Some days, I must write. Writing is that strange ray of hope, the one thread that holds me together on the most disconcerting of days. And the 'disconcerting' is not a new event, an issue in particular, it is like the sum of parts, slow growing moss, except that moss, I associate with freshness. 'Disconcerting' both metaphorically and in truth has been a visit to the landfill, the trash bins, the waste basket at home. Somehow, like an ominous symbol, the trash that we generate seems like a barometer of who we are, in our brightest, most wonderful, beautiful human dreams.
For years now, I fear a strange blankness within me. It is as if I have fallen out of love, of the simplicity and naivety of people's lives. I have fallen out of love of cultures, history, fragile human hopes recognizable in their monumental accomplishments in architecture, religion, family. It is strange to club it all together, the quiet growth of an individual species in its many forms, its most humble huts and greatest temples, no more complex than an ant hill, no less wonderful than a weaver bird nest. And yet, I fear this blankness, this inability to embrace and be in love. This worry and prayers for the birth of yet another human child, replacing the celebration and wonder I see in others around me.
I walk out of my home, another human city, beautiful with the sea, the neem and the banyan interwoven, and then all the houses, the glorious dark-complexioned faces transforming into shy riveting smiles, the malls, the unending shops, the traffic, the new metros.... and it bothers me, the sheer number of people, there is a claustrophobia of existence that fills me up, chokes me. The weight of my own physical being on this bridge of life feels like a travesty of evolution. I can see negotiable spaces all around me, I can see compassionate loving souls finding their own ways meaning-making, helping, supporting, but within me, I am disturbed, for I have become numb to everyday sadness and pain. Almost, almost I find pettiness in our human worries, our endless entangled desire for growth, our naivety in our beliefs, even harsher than our blind belief in religion and science. As yet another parent comes and shares their tender worries about their child's schooling, learning, college admissions, financial stability, a safe home, I wish I could stand by telling them that those worries are deeply meaningful, but I only feel sorrow, sorrow for a bird whose name I don't know, a vanishing tail disappearing behind a forest slowly transforming into an air-conditioned mall, a railway line, a computer chip, a mobile phone; a life moving faster and faster, a vision of human success blinded by a tenderness and love of family bonds, friendships, sentiments and courage as much as it is bound by human greed.
I find it marvelous to watch those people who can find ways to negotiate these rich, interwoven stories of people and nature, steering life towards balance, health, safety. I try to find a space for myself within these paths. And yet, I resist, I fight, I wail, I cry, I am numb, I fall out of love again and again, trying in desperation to find a way back.
I seek to find words that can describe this sorrow, this inability to find intimacy. I wait.
At a school I teach, a second grader suddenly spots the space between two leaves; at another college I do a workshop in, young people create spaces interwoven with nature, desiring space for thinking, reflecting, conversation; a young man I mentor talks to me trying to find words to describe the stillness that permeates his work... and in these moments, I find the same desperation, a sudden spectacular acknowledgement of the unspoken life, a life that can never be reached by our chosen vision of successful growth, for the paths are vastly different. A strange craving for silence takes over, and writing, once again my saviour helps me navigate this painless emptiness, this fear and anger, this incredible sorrow for the limited beauty of human life; this brash love for our own creativity, the richness of which our trash bins exemplify.
Perhaps I will fall in love... fall in love with the richness of this mess, with the power of the same human kindness that has taught me to see, perhaps... a year from now, I will have different words to speak of my despair. Meanwhile, I wait...