoors due to the fear of getting wet. Sure, being in this category involved its own bit of smart decision making. It was a smart move taking shelter in the picnic hut when I realized it was going to come down pouring. Later on, taking advantage of the rain subsiding and running back home within that window was a matter of choice. Whether to stay on in the experience or to get out of it when you think you’re done.

In these three categories of people, it was quite apparent that there was no right or wrong way about what they did and how they did it. Things get complicated only when you are half committed to what you believe in and half –hearted in how you act.

You cannot rush back home as soon as it begins to rain and enjoy the view from your apartment window, overlooking.. the parking lot!

Maybe some of the others enjoyed the rain better from their balcony than I did in the view of the lush greenery of the football field and an open view of the sky. Even so, both experiences can’t be the same. They can’t be and they shouldn’t be, because then it wouldn’t be fair to those who are in it for what it is.

Would it be fair, if I got to enjoy the same view and the same experience and the same smells, sights and sounds as the people who had rushed back home as soon as the first few drops of rain fell on them? No. It wouldn’t. Some experiences are reserved and quite often, the most beautiful ones.. for those completely invested in them.

You have to be in that experience to really truly know what it felt like it.

Just like the people who made it back home in time to make a hot cup of tea and enjoy the nice rainy day from their balcony. No, I couldn’t have had that. I could only have had what I had and I could only have loved what it was in the moment.

That is what life is about, isn’t it? Choices.

As for the jogger who completed his daily 5 laps on the track despite the rain and the wind? What experience did he have?

Well, he made great progress on toughening up his resolve to stick to his plan and not take a day off, come hell or high water. You can’t beat commitment like that with something else. Whatever it is that he had set himself that goal for, I’m sure it gave him immense satisfaction that day by not giving up. Not taking an off day. No slack at all.

Imagine however, that he had gone home that day and fallen ill in the evening. What then? Had the effort been worth it, in that case?

Now this is interesting. This is interesting because this is how decisions lead to decisions and choices to more choices that lead you to what you ‘become’ eventually.

When you take a tough decision like that one, you may immediately be called out on whether you’re bluffing or you’re serious.

If you do get ill, do you call in sick the next day? or Do you resist the setback, brave the sickness and turn up again another day, defying the odds?

There is no right answer to this unfortunately.

I can only recall that the rain made me realize I was neither the one to shy away from the rain nor one to defy the elements and have my own way. I was an experience seeker and riding the flow of the moment gave me immense pleasure. That is all that mattered in the journey to discovering myself….

Being in it just for the experience!

<< Read Part 1 <<

©Jay Kaushal

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‘The Lotus’ (Part-1)

I had been wanting to return to WordPress for a long time. However, the transformation taking place in my life in the days I was away, kept holding me back. I just couldn’t seem to configure my creative outlets to match what needed to be said.

As a writer, it happens often that you write what you think you write best and the subsequent appreciation for your art drives you to write more of what you feel is ‘appreciated’. Appreciation, Praise, Acknowledgement of your ‘efforts’ can lead you into a whole different territory. A territory where it becomes hard to realize why you do what you do.

Far too many artists find themselves caught in the trap of repeating what ‘works’. What works, may or may not be your best work but it is what keeps you afloat as an artist. It is what keeps the reviews coming and the audience buzzing, asking for more. This part is the best about creating anything; anything of value is driven by a desire to be noticed. As much as you deny it, working your craft is far more refreshing at an ego level when you have and audience waiting for your next creation.

But eventually, things change and life changes with them. You change invariably with the various factors spinning out of your control. Then as you change, how people in the world view you, changes. At a certain point, you can’t control anymore how the expression of your being radiates into the world around you. Your art defines you but you define your art as the creator and as the medium it flows through.

A picturesque landscape exists for you as much as it does for the poet who wrote a poem about it and a painter who immortalized that point in time on a canvas. It existed for everyone yet it chose only a select medium to express itself through.

You are associated with what you attract and also the energies that channel themselves through your being. It’s all about what you ‘vibrate’ with, in sync.

What vibrates with you, is what is most like you; and what the core of your being vibrates with, you ultimately become one with.

Sewage flowing through a pipe will ultimately corrode and accumulate the inside of the medium with filth and stink. Clear, fresh water will ultimately impart a sweet taste to the farthest extents of the pipe. That’s not even science, just common sense.

“It’s such a drag. Such a drag. SUCH a drag. Such a drag drag DRAG !!…”

I remember shouting to myself in utter frustration. I was physically beating myself up, over the lack of focus and any discernible aim or motive in life. Why was everything going against me? Why was it all crumbling down? Why was everything that I was building up, crumbling down around me…with me in the middle; watching haplessly as it all tumbled down one after the other. Like a chain of dominoes undone by the sheer momentum of a chain reaction triggered by a simple nudge.

“Hmm… this sucks..”

Many years ago, I had been faced with situations similar to those I was facing in this phase. I had encountered similar frustrations in the past. Similar manic depressive, chaotic periods. They had all ended in unsuccessful suicide attempts and completely botched up self harm episodes. The only one I ever succeeded in causing harm to were the people in my life who wanted nothing but happiness for me.

As much as someone crushed deep under the weight of mental health issues will disagree.. the people in your life have nothing to do with the crap that goes on inside your head.

“It all beings and ends in the mind.” This is that famous statement you’ve probably heard many times. Nearly all of the successful people in this world.. vehemently stand by it. Not nearly enough people take notice of the depth of the idea the flows out from it.

To me, what I’ve come to realize in the last few months, this statement points out to the fact that reality is what you perceive it to be and also something you create. You can create by perception but you can also perceive what you have the power to create.

The fact that it all begins and ends in the mind points out to the sheer power vested in your mind. Those of us having a tough time handling our thoughts, controlling our emotions are simply out of sync with our own ideas.

We keep resisting the infinite power that our mind holds within itself. We spend so much time and energy ‘resisting’ a boundless force that we are never able to learn how to put it to use. How to let it pave our path for us. How to let it create for us, the world we want. We’re out of sync with it and that means we don’t know how to control it.

You can’t drive a Ferrari at 30 miles an hour and you can’t drive a bicycle at 300. It’s all about the minimal level of ‘vibration’ that everything functions at. When you’re out of sync with that vibration, it breaks you. Quite like an opera singer breaking a champagne glass at the right frequency. If that glass could match the ‘vibration’ of the opera singer’s voice, it wouldn’t break at all.

Similarly, if you feel swamped and mentally, psychologically drained or too worked up and screwed up in the head, you’re acting out of sync with your inner being. You’re acting out of sync with that highly powerful and highly expansive energy in your body, called the ‘soul’.

(Like I was at this time.)

I had been absolutely sucking at ‘living’, and at ‘dying’, I had been failing far too badly. However, this time, I had the deeply entrenched lessons from the experiences of my past, to help me take better decisions.

Lying on the floor of my room, I reminisced how I had found myself in a similar situation ten years ago. Ten years ago, barely 18 and already at the nadir of my life, despite all of the confusion and chaos, through all of the failures and frustrations, life had ultimately blended seamlessly into a happy phase.

Things had changed for me back then when I had left home and gone off to college in another city. There, I had started life afresh; met new people, had new experiences, discovered new dimensions to my personality and the pain of the short but violently intense struggles of my life had soon been washed away by the new beginning.

But just when I had thought that, that would be the new ‘normal’ for my life, along had come another trough. Deeper and with its own challenges, dark in its own way. Then just when I had thought I wouldn’t make it through the cold, dark night my life had become, the Sun came out on my life again one day. The flowers in the meadow of my life, blossomed anew.

And so I realized pretty early that this was the true nature of life. This is how it is meant to be. These cycles repeat and alternate like seasons and you just adjust to what finds you and where it finds you.

Happiness and Sadness are both a farce and whatever it is that is troubling you, it shall eventually pass like everything else in life does.

Only that it doesn’t happen as simply as that. ‘Life’ is lesson on contradictions.

A lot of ‘Learning’ means unlearning a lot of what you’ve learned before. A lot of ‘Living’ means dying many times over while you’re still alive. And we all know ‘Loving’ means letting go and ‘Winning’ means a temporary respite from failure.

The good things and the bad must both dissolve into each other yet separate into each self. Each turning into the other to preserve the balance of the mix yet working together to give meaning to good and bad.

In the past few months, this spell that I found myself going through was something completely different. It wasn’t a frustrating period of not knowing what to do. It was instead, a period of knowing exactly what to do and knowing I was failing at it spectacularly. What do you do then?

What do you do when you realize that what’s happening to you is beyond your control? You introspect. Or at least, that is what I thought.

And so, I began pulling out each uncomfortable question one by one. Untangling and separating each thread of my confusion. Patiently, yet frantically so.

Why was I miserable at all?

Why couldn’t I just be happy and content.. simple and not complex; like everybody else?

I must have spent days on end doing nothing else but this; until one day, it struck me.

That is the moment I found myself crouching in a corner of my room, with the lights turned off. I sat holding my face in my palms, rubbing my eyes and running my fingers back into my hair and pulling them, straightening them. As if pulling my hair back would straighten up my brain and get some logic running again.

I let out a deep breath..

and in that effortless, deep exhalation.. the truth flowed out of my lips along with the air.

“I’m out of sync with my purpose…”

Once I said it to myself, it seemed so comforting I said it once more.

“This is it. That’s what this is… I’m out of sync with my purpose…”

And I think that was it. That was all I had been needing to hear all along. Looking for someone to say it to me until I said it to myself.

That’s what it was! I wasn’t acting in sync with my true self and that was what was bringing me down.

But resisting your inner voice and forcing your will is human nature. It’s just the ego at work, wanting to speak over the mind, the heart, the intuition, the soul and every other sign in the world. The ego wants to be heard. Inside your head and outside it. It wants to be heard. Even if what it says makes no sense at all.

At that moment, I had every inclination not to listen to myself. I knew however that, that wasn’t an option for me. I had tried everything else. Everything!

Listening to my inner voice was the only way out if I ever wanted to be happy again. It was time to introspect and ask myself what I really wanted.

And so, like the frustrated father of a troubled teen would; shaking my head, eyes half closed.. massaging my forehead with my fingers, with all of the patience in this world I could muster, I muttered to myself:

“What is it then? What the f****k is your purpose?”

And as if anticipating my answer already, came pat the reply from my own self:

“I don’t know. You tell me…”

© Jay Kaushal

>> Read part 2 >>

Unbroken

It hurts right now
But it won’t hurt forever.
To carry your broken heart within a broken body that can take no more;
It can still be done.
It still can,
even though you’re hurting beyond measure.

Tough times must come upon them;
Those life seeks to toughen,
beyond the ordinary.

Aye! building upwards atop the ashes of your past;
It’s gut wrenching, cruel, painful nigh fanatical, maddening et all..
As many emotions summed up into the lonely struggle tall.
Yet,
Believing it can be done
It can be done.
It can be done.

Ours is to build anew every time it comes crumbling down.

It can be done.
It can be done.

And his is to test; if broken we stay or unbroken we become.

It can be done.
It can be done.

No matter how great the fall,
Ye must heed the call;
Of his voice, awake, deep within.

It can be done.
It can be done.

He who looks into the scarred, horrible face of his reality and knuckles up..
Unperturbed. Yet again,
for another fight.

It can be done.
It can be done.

Battered and Beaten to the ground he falls,
Fallen but undefeated, to the sky he’ll rise again.

He’ll take the heaven by storm,
if he survives;

It can be done.
It can be done.

Oh! he’ll burn down the proud pillars of the lofty heavens above..
With his wrath Alone!

Beware if he survives,
Ye naysayers and unbelievers.

It can be done.
It can be done.

He’ll bend time itself;
And rein in the directions from as far out, as they reach.
A fine line between mortal and immortal, his glory shall breach.

It can be done.
It can be done.

If ye can keep him down,
Never let him up..

Only ye can’t.

If ye can drive a knife through his heart
and pray it kills him..

Only it won’t.

If ye can run for your life sooner than
ye realise, he shall not yield..

He might spare your life for servitude,
when his world is his;
And he has conquered all there was
in it,
to conquer.

He’ll slay all his foes,
Settle all scores to close.
Settle his debts, pay his dues.
As he walks up there,
Where he always belonged.
And he takes what is his
and rights all the wrongs.

Unbroken is he.
Glorious be his reign.
Unbroken Is he.
He befriended his pain.
Unbroken is he.
The gods bow down to his greatness.

He conquered the world.
And everything in it.
He conquered his fears and all the demons within..

Because it can be done.

© Jay Kaushal

What if this is all there is?

What if this,
is all there is?
What if this..
is as good as it gets?
What if this is
as far, you were
meant to be;
And everything
that you ever
dreamed about
for the future,
were memories;
Being carried on
from a past life.
A past where,
you had it all.
A life where,
you made it all.
And yet you still,
wiped that slate..
clean;
Just for this!
Maybe you had
everything.
Everything,
but happiness.
Everything,
but satisfaction.
Just an empty,
dark void..
That you could
never manage to fill.
Maybe the purpose
of all your sorrows,
all your struggles,
all your happiness,
and all your
experiences;
Was to bring you..
Here.
Here,
in this present;
That you
so carelessly
discount for
being a lot less,
than it is.
This present,
that you never
fully learned to
appreciate; Because
you were always
too fixated about
filling that void.
The void that
cannot be fulfilled.
The void that robs you
of the present,
that is the present;
While keeping you chasing.
While keeping you running
after uncertain tomorrows,
as all your todays
Have come and gone.
Each one of them
having failed,
to satisfy you.
Wouldn’t you regret
not enjoying this,
a lot more?
Wouldn’t you regret
not living; while
you could have..
If you realise,
At the end
Of it all..
This,
was the best
you could have ever had?

© Jay Kaushal

Photo by Jay Kaushal

A Walk In The Park

Your fixation with
Getting ‘there’..
Is what’s keeping you
From enjoying
Where you are.
It’s what’s keeping you
From finding joy,
Doing what you do.
Reaching your goals,
Happens automatically.
It happens effortlessly,
Once you begin
To savour
The long walk…
Leading you there.

Photo & Poem: © Jay Kaushal

Photo-poem ‘Slow’

In our sincerest efforts to make society run faster and better, look how it all became incredibly…

I wonder how..

Everywhere I look,

Everyone I see,

All of them so tense;

Scurrying past me.

I wonder how..

That we’re all,

Always

In such a hurry;

Reaching places,

We’ll never get on time.

Photo & Poem: © Jay Kaushal

New poems Wednesday & Sunday.

Photo-poem ‘Beehive’

All that big talk about evolution and superiority; Yet slaved and spent, worker bees all return… to the beehive! © Jay Kaushal

Photo & Poem by Jay Kaushal.

Photo location: West Delhi

© Jay Kaushal

New poems every Wednesday & Sunday.