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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

THE STALKERS AND THE STALKED – A SUMMER OF 2015 STORY

The first time I wrote something, someone in the world trusted me enough to let it see the light. What better way to encourage new writers than to provide them with a platform to make themselves heard. So, here I am, introducing someone who has something to say in a unique voice, and hoping it will make a difference. Always, I look forward to your comments as a means to take the conversation ahead; this time, what you say will also guide talent and therefore, I request you even more earnestly to provide your valuable feedback. Read on......

I have a confession to make – I have not read Kafka, Freud or anyone else like them, quoting liberally from whom would qualify me to be an intellectual. I see myself more as a castaway from mainstream thought trying to stay afloat in its deep waters. I did try reading these gentlemen more than once, and found them, honestly to be “over the top” for spiritual pariahs like me - since they were premium products for a niche audience, to use a marketing parallel.

My journey has been about trying to find a method to the madness that life is, and after deep deliberation, I have concluded that there is only one rule to this madness – that there is no rule.

Hence, when strange events began happening to me this summer of 2015, I had to seek refuge in that manna from Mount View California – Google!  It was only when I googled some perspective into my experience that I realized that I was not alone in this journey.

My notions of travelling to mind spaces where “no one hath gone before” – like Captain James T Kirk of the Star Trek saga – were shattered in minutes, because I realized (googlised?) that indeed, these mind spaces had been conquered before by myriads of adventurers like me – men, women and their magnificent memories- time and time again in history.

Is that the idiosyncrasy of life – are we all travelers on our personal voyages, each doing our own thing, going about our lives, in a crowded journey, jostling for spaces? We meet people, make families and associations our own, feel attached, but at the end of the day – we are on our own trips in life, I mine, You Yours and never the twain shall meet!

Or will they? That indeed is the suspense which keeps us all afloat in this sea of life, hoping for a tomorrow better than today. It’s important, this belief – for, our lives are made, that much more worth living by people who we think bring that unique flavor.

 Why is it that we meet someone for the first time feeling like we have already known them for years? So much so that we wonder how our existence was complete without that person!

We go about our lives in a routine manner and then somebody walks in – and we feel so helplessly, irrationally, and ruthlessly attracted. Romantic? Probably yes, but not always true. But at the same time we know it runs much deeper. It invariably kicks off with a euphoric feeling that irresistibly goads you to connect with that person as if there was something intertwining their existence with yours.  

Soon after, the pain starts - at a very deep, mysterious level, tearing open your innards every night, only to reassemble them in the morning, leaving you clueless about the purpose of it all!

Mostly one, sometimes two, on few occasions more – but they appear one after the other like episodes in your life’s soap opera, over the years. Who are these people? Are they messengers of a higher being, sent to you for discovering some great gyaan, to give your life a higher purpose? Or are they here to teach you an important lesson when you need it most? May be they mean to make you feel protected during turbulent times? Or is their presence in your life – what’s the word – mere serendipity, or what’s the other word - God’s grace?

 These people occupy centre stage in our life at various stages playing important parts, and yet we know they are not ours to keep. They have a specific purpose, and once that is fulfilled, the halo lifts and the angels depart, leaving us all alone in a sea of familiar faces. This is unbelievable – this whole experience is like a storm, and the roaring wind twists and mangles me like it would do to vulnerable, defenceless trees- and yet I feel nice, happy and exhilarated about it.

This alternative entry and exodus of entities, I believe, is the essence of living – embedded in these seemingly unending sequences of enchanting, memorable, inexplicable events and experiences, which we believe we control, but know deep within we cannot. Trust in life, therefore, is the only option, as we go through the ecstasy and agony, hoping against hope that the reason for these experiences will become clear in due time.

Remember our times as kids – we would turn our faces to the sky, imagine a fast moving object moving towards the earth, close our eyes doing a countdown, hoping that as we reached One, there would be a great explosion, such as that caused by a celestial object hitting the earth. The Skylab crash of 1979 is a memory that is etched forever, because it was the first time I experienced fear as a child – people said it could possibly fall “anywhere”. When nothing happened, I was relieved and at the same time, a little disappointed.

So kids we are, throughout life, trying to figure out the unexplained mysteries that confound us, closing our eyes each time and counting backward from ten – going through relief, disappointment, joy, exasperation –wishing that we would never reach One and time would never come to an end.

I am no different. Life is Here and Now.

And in this Now, as I try and make sense of these random thoughts to compose my first blog post,  I cannot but help feel a deep gratitude for all these special people who have walked in and out of my life giving me this feeling of utterly obfuscating bliss. Some still walk beside me and I know there are others who lie in wait, yet to come. Thanks to them, I have woken up with a smile on my face, like the self-help books said I should.

With their company and without, I have grown. I am I partly because of them and they are they, partly because of me.

We meet, we part – this is the only element of certainty in these relationships – but not before having forged connects at a deeply spiritual level that we cannot even begin to fathom. When they do part, all we need to do is to pick up the threads from the casket of memories and relive the entire experience in a flashback of sorts. Or simpler still, close our eyes and count backwards from ten to one, think of them, and they all come back with their presence inundating our conscious like a tsunami of reminiscences.

Life goes on – we continue to lead our lives as we were always tutored – with our dear ones, relatives, friends, sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, parents et al. But the very existence of these persons somewhere in the spatial and temporal corridors of our subconscious, stalks us – if only to make us realize what our lives are worth. Their underlying presence even in the most inane of our activities, their ability to walk all over our lives in limited time and lend it a hitherto unknown dimension - perhaps, this is what makes us a victim of the most lovable stalking experience ever in the history of this planet.

If this is stalking – I’d ask to be stalked again and again…and again.




Friday, 15 May 2015

Being Happy

The long silence on this blog was because I've been busy traveling during the past few days. Where and why and experiences during this travel  - this will be the subject of my next blog post. Until then, here is something to ponder over and hopefully, to put into practice.

Recently, a friend was disgruntled over a family issue. As we spoke about it, I told her she ought to keep her chin up and that things were bound to change with time. She made an intriguing statement, telling me, “It’s easy for you to say…you have never had to deal with such things.” 

Introspecting, I realized she was right. For most of my life, touch wood, I have had quite pleasant experiences during childhood and adolescence, in my education, at the work place, and in my relationships with family and friends. There have been a few hiccups here and there of course, but even those, I seem to have managed with minimal heartache. 

So, what are the factors at play here? Who or what decides how happy or sad a person will be? Is it fate, destiny, prarabdha or karma over which we have no control? Or is it an individual’s willful efforts at alleviating pain and increasing happiness? 

Karma concept
The actions we have performed (in this and previous births) yield results over time. When you do good, your store of merits (punya) increases. When you do wrong, your baggage of demerits (papa) increases. Joys in your life are a result of merits and suffering is a result of the demerits. So, to some extent, destiny does control our experience of certain aspects of life.

Willful efforts
But humans are not just a product of destiny; they do have control over some aspects of their life. I make decisions over what food to eat, what clothes to wear, what kind of friends to hang out with, how to spend my time, what course to pursue, what books to read, what job to take. I also choose how to feel and react when someone is rude or harsh to me. I decide whether to take things at face value and let minor issues pass or look at things with malice and hurt pride and let myself into a vicious circle of anger, pain and hurt.

So, while destiny is beyond our control, efforts certainly are in our hands. And yet, often we find that they are insufficient in ensuring our success or happiness. When this happens, we say it is our karma, and pin the blame on destiny. However, there is an intangible third factor that we are often unaware of. It is something that can override everything else. It is available to all of us provided we make time and put in efforts to acquire it.

 Divine Grace

And this Grace is easy to achieve when we establish a channel between us and God through daily prayer and thanksgiving. It does not require fancy words or complex chants or complicated rituals; all it needs is a deliberate mindfulness and a constant awareness of His presence. It requires surrendering to His will and accepting that He knows best what is good for me and asking Him to give me strength and support. 

Prayer power
When we pray regularly, there are several things that begin to happen
  • The mind grows calmer
  • We learn to accept what is
  • Our wants reduce and in turn, heartache fades away
  • Surrender to His will takes away the sense of ego and doership
  • We grow more positive and attract positive energy into our life; in turn, this leads to more positive experiences

Divine grace is so powerful that it can help us direct our efforts in the right direction. It can also reduce the intensity of the destiny in store. Most important of all, it can lead to spiritual growth that ensures we look at things with such a positive perspective that we remain untouched by sorrow.

Coming back to my friend’s comment, I realized a few things. That I was born into a close-knit, affectionate, and spiritually oriented family and married into an identical one is my destiny. That I chose to work hard at my education and career and relationships and cultivated a positive outlook was willful effort. But, that I come across people – relatives, teachers, friends and colleagues – who nurture me; that I am constantly guided towards a positive mindset and that I have positive experiences most of the time – these are the result of Divine Grace.

In other words, for each and every one of us, it is important to realize that while some things may remain beyond our control, how happy we remain is largely in our hands. And we can make being happy a habit by cultivating a spirit of gratitude for the blessings we already have and working with a prayer on our lips to get even more.

Do share your thoughts on this through the comment section. All you need to do is click on the hyperlinked word "comments" at the end of the blog and then enter your message in the box that opens up. In the "Comment as" section, choose the appropriate option -which, for most people will be a Google account or anonymous - and then click on publish.

If you so wish, you may also get in touch with me through email:  anuranganathan31@gmail.com