Tag Archives: Life

Lightwalker

That silver wire-thread that I walk on,
feeling as weightless as light,
as formless and unburdened by identity
as light
where love, pain and people
touch me no more
than light waves bouncing off

I’m there
I’m that
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

Is everything.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —— — — — — — — — — — —

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Any Excuse To Fall In Love

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. 🙂

Empty Spaces

Empty Spaces

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
impatience…frustration…loneliness…boredom.

Every day is a lesson.
Somedays that lesson is about waiting.

* Published earlier here.

Love, Learn, Live

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.

Ideamarked Jan2011: Astrology, Fiction, Photography, Music, Technology, Poetry, Social Rules & Life Lessons

The first month of 2011 has whooshed by slipperier than the icy roads we Mumbaikers nearly came to expect with a rare winter! I’ve been poking around into a lot of corners and old places, nostalgia washing over me with this old blog URL and template. After the daily post pressure of Reverb10 and a demanding December calender let up, January has been packed in a different way. I’ve been enjoying it and hope that it’s an indication of things to come in the rest of the year. Here’s a mixed bag of goodies to cheer you along at end of the first month:

  • Ugly Christmas sweaters by sun sign! (via Astrology.com)
  • Extra short stories for 2011 (via Sakshi)
  • A secret can be a burden. And someone who shares your burden has to be a real guardian angel. Like the one this postcard is about. (via PostSecret)
  • 1000 Life Lessons or How to stay alive forever (1000 secrets)
  • Doocing may loom high even on our sheltered desi selves as we all get connected. Here’s five ways to tread with caution on Twitter and Facebook (via EconomicTimes, tipped off by Gautam Ghosh, who is quoted in the story)
  • Mumbai through the eyes of my favorite Bangalore photo-blogger. No mains and crosses in Claustraphobicity, I’m afraid! (Mumbai Paused)
  • In marketers’ hell! Swoosh Eyebrows (via FoundShit)
  • An old favorite of mine and mamma to twin boys, this time she gets a sharp lesson in watching her words in front of the kids! (via Mamma of Twins)
  • A History of Nudism – short story at Daily Fiction‘s new blog.
  • So bad, it’s good. Move over French maid fantasy, Mmmbai is here! Aye Hiphopper by Ishq Bector (via Youtube)
  • Memorable moments and traditions from wedding ceremonies across countries, religions and social systems. (via Matador Network)
  • How technology/ mobile connectivity is helping Indian education (via EducationTimes, tipped off by Moksh Juneja, who is quoted in the story)
  • Social Rules To Not Making Empty Promises and To Mean What You Say – I can think of a helluva lot of people who need to know this and not one of them is shy! (link courtesy Arcopol Chaudhuri)
  • Echoes fade and memories die, Autumn frosts have slain July“….gives me goosebumps. (Lewis Carrol at OldPoetry)

Three Dots

The life of a writer is chaptered in unfinished stories.

Reverb 10.25: A Green Christmas

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)


Say hello to my window garden. Does it seem odd to you that I would introduce my plants to you? Pet-owners do that all the time and if you ask me, animals are a darned bigger nuisance.

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).

Reverb 10.17: The Inner School Of Life

Another Reverb10 prompt that I’m not really feeling. Maybe there are just too many of them crammed into a month and too similar to each other. It’s boring to keep writing about the same thing in different words.

December 17 – Lesson Learned

What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

(Author: Tara Weaver)

It has been a year (and more) of learning. I don’t mean that in an ‘every minute we live, we learn’ way. It’s actually like I enrolled in the School of Life, taking Remedial lessons for having missed out on all the great stuff in the past decade.

The learning comes not from experiences, but from reflecting on them. And things continue to happen at such a rapidfire rate, I’m still making sense of them. What I feel I’ve ‘learnt’ now comes from stuff that happened months, even years ago.

I’ve learnt that the person I was a decade ago was a much better one than the woman I worked so hard to turn into in these past ten years. Stronger, nicer, warmer, more alive and definitely better. I’ve learnt that that girl hasn’t vanished completely. Most of all, I’ve learnt that I can’t go back to being seventeen and neither can I realistically wipe out the 10-odd years that came after. But I’m learning that I can build a new me with the best of both people since they both were, essentially me. The joy and wonder and warmth of the teenage me with the confidence and stability and independence of the adult me. I guess all the lessons I’m learning have to do with that larger idea.

How I’m choosing to apply it is to not be apologetic or sorry about who I am. There’s stuff I do and think and feel that isn’t cool or convenient or mature or expected. It doesn’t ‘fit’ with my image. But those make me, me, much more than the approval and admiration of everyone else. I’m choosing to hold on to my phobias, my fears, my unique idiosyncrasies even if everyone else in the world thinks they belong in the last century. They’re mine to nurture or work through at will.

Reverb 10.4: Wonderful Life

This Reverb 10 prompt seems rather similar to the previous one and it makes me wonder whether the exercise will continue to hold interest at all. Still, nothing ventured, so here goes.

December 4 – Wonder.

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

(Author: Jeffrey Davis)

Having left behind the rigid daily schedule (and more importantly), the utter joy-drain of the corporate world was like opening up the door to wonder. I’ve been moody at times, grumpy and even sad. But I’ve never been without that sense of wonder since I quit.

There are walks on the beach of course, which never fail to remind me of how much bigger then universe is, than my petty troubles, than the little cocoon that we Mumbaikers tend to think of as the world. And then there are visits to the bookshop. More and more I see familiar names pop up in the Indian Writing aisle. That makes my dream seem closer, much more reachable. And in the next lane, my favorite authors or genres jostle for my attention. I’m lost in the beauty of human imagination, in the glory of words and ideas that live on long after the minds and tongues they passed through, are gone. And finally, a sense of overwhelming awe that I am to be a part (however small) of this world. Wonder, indeed.

I’ve lost heart more than once. Last year, at six months from quitting, I expressed my frustration at being rudderless. It was my father who reminded me that the jobs that waited for me then would still be waiting a year later and that I shouldn’t give up so quickly on what I thought was my passion. Another six months later, another man I’ve come to love, reminded me of the same thing. A short three months later, I wrestled with self-doubt in my own head. As if in reply, within the space of a week, my mailbox was popping with opportunities to do what I love – write. One resulted in the BlogAdda column, the second was the JetLite article, then came Yahoo! Real Beauty and other things.

A few days ago, I met a placement agent to discuss a potential job, the kind that I had left behind over a year ago. For the first time in my career life, I said that my top priority was a good work-life balance. She frowned and said that the company would not want to meet someone with ‘such issues’. I tried to explain that I was not afraid of hard work but that I was making a decision to let other areas of my life be as important. She shrugged, already having lost interest and the interview should have ended there. But quite suddenly, she shot out,

“You know, most companies would not expect this from someone at your level. People with 10-12 years of experience can say these things. But someone who is just beginning their career should not have all these restrictions.”

I gaped and then quickly took my leave. For at least two days after that I agonized over what she had said, the old guilt creeping in. After 6 years, 3 companies and managing over 25 people, was I still ‘beginning my career’? Was I losing the strong work ethic I thought I had? Had I ever had it at all? Was I being unrealistically demanding, behaving in essence like the ‘pampered princesses’ I’ve loathed all these years?

But then, I remembered my many late nights at work. I remembered forfeiting weekends and holidays. I remembered struggling with a near-arthritic neck, to stare at the computer screen. I remembered forcing myself to not think about period pains and nausea while standing up to make presentations. I remembered skipping meals for meetings and stepping out of restaurants to take phone calls that just had to be answered. I remembered finishing a report or an important document at 11:30p.m., then getting myself a cup of tea and then sitting down to spend another hour poring over the whole thing all over again to make doubly-trebly-hundred times sure it was perfect. I remembered the harsh words of my seniors picking out my flaws but I also remembered the sense of injustice I felt. And finally I thought of the fact that I had missed the weddings of every single one of my close friends in the past five years because I just hadn’t had the time.

I realised I deserved to ask for what I wanted. With it came the crystallization of the thought that much of corporate ambition and success thrives on belittling people, on keeping people insecure and subservient. It survives by killing the sense of joy and wonder in people. And I’d be a fool to willingly let myself back into that, at least without a fight. Bring on more of the wonders, I’m waiting to be dazzled!

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