Cast

If I were kinder to myself
Maybe I could look in the mirror
And not see the flaws
Others have pointed out
Or made reference to
Without stopping to ponder
How carefully my soles touch the ground

If I were over confident
Maybe the mirror wouldn’t exist
I’d be caught up in the persona I exude
Unaware of compliments and curses
Heedless to any failure
And unable to bear any kind of weakness
Only focused on my own pleasure

If I were honest at what I saw
The opaque surface reflecting not distorting
Revealing every beautiful dent of individuality
Every scar and wrinkle earned
If all my glories rested in my service
All my achievements brought joy to others
I’d have seen further than mere appearance
Touched the divine connecting us

“Vimal, 33, Black Belt. Tell me a joke. Quick”

People say the initial stages of a relationship are the best, ’cause that’s when you learn things about your partner and become familiar with their quirks and habits. I would rather skip the whole “getting to know” section and get to the “you’re quiet, let me not disturb you” part. I feel preliminary introductions are really tiresome and in some cases a waste of time (when the relationship goes nowhere).

I was thinking the other day that people should start wearing stickers on their foreheads to describe things about themselves. You know, just so people don’t get into unnecessary awkward situations in public. So, we could have forehead stickers that state our sexual orientation since that is something many of us are curious about. We could have stickers to show if we’re married or looking. Even stickers to show our moods, like “unintentionally stressed out because of abrupt ending on favorite serial,” or “might be interested in hearing knock knock jokes,” or the random “looking for signs of life.” We could get so creative.

The intent would be to make communicating with people easier. Like those mood rings which change color according to body heat. Instead, here the message would be clear to anyone who can read. If you’re somewhere where people can’t read you’re on your own. I think my sticker would state “not present” most of the time. I’m like that, see, just floating on through life on my invisible cloud of self-satisfaction, oblivious of the world falling apart around me. It’s not a crime, so leave me alone.

So many of our problems could be avoided if we did this.

Coming back to modern relationships. If such a thing even exists, ’cause most of us can very well be on our own even when we’re “with” someone. By the way, I’m using double quotes with the hopes that you make the air quotes gesture when reading those words. Just for effect. Also, pause for an instant before reading the word within quotes, you’ll be amazed. How does one retain a positive attitude toward finding “Mr. Right” or “Mrs. Wrong,” which ever floats your boat, when the definitions of right and wrong have been turned on their head? We have men who want to be in “open” relationships, so they don’t feel trapped or emasculated. haha. We have women who are looking for men who dress well, work out, constantly strive to improve themselves, have dreams they wanna achieve, are kind, love kids, are funny, are good-looking, are chivalrous, are sensitive, etc. See, both sides have high expectations, which neither party can live up to. And that’s just the start.

So almost any eligible partner would have something that doesn’t rub you the right way and unlike a half century ago when couples just stuck it out for the sake of the kids and other “parampara” reasons, these days we just sign a piece of paper and find someone else to torture. Okay, I don’t mean torture literally in the physical sense. I mean, psychologically and emotionally. Now, I am not going to try and pontificate on the state of today’s generation or dish out advice on how we might “be the change we wanna see.” That’s a fool’s errand. What I’d like you to take from this is to realize the playing field has changed. Relationships are no longer the focus of human interaction, self-improvement and social development are. We don’t just want true love. No, we want the penthouse, the company car, the separate work cell phone, the managerial post, the club membership, the frequent flier privilege card… the list goes on and on, and on. Our focus has shifted from the sensual to the superficial. We know in our hearts that we would be more satisfied without the endless pursuits society has attuned us to, but the alternative seems too “crazy” to comprehend. We would rather play the cards we have been dealt than take the risk of being different.

It’s not easy, there is a lot we’d have to give up, and we might not get anything in return. Except maybe ourselves. Presently, my sticker would read “soul-searching,” what about yours?

EvƎ

It’s not your eyes
You don’t have to look
It’s not your hair
All though long is good
It’s not the ear-ring, the nose-ring
the necklace, the bangles
It’s none of those

It’s not your voice
It’s not the size of your hips
It’s not the clothes
You spent an hour to pick out
It’s not your heels, or your flats,
or your pumps, or ballerinas

It’s not the job you retain
Not the house you own
Not the car, not the bike
Not the injustice you fight
It’s not your diet
The number of drinks you can down
It’s not the color of your skin

It’s your wisdom
Your courage
It’s the way you overcome your fears
And smile at fooflishness
It’s your mind that computes
That sees behind the surface
Senses what is seldom stated

It is concern for creation
That adorns a woman

Prajna

What does one do when the need to impress others, let alone oneself, no longer matters? I suppose it would be practical to take a moment to introspect and understand what this actually means. Some would conclude it’s a sign of apathy, others a lack of ambition, but I think the diagnosis is closer to contentment.

Great, that makes it seem convenient at least. What then? Is it all over. Does one lay down his or her sword, build a coffin and recite three Hail Mary’s and one Om Shanti Om? I would hope not. That seems so reckless and final. Why not bask in this window of self-assuredness and lack of responsibility as long as it lasts? That would be more fun.

Now, we can’t just leave it at that, can we? Of course not! That would contradict all of mankind’s tendencies to meddle or bungle things up. So, here’s how we approach the construction of our own downfall.

First, dig deeper to find some unfulfilled longing or fantasy. Next, strategize how impossible the actualization of said goal would be. Third, leaving all caution behind, begin reorganizing your life to make it more difficult to return to safety. You’re all set now.

It is a simple life that begins with birth, cycles through puberty and adolescence, crashes into adulthood without a clue of one’s state of mind. Then nature begins to take a toll and the body begins to deteriorate. If you’re lucky you gather all that is important to you and save it on a hard drive, because chances are you will forget most of what you learned in the past.

A day will come when everything you once considered stood for who you are, no longer represents what you’ve become. Something new and completely unknown has taken over this shell of flesh and bones you inhabit. This could be an amazing experience for some, while for others it could be disastrous. It’s all a matter of acceptance.

There is contentment and then there’s a belief that there is something better and more wonderful out there, waiting for some cataclysmic event to happen. Which is better, you ask? I don’t care, I’m enlightened.

Copy that.

Was it yesterday we stood face to face and forgot who we were? A thousand glances could not compare to that feeling of having the world slip away. And I could have stood there for at least a day more and drunk every detail of your beauty, but it wouldn’t have been enough.

There are moments that make living worthwhile. That make all this coming and going seem a little rational and bearable. And it’s those moments that hold promise of new ones to come. So we wait, and we wait, all doe-eyed and expectant. Hoping the stars somehow align and that special someone bumps into us one day, like in the movies. Apologies are exchanged and there is that extra millisecond you’ll stare into each other’s eyes out of curiosity. But that is all that is needed. The spark has been lit and the only thing that will satisfy you now is being near that someone. Bodies, warm bodies.

Then the all-night phone calls. Sharing stories and laughing about silly things you would not share with anyone. ‘Cause you feel special and you want to be the best you can be. You finally feel understood and accepted, you begin to feel wanted, you begin to accept that things might work out.

Pretty soon everyone knows about the both of you. Some are happy for you, some are hurt for whatever reason and slowly slip out of the picture. You take it all with a grain of salt, knowing you are moving forward in life and something’s are for the best. Friends come and go after all, but that special someone is one in a million. Or so you think.

Thoughts, they make all the difference in the end. How you think of someone is directly connected to what you feel for them. You can hate someone, but if you still respect them for who they are, that hate is passive. You could love someone, but if you think you are better off without them, what use is that love?

The faces still smile, the aches still linger, the hopes still surface. What could one do with such tangible things? Put them in albums or words to be cherished forever? Or bury them in hidden places that will soon be forgotten? There is no right answer. There is only what you can tolerate.

Would you do it all again without fear of the outcome? I think you would. And it is precisely that courage that makes all the difference. Yes, you might not have got what you want. Things may have gone completely out of control and left you worn and disappointed. But you are still standing. You have lived through the worst possible scenario and you’re still kicking. You do not choose the failures that knock you down in life, but you do steer this robust vessel that is yourself. Even if you take on water, even if your anchor is torn away, even if your sails are shred to pieces, you’re still afloat, you’re still alive, and you’re still you.