“Live a little..” I mutter to myself before shoving the sloppy burger into my mouth, licking the run sauce off my wrist followed by a handful of chips. It’s 11.40pm on a Sunday night and I’m eating inside a car, parked outside in the garage. “Live a little” – I’m told a lot. By exasperated siblings, colleagues, students I teach, even my doctor once. I’m a stickler for rules. As uncool as it sounds, I like doing things by the book – and properly. I’m that person who reads the fading “terms of entry” board before entering a public garden. A firm believer in the law of Karma. Keeper of rule books and etiquette and company policies, I-told-you-so is my favourite used phrase.
It’s freezing tonight for Fiji – me and the burger have actually managed to fog up the windscreen. I’d consider this hilariously funny except right now I’m not laughing. I’m staring comatosely at the two geckos on the wall ahead eyeing the same bug, thinking how the fuck did I end up here again?
It’s like I was about to touch 100 on a snakes’n’ladder game when in a blink, I find myself slipped and landed at 3 again. How did I manage to land back into the same pile of shit I’d dragged myself out of 3 years ago? How in the world did I manage to slip? Me – eldest child, class captain, team leader, youngest manager, do-gooder, rule-follower, only-eat-at-the-table, maharishi-twitter-handle-owner ME managed to make that mistake?
It’s one thing to point out to someone else that they screwed up; that despite that they’d been warned, they still screwed up. It’s another admitting that to yourself. This blog is like my mirror. I can read every entry I’ve ever written here and acutely remember where and when and why I had written that piece. The pain, the battles I had overcome at that stage in life. The baggage I had let go off. The discovery of what happiness might mean for me. And to come back here and write that I let it all slip has been the hardest thing to admit to myself.
And that explains why this blog hasn’t had a single entry this year.
Paulo Coelho says “When you repeat a mistake, it is not a mistake anymore: it is a decision.” A friend of mine asserts there are no ifs in life – only choices and consequences. Supposing both of them are right then, what kind of fool am I to choose to let go of me again?
I probably have quoted Liz more times than I remember in my articles on other sites that “happiness is a consequence of personal effort..” but I hardly complete the quote till the end. Had I probably bothered to type it out enough times as the 1st line, I probably wouldn’t have forgotten it that easily. Gilbert who knows says “…once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.”
I forgot to forever keep swimming upward. I forgot that it wasn’t selfish to put yourself first. I forgot that happiness wasn’t some reward that I deserved after I did some good deeds (and boy do people like to convince you that it’s otherwise). I forgot that sometimes drowning persons can drag those who come to help underwater trying to save themselves. I forgot that love has limits. I so forgot that nobody else out there was finding Shyamni but me and I let her go.
I forgot there are a lot of things my mother has taught me wrong. She plays that God looks after those who help others. Why would God look after someone who doesn’t value themselves in a life he gifted? I think Suruj has gotten it wrong. God helps those who help themselves is the cardinal rule no? So then He bestows eternal happiness to those who relentlessly seek it. If you leave your search for happiness, trying to help someone else find theirs – guess whose share you’ll find? Not yours.
The hardest thing to look at myself and admit is that I knew all of that. I worked hard to learn all those lessons yet despite all that I chose to be made a fool again, to be used again, to think that God was looking after me for a little while longer. And I can’t even bring myself to say Itoldyouso (forget reciting the rules).
So here am I again, slipped down to almost starting of the line again. Those who had to go, are far gone. Cluttered and surrounded by baggage and leftovers that are not even mine. And now that I’ve managed to say this out to myself – I can finally say I’m sorry Shyamni – I keep forgetting to choose you. I’m sorry I keep letting you slip. I’m sorry I keep giving up that space, energy, love that’s meant for you to others.
And I’m so very sorry I don’t know how to fix this again.
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