We take a break from regularly scheduled programming to bring you anecdotes of a different nature. Nature’s Play will resume in a couple of days, on time 🙂
As I finished eating dinner tonight, I was struck by a sudden feeling of melancholy and sadness. This is a state that was a constant companion once upon a time. While its regularity has now come down a great deal, once in a while, when something happens to shake the mind from its routine, it raises its hood.
And today? It was a series of unfortunate events. (Lemony Snicket, anyone?)
It began last evening as I was playing with one of the cats. She’d snuggled into my arms and as is the way of cats, she got annoyed with all the love after a few minutes. In a hurry to get away, she scratched a long gash on my thumb, causing the skin to break. After washing and sanitizing it, I went in to wash my clothes. I’d tried out a new natural face wash in the morning which made my face feel really soft and moisturized, a boon in this cold weather. However, the steam from the hot water as I did my laundry hit my face continuously and when I stepped out into the cold to dry the clothes, something happened.
The dryness in the air, the steam from the water and my history with eczema got together and a party exploded on my face.
It started with mild itching just before the evening discourse. I used my eczema cream before going to bed but when I woke up this morning, my face had swelled up. I looked a little bit like an apple pie, a little round, a little red 🙂 As I took a quick shower and made my way out of the bathroom, I slipped on the water and fell flat on my back. My eyes met the ceiling for a brief second and even through the pain, I noticed a spider which immediately begged the question, “Why hasn’t this creature disappeared for the winter yet?”
I pulled myself up with the help of the wash basin, praying that it didn’t break under the weight and did a quick body scan, ensuring nothing was broken or sprained. While my toes hurt a bit, everything else seemed fine. Nothing short of a miracle, given the way I fell.
While getting dressed, I debated whether I should let the allergy run its course or go to the doctor. I decided to choose the latter.
Geeta ji, the ashram’s resident doctor, is quite the most straightforward person I’ve ever met. Her compassion, her honesty, her detachment and her powerful work ethic are all compelling and inspiring. Her helping hand extends far and wide, silently, without anybody ever knowing the magnitude of what she’s capable of. Only Swamiji knows 🙂
I walked in to the clinic, waylaid by Priyanshu ji (who works at the front office) saying, “Aaj badi sundar lag rahe hain. Kya kiya aapne?” (You’re looking very beautiful today. What have you done?) Not to mention one of the other residents asking me, “Have you put on makeup today? You’re looking quite different.”
If ever there was an upside to an itchy, swollen face, it had to be this, knowing that apple pie equals beautiful face. We are in Himachal Pradesh after all, the land of the apple.
Geeta ji took one look at me and immediately gave me an anti-allergy tablet, asking me to come back and see her later. By the evening though, my face had swelled up further and looked wrinkly, speckled and saggy. It’s what I will probably look like at 50 or 60. I made my way to Geeta ji once again who then prescribed a single dose of steroids. Initially reluctant, I swallowed it down because it had to be done.
And now, I’m sitting here, having just recovered from a coughing fit because the water went down the wrong pipe. As I type away, my face is slowly recovering. It feels dry, tight and itchy, normally signs of an eczema flare-up. It is something I’ve struggled with for the past few years and when it flares up, it puts me out of action for at least a month while I go through a cycle of burning and cracked skin, and lack of sleep because of the itching and subsequent pain. There is also the lack of will and inability to function normally.
Do I enjoy it? Naturally, no. Have I made peace with it? Sort of (30%, maybe). Do I have the strength to deal with it? All the other times, I ended up calling my mom to come be with me because all I wanted then was somebody to love me and take care of me. I concluded too that, on some level, my body was bringing forth this dis-ease just so that somebody would give me attention and care.
So, do I have the strength? This time, it’s my test of faith. And I can’t say too much about it because it will dilute the experience if I do.
However, I did wonder if Swamiji would notice it when He came in for the evening discourse and if He would ask about it. I both anticipated and dreaded it. Anticipated because well, it’s Swamiji and His care 🙂 Dreaded because it would put the spotlight on me as well as take some of His precious time. So, of course, because I had prepped this well for His question, He said not a word 🙂
While making some general talk though before the discourse began, He spoke about idli, the lovely South Indian rice cake that is, to me, the taste of home and my grandmother’s cooking. Instantly, my mind sprung the question, “Is He talking about my face? Does He mean my face has become round like an idli? Is this His way of saying He knows about my allergy?”
What the mind wants, the mind constructs 🙂 And I took it and happily ran with it.
Why am I sharing all this? When the mind slipped into its melancholic state, I wanted to write. It has been my way of expression for years to clear out internal gunk. I’m writing here because for the first time, the first place I thought of was the blog. Not just to share my stories and thinking with other people but because os.me took the shape of a diary in my head. It is a space to write about ourselves just as we are and how our journey unfolds.
Unlike a regular diary though, this is not mere paper holding space for our words. It is a living, breathing space that brings forth kindness, compassion and love within a throbbing, vibrant collective that breathes the same air, the same surrender, the same energy. Our every breath is connected to each other through God. And that makes it one of the most powerful spaces on the internet. We are joined together by a single thought only – Bhagvan. No matter where we may be in our journey, somewhere, we have made our way to this page because we are either living a life of faith or working towards it.
What a powerful tool for transformation this is then, what a blinding ray of hope and love.
So, this here is my truth (or part of it) on November 26th 2020, after a day that could star in a Lemony Snicket novel –
I grapple with feelings of insecurity, jealousy and pettiness. I have struggled with possessiveness for years. I experience irritation at least a dozen times a day before the mind steps in to calm itself down. I work towards and fail, work towards and fail, work towards and fail, over and over, to live a life of discipline and structure. I have questioned posting this blog multiple times including just before typing out this sentence because I am afraid what I say is not interesting enough or valuable enough or engaging enough. My ego is as big as the sun, fiery and capable of burning me to ashes. Humility is a far cry, a quality that does not exist in me naturally. I have, many, many, many times questioned my individual worth because self-esteem was not a part of my dictionary growing up.
I wonder sometimes if my existence has any value at all. Would it even be a worthwhile life if somebody missed me when I’m gone, not because I made a difference to their life but just because they loved me? What kind of a life would I have lived then?
But I also know this. I wake up every morning and I try. In every minute that I am aware of, I try to choose the compassionate and kind response instead of the unkind one. I watch the mind and its responses, and always try to pick the one which creates value. I see the mind attempt to quieten itself and try to understand what I can do better so that I can make its job easier. I observe the qualities I admire in people around me and in every instance that I can, I try to bring those qualities into my everyday interactions.
Because this much I know for sure. If I don’t try, I will never know what I’m capable of. How can Bhagvan ever seat Himself in a heart that doesn’t know what it wants?
I choose to share all this here because it breaks a pattern – a deep-seated fear of vulnerability and opening myself up.
If not here, then where? If not now, then when? 🙂
Every one of us has a story to share. Today, part of mine came to life. What’s yours? Step into your truth, write it into being, and let’s make this space and Swamiji’s vision and words a reality – “Let’s make this the most beautiful, humble, truthful and kind corner on the internet.”
I chose to call this series My Truth because every one of us lives a life that is our reality alone. It is a reality that is ever-changing, ever-evolving. A year from now, it will be very different. Our truth would have morphed into something else.
It is also, I realized later, the title of Swamiji’s first post on this blog when He came back from the Himalayas.
Our truths are powerful. If you choose to write your story or part of it, please consider titling it “My Truth” to create a series of posts under this name. This will lead a reader who comes to this blog straight to a set of stories that will be one of the most transformational in the digital space. Simply because we chose to be seen as we are, in our raw essence.
Our story can change a life. And there can be no greater service.
(Feature image credit: www.coachcampus.com)