I have been gifted with the curse of overthinking. A gift in my earlier avatar of a corporate honcho, the mind belted out answers before others could even blink. A troubleshooter, the reasoning mind was ready with its armour of beautifully arranged, well-roasted, browned, and toasted solutions to every problem out there- delivered on time, every time. Well, most times. Plan A, Plan B…well, how about all the way to Plan zee? She delivered—the Mind whom I called Manni. Mann in Hindi is mind- but I had given it a female form, for she was sharp and a multitasker.
Books after books, discourses, and the scriptures all said that the Mind is our enemy. Please don’t listen to its chatter- for she can waylay you, they claimed. Can someone teach me how not to? I understood the message that the mind is our enemy, for I know the meaning of each sentence component. Intellectually I mean. Umm, isn’t that- the mind frame again? Manni was playing her games and teasing me- alluring in her charm as she continued relentlessly to draw me into her. After all, wasn’t I, THE I -a strong identity because of her?
Today as I sit here, I realise “letting go” happens. Letting go is not done. And it happened to me – mostly because I didn’t have the answers and was too exhausted to apply myself and find them. Surprisingly beautiful things unfolded gently and warmly. I struggle to hold on to them as they unravel, but they keep me in their soft, tender grasp.
Quietly come the words.
My early morning walk. Questions haunting me over the last few days. Why me? Why didn’t I have an income? Why were the daughters so far away? Did I not look after them well? Why was our home a struggle to be kept from the loan sharks? Did I not do enough? I had no answers. I tried my best and debated with my mind, my book, my friends, and anyone else that trespassed my territory. Elusive it stayed; the answer resisting every attempt to bring her out of her slumber. Aimlessly, I strolled Clementi woods, the undulating park behind our home. Tall trees shade the intensity of the orange rising sun. The sharp crowing of the rooster is a reminder of Singapore’s “Kampung”(village) past. I almost slip on the grains of rice a kind soul has laid out for the birds. Suddenly a drifting smell — a bunch of tiny flowers smelling like Jasmine. Nowhere close in shape or form but owning the scent as their own.
I glance at my new Asics shoes- they have been pinching even though I have bought half a size bigger. I sarcastically Manni that it reflects the state of my mind too- growing in its questions, pinching every nerve in Manni, with no answers.
Then suddenly….. a voice in my head. My inner voice curls up tightly from the base of my spine and starts forming words. Words that are distinctly from an external source and are clearly not mine. They dance together in the tonal quality and enunciation of the spiritual master whose discourse I had been listening to that day. Landing at lightning speed, they tumble over each other and string together in beautiful pearly words. Back home, as I scribble these down lest they fade away, they fill up three pages of the notebook.
The answers appear. “Did YOU do it? Is it not your ego attaching itself to all the doings?”.
Awareness of interconnectedness increases.
Lateral thinking, I had been told, is a sign of creativity. Born out of connecting seemingly unconnected things. There was a linearity to it.
I recently saw a quick video short that asked, “What is the purpose of your life?”. When I posed this to myself, I found that it reverberated off the solid wall in front of my desk and shattered into sharp fragments. It did not help that a podcast said calmly, “Without purpose and passion, life is but a series of responsibilities.”
Two days later, after this voice hit my gut and the churning had not yielded any answer, a cartoon strip landed in our college WhatsApp group. “What is the purpose of life?” asked the first character. We have all seen this image of a cartoon — one character gazing at the sky — arms folded and supporting the head and legs crossed on each other in contemplation as the other asks the question. The second lazing gazing character says, “The answer to that deep question lies in answer to the following question “What is the square root of a tomato?” Ominous! So is the purpose of life undefinable, or is it available but out of grasp?
A drift of an answer comes from the Sadhana that presented itself during this time of turmoil and peace. The Navdurga sadhana was done during the Navratris in January. The nine auspicious days are dedicated to Goddess Durga. The clip on my phone reminded me that the demons of the nine days were lurking as personalities within us. As I scrolled to read, the demon Asura Chand of the fourth day caught my attention. The crafty demon, the clip said, represents our passion- the work that has fulfilled its purpose, but we hold on to it. It’s time to let go of that boat. Reminding me that bringing up the girls or ambitions of a job or creating wealth has served their purpose; I had to let go.
Who would have thought a podcast, a cartoon, and a sadhana would stitch together the answers from the universe?
Creates space for a beautiful fill.
I was glancing at my do-to list- a deep sigh. A few days had passed since the answers of Ego- letting go- purpose- passion had danced around me. What was next?
I give a more extended glance at the brown lines that held the to-do list. The kind of stern look a doting mother gives to a tantrum-throwing child, knowing that now is not the time to pamper – almost has me crumpling the paper. Then a merry dance of the words as my hand automatically rearranges them into categories- a never done before in a personal to-do Diary. Oh yes, professionally, there have been multiple categories! This arranges itself to personal, work, grow, give, etc. There it is- the columns, some longer than others, make me realise the focus. The Grow is tiny, hiding within the monstrous personal to do errands and its brethren work. Consciously I decide to lengthen and broaden the space (this writing is an outcome of that re-arrangement).
Another read and a discourse that urges us to write our days in blocks of two hours made me realise that there were 2 to 3 hours that I just waited for the next event. Consciously clear that space to fill in the growth and give. As I moved directionally- a call- the assigned work that had been a just-born infant was now trying to walk up, and support came in a text that landed asking “if we could speak.” Creating space allows, I realise, for the world to fill it in with beautiful views. However, we are task-bound humans, and endless to-dos that justify our existence don’t allow light to come in. 1000 Watts- No, thank you. I am happy with my 100.
The soft glow of the light from amongst the woods touches my shoes…the warmth tingles my toes, and the shoes don’t bite anymore. They are happy to drift in the cobbled walkway, directionally strong. The magnitude of the drift doesn’t matter; there is a wonder of the next.