Morning Thoughts: Taking Things at Your Own Pace

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I left my bed this morning to finally do what I’d been planning to do for months, to go for a walk. It sounds simple enough; nothing that a pair of shoes can’t handle, a jacket maybe if it’s cold outside. But it also needs some willpower, which quite often seems to be lost in a slumber of its own, sleeping through alarms and hours spent scrolling on the phone. So what happened differently today? I could romanticize it and say that I got a moment of some great epiphany, and decided to turn my life around starting with a pumped morning jog while listening to some amazingly inspirational workout music. But my phone was at 11% battery, and the only clean track pants I had didn’t have any pockets (why don’t they make any pockets?) The spurious thoughts of crawling back into that warm bed tingled me again, but then my willpower decided to let go of its dreams and made me tie up my shoes instead.

So I stepped outside on a stretch of concrete on the backside of my apartment complex, you can’t take a fulfilling walk on a road, let’s be real. The boundary lets off on an empty stretch of land, lots of fresh air, and gulping down deep breaths made me feel pretty renewed (finally figured out what those yoga trainers keep talking about). Now, next part was doing the actual work, walking. I’d seen people doing that, so what you do is that you walk really fast and move your arms along really aggressively, almost like commanding all that arm fat to fall down on the ground, it makes sense too, you’ve come out to walk and you should get the most out of it. So I took a shot at doing the whole “aggressive brisk-walking” routine, but I felt rather comical, so I checked that off the list. Next up in line was jogging, well yeah it doesn’t look weird, who am I kidding, you look active and sporty, and smart and successful! So I took off for a jog. Five minutes later I realized that it also makes you look sweaty and smelly, and also like your breath is caught up somewhere behind you running fast to catch up.

Barely ten minutes had passed and I was wondering again about what to do. Well I’d put on my running shoes after a month (pink, really sporty), and I was wearing my favourite socks (with ducks) and I can’t let all that effort go to waste. I’d come outside to take a walk, and I figured that’s exactly what I’d do, take a walk. So I plunged my hands into the pockets of my sweatshirt, and I started walking up and down the path. The sun still hung low in the sky, a mellowed ball of orange and red, reminding me of my first rubber “crazy” ball my dad had got me back when I must have been no older than 3. I heard the birds chirp and I saw them too, flying over my head in bunches of four and six. Birds always fly in a pattern, have you ever noticed that? I turned for another round and the sun was a little higher up than before, a little less mellowed.

A lot of thoughts were bubbling in my head, things to write about, next big step to take, when a sweet smell of early morning flowers drew me to their wake, a small one was lying on the ground, so I picked it up and nestled it on the inside of my palm. The newspaper boy was walking his bike around the building, trying not to waste extra fuel or maybe because he liked his mornings quiet too, or maybe he just liked going at his own pace. I turned around for another round and the sun was higher up still, this time turning yellow. This walk was really doing good things to me, away from the people, the conversations, the success stories, the notifications, the grind. I say, everyone should do it, or whatever else that makes them unwind. I could still romanticize my amblings at the back of my apartment complex, but I wouldn’t. I can just share with you some thoughts I had for my own selfish reasons.

A lot of life philosophies you decide to follow come from your own circumstances in life, and while circumstances can’t be helped, they can be managed. A vital lesson of growing up indeed. I’m not the first one to point out how looking at other people making it big or getting somewhere in their lives makes one feel inadequate if not worried about where one is going. While hustling and struggling for whatever it is one dreams of doing is important, it is also important to note that everyone goes at their own pace. You don’t have to validate your journey by comparing it to where others are on their own. Remember your favourite character from that book/movie/TV show? Where would they be if they worried too much about what rest of the characters were doing?

We’ve grown up with an idea of checkpoints one needs to cross at certain stages in one’s life, and while crossing those checkpoints is important, it’s not necessary to cross them at a time when society deems it necessary. Now don’t get me wrong, if you already have, then more power to you! And if you haven’t, relax, you’ll get there, and not at all if you don’t want to, do your own thing!

Life can be pretty daunting sometimes. More so if you feel like you’re lagging behind. While there’s no getting around to doing the work, it sure becomes a lot inspiring if you’re putting your energy in the direction you want to go to, if you’re painting the picture you dream (for lack of a better metaphor). So if you’re reading this, and can relate to this no matter where you are in your life, and feel even a little bit at ease, I consider my job done. And if not, well then next time maybe?

As to my sojourns at the morning walk, I decided to head back when I started hearing the sounds of another day of work, bike engines starting, mixers whirring, showers and taps running. I turned around and saw the sun up in the sky, this time gold and shining, and walked back to my building. I had things to do too.

Yours truly,

An idle rambler

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Dear Thambi

“Dear Thambi….Have a happy New Year.
Love, Mom & Dad”

Sifting through the aisles of a famous used bookstore in Bangalore with a friend I spotted this note in a book gifted with tender love and affection to a fellow named Thambi. The friend and I were here for one specific reason: to hoard books. The older, the better. Not because we’d get them for much cheaper (though the prospect of cheap books brightens any book hoarder’s day), but maybe because we were looking for something that couldn’t easily be procured online. And if you are a part of one of those serious Indian bibliophile circles, you know what I’m talking about (flash sales, lightning deals, pay via balance: get x% off).
But if you’re a passionate reader, then we both know that’s not the only reason why we were there. Old books are precious yes, but it was more so of the idea of walking through the shelves, smelling that musty smell, getting curious about some old corner just because its old, or simply because a single ray of sunlight from a grated window on a pile of books looked so inviting, you know the drill.
Like the friend said, “You don’t find the book, you let the book find you.”
And like I’d have loved to add, “Just like destiny.”
But I didn’t because enough had been said already and there were books to scout and buy. It had been years since I’d sincerely stepped foot in a traditional bookstore, unbiased by publishers and ‘what’s hot’, and I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books I could choose from, so much that the friend was already busy checking out the publication years and I was still trying to figure out where to start looking. So I half-heartedly looked here and there, picked up a book or two, and then kept them back while being equally appalled at my sudden lack of enthusiasm (the friend by this time already had his arm full with some of the ancient titles he’d scored).
I guess the disappointment showed on my face, and the friend then decided to lift my spirits by showing me handwritten notes people had left in some of the ancient tomes. One was from a library, and the other was bestowed to an industrious student for performing well in school. But it was Thambi that piqued my interest, I guess it was something about the name, or maybe it was just that place; the old world smell,  the colour of the ink, and the penmanship that took me back to the time that note was probably written and the book finally gifted. I imagined Thambi to be an adolescent in the 80s, with neatly combed hair parted to one side (with an appropriate amount of oil), wearing one of those sweaters with diamond-shaped patterns and khaki pants pulled high. A very agreeable boy indeed. I imagined Thambi’s house to have high ceilings and his room to have a single bed with neatly folded linen, and a desk neatly arranged with just enough pens and stationery to write countless notes in countless many books.
This was one tiny note, in one dusty book, in one famous used bookstore in Bangalore. I was surprised by how this book could make me think so much, and I hadn’t even gone past the first page. You’d think that the book had found me, I thought so too, but then I just snapped a picture of the front page and kept it back making a mental note to write about it soon.

Nearly 5 months have passed, and during these months Thambi has often crossed my mind. I wonder if Thambi is still with us, if he is, then why did he give that book away? Was he in need of some quick cash following some tragic accident, had he fallen on hard times, or did he just one day wake up and decide that the book was not something he’d wish to keep? Or did someone take the book away from him, and then it ended up here? There could be countless possibilities and countless explanations. I’d like to believe that the book didn’t end up there because of some cruel turn of fate, however, I can’t imagine how not, so I just wish it was only mildly cruel.
What if Thambi decides to come back for his beloved book? He should have the chance, and maybe that’s why I left it there.

I wonder if Thambi wrote notes in books he gifted to other people, or if he got old enough to gift books at all?
There was something sad about that note, so here’s another hopeful one

Dear Thambi,
I hope you liked the book.

Questions 

Who are you?
And who am I?
What do you do, and why?

If you do anything at all, that is.

Tell me, does it make you want to do it more?
Or does it make you want to live?
Breathe?
Dream?

And if it’s all too much to ask for,
Does it make you smile at least?
And if not even that,
Then why do you do whatever it is that you do?
Did you ever ask yourself?
Or am I the only one asking this of you?
Maybe even the first?
Am I?

Who are you?
And who am I?
I don’t know, do you?

A Bird’s Call

What do you know about flying?
When you’re sitting at your desk,
wondering.

What do you know about freedom, the wind in your hair?
When you’re planning your next step, a scribbled paper of numbers in your hand,
daring.

What do you know about laughter?
When you’re exhausted even before the beginning of the day,
trying.

What do you know about ecstasy?
When you’re letting go of yourself in a cramped little room,
dancing.

What do you know about love?
When you go about your day wearing your heart on your sleeve,
hoping.

What do you know about anything at all?
And what could I possibly know anything about you?
I’m up here flying, and oh do I know the wind!
While you, you’re sitting here dreaming, and you don’t even need my wings.

Image Courtesy: Ishan Singh

Deep Sea Diving

Won’t you dive deep tonight
Down below to your worst dreams
of lost hopes and fond memories

Won’t you close your eyes tonight
to draw that same picture again
Your hand now desperately itching,
reaching for the charcoal stick

Every curve, every slight
as clear as sunlight on your paper
that leaves no room for shadows
As bright as a day on the ocean
in your blue, blue hazel dreams

So tell me now, and think this through
Would you dive, or would you rather run away?
You see, tonight I’m different, absurd even
Because I don’t want to dive, I don’t even want to swim
However, I do feel like cruising on the surface instead.

Art By: Navroop Singh Manku.

For more of his art, follow @the_muse_doodler on instagram. 🙂 

Spilled Milk

I spilt some milk
and watched it flow
out of my hands
onto my sheets
onto the floor

It soaked everything white
soaked through the blankets
soaked through the books
even soaked through the night

It then made a sticky mess
that promised bad luck,
bad sheets and blankets,
bad shoes in a white muck

So I did the next best thing
and put out the milk
as they put out the fire,
poured to my heart’s desire

The shoes were saved
so were the blankets and sheets
all that remained was bad luck
and a little bit of mischief

Image Courtesy : Jafar Rehman at https://thecrookedmind.wordpress.com

Thanks mate 🙂 

Dear Life

Dear Life,

To the times I didn’t stand tall and instead stooped low,
I say goodbye and let you go

To my doubts reminding me that I’m never going to be good enough,
I say goodbye and let you go

To the times I allowed myself to believe others’ opinion of me,
I say goodbye and let you go

To the people who tried to bring me down and succeeded in doing so,
I say goodbye and let you go

To all my insecurities, I have embraced you and nurtured you for so long,
I say goodbye and let you go

To the darkness, oh I have loved you so and have always kept you close,
I will try to say goodbye and let you go

To the loves lost, and the pain and heartbreaks, I have held you tight,
But I say goodbye and let you go

To all the people who I loved and cherished and are not there anymore,
I’ll miss you, and I won’t let you go

To the words that got to me and make me who I am, I will write you
I’ll hold you close and I won’t let you go

To the lessons I’ve learned and will always keep learning,
I will hold you tight and I won’t let you go

To the dreams yet to be dreamt and the things yet to be done,
I’m coming for you and I won’t let you go

Moments

I learned to live in moments
tiny, precious ones
that meant so much
and were so little

A few snatched pieces
of quiet, of chaos, of oblivion
and maybe sometimes, of pure joy

I suppose it would do me good
if I closed my eyes
to these moments
and buried their memories

But then again, if it were not
for these precious little pieces
how could I ever feel alive again

For today I remembered
how I learned to dance barefoot
when the light from the sun
decided to warm my toes

And that tiny moment,
was happiness
if not pure joy

The walk

Today had been a fairly nice day. I took myself for a walk, wandered on the roads, even in the woods. It so happened that I had managed to rouse myself fairly early this morning, with the dawn yet to break and the world yet to wake. Perfect. So I put on my boots and tied my scarf, took my coat off the back of the wardrobe, and finally my gloves from the bottom of it, and I was ready to tiptoe myself out of the house. Wouldn’t want to stir anyone else up, would we.

Night. I was aware of the cold even before I was finished locking the door. It was welcoming, biting against my cheeks.  I took a deep breath and took it all inside at the back of my throat, warm and snug. Everything at a standstill. Beautiful. Breathing. Minutes passed and the grass was still covered with dew of course, it hurt me to walk over it and rid itself of its sweet slumber. And the wrought iron gate squealed on its hinges of course (despite me imploring it not to, but it has a mind of its own).

The soft fall of the earth was now replaced by the hard snap of the road, still lit by halogen lights, casting several yellow halos in the fog. Did I not tell you about the fog? Oh, its beautiful in case you were wondering. I romanticized some more, this time with the fog and its halos, and then started my walk along this road, passing houses. Oh how snugly everyone slept.

It occurred to me that the night had enchanted this road in particular and it kept going on forever, for I kept walking and walking, not that this bothered me, not complaining. I was also delirious enough to think that I was the only one alive, and that thought did not bother me too much as well. Odd. As if to show its disagreement with this particular thought of mine, a cuckoo answered me in its morning call. Followed by one more, then two, then three, and then many. I broke away from my fantasies to notice that the fog had now disappeared, and the sky too, the night was now a soft beautiful purple. The cuckoos were still calling, and  I looked into the direction of their frantic calls and suddenly the sky was all the shades of red, pink, and orange. It didn’t take my breath away, but it was a good site alright. I stood there till the colors diffused and I still stood some more, only because I could.

Dawn. Mornings bring forth a new day, a new hope, and multitudes of humans. So much for my fantasies. By now cycles had started passing me by, joggers too. It was an ordinary road after all. So I decided to follow the birds and took myself to the woods. Nice and quiet. Familiar. An occasional rustle here and there, and I don’t mind it too much. You see, animals are more accommodating than humans. And thus I continued my excursion in peace.

I remember I was thinking about the stars when my foot stepped onto something soft lying on the ground. Dreading it to be a dead animal, and not being one who could boast of having the strongest of stomachs myself, I took my time in glimpsing down at the object which had found its way  underneath my left boot. Something white. A rabbit? Curiosity. So I bent down to get a better look. A toy. Resembling a bear. One of its feet partially missing. Probably chewed off by some other animal which had mistaken it for a rabbit only to realize that it wasn’t a rabbit after all. Funny. But how did this thing end up here in the first place. Did it belong to a child, who now has more exciting shiny toys to play with? Or was it a part of those amorous love affairs, a victim of a lover’s rage?Endless possibilities.

Afternoon. I spent some time thinking about this toy, what could have happened to place it at such an ungodly place for itself. Like I said, endless possibilities, it takes time to consider a fraction of endless possibilities. I could very well comprehend the turn of events which placed it beneath my boot. Endless possibilities. But I could not decide upon one. This disturbed me. How could there not be any ending. Of course, time and nature would take its toll, and it would wither away and die. But I was not satisfied with that possibility either. Not having any other option in my hands, I picked it up and headed back home.

Evening. The toy is in a fairly good condition. After a couple of stitches to the foot and with the stuffing safely tucked inside, it looks good enough to live. The firelight dances in its eyes, and the color has returned to its cheeks. I’m satisfied. I consider myself a fairly considerate person, if not generous. The toy must have gone through a trauma. I for once happen to know exactly how these things go, funny how I keep coming across traumatic things on my walks. So I picked the toy up, gently, and let it sleep on the chair beside me. I now prepared to go to bed myself, again tip toeing around the house. Wouldn’t want to stir anyone else up, would we.

A Rose

A rose
In a lover’s hand
In a desert sand

A rose
Blistering in the sun
Lost forever in the run

A rose
An outline in the clouds
A flower in your mouth

A rose
Blooming among ruins
A sight worth musing

A rose
A perfect shape
A sweet escape

A rose
Your name
A rose
My bane