August has turned into a busy month already. From partaking to weddings, to running 4 times a week, I have now added doing a bhangra show early September. Yet none of it feels like work (except for some of the weddings), and I realize that I still miss writing daily, still want to do things with wife, still want to do all the other things in my life. Yet, this moment, more than anything else I need to be here for this moment. It’s so easy to live in the past and future, thinking of what has been and what is to come, and not just enjoy the current moment for what it is. So I am using the post to just be. To know that all is well. That it’s not about me what’s going in my life. That all I have right now are my 5 senses, and this present moment. Am I tempted to think about the Jassi Sidhu show or the 13 miles run coming up? Yes, of course, but then I catch myself just sitting here and being grateful. Alive. Present. Happy. Fulfilled. Determined. Focused.
Zen Habits is teaching to try to slow down, to see what the moment is about rather than focus on what’s ahead or behind. Too often, it becomes about expectations for myself and others instead of just realizing that at end of the day, nothing really matters except for the relationships with yourself and your loved ones.
My name is Sanjay Sabarwal, and I am a word stealer. I eavesdrop everywhere I go, and put away the snippets of conversation I hear. I read various articles, stories and magazines, and pocket away interesting verbs and action sentences. I squirrel away images that come in front of me when I walk my dog. I hide away tidbits of friends’ conversations for some future use. Again, and again I steal words. Some days, I am melancholic about my need to be such a thief, but then there are the days when I am sitting in front of the laptop, and those words come out from various from their hiding places and help me weave together an altogether fictional story built on truth.
I am tempted to warn my friends to watch out for my habit . When I was a novice, I didn’t have the sense to edit out contexts and emotions which made me a biographer, and the brunt of many a fight about why I didn’t just keep my mouth shut. Then it hit me that I didn’t need to be a recorder just a thief, and so I began stealing. It has been my most satisfying tool in writing. I no longer have to worry about words, just how to use them.
So had my first nightmare in a long time. It was surreal as it started in the middle. I am sure I was dreaming of something else, but I see a guy passing by, and for some reason. I call him a pussy. He keeps walking, but I know he is going to come back, and sure enough he does. I am on some stairs, and he begins walking up, and I begin blubbering that I was kidding, and didn’t mean to say what I did but like in dreams, suddenly there are 3 more people, and one grabs my hand, trying to force my wedding ring off while another grabs my watch, and then third has a razor blade. The old school kind that my father used to use when he shaved. And I start mumbling that I really didn’t mean it, but the razor keeps coming towards my right eye. The only one with a contact, and I don’t want to be blind. I don’t want to be squinting out of left eye which sees mostly blurs lately. I knew instinctively that they wanted the good eye, and as I woke up, there was an immediate fading idea that if only I had a gun to equalize the unfairness of the situation (there goes my liberal card).
The weird part is that I didn’t know any of the men well except for the first guy who suspiciously looked like the Reading Rainbow Gentleman Levar Burton (chucking anti-racist card as we speak). Yes, I did try to figure out the dream, and I am pretty sure the entire dream was an allegory of my recent in ability to read, write or do anything workout related the past few weeks. Each day, I have this vague goal of writing and running, and while some days I am successful in writing for 20 minutes and exercising for 15, I know that’s not going to get it done if I want to be published or be in any sort of shape for the Spartan Beast which is fast approaching in September.
But, and this is a big but, I know I am doing something which is still infinitely better than the nothing I was doing before. So thanks to the Zen Habits, I practice self-compassion. I am giving myself a break even if they give me nightmares.
Almost every day, I get the urge to blog. Yet it is not always so that I write. I can’t remember how many blog posts I have written in my head. I often wish for a machine that could just transcribe directly from my brain on to paper. I am pretty sure I am not the only one to fantasize about that.The worst is when I get ideas for a stories or essays, and in that one magical few moments, I can see the entire thing already completed. And then the next moment, poof, it’s gone. Sometimes my brain is smart enough to jot the idea down in my phone, but after a few days when I look at those words, it’s like they are gibberish. Yet the urge to write keeps striking, and so many days have gone by that it no longer made sense to wait. So even though life is not always so, today I am going to attempt to make sense of some of my thoughts.
So much has happened this past month. A good friend recently put together a great event called “The Empty Hands” tour. When first approached about it, and after listening to the video that was created, I knew I had to attend. The concept was simple. A listening party at a generous friends place along with mini stories about gratitude, love, and forgiveness. The concept riveted me. Nimo Patel (formerly of the desi hip hop group Karmacy) has been living in India for almost 7 year now, and although he thought he was done with music, his experiences at Manav Sadhna struck the creative chord. I am going to admit, the old me would have dismissed all this as hokey and too New Age crap, but Nimo’s sincerity is not only infectious, it is inspiring. It is rare to find so many like-minded at the event who gave them time, attention and love all in the name of being better.
I cringe at the my inability to share the joy and admiration I felt to be part of that event, yet here I am trying. I am learning that is it not always so that life will be as one pictures it. It is not always so when the day will go as planned or the people in our life will treat us the way we wish to be treated. All we have are moments of the present to enjoy what’s out there. So New Age Sanjay says that while sometimes it may feel or look like you are holding nothing in your hands, that is they are empty, but often than not, they carry our hopes and wishes as well as gratitude.
BK Shivani said that just like you don’t yell at others constantly, we also need to be gentle with ourselves. Take a moment, think of all the negative sub talk that is going on in your mind. I know I am guilty of it. There was a constant river of berating myself for not being focused, not working out, not writing, not working, not being good enough, not eating well, not keeping up with friends, not being better and on and one. This was the soundtrack of my daily life. And I am pretty sure it’s yours. We are constantly beating ourselves for what we are failing to do. Yet we don’t take the time to be grateful for what we do have and what we are doing. I know I was guilty of that. I also know how silly one can feel being grateful for what we have. It just seems natural. It’s there. I want what I don’t have. We have this need for what we cannot ever grasp in our hands, yet each moment that we pass without thinking of what we have, we move further away.
Two years ago, I was perhaps the furthest I have ever been from writing and reading. Two very simple things that I have done most of my life, and at first I dismissed them as simple things that I would get to. Then I became addicted to social media, constantly checking and rechecking other’s updates about images, stories and things that in the long run did not add much value in my life. Don’t get me wrong. I am not bashing social media, but for me what I thought were simple things to ignore allowed me to use shallow posts to become my crutches.
So I began reading, then writing every day. Now I struggle with how much I can do each day with me adding learning Spanish, Meditation, and working out. I say all this not to brag, but that instead of the negative self-talk, I accept who and what I am. Yes. there are days, many of them infact, that I don’t get to all that I want to get done, but you know what? Its OK. I give myself a break. I now see that even when I dont get to do all that I want, I still get something wonderful, like an hour long phone conversation with a great friend, or getting to know something about Preeti that I didn’t know, or doing something completely new.
In a nutshell, be gentle with yourself. Stop the negative talk. Enjoy the moment. Take a breath. And then keep moving.
Is there a better feeling than waking up to the quietness of a beautiful morning? When the eyes are still closed, but inside you feel full of gratitude and love for all that is in your life? Think I am full of shit? Few years ago, I would have agreed and perhaps even said that I was just trying to be a creative writer. Yet, last year around this time is when I was still recovering from my brain surgery and prior to that, my wife’s illness and then before that a stroke around the time a loss of a dear dear friend reverberated through my soul. So I could say life was not fair. I could have whined, and been angry. And honestly, I did. I cannot even read some of the stuff I wrote around that time because the stench of self-pity suffocates me. I felt so sorry for myself that I engaged in soul deadening behaviors like avoidance, and pretending all was well. I stopped reading, writing or really doing anything that gave me true joy. I fought with people in my life with such a vengeance as if it was their fault my life was where it was.
I probably would have continued if some of the strangest things came together to salvage who I used to be. It began with a subscription to The New Yorker. I have been buying books all my life, and there are always piles of unread books surrounding my homes, but subscribing to the New Yorker was a new commitment for me. I had no idea that each week, a magazine that was extremely well written with VERY long articles would come to my doorstep. Each and every single fucking week. So I began reading. Around the same time, a forwarded You Tube link of BK Shivani’s “Healer Within” caught my eye. At first, I was uncomfortable with the Indian accents, but her words struck me into submission with their clarity and accuracy. I also began doing Morning Pages from The Artist’s Way as well as doing Lumosity brain games while trying to learn Spanish (still struggling).
I didn’t realize at the time, but I had begun constructing a new me….
To Be Continued….
I failed to realize that just breathing was a gift.