Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Reflections: Notes to Myself

Writing is a process of mental-cleansing for me. It helps me periodically visit all the dungeons and fields of my mind, to dust off the grime, polish a few thoughts, reevaluate a few opinions, rearrange some of them and purge out the rusted clutter. The cleaning process is how I learn to connect with myself. As thoughts are continuously flushed, the old and outdated stand a chance to be tossed out, or to be remedied. Just as how a clean and orderly home is calming and comfortable to snuggle in, so becomes my consciousness and the me inside. Words are those tangible attributes that guide many to assimilate their inner tumble of chaos. A personal journal is indispensable to people like us. We can even survive without a medical kit in an emergency but not without a medium to pour ourselves out.

Hugh Prather is part of my brethren of journal-keepers. This book is a collection of his journal entries; crisp, insightful, analytical and thoughtful. It surprises me that a man (yes, I'm stereotyping) is capable of such lucid articulation about his feelings and gains clarity from them to understand himself better and attempts to interact with people around him by truly connecting with them. This is a little book of self-realization that takes us through Prather's struggle to comprehend and verbalize the tumult of emotions going through him and to express them so as to glean insight, and apply its wisdom in everyday life. To me, the one aspect that seemed to stand out from the pages is Prather's struggle to both acknowledge and accept all feelings - negative and positive. It is more of a realistic approach to acknowledge our negative thoughts, but assume responsibility for the way we choose to act on them. It is futile to attempt to control many aspects of our lives. Perhaps the only reasonable and realistic approach is to live the moment, the present, and try to accept the things thrown at us and make the best of what we can with our actions. One has to know how to realize oneself, for in an eerie way we are all alone, trapped in our little islands into which no one can navigate to and look at the world from our view and make things better. We are the only ones to know what it is like to live the life we are living, and deal with it. The process of this realization is hard, but the first step seems to be to repeatedly get to know the inner-self better by discerning every single feeling, thought and emotion that pulses through us and tracing their journey to figure out their means, if not their ends.

The book is Prather's notes to himself, some of which strike a chord, some of which provoke further thought, and many are left to us to realize about ourselves. One man's notes about himself are tightly tied to his contexts, his life, his emotions, his thoughts and his self, and can't be expected to extend to another individual. But the notes jog the mind, give it a little nudge and the rest is up to us.

With a brand new year having dawned on us, I realize that I need to make some notes to myself to become a better person. Self-realization is a sustained goal, an everyday effort that is sure to last for several more years. Yesterday, my friend shared some of poet Ranier Maria Rilke's letters and quotes. To call them inspirational seems quite trivializing to those words. His words "... that you may find in yourself enough patience to endure and enough simplicity to have faith..." resonate quite well with my Mantra for this year. To tame the demon of denial and reach the state of acceptance has been my struggle for so long a time. What cannot be cured, has to be endured, and accepted. I need to learn to accept my nightmare and live in it as best as I can, to the point where it turns into mundane normalcy.

For more tangible goals, over which I can exercise more control,

* I hope to rid myself of my bouts of extreme inertia, due to which I procrastinate most things. I'm glad that I started the new year having finally conquered my inertia and accomplishing a certain milestone that has made all my friends and family shed red-hot tears of relief (thanks to those kindred souls for championing me throughout :)). Now they await with their hearts in their mouths, as I set out to execute my skills.

* My second inertial barrier waits to be shattered. Having been blessed with a close circle of people who diligently and rigorously work-out and attempt to sculpt their bodies, I have incurred many silent curses and "evil-eyes" as I, the non-gym escapist, flit atop the fancy-weight-machine and make it spit out 8% of body fat for me. Enough to make the person slogging out on a 200lb dead-lift, suffer a severe blow of disappointment at his readings that he begs me to chomp on French Fries.The "evil-eye" works itself out, as I yelp in pain and exasperation struggling to open and close the measly lid of my car's gas-tank, with the wind chill gnawing a hole in my fingers. A pretty picture as I bend myself into a ball, breathing and puffing vapors of smoke, my fingers trembling with the effort to open the blasted lid, my feet half-clinging to the ground as the wind tries to uproot me. Therefore, enough is enough. My resolution is to build those muscle thingies...lean muscles as I am told. I have plenty of able and eager instructors who can't wait to start training me, and I shall be malleable to all attempts. Oh, as part of my working towards the resolution, I bought a nice pack of chocolate-flavored protein powder, ready to be gobbled up in liberal amounts. And I have been gifted with a couple of 4lb dumbbells :)

* As an extension of the previous goal, I should be able to successfully shovel all the heaping mountains of snow without (well, with some) help. Right now, with the huge and heavy iron shovel standing tall and imposing, measuring almost my height (but weighing much heavier than I), my attempt at helping to shovel the driveway is to jump up and down on the snow to loosen it up, so that it can be picked up easily. Can it be anymore pathetic? No.

* With heaps of several feet of snow lying around, building a gigantic snowman is of utmost priority. Last year, I (we) got around to lumping just the snowman's tummy, within which time I thought my nose would drop off with the biting cold. This year, I (we) may lose toes, fingers and part of my nose, but a snowman shall be erected.

* I hope to read ever more, with a quest for better books.

* I wish to paint even more, especially a fiery, roaring dragon and a serene golden Koi, being my imminent projects. And, I shouldn't cut my fingers while working on glass. At least this year.

* I should continue to sing, should find a raagam that A hasn't heard of before (which will take me a good 6 months to figure out), should sing it to him and watch his face contort with disbelief, his eyes rolling with confusion, his mind racing to identify the raagam, and finally whimpering away with defeat. Haha,I already rub my hands with wicked glee, imagining him scuttling around the house, driving himself insane. My evil side seeps out.

* I should hopefully start learning to play my dream instrument, and use it as my ultimate solace.

* I hope to grow twice as many flowers as I grew last Spring. And we should redeem our debilitating failure of growing (killing) vegetables (frost-bitten tomatoes and bunny-devoured cauliflowers), by trying to flourish at least two vegetables this year.

* Bake gingerbread-man cookies...with icing for his eyes, his tie and his buttons. And try at least five recipes from the cook-book I have been so graciously gifted with.

* When it gets slightly warm, get a cutie-pie Oranda baby, who has already been christened as "Flipper", to add to my fishie-clan at home.

That makes a long list by itself, apart from mundane professional goals to accomplish. Those are enough notes to give me an action-item to work on for the whole year. Let's see how well I live up to them.

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