October has come and gone like a hurricane. This is the month that leaves me with no doubt that 2017 is a year of reckoning, a time of forces greater than myself imposing lessons that I must learn. The events of this year have been incongruously challenging and disproportionately trying. This makes me think that there must be a reason. When science and facts fail to prove causality, one must turn to belief. Maybe there is no such thing as causality but it helps one cope with the randomness of life and how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.
This year, I’ve been bullied and harassed out of the performance spaces. I’ve been gaslighted and called mentally ill by someone I loved and considered almost a best friend. And I’ve been attacked and left cold in my difficulties, by the other best friend. I’ve tried letting go of Flinching. I’ve been in love and watched it ebb, slowly and meaninglessly. This is done and over with, in the first half of the year alone.
The second half was better because I realised life was on crisis setting. This is not the first time I’ve been here so I think I was able to switch to my buckle-down-and-get-through mode. Ishmeet called it a ‘high functioning depressive’ state once. I don’t know if that is true and if it is, I don’t know if there is a better alternative. All I know is that being task-focussed has allowed me to survive situations that were hostile, explosive and even dangerous in unpredictable ways. It also allowed me to do so with minimal impact on my surroundings or on other people in the form of lingering negativity, incomplete conversations or undone work. Of course it always resulted in things that the world called ‘achievements’. I’ve gone on long enough to see the connection between the two and try and keep my sense of self above this. I do not want to become addicted to crises and unhealthy survival responses because of the temporary high of the end achievement.
Last week my mother took a fall while serving dinner. She sustained a fracture and had to have surgery. She was in the hospital for a week and having been discharged, must be mostly immobile and highly dependent on us for some time. A lot of people’s first reaction has been,
“How things can change in an instant!”
Two other people in my colony have faced serious health issues and there is talk among my neighbours of doing a puja to banish the negative energy. After all, health crises touch our core fear instincts. They remind us of our mortality, even when these crises are happening to someone else. And it’s easy to let that fog cloud one’s thinking. From last week’s experience, I know just how crucial empathy and reassurance are (something hospitals and indeed, the medical fraternity fall very short on). So I can’t bring myself to laugh at my neighbours’ fears.
Me, when pushed, I find my mind reaching for the good things that did happen in this situation. We were in Mumbai (we had been travelling the week before that), among other people who helped and at a time when it was possible to get instant help. The doctors have also confirmed that it could have been much worse had the crack gone in other ways or happened in other places. I’m not sure a depressive could bring themselves to see the positives of a situation.
That said, I know my reasons for seeing the positive are quite clinical. Dwelling on fear, angst or other such negatives will only slow me down. I cannot afford to slow down right now or crumble, given how much my family, my life and I myself need me to be functioning. Keeping my eyes on the positives helps me manage my motivation to stay on track. And finally, it gives me purpose and a tangible path. If I can see a path, I can remember that there is always a way out. If that’s emotionally detached (the way high-functioning depressives are supposed to be), that’s the way it is.
This situation works as a kind of emotional peg, rooting me to this state of being. It allows me to carry the same detached calmness (I don’t want to call it serenity since serene is also wise and I don’t feel wise) to other parts of my life. The ex who is calling me toxic and spreading evil lies. The former friend who lashes out after ghosting me. The poetry circles that continue to politick. The books that disappoint. The employers who exploit. The drivers who honk. The rains that destroy. It will pass, it will all pass. And if it doesn’t, I will pass through each one of them and come out alive.
There are still two months to go this year. I am not going to predict anything even so far as hoping (hope is its own form of future-changing energy). I will just try and keep my head while all about me are losing theirs and blaming it on me. I will try and keep walking, that’s all. 2017, you’re not done yet and neither am I. Let’s walk together.