For every love that fails, remember there was a lover who thought you might succeed together. Even if that mistaken, misguided lover was you. Live that poor soul’s life for a full minute each time you fall down the memory hole.
That silver wire-thread that I walk on,
feeling as weightless as light,
as formless and unburdened by identity
where love, pain and people
touch me no more
than light waves bouncing off
Now. Now. Now.
I almost wish I could walk this forever
But in the falling
In the sudden knowledge of weight
In the splitsecond realisation of life
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — — —
A little before my last birthday, I mentioned returning to the Landmark Forum. The past year and over have been a draining experience. I was feeling demotivated, depressed, frustrated and worst of all for me – disinclined to write. I’ve been a lot of places in my head, a lot of things in situations but I’ve never been drained of the will to strive, to aim for, to try, to want more and better. Not before this anyway. It wasn’t a feeling I liked and I wasn’t sure what to do about it.
I realized that the last time I came close to feeling this near-dead, rigor mortis state was when I was nineteen, hating the college course I was enrolled in, feeling ground down by other people’s dramas, suffocated by expectations. I did the Landmark Forum then (actually, I got sent) and truly, it changed my life.
Cutting the excessive preamble, I rewrote my life from average to rockstar. And truly, that is the life I’ve led since then. This is not to say there haven’t been lows. All the tests that I didn’t crack, the interviews I didn’t make through, the jobs I didn’t get, the relationships that didn’t work – all of these have happened. But they’ve all been dramatic, flourishy, glorious – a life I deem worthy of a rockstar. That’s probably why coasting along on auto-pilot has felt so dissatisfactory, of late. And why, I felt it was time to return to the source to replenish my spent self.
I reviewed the Landmark Forum this July around and on my birthday. It didn’t exactly bring revelations but perhaps that’s okay for someone who has been a Landmark graduate for 15 years. What did happen though, is that I was pulled into a following seminar series. Normally, as a Landmark Forum participant, I would have gone on to the Forum in Action (FIA) series which is a follow-up activity that’s part of the Landmark Forum. But as a reviewing graduate, I was offered a seat in a senior seminar that was starting at the same time called ‘Causing the Miraculous‘. On a whim and figuring the FIA would be more of the same old, I took this up.
I’ve just returned from session 9 of this series and have one remaining to complete this program. So how has it been? Well, a rollercoaster journey. I’ve argued with my seminar leader, Hari Kotian, often. I’ve scheduled meetings, calls, assignments and not delivered on them, felt terrible and nearly dropped out. I’ve whined to my group members about how hard it is and on occasion, even written it off as nonsense. I even cracked a bone, running to the building for one of the sessions. 😀 And you know something? It has been a great experience. You’d have to have experienced at least one Landmark program to understand why.
I’ve never talked about Landmark on my blog before, for fear of being labelled an MLM salesperson, a cult-pusher and other such interesting things that Landmark graduates who talk about it, sometimes get. But I realised something in my session today. Writing is me, my calling, my best friend, my definition. This blog is about what I think and see and experience of life. And my Landmark experiences have to do with the conscious shaping and playing of the life experience.
So I’m starting a new diary section on this blog about what has come up for me from my Landmark programs. titled ‘A Landmark Life’. I am not an employee of Landmark Worldwide. I also do not get a commission on any registrations that happen, to Landmark programs. So I do not intend to promote the company or its programs. This is my sharing, my personal experiences and I’ll be happy if you’d like to engage in conversations with me about these.
To end this post – did I get what I set out for? Well, in my notes of the series, between doodles, frantic scribbles, note-passing and copying down from the board, I found I’d written this in Session 4:
People and experiences and moments and sights to fall in love with!
The experience of miracles for me, is one with the experience of falling in love. The excitement, the heart racing, the instant energy burst that makes you almost giddy-headed when you find it are exactly the same. Love could happen with a person or a place or an activity or an object. Life is strewn with opportunities for us to fall in love. And I remember thinking, when I wrote this,
What would it be like, if I actively went out looking for excuses to fall in love, every single day?
There’s a reason I’ve been writing love stories in my SeptShorts, though I didn’t realise that when I set myself that challenge. There is a reason I’ve engaged in more conversations about love, about trust and about relationships these past few weeks, with the people in my life, than ever before. I’m examining this thing called love.
I once called love, a dirty four-letter word. Yes, romantic love was for me, that, once. But it doesn’t have to be. And that’s not all love is about. And suddenly, without my even trying or thinking about it, people have been reaching out to me. They’re strangers, friendly acquaintances, once-neighbors, potential colleagues, readers. But doors are opening all around me, for possibly great friendships and wonderful conversations.
When I shared this today, Hari said,
“Go out and be with the world like you’re wooing it.”
Yes! That makes my pulse race, for sure. And where my pulse is racing, my fingers are flying and the words are pouring out of me. I’m back! New, improved, better and writing. 🙂
Some days are conversation lulls
…pauses in mid-step…
…halts in long journeys…
and white spaces everywhere else.
Days when you climb a tall ladder
…to enjoy the slide…
and others when you’re a step on someone else’s ladder.
Days when you fight crowds
…and others where you fight
Every day is a lesson.
Somedays that lesson is about waiting.
* Published earlier here.
You never stop growing. Never stop marveling at how little you knew last year or ten years ago. I wonder if it’s just me or everyone feels this way sometimes. Like I’m so different now than I was a few years ago, if I went back in a time machine, I wouldn’t recognize myself. Who was that stranger? Why did she think the things she did and do all that was done?
I wrote a post, years ago about loving silently, about the agony of caring for someone who didn’t know or seem to care. One of my commenters remarked that perhaps someone felt that way about me. I scoffed, so supremely arrogant in my ability to read people, so confident in my own sensitivity.
I spoke to someone I knew years ago. I had a dim idea that he was a ‘nice guy’ who was generally nice to everyone and so also, to me. I also realized, equally vaguely that we were friends for awhile and then we weren’t. There wasn’t a fight, a grand parting of ways but I realize now that that’s not everyone’s style. Some doors shut very gently and it’s years before you realize who walked out of them.
He was in love with me. That thought should send me into a thrill of delight. After all, it is terribly flattering and comforting, knowing that someone gave you that precious emotion. But it doesn’t. It makes me uneasy, restless. It’s not that I treated him badly. It’s that I was so caught up in trying to get my life to go on plan, protecting myself from anyone or anything that could derail it, that I never realized what was right in front of my eyes, every single day for months.
I always thought of myself as a good listener, but it seems I must not be. I listen, when it’s someone and something and in a way that I’d like to hear. But real listening is unfiltered, nonjudgmental, unencumbered by ego, isn’t it? He let me know enough of times. Not in wild, flourishy strokes which may have been my delusional idea of love at the time (well, perhaps even till very recently). But in quieter but definitive ways. The message seeped in occasionally but since it didn’t fit my plan, I found a way to not make it be by focusing on what I thought of as his indifference and commitment-phobia. I don’t even know if he was commitment-phobic but should that have mattered? Knowing someone cares for you, even if it may not amount to marriage, is not the worst realization in the world. And I might have treated him more gently. I really should have.
I’m so determined, so focussed, so driven by what I want. The world tells me that’s a good thing and rewards me with achievement at most times. But I’m only now realizing what I’ve given up all the time I’ve been doing this. I don’t know how many people or situations or things I’ve missed simply because they got in the way. I have no idea how many emotions, dreams and gentle words I’ve run over in hobnailed boots because I was chasing something else on the horizon.
I told him how sorry I was but he just smiled and said it was okay, that he had enjoyed knowing me. Really, I asked him, I’m so bossy and compulsive, must have been even worse back then. He smiled, ever so gently and said, no I never thought so. Then he asked me if I remembered the walks we used to go on. Who was I back then, who was that girl and what made people fall so much in love with her?
Realizing you were wrong, that you’re as capable of cruelty is an uncomfortable realization. But it’s not unbearable. Perhaps that’s growing up. I also always imagined that growing older was like a race, where you ran to a definitive finish line and then there was no more left to run. Turns out, there’ll always be further to go on this and I don’t have to do it all running. Stopping to look around might be a good thing for me to do.
This is to slowing down. To the poetry of beautiful walks and the excruciating gentleness of people who preserved the memories I was too busy to remember. And to the richness of life, always learning, ever growing.
The life of a writer is chaptered in unfinished stories.
A photo Reverb10 post! It makes for a nice change. Also, it calls to the old challenge in me about trying to say something with a picture instead of words, of playing peek-a-boo with my readers by showing them something that is me and yet not instantly recognizable until it is explained.
December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself
Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
(Author: Tracey Clark)
Late last year, the doctor down the road was having his clinic renovated. I’d drop in for papers and he’d chat. One time he pointed to a green plant close to his table and complained about a patient who had asked for it but never came by to pick it up. I must have looked interested, because, without asking me, he clipped off a branch and handed it to me, asking me to put it in a little water.
I took it home, cradling the thick, fleshy green stem with its stiff leaves, in my hands. And instead of a glass of water, I took an old clay pot I’d saved from somewhere and filled it with mud. Then I stuck the stem into it and gave it some water.
A couple of days later, the leaves were still green so I continued to water the plant. I was up most nights and on my breaks from reading or writing or when I was on the phone, I’d sit at my window, sometimes putting my feet out of the window and resting them on the airconditioner. I nearly knocked over the plant a couple of times. In time, I shifted to a window-chair and got into the habit of stroking the leaves. I always liked the spicy, snappy smell it left on my fingers.
A few weeks later, I thought my ajwain plant looked lonely so I brought in a few mustard and jeera seeds in another old pot to keep it company. The mustard shot out almost immediately, with daily watering. The jeera never took. Mustard I’m afraid lived a very brief but dramatic life. It would look droopy just like a bent old man, in the morning. After I watered it, a mere half hour later, it would up and about, gadding with the other plant and flirting with the sun. And by evening, it would change colour to a yellowish-green. It died out in a few months.
I experimented with cooking, with lessons I had learnt off the internet (which even brought me this writing commission). I fell in love with another plant called basil (a distant cousin of the more familiar tulsi). I couldn’t find the plant anywhere. Even the plant-sellers who wheeled their wares past my colony gate each week couldn’t help me. Somehow I didn’t care for the blooms and petals in their colourful stock. I wanted only green things, edible things, plants that could integrate with me someday, through fragrance and food.
Finally, I picked up a packet of pesto leaves in the supermarket, ostensibly for yet another pesto-treat. But I picked out the freshest looking sprig and planted it. It actually took! Within a week, it was glowing a greener green than I’d seen in the supermarket. In a fortnight, it had shot out flowers. In over a month, the stalk had visibly grown. More basil plants followed with future pesto-menus. One restaurant gave me a packet of seeds as a special giveaway with the bill. And they turned out to be the elusive basil seeds. Not all of them took but I nurtured the ones that did, with pride.
At its prime, my garden had ajwain, mustard and basil all in flower and which could give at least 3 leaves each to flavour my fingers and my food. I rarely cooked with my plants. They never seemed big enough to cut. And in time the leaves would wither away and I’d clean them off, promising to cut the next batch that came up. Eventually my basil plants withered away took, leaving only tall brown stalks. I still water them, hoping that a magical little green leaf with show up suddenly.
I’ve discovered something magical with this garden. There is nothing quite like watching life grow, right under your care, in front of your very eyes. I’m not an animal person so pets are out of the question. People come with their own set of issues and norms and barriers. But plants, plants never let you down. They ask for so little – some water, some air, some sunshine and if you have it (I really do believe this), a little love.
I’m not one of those crazy women who ‘talks’ to her plants. But I do spend time with my garden, as tiny as it is, every single day. It’s the first thing I look at, when I get out of bed in the morning and the last thing that I see before I turn in for the night. When I’m back from a short trip or even a daytime visit, it’s the first thing that I go and check on. Even when I take a break, I like going out to look at my plants. Occasionally I touch them, stroke a shoot, pick out a yellowing leaf from the mud, angle the pot a little better towards the sunlight or just sigh in smiling satisfaction.
I really love my garden. It’s shown me a different side to myself. A side that can care and nurture without feeling the effort. A side that takes take great pride in something that means so little to anyone else in the world. I feel like the garden represents a new aspect of me that I had never known existed, before. A city girl who always lived in concrete and metal structures….and I’m a green-thumbed gardener! Who’d have thought?
Someday I would like to have a living space big enough to accomodate a garden I can walk around in. I’ll want to grow basil (of course), tulsi, jasmine, rose, tomatoes, lemons and the plant that started it all for me – ajwain (in the picture, it’s the plant on the extreme left).