SHAJ

Overcoming anxiety, bit.. by bit..

It is 4 o clock in the afternoon. The long green leaves of Guava trees outside my window are chilling just like I am, while lounging on my comfortable chair and reading a book. A dream catcher that a friend gifted me earlier this week flutters soundlessly on the railing. I had never noticed how the purple streaks against the white feather made it look so beautiful while swaying with the wind against the green backdrop outside. I go back to my book and to the joy of smiling once in while at a sentence written so beautifully. These days I have been practicing the art of acknowledging my feelings. I use words to define them and they help me understand what I am going through by demystifying the simple that seems so complicated. So, more out of a habit than a conscious choice, I find myself asking the question. “How do you feel, Shalini?”

Happy. My heart replied.

I smiled and went back to my book, but the irony of this answer distracted me, for a couple of hours of back, when I had asked myself the same question, the answer had been – anxious. anxious. angry. angry. pain. more pain.

I paused and carefully placed the bookmark on the page that I was at, promising that I will come back to it soon and looked outside my window again. The sun was getting ready to set and had reached just at that perfect spot where its brightness was blinding me. I couldn’t really see the greenery outside the window anymore but my dreamcatcher glowed magnificently against the sunlight. I closed my eyes and everything turned into hues of yellow and orange, the warmth teasing my skin and in its own whimsical way, telling me that I ought to enjoy it while it lasts. I asked the sun looming over me, ‘So what is it? Am I happy because I know you are not here to stay or because I am happy, I see that you haven’t gone away?’ The sun replied, still shining brightly over my closed eyes, its bright orange now. It said. ‘What came first, the chicken or the egg?’

As the worries in my life stay put as they have been all this while, this moment of doing nothing and finding a rare joy in the warmth of the sun that comes every single day, told me something about happiness. And sadness.

Sadness, perhaps is a reminder that things need to change. Happiness, maybe is the reward of making that change. It is a cycle and if noticed carefully, the secret to happiness could lie in the underlying beauty of understanding our sadness. Maybe they are just the same thing, waiting for us see how perfectly they complement each other.

A couple of months back, I can say that being anxious was my perpetual state of mind. You can read the related post, where I have written a letter to my anxious self. I know for a fact that I am a very different person today and I wonder if I am being rewarded for addressing my sadness, instead of pushing it under the rugs. Today, being anxious is just a part of my life, among all the other things. I have accepted it gracefully, allowed it to teach me more about myself and have learnt to hold its hand without judgement while slowly breaking the old, violent, self harming structures that had made their homes inside of me. I have learnt to see the nightmares of my life as a constant reminder to love myself, while reaping tiny rewards of happiness in the form of warmth, in the form of joy, as and when I am successful in changing within the wheel of time.

Is this what self-love looks like?

I hope you have a wonderful day too. I will now sign off. The sun’s about to set and it is my favourite part of the day. 🙂

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Merak

On a beautiful afternoon
as we watch the winter leaves shed
from my kitchen window,
we talk about the last time you were here.
Many years ago
it must have been summer
for the leaves were so bright green.

On this beautiful afternoon
as you stir coffee in its cup
the sweet smell of nostalgia
reminding us of what we are made of;
the music of silence
touch the unexplored territory of our nerves,
as we stand against my kitchen window
and watch the winter leaves
now the colour of bright burgundy
shed slowly
as if so much time has passed
and yet none at all.

*Merak is a beautiful little Serbian word that refers to a feeling of bliss at the pursuit of small, daily pleasures that add up for a greater sense of happiness and fulfilment.. 

This poem is dedicated to an old friend whose presence in my life adds up in ways I cannot even express.

Friendship

I say Thank you
To the friends who have been
And to the friends who have not

I say Thank you
for the tests of time
The organic way
of sieving out life

I say Thank you
to the friends
who hold my spine
when I fall down

And I say Thank you
to the friends who are not
for teaching me that words mean nothing
when actions aren’t carried out

Thank you
for those who made me doubt
the choices of friends
I have made in life
Thank you
for those who reaffirmed
the faith of believing
that love is always kind

The wind is harsh today
But it will not be so everyday
When the sun rises tomorrow
After the hurricane has passed away
I will know
The friends who are
And the friends who are not
When with weathered feet and sandy hair
I will feel the warmth
of the hands holding mine

Thank you
for these tests of time
Thank you for these tests of time..

Work

I can’t wait to get back to it.
The tapping of the keyboard
The clicking of the mouse.
The anticipation
of obstacles
The excitement
of problems to be solved.

I can’t wait to get back to it.
To tiring nights
and hopeful mornings.
That pay check
made of fresh paper
the scent of hard work,
& taste of priceless learnings.

I can’t wait to get back to it.
The bittersweet ache
of exhaustion & tired eyes
The joy of working
The contentment
of pushing beyond my strides

I can’t wait to get back to it
Despite the memories
that burns holes
in an idea that once was
of a perfect life

And I can’t wait to get back to it.
With paper and glue
Fixing the broken
and making something new.

dor

11th day is the day
that they say
you will finally leave.
In body and in spirit.
That you will be gone
one last time.
.
.
.
But where will you go papa?

Your blood runs through mine
Your heart still beats
when I close my eyes.

There you are,
on the cement staircase
watching me as I take a walk.

On the balcony
silently cradling on the swing,
hoping that I will come
and sit beside you.

On the bed,
lying so still.
The involuntary smile stretching on your lip,
As I step into the room.

On your wheelchair
pulling me close
your face shivering
your voice quivering

On the back of the cab
your mouth half open
your eyes half closed

On the pyre
Burning away
Now, all ashes

I am seeing you papa,
hearing your voice calling me “babaa..”
Picturing your hand on mine
Not cold as the last time
Warm and strong
holding on
checking on me
once in a while

It is the 11th day
and they say
you will be finally gone.
In body and in spirit
one last time.

But where will you go papa?
Where will you go..

Saudade

I freed myself from you tonight
From the cycle of bitter sweet aches
And roller coaster rides
It was rather unusual –
Our ending.
No shatter
No sound
of hearts breaking
or tearless yelling
And like that
I freed myself from you tonight.

 

A letter to an anxious self

Dear love,

First of all. It is okay.

You have been here before and you have gotten better, haven’t you? So, take deep breaths and remember the following lessons you have taught yourself over this difficult period –

  1. These are just thoughts :
    Anxieties stem from negative thoughts.

    But remember that thoughts are just thoughts and not facts. I know they are convincing as fuck. They are the best illusions you see. Not like any magic you would see anywhere ever! Your mind is so powerful that it can be yours and still be so good at tricking you.. almost like a separate part of your body. I know that can be overwhelming, especially when you are trying so hard to control it.. But you know what? You are trying and you have known through experience that trying never, ever goes to waste. This time too, it won’t.

  2. You are not a mind – reader :
    Wouldn’t it be easier if we just knew what was going on in someone else’s mind? I totally feel you. It would save so much of our time thinking about it and save even more in not trying to think about it! God, I get it. Its exhausting. But you know what? Whatever you do, think or you don’t think – the result is pretty much the same. You can never ever know what is going on in someone else’s mind. You can assume, but you can never know for sure. So, well.. sometimes just accepting that helps 🙂
  3. Your future isn’t bleak :
    Where are you now? Where were you five years back? How many problems came your way and didn’t you tackle them all so fiercely anyway? Didn’t you feel proud of yourself then? Well, just think of how you are going to feel when you get over this. I know, its hard to imagine with the surge of difficult, confusing emotions that you are going through right now. But just for a moment, think of how good it is going to feel, when you can finally see the world around you with your eyes and not just your clouded mind.

    Now, let me tell you – that because you had the strength to imagine it, you are definitely going to get there. Your future is so full of possibilities that you do not even know of. That’s why it’s future right? And I read somewhere,

    It is not important to always be hopeful of the future. You can just be curious about it..

    Be curious, my love. There is so much happiness in the will to know more..

    WB yeats quotes

  4. “Pain in inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
    In a quaint, lovely cafe in Kaza – as we were waiting for our order – this piece of timeless advice from Buddha was just sitting on my table. Perhaps, waiting for all the lost souls like me to read it. You cannot stop someone/ something from hurting you. It will hurt. And it will be excruciatingly painful. I can imagine the pain, because I know you struggle with sharing it too. You fear that nobody will understand.. What can be more painful than that right?I get it.. Well, you can’t stop the pain from coming, but there is something that you can do. You can raise your tolerance to accept it. Spell it out. Say the words that hurt the most. Your thoughts can be irrational but not your feelings. Those are actually your real thoughts. Let them come out of you like one long searing stab in the heart. And when that moment of relief washes over you, tell yourself – Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.IMG-6714-001

    I know it is easier said than done. One way to do it, is to focus on the solutions instead of our problems. You will be surprised how short and sweet those talks with your minds can be. You don’t have to suffer my love. You just don’t..

  5. Don’t be so hard on yourself..
    No realization is implemented overnight. I know we wish that could happen, but it doesn’t work that way. Epiphanies are like a shot of dopamine injected into our minds but when unable to implement them – they can create very strong anxieties, leading to more suffering.In these times, deep breaths again. (Cheesy, but so goddamn helpful.) You are going to make mistakes. Again and again. And it is not because you don’t learn. It is because you don’t intend to learn it superficially. You would rather live your mistakes, feel yourself burn under the sun, as the realization seeps into your being – to stay. It is the only way you can never ever make the same mistakes again.So, don’t be so hard on yourself. As I said, you are trying and you will slip. So many times! But that is okay..
  6. Focus on the journey..
    While I was working on Sanju, there were some personal experiences that had overpowered the beauty of where I was. My father’s battle with cancer only added to further negativity. It took a toll on my emotional state of being. When the film released, there was no part of me that felt happy. Though, I so badly wanted to be..The realization came to me on my trek to Chandrataal. When we first started climbing, it felt just fine. But as the mountain got steeper, the breathing got heavier too. It wasn’t a difficult trek as such but I didn’t think I could make it. I wasn’t fit for it, I thought. And then I looked back and I knew I had to do this anyway. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. So, I started walking slowly, breathing in and out steadily. After a point, I wasn’t even thinking of the destination – I was just enjoying my own new found strength and ability to see beauty around me. Almost effortlessly, I reached the top – overlooking my sweaty, tired self was the magnificent moon lake. It still gives me goosebumps to think about it. I had never felt so happy reaching any place in my life.
    e7234c69-5b29-4677-89c5-b2a13a2d64a0It made me realize the power of a beautiful journey. When we chose to take care of ourselves, accepting our limitations and problems, while constantly looking around us and being grateful to be where we are – the joy of reaching our goal at the end of it can be so much more gratifying. Not giving up does not always mean to be tough. It can also mean to be unapologetically soft on ourselves.

*Big hugs to me!*

Yours truly..