Stephen King writes, “The most important things are the hardest things to say. They are the things you get ashamed of, because words diminish them—words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head to no more than living size when they’re brought out. But it’s more than that, isn’t it? The most important things lie too close to wherever your secret heart is buried, like landmarks to a treasure your enemies would love to steal away. And you may make revelations that cost you dearly only to have people look at you in a funny way, not understanding what you’ve said at all, or why you thought it was so important that you almost cried while you were saying it.”
Once upon a time as a child, we went over to our relatives’ house and played football there. Girls vs. boys. The girls’ team won and I went to school the next week bubbling with excitement about how we beat the boys at their own game. Yet the kids I was trying to tell either cut me off, or snubbed me. I can’t remember. All I remember thinking was nobody cared for what I wanted to say. Multiply that incident by a hundred more and you get the reason why I end up being so quiet in real life. From a young age, the world has shown me it didn’t care to listen, and so I didn’t care to speak.
But I wrote. Profusely.
I have a friend who thinks this habit of mine is crazy. Says my parents should have stopped me at a young age.
I wonder how we’re still friends.
I read the quote by Stephen King and paused at “Words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head.” I realize that over a million words later, there are still some things that words can’t capture; most of those fall under the ’emotions’ category. Emotions are tricky. At least for those carrying the double X chromosomes, they are. We live in a world that implicitly tells us that our value is directly proportional to the number of accolades and achievements we collect over our lifetimes. While deciding if someone is a success or not, people tend to point out the kind of car they drive, the trips they take, the house they live in…etc. And it’s very easy for us to judge our lives that way. Are we making enough money? Are we living in a big house?
But what if we stop looking at the things we do and the things we collect, and ask ourselves instead, “How do I feel about this? This person? This job? This thing?”
Tuning in with how you feel about everything helps bring the balance to your life because it turns your focus inwards instead of outwards. Now of course, some people might not agree. I mean, some might ask, who cares about feelings? Especially when you’re making so much money…
In Steve Jobs’ commencement speech, he talks about tuning in daily with himself. His question is a bit different…
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
And for this to work, you really need to be absolutely honest with yourself. Don’t be a Drama Queen and think that things are worse than they actually are. At the same time, do not delude yourself into thinking that things are better than they actually are. Assess situations as they are and be honest about how you feel about them. At least to yourself.
Finally, just because I am for tuning in with your feelings does not mean I endorse the new habit of posting your feelings on facebook since it prompts you with questions like, “How are you doing today?” Nobody really needs to know how you’re feeling, especially not the whole world. And besides, if you think about it, the answer that people normally post in response to facebook’s question is not always accurate…it’s the one they want others to know in order to be validated…and that’s totally not the point of the exercise.
So here’s today message:
Switch off all your devices. Close your eyes. Ask yourself, “How do I feel?”
Tune into your emotions even if words fail you.
So my fellow blogger at Castle of Words articulated a notion I’ve been thinking about lately. The relevant quote I wrote up was “The thing about growing older is that it’s hard to smile and even harder to cry. -AH”, to which a tweep responded with the question if it is possible to slow down the aging process by staying young at heart. But can we? Really?
Every single day adds something new to our lives; whether it is in the form of experiences, people, stories. The cumulative effect of all these sights and sounds may not be able to be measured accurately unless you have access to an fMRI, but it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to figure out our brains get affected by what we encounter every day. Our brains get rewired, our neurons fire away differently, the landscape of our emotional capacity changes as our threshold for feelings such as love, awe, pain, shame shifts.
Sometimes experiences harden us. At other times they soften us and make us more compassionate. The one thing they don’t do is keep us the same. And maybe that’s what they’re supposed to do. Because the 12 year old you wouldn’t have been able to handle the stress the 20 year old you could as a result of all those changes.
Though sometimes I have to admit, it might be worrying that we can’t feel much about an incident. Maybe we’ve learned to rise about the pettiness of things, and not sweat the small stuff. Maybe it’s just our coping mechanism getting an upgrade so when it finally gives an alarm then we know it’s something serious.
I am not sure how much sense this post made. The noise around me is too loud I can barely hear myself think. And to those who wonder how I find time to write; I try to make use of time that would otherwise be wasted. Yes, you guessed it right, I’m stuck in yet another wedding. The samosas just came, let me log off.
So today I was thinking about how in life, changes tend to happen a lot, so we have to learn to accept that and let things go. A lot of times, a person walks out of our lives, and we might get hurt but we keep on telling ourselves that “It’s okay, I’m moving on,” when in reality we are only lying to ourselves because we are NOT moving on. A void exists, and our hearts ache when something really interesting happens and we reach out for the phone to call them only to remember that they’ve walked out of our lives willingly, maybe something catches our attention, a flower, a building, a phrase and flashbacks begin when we start thinking about them.
So no, we have not moved on.
The worst thing happens when they move on with their lives and leave you behind, especially when the story’s been repeating itself over and over again. That’s why I put the quote on facebook, “Same story, same pain but different names…” The thing is, these people might not be out of your lives entirely but the situation changes between the two of you. For instance, something happens and you learn not to trust them as much as you used to. Or where once you used to be their #1, now you’re thrown into #2 position. And you know, at one point I was okay with being #2, until one day I realized that I’d rather not be in the list at all.
It didn’t take so much willpower as much as it took time, time to get used to being out of the list, time to get used to fight the itch to call the number, time to get used to….
Because one day you wake up and realize you can’t live your life hanging your happiness on someone else out there. You can’t live life thinking that I would be happy if that particular thing happens, or that person walks back and remembers what you’re worth or…
Remember that what you really have is now, so appreciate the moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and feel it in yourself, letting go, detaching yourself from that person or thing that’s left you behind a long time ago, and don’t do it for them.
Do it for you.
Some time back I wrote a story about a young emotionally-fragile girl who tends to explode at the slightest thing done by members of her broken family; a father who walked away from them, a younger brother who’s so aloof from her and a mother who’s lost in her own world. So her older brother taught her how to deal with her emotions. He told her to write it down, write everything she felt down on paper, the hatred, the jealousy, let the venom out of her system. Then he grabbed a lighter and burnt it, throwing it – symbolically – into the sea. Then he left her with those words, “Don’t let your emotions get the best of you.”And that’s how she got over painful events; one after another.
You know sometimes we find ourselves struggling with a lot of unspoken words. A lot of unfinished chapters. A lot of hanging bridges. A lot of burning bridges. And then we hear that a tragedy had befallen and now it becomes too late to speak those unspoken words, finish those unfinished chapters, connect and build those burning bridges. In such a case do you find yourself crying with regret, holding with remorse whatever memories you shared with that person, hoping that you had easily swallowed your pride so you could say, “Sorry,” “I love you” “I never meant to utter those words, they were spoken with anger”?
But then some people are given a second chance, and yet they don’t jump at it. They think it’s not important anymore. They back out, they fear to be labelled weak, or emotionally-unstable, or whatever….but then when the words are out, finally, they may feel relieved, relieved that they had the courage to face their fears and be human again, face their fears and be weak, face their fears and let their guard down…even if those words were just written in a piece of paper, that is later burnt and thrown into the sea.
So today’s homework, think of a person who meant a lot in your life, and write them a letter. write them a physical letter. An email is too impersonal, but if the only connection you currently have with them is email, then I guess the email will do. Tell them what they mean to you. Sincerely thank them for the moments they made you smile when you were upset. If it’s a person who has hurt you,let them know that you’ve forgiven them. If it’s a person that you have hurt, then sincerely tell them, “I’m sorry.”
And record the reaction that you would get from a heart-felt sincere letter.
Alternatively, burn it and throw it in the sea.
Today’s quote; Sometimes there is no next time, no second chance, no time out. Sometimes,it’s now or never!
As for me, I know what I have to say to all of you…
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