Category Archives: Chronic Thinker

Chasing Sunrises

When I was a student, I invited a boyfriend to share a romantic sunrise on the beach with me. I always liked the cleanness of mornings. In Mumbai, it starts early but it’s still sparse enough for every waking creature to give the other space, physical and emotional. Mornings are the closest to peaceful richness (as opposed to exhausted incompletion of late nights). And beaches have always felt like home.

We sat on the sand and talked and waited. It was nearly 9am when the prickling on the back of my neck made me turn around. There was the sun behind us, high above buildings. I realised, feeling very foolish, that Mumbai is on the western coast of the country. The sun doesn’t rise over the sea in Mumbai; it sets.

Sunsets are a reminder of things unfinished, an alarm bell that it’s getting late, the mosquitoes start biting and traffic piling up. I didn’t enjoy sunsets. It bothered me for a long time after that my favourite time and favorite place didn’t coincide.

Over the next few years, I fell into the Mumbaiker rhythm of chasing jobs, deadlines and corporate goals. I spent my favorite part of the day in crowded trains, busy roads, bustling lanes. I was able to visit my favorite place rarely if ever, and only amid a lot of crowd with the residual noise & garbage.

I have since started making an effort to visit the beach more often. I’ve learnt to tune out noise, managed to make these solo trips in safety and minimal intrusion. They’re never in the early morning.

But then, I also found beauty in the fresh sunlight on a broken window pane. I found inspiration on day breaking over a defunct textile mill. Sunrises are great wherever they happen because they signal a fresh start. Wherever you are, whoever you are. It made me realise sunsets aren’t sad. The sun must set if it is to rise again.

And you know both sunsets and sunrises are illusions, tricks of light & planetary movement. The sun isn’t going anywhere. We are. And it’s never too far away. Just a few hours from the next sunrise or sunset.

It makes me appreciative of my island city, just the way it is.

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CHASING SUNRISES When I was a student, I invited a boyfriend to share a romantic sunrise on the beach with me. I always liked the cleanness of mornings. In Mumbai, it starts early but it's still sparse enough for every waking creature to give the other space, physical and emotional. Mornings are the closest to peaceful richness (as opposed to exhausted incompletion of late nights). And beaches have always felt like home. We sat on the sand and talked and waited. It was nearly 9am when the prickling on the back of my neck made me turn around. There was the sun behind us, high above buildings. I realised, feeling very foolish, that Mumbai is on the western coast of the country. The sun doesn't rise over the sea in Mumbai; it sets. Sunsets are a reminder of things unfinished, an alarm bell that it's getting late, the mosquitoes start biting and traffic piling up. I didn't enjoy sunsets. It bothered me for a long time after that my favourite time and favorite place didn't coincide. Over the next few years, I fell into the Mumbaiker rhythm of chasing jobs, deadlines and corporate goals. I spent my favorite part of the day in crowded trains, busy roads, bustling lanes. I was able to visit my favorite place rarely if ever, and only amid a lot of crowd with the residual noise & garbage. I have since started making an effort to visit the beach more often. I've learnt to tune out noise, managed to make these solo trips in safety and minimal intrusion. They're never in the early morning. But then, I also found beauty in the fresh sunlight on a broken window pane. I found inspiration on day breaking over a defunct textile mill. Sunrises are great wherever they happen because they signal a fresh start. Wherever you are, whoever you are. It made me realise sunsets aren't sad. The sun must set if it is to rise again. And you know both sunsets and sunrises are illusions, tricks of light & planetary movement. The sun isn't going anywhere. We are. And it's never too far away. Just a few hours from the next sunrise or sunset. It makes me appreciative of my island city, just the way it is. 📸: @tjcoulagi 🎶: HERE COMES THE SUN: The Beatles #theideasmithy

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Making Peace With Privilege

The past few weeks have underlined privilege. How much we have in contrast to others, that makes a difference between the lockdown being a life threat or an inconvenience. This is not easy to face; our privilege never is. Because it forces us to face the randomness of birth & how little control we have over the experience of living.

Privilege Guilt is the helplessness of having something one did not earn. But your self-flagellation doesn’t actually make heal a sick person. It just allows you to feel like you’re ‘paying’ in some way for your privilege + temporarily escape the discomfort.

This discomfort powers rage reactions, overzealous shaming, frantic jumping to conclusions. Fear makes one do terrible things & escapism even worse. Anything not to have to face the awfulness of this reality.

But feeling this isn’t weak, it is a sign of something that cuts past the coldness of privilege. Empathy. Don’t rush to kill it. Discomfort will not kill. Eventually, it will be possible to accept the nature of things beyond our control, including the luck of our birth.

We can only be generous when we accept the truth of our abundance. And help without generosity isn’t helpful; it’s a favour. Favours keep power imbalances in place so they are not a good solution to privilege inequality.

It must start with facing what we fear. Admitting we have this much means we must take responsibility for our selves. It may sound like we are not allowed to feel distress, worry or pain but that’s not true. Feeling abundant includes the freedom to feel all things. It just means not being limited by them anymore.

You cannot share what you deny. Honour the privilege you have by acknowledging it & turning it into goodness for the world. Richard Bach wrote “The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.” So please, enjoy your lessons and be grateful (not guilty) for the kindness with which life is delivering them to you. Receiving this kindness lets you be kind in turn. 

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MAKING PEACE WITH PRIVILEGE The past few weeks have underlined privilege. How much we have in contrast to others, that makes a difference between the lockdown being a life threat or an inconvenience. This is not easy to face; our privilege never is. Because it forces us to face the randomness of birth & how little control we have over the experience of living. Privilege Guilt is the helplessness of having something one did not earn. But your self-flagellation doesn't actually make heal a sick person. It just allows you to feel like you're 'paying' in some way for your privilege + temporarily escape the discomfort. This discomfort powers rage reactions, overzealous shaming, frantic jumping to conclusions. Fear makes one do terrible things & escapism even worse. Anything not to have to face the awfulness of this reality. But feeling this isn't weak, it is a sign of something that cuts past the coldness of privilege. Empathy. Don't rush to kill it. Discomfort will not kill. Eventually, it will be possible to accept the nature of things beyond our control, including the luck of our birth. We can only be generous when we accept the truth of our abundance. And help without generosity isn't helpful; it's a favour. Favours keep power imbalances in place so they are not a good solution to privilege inequality. It must start with facing what we fear. Admitting we have this much means we must take responsibility for our selves. It may sound like we are not allowed to feel distress, worry or pain but that's not true. Feeling abundant includes the freedom to feel all things. It just means not being limited by them anymore. You cannot share what you deny. Honour the privilege you have by acknowledging it & turning it into goodness for the world. Richard Bach wrote "The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it." So please, enjoy your lessons and be grateful (not guilty) for the kindness with which life is delivering them to you. Receiving this kindness lets you be kind in turn. 🎶: SOAK UP THE SUN: Sheryl Crow #theideasmithy #privilege

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TOXIC

I hear a lot of complaining about toxic people. The word ‘toxic’ has become a slur to use to attack, rather than a tool to reflect on what one needs. I’ve struggled to let go of people who exploit, abuse, violate me. They began as positive relationships. By the time I realise they’re hurting me, their reasons for this behaviour take precedence over my feelings.

We’re taught to bear whatever is thrown at us in the name of love, loyalty, friendship. Terms like ‘forgiveness’, ‘support’, ‘trigger sensitivity’ make us believe we’re wrong to feel bad about being treated badly. Because we love the person & they’re going through something. Issues (mental illness, fat positivity, feminism, queerness) are campaigned for in a way that allows for “I suffer this so I am exempt from treating other people with respect”. We feel unable to protest any behaviour by someone shielded by a well-championed cause or relationship because we’ll be labelled toxic. Opposing a person becomes opposing the cause or devaluing that relationship. ‘Toxic’ gies from describing a situation to be managed to a crime one may be accused of. We lash out at people who we know will tolerate it because they have to. This is how toxicity is passed on by the very people deriding it.

Toxicity is in behaviours, not people.
1.Having a problem is okay. Not having a solution is fine. Asking for support is great. None of this can be assumed about or from anyone. Entitlement is toxic.

2.Lashing out keeps the person doing it in a corrosive place. It lays the responsibility for their upset on someone else. Using a cause/relationship to justify this, devalues the other person and is toxic.

3. Other people cannot heal me. I cannot heal anyone. Saviour complexes keep addictions alive and trap both people. This is toxic.

Upsets are normal. We can feel overwhelmed by them but we need to find better ways to relate to each other. It should be possible to say, “I am upset with you about XYZ.” and be able to function without poison. But don’t indulge toxic, don’t pass it on.

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TOXIC? I hear a lot of complaining about toxic people. The word 'toxic' has become a slur to use to attack, rather than a tool to reflect on what one needs. I've struggled to let go of people who exploit, abuse, violate me. They began as positive relationships. By the time I realise they're hurting me, their reasons for this behaviour take precedence over my feelings. We're taught to bear whatever is thrown at us in the name of love, loyalty, friendship. Terms like 'forgiveness', 'support', 'trigger sensitivity' make us believe we're wrong to feel bad about being treated badly. Because we love the person & they're going through something. Issues (mental illness, fat positivity, feminism, queerness) are campaigned for in a way that allows for "I suffer this so I am exempt from treating other people with respect". We feel unable to protest any behaviour by someone shielded by a well-championed cause or relationship because we'll be labelled toxic. Opposing a person becomes opposing the cause or devaluing that relationship. 'Toxic' gies from describing a situation to be managed to a crime one may be accused of. We lash out at people who we know will tolerate it because they have to. This is how toxicity is passed on by the very people deriding it. Toxicity is in behaviours, not people. 1.Having a problem is okay. Not having a solution is fine. Asking for support is great. None of this can be assumed about or from anyone. Entitlement is toxic. 2.Lashing out keeps the person doing it in a corrosive place. It lays the responsibility for their upset on someone else. Using a cause/relationship to justify this, devalues the other person and is toxic. 3. Other people cannot heal me. I cannot heal anyone. Saviour complexes keep addictions alive and trap both people. This is toxic. Upsets are normal. We can feel overwhelmed by them but we need to find better ways to relate to each other. It should be possible to say, "I am upset with you about XYZ." and be able to function without poison. But don't indulge toxic, don't pass it on. 🎶: GOLD IN THEM HILLS: Ron Sexsmith #theideasmithy

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Twenty-Twenty Vision

I wrote this post at the start of this year. What a year 2020 is turning out to be.

~O~O~O~O~O~

This is the decade where I lost all control of the plan I made at 17. This was the decade I found myself in a life so strange, I could barely keep up, let alone hold onto my identity.

This decade, I got engaged, got hit and got dumped. This decade I wrote a book and got rejected and wrote other things that got turned into a book without my asking. This decade I stepped up onto stage and I shone. This decade I was silenced and I made that silence my most deafening statement ever. This decade I birthed a community and watched it grow and wither and hit back and die and be reborn. This decade I fought patriarchy and religion politics. This decade my world was ravaged by #MeToo and #CAANRC.

In the last year of this decade, I turned 40. The official onset of middle age. The last lap of my long-term life plan. This year I remembered Y2K after recounting it as an anecdote to slightly bemused Gen Y kids wanting a career in digital.

I truly have no life plan any more. But how well did what I had, stack up against recessions, economic busts, terrorism and wokeness? It kept me calm long enough to deal with uncertainty. It gave me the courage to venture into new things. It allowed me to carry purpose. It was a useful crutch for the lessons I had to learn and now it’s gone.

Maybe I don’t need it anymore. Either way, I’ve already lived nearly half a life and accumulated some things, not the least of all – conviction. Here’s to another twenty years. Share it with me, with dignity, joy & power?

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TWENTY-TWENTY VISION This is the decade where I lost all control of the plan I made at 17. This was the decade I found myself in a life so strange, I could barely keep up, let alone hold onto my identity. This decade, I got engaged, got hit and got dumped. This decade I wrote a book and got rejected and wrote other things that got turned into a book without my asking. This decade I stepped up onto stage and I shone. This decade I was silenced and I made that silence my most deafening statement ever. This decade I birthed a community and watched it grow and wither and hit back and die and be reborn. This decade I fought patriarchy and religion politics. This decade my world was ravaged by #MeToo and #CAANRC. In the last year of this decade, I turned 40. The official onset of middle age. The last lap of my long-term life plan. This year I remembered Y2K after recounting it as an anecdote to slightly bemused Gen Y kids wanting a career in digital. I truly have no life plan any more. But how well did what I had, stack up against recessions, economic busts, terrorism and wokeness? It kept me calm long enough to deal with uncertainty. It gave me the courage to venture into new things. It allowed me to carry purpose. It was a useful crutch for the lessons I had to learn and now it's gone. Maybe I don't need it anymore. Either way, I've already lived nearly half a life and accumulated some things, not the least of all – conviction. Here's to another twenty years. Share it with me, with dignity, joy & power? 🎶: BRAND NEW DAY: STING #theideasmithy #2020ready #newyear #lifeisgood #saree #sareelove #lipstick #lipstickjunkie #ikat #ikatprint #jhumkas #midlifewomen #yearinreview #millenniallife #millennials #xennial #lipstick💄 #makeup #makeupartist #sareestyling #sareeblousedesigns #sareeaddict #lipstickaddict #fashionblogger #sareeblogger #lipstickblogger #lookingbackintime #lifelessons

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Pockets of Courage

Inside my pockets, I keep pieces of courage, to reach for when I need them.

See, life has become an unpredictable horizon strewn with landmines called memories. An accidental sighting and unfortunate coincidences. We’re so connected, we’re entrenched seamless and a chance encounter, becomes an obituary. Memory, that unreliable narrator always takes you down in the worst way possible.
Courage answers to many names.

Now confidence is a good, solid coat to wear. It’s rainproof and tempered over the years. I had to put my baggage down when I pulled on the sleeves of my coat of confidence. It serves well in new battles and it doesn’t snag on bumps. But memory is a rusty blade tipped in acid. It leaves holes where it touches my confidence coat. The horrors past left seeds of themselves inside me and they rise up in response, in goosebumps under my skin. I lost my baggage but I couldn’t cut out all the poisoned parts of me.

So I keep shots of breath within easy reach. Chewing gum, lip balm, an old worn hanky. Remember to chew, remember to moisturize, remember to breathe. Swallow every fear, dam every allergy.

But women’s clothing has so few pockets. So I find other ways to hoard courage.

I paint over the skidmarks that betrayal left behind, in ink and tattoos. A penned star between the webs of my fingers. So when I walk through somewhere that calls out old memory-monsters, the inked star whispers a reminder of everything that came after. Ink stands sentry keeping new demons from allying with the old.

Bravado carries my stage fright up here and fidgets it into paper planes. And when I run short, inside a pocket, a little piece of magic, a lucky pebble kissed with hope.

Sometimes I can make a truce with memory and it lets me take pieces to call my own. A silver chain, a birthday gift, a memory to remember love, kindness and laughter. Nostalgia can also bear courage’s name.

All my nooks and crevices, my clothes, mind and dimples are packed with hoarded pieces of courage, fortifying and protecting me. I manage my pockets of courage carefully.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

I’m wearing a cotton newsprint saree in a nivi drape with a red tank top, a denim bolero jacket and red sneakers. Accessories are steel – a chunky band bracelet, steel watch and etched leaves on a chain to add just a touch of shine from under the jacket. The pallu over rather than under the jacket prevents ‘the tail effect’ but needs a little more effort if you want to take off the jacket in public. I wore this to an informal business meeting at a restaurant.

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POCKETS OF COURAGE Inside my pockets, I keep pieces of courage, to reach for when I need them. See, life has become an unpredictable horizon strewn with landmines called memories. An accidental sighting and unfortunate coincidences. We’re so connected, we’re entrenched seamless and a chance encounter, becomes an obituary. Memory, that unreliable narrator always takes you down in the worst way possible. Courage answers to many names. Now confidence is a good, solid coat to wear. It’s rainproof and tempered over the years. I had to put my baggage down when I pulled on the sleeves of my coat of confidence. It serves well in new battles and it doesn’t snag on bumps. But memory is a rusty blade tipped in acid. It leaves holes where it touches my confidence coat. The horrors past left seeds of themselves inside me and they rise up in response, in goosebumps under my skin. I lost my baggage but I couldn’t cut out all the poisoned parts of me. So I keep shots of breath within easy reach. Chewing gum, lip balm, an old worn hanky. Remember to chew, remember to moisturize, remember to breathe. Swallow every fear, dam every allergy. But women’s clothing has so few pockets. So I find other ways to hoard courage. I paint over the skidmarks that betrayal left behind, in ink and tattoos. A penned star between the webs of my fingers. So when I walk through somewhere that calls out old memory-monsters, the inked star whispers a reminder of everything that came after. Ink stands sentry keeping new demons from allying with the old. Bravado carries my stage fright up here and fidgets it into paper planes. And when I run short, inside a pocket, a little piece of magic, a lucky pebble kissed with hope. Sometimes I can make a truce with memory and it lets me take pieces to call my own. A silver chain, a birthday gift, a memory to remember love, kindness and laughter. Nostalgia can also bear courage’s name. All my nooks and crevices, my clothes, mind and dimples are packed with hoarded pieces of courage, fortifying and protecting me. I manage my pockets of courage carefully. 🎶: JULY PEOPLE – @ground.control.toons #theideasmithy #courage #memory #nostalgia #sareestyle

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First Deaths

The first time you watch someone die is a surprise because wasn’t death supposed to be silent? In between the wails & screaming sirens, you find yourself bumping into uncomfortable thoughts.   Funerals are for the living. Lavish performances for the soap operas of everyday lives. Maybe some people deserve to die. Some people have better deaths than lives.

The first time you see someone die forces you to the realization that you must be stupid because this keeps coming as a surprise. How long before you get used to the idea that you, me, we are all going to die some day? Because that’s really all mourning is.

The first time I watched ‘Sixth Sense’, I felt myself echoed on screen. Each time he says “I see dead people. They’re everywhere. They don’t know they’re dead.” I want to hold his hand & nod. It’s all of us. I see them, I see us too. We’re all dying and we’re walking around not knowing it. Some go too early, some too late, yes this is true.

The fact that stories end doesn’t scare me. What scares me is the living & how people live. As if we’d never die. As if we have all the time in the world to cut and destroy ourselves & each other. And it makes me cry. It makes me think I’m wasting precious moments of living on other living creatures. And then it makes me realise, this after is preparing for death. All life is.

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FIRST DEATHS The first time you watch someone die is a surprise because wasn’t death supposed to be silent? In between the wails & screaming sirens, you find yourself bumping into uncomfortable thoughts. Funerals are for the living. Lavish performances for the soap operas of everyday lives. Maybe some people deserve to die. Some people have better deaths than lives. The first time you watch someone die, teaches you about living. It’s a gift that keeps on giving because the older you get, the more you watch people die. I’ve seen proud deaths, people who lived well, looked doctors in the eye, asked them to be honest. I’ve seen sniveling deaths, clinging to regrets & nostalgia. I've watched life ebb out of bodies, taking a little morsel out of everyone else around. I've been slapped across the face with sudden death & come to consciousness in a blur of legacy Facebook profiles & wills. The first time you see someone die forces you to the realization that you must be stupid because this keeps coming as a surprise. How long before you get used to the idea that you, me, we are all going to die some day? Because that’s really all mourning is. The first time I watched ‘Sixth Sense’, I felt myself echoed on screen. Each time he says “I see dead people. They’re everywhere. They don’t know they’re dead.” I want to hold his hand & nod. It’s all of us. I see them, I see us too. We’re all dying and we’re walking around not knowing it. Some go too early, some too late, yes this is true. The fact that stories end doesn’t scare me. What scares me is the living & how people live. As if we’d never die. As if we have all the time in the world to cut and destroy ourselves & each other. And it makes me cry. It makes me think I’m wasting precious moments of living on other living creatures. And then it makes me realise, this after all, is preparing for death. All life is. 🎶: TEARS IN HEAVEN: Eric Clapton #theideasmithy

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A Word Called TRUST

This post was written when a wave of anti-CAA protests swept across the country, college campuses were breached by guns, children were arrested & tortured and still the crowds stood, still the rhetoric continued. At the time of scheduling this for publishing, the protests are still going on while the government shows no sign of ceasing or even reconsidering its actions. I hope by the time you read this, we live in a world that has remembered the value of trust.

~O~O~O~O~O~O~

TRUST. It’s not a word that gets heard much in this time of rage & outrage. How can there be freedom without the trust that it will be a liberating and not fatal experience? What is democracy without freedom?

Politics is about using words well – election platforms, voter wooing, policy campaigning. But words are not much in themselves; just hot air, scratches on paper, bytes on a glass screen. What gives words their power? Benevolence, not bullying. Generosity, not vindictiveness. Inspiration, not threats. Caring. Yes, the truth must care. That is what makes it believable. When the words care, the listener trusts the speaker and is willing to be influenced, even led.

Trust is based on history, else it’s just blind optimism. The latter must be a choice. A promise that things will be different will have to cross the span of doubt and not be enraged. No one can feel entitled to another’s trust. It must be sought, earned, built and maintained. Constantly. Violation of consent (including forcing what is not yet trusted) doesn’t engender trust either.

We are experiencing a time when the letter of the law is being brandished like a weapon. Weapons do not inspire trust. The law is a body of words and like all words, only a net attempting to cover something as fluid as human living.

The policy may be worded in an airtight way. But trust has not been earned or even sought. Violence will never beget trust; only fear. How can one trust a person, a policy or a party that fosters violence on unarmed civilians, students or anyone who says NO? “Democracy, for the people, by the people.” It’s not democracy if the people it’s for, don’t trust the people it’s by. I cannot challenge words being said anymore than voters challenge election promises. It’s not words I protest. It’s the fact that I have seen discrimination and I don’t believe it can be true freedom. It’s the fact that I’ve experienced silencing and that is the exact opposite of  trust seeking. I see my trust being demanded, bullied out of me and because of this, I cannot trust.

No other words matter.

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A WORD CALLED TRUST TRUST. It's not a word that gets heard much in this time of rage & outrage. How can there be freedom without the trust that it will be a liberating and not fatal experience? What is democracy without freedom? Politics is about using words well – election platforms, voter wooing, policy campaigning. But words are not much in themselves; just hot air, scratches on paper, bytes on a glass screen. What gives words their power? Benevolence, not bullying. Generosity, not vindictiveness. Inspiration, not threats. Caring. Yes, the truth must care. That is what makes it believable. When the words care, the listener trusts the speaker and is willing to be influenced, even led. Trust is based on history, else it's just blind optimism. The latter must be a choice. A promise that things will be different will have to cross the span of doubt and not be enraged. No one can feel entitled to another's trust. It must be sought, earned, built and maintained. Constantly. Violation of consent (including forcing what is not yet trusted) doesn't engender trust either. We are experiencing a time when the letter of the law is being brandished like a weapon. Weapons do not inspire trust. The law is a body of words and like all words, only a net attempting to cover something as fluid as human living. The policy may be worded in an airtight way. But trust has not been earned or even sought. Violence will never beget trust; only fear. How can one trust a person, a policy or a party that fosters violence on unarmed civilians, students or anyone who says NO? "Democracy, for the people, by the people." It's not democracy if the people it's for, don't trust the people it's by. I cannot challenge words being said anymore than voters challenge election promises. It's not words I protest. It's the fact that I have seen discrimination and I don't believe it can be true freedom. It's the fact that I've experienced silencing and that is the exact opposite of  trust seeking. I see my trust being demanded, bullied out of me and because of this, I cannot trust. No other words matter. #theideasmithy #CAAprotests  #letsbringthekashtaback #slingitlikeitshot #kashtachallenge

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Island

I am not made for distances and arm’s lengths and fleeting glimpses through windows made of wood or bytes. When I love, it is tangible and solid. When I love is also a where.

I’ve been feeling disconnected from the city I’ve lived in my whole life. Now understand this is the same as my saying I’ve been feeling distanced from my body. Or disengaged from my thoughts. I’ve been feeling the way empty air probably feels when the shell around it cracks and crumbles away. The moistness, the humidity, the pungency, the saltiness of being held and beheld – where is one and who is one without it? I don’t know.

Two things happened this month, both on whim, which is itself a foreign inclination to me but what is foreign and what is natural when one is not a being or even an existence any more? Two times, whim struck me like a doorway that hadn’t been there and suddenly appeared. Both times, I walked through it.

ONE, I saw an Instagram post by a blogger acquaintance I’d met briefly years ago, about a city walk. I just picked up the phone and dialled a stranger and asked if I could join them. And then I picked myself up and walked into a part of the city I’d never been to before. And out there, the tumult inside died away. Out in the big city, I found my quiet again.

TWO, I woke up from a medication-induced haze to a world of hate & anger. I made myself sit in the place of slowness and peace I’ve looked for all year. Then I heard that my counter-city, the one that feels most like my foe had been silenced. And I was seized by something. Rage? Worry? Solidarity? I don’t know. I just opened the door and walked out and into a crowd that flowed from the train, swelled to a throng, the sound of feet becoming voices, angry but never violent.

The first time I stood away from the crowd, realising fully the water borders that make this city an island. The second time, I dissolved into the crowd, understanding the land lines that represented power and anger.

Both times, the island and I became one. And just like that I am in love again. My city and I, we float. Always.

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ISLAND I am not made for distances and arm's lengths and fleeting glimpses through windows made of wood or bytes. When I love, it is tangible and solid. When I love is also a where. I've been feeling disconnected from the city I've lived in my whole life. Now understand this is the same as my saying I've been feeling distanced from my body. Or disengaged from my thoughts. I've been feeling the way empty air probably feels when the shell around it cracks and crumbles away. The moistness, the humidity, the pungency, the saltiness of being held and beheld – where is one and who is one without it? I don't know. Two things happened this month, both on whim, which is itself a foreign inclination to me but what is foreign and what is natural when one is not a being or even an existence any more? Two times, whim struck me like a doorway that hadn't been there and suddenly appeared. Both times, I walked through it. ONE, I saw an Instagram post by a blogger acquaintance I'd met briefly years ago, about a city walk. I just picked up the phone and dialled a stranger and asked if I could join them. And then I picked myself up and walked into a part of the city I'd never been to before. And out there, the tumult inside died away. Out in the big city, I found my quiet again. TWO, I woke up from a medication-induced haze to a world of hate & anger. I made myself sit in the place of slowness and peace I've looked for all year. Then I heard that my counter-city, the one that feels most like my foe had been silenced. And I was seized by something. Rage? Worry? Solidarity? I don't know. I just opened the door and walked out and into a crowd that flowed from the train, swelled to a throng, the sound of feet becoming voices, angry but never violent. The first time I stood away from the crowd, realising fully the water borders that make this city an island. The second time, I dissolved into the crowd, understanding the land lines that represented power and anger. Both times, the island and I became one. And just like that I am in love again. My city and I, we float. Always 📸: @mumbaipaused 🎶: HOW LONG WILL I LOVE YOU – Ellie Goulding #theideasmithy

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

A Box of Pain

Pain can be addictive. Science will tell you that your brain releases a tiny amount of dopamine each time you feel pain (perhaps to help you weather it). Dopamine, that pleasure creator that is responsible for our taking action towards a reward. But also the one that keeps us addicted to things we know are bad for us because we’re chasing how it feels when we get hurt. The high of pain.

I think we all know deep down, that labels are painful boxes to stuff ourselves into. Maybe we’re chasing the comfort of a womb or maybe we’re after how good it feels to hurt.

As someone with a certain intelligence, who has consistently made bad choices with people, I can only say. Don’t beat yourself up for this. A love bite is also a bruise. Forgive yourself for needing some pain. Go easy on yourself if you associate hurt with love. Relax when you find yourself chasing patterns you know will cut you. Don’t hate this part of you. Because it is you as much as the intelligence, the sensitivity, whatever fog the dopamine puts you in, even the dopamine itself. And self-hate brings on no dopamine highs. Only despair.

This helps me. Go out into the vaccum, not back in a box. Let the labels fade. Let the sharp words, the defined voices die out. Let it fog, let it mist, let it all blur. Fall into the craving without feeding it pain. Watch yourself hunger but don’t allow yourself to bleed. Feed just enough so the wanting doesn’t become pain either. Find your breathing without the hacking. Your sleep without the dreams.

This is bearing witness to your pain without being caged by it. Pain can be fascinating to watch, even more than it is to feel it. It will pass. The pain, yes and the wanting too. This time.

I can’t guarantee that this will cure your pain addiction but at least it’ll be a time you didn’t imbibe. One day at a time. One nap at a time. One breath at a time. One blink at a time. Choose yourself boundless, over a box of pain.

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A BOX OF PAIN Pain can be addictive. Science will tell you that your brain releases a tiny amount of dopamine each time you feel pain (perhaps to help you weather it). Dopamine, that pleasure creator that is responsible for our taking action towards a reward. But also the one that keeps us addicted to things we know are bad for us because we're chasing how it feels when we get hurt. The high of pain. I think we all know deep down, that labels are painful boxes to stuff ourselves into. Maybe we're chasing the comfort of a womb or maybe we're after how good it feels to hurt. As someone with a certain intelligence, who has consistently made bad choices with people, I can only say. Don't beat yourself up for this. A love bite is also a bruise. Forgive yourself for needing some pain. Go easy on yourself if you associate hurt with love. Relax when you find yourself chasing patterns you know will cut you. Don't hate this part of you. Because it is you as much as the intelligence, the sensitivity, whatever fog the dopamine puts you in, even the dopamine itself. And self-hate brings on no dopamine highs. Only despair. This helps me. Go out into the vaccum, not back in a box. Let the labels fade. Let the sharp words, the defined voices die out. Let it fog, let it mist, let it all blur. Fall into the craving without feeding it pain. Watch yourself hunger but don't allow yourself to bleed. Feed just enough so the wanting doesn't become pain either. Find your breathing without the hacking. Your sleep without the dreams. This is bearing witness to your pain without being caged by it. Pain can be fascinating to watch, even more than it is to feel it. It will pass. The pain, yes and the wanting too. This time. I can't guarantee that this will cure your pain addiction but at least it'll be a time you didn't imbibe. One day at a time. One nap at a time. One breath at a time. One blink at a time. Choose yourself boundless, over a box of pain. 🎶: HAND IN MY POCKET – Alanis Morissette #theideasmithy

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

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