on living an examined life

"A failed romance. A restless sense of belonging... These are raw ingredients that get mulled, weighed, processed - and ultimately transformed into art." - Walt Whitman

 

Well, this should have been an easy year for me. I've had quite a few failed romances. I wouldn't necessarily call them romances.. romances have some sort of continuum, and any inklings of romance that I would've had was carefully nipped in the buds, quite a few times. 

However, there were more instances of the restless sense of belonging. I played a careful balancing act with that this year. On the 2nd day into the year, I reluctantly adopted a kitten (who is now a fully-fledged crazy cat), and needless to say, it was one step towards a sort of a commitment to where I live. It was an unexpected, albeit happy accident. This time, I actually looked forward to coming home!

I don't think I'd ever been happier being alone as I had been this year. I just stopped asking the meaning of life. I wanted to live an examined life. But on my own terms, which was just being in the present. I had no answers any more. I just wanted to live. So I took on a long-awaited adventure with a trip to Iceland. I never thought there'd be a day for me, where I would be looking forward to travelling to a really cold country, alone. But I decided to embrace the fact that my desires may never be equal to someone else's. Also, this was the one country I wanted to go alone. This country makes you feel so free, and so glad to be alive. You forget you have longings for better things in life. You forget that there's a world out there that gives you validation on social media. You remember that you are a really small person in a beautiful world that is running on clockwork. You remember that you are a part of history. You also forget a lot of things. But most importantly, you forget that you are alone. Because you are not alone. You are finally, among things, that matter.

"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." - Albert Camus

"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." - Albert Camus

I live in a country that's very good to me professionally. But sometimes I also feel this place robs me of things that I always took for granted. I long for beautiful white clouds in the summer, something that is non-existent here. I long for greenery and foliage that I always looked past before. I long for mild breezes which you don't have to wait a winter for. But most importantly, I longed to feel validated without having to seek validations. If I want to be a brand here, I need to advertise myself. I need people to know me. I need to work constantly. I need to have amazing ideas. I need to be in tune to their needs. I need to say things to people that will make them love me. I need them to notice me beyond my frizzy hair and my fashion faux pas. I need to make sure my sense of self-confidence is not mistaken for arrogance. I need them to accept me, without knowing any hidden skills or talents I might have. I need them to love me. I need them to stop judging me. I need them to understand that I will never own anything branded, not because I can't afford it, but because I can't relate with them and I don't feel I need them to live a meaningful life. I need them to understand that I don't like giving into vices - and this includes alcohol or smoking or hanging out with people I have no interest in, no matter how trendy it is. I need them to understand that I will always favour a restless life over a life of financial commitments. I need them to realize that I'm past the stage where I feel the need to sell myself for some corporate gimmick. I need them to love me at the same time. I need to be an extrovert, without giving away any sense of insecurity. I need to be out there, with the in-crowd. So many needs. I have so many needs. All irrelevant. 

I forgot all these needs when I was alone in Iceland. 

It was one of the best trips of my life.

A few months later, this beautiful happiness came to a surprise end. I had a healthy dose of a reality check. I was told that I was living a life that favoured no one, except me, so how could it possibly be any good for me in the long run? It was all lovely on paper. But apparently, it was not meant to be a sustainable one in the long run. I was, in effect, living a life that seemed so selfish. Words hurt.

I was upset, but more importantly, I was angry. It was always the same again. Nothing I did was ever good enough. I wasn't enough. I had to get back into it. I had to get back to real life, where the currency is money and not mild breezes and saturated fauna. Your dreams need to be pushed asunder, so other people can see their dreams in yours. This is how they validated your life. 

I worked hard for the next 3 months. I hardly saw members of my family, who lived a few doors away from me. I hardly saw the gym. I hardly saw my life as having any value. My moral compass was in a turmoil. I met people. I lost contact with people. I stopped caring. I felt detached. I felt like I was in one of those time-lapse videos where the sun rises and sets, all in a 30 second video with an apocalyptic musical score.

But hey, the money came. 

One day, I looked at the mirror. My clothes didn't fit, again. An infant turned 2. Someone got engaged. Someone got pregnant. Some entered long-term relationships. Someone was travelling to an exotic place, with a guy they had just met on Tinder, but which blossomed into something more real. Where was I in all this? 

Most nights, at home. In front of a computer. I was trying to make my dreams. So I could feel validated and accepted. In Photoshop. It was a catch-22.

You're alone again, but this time, you're not in a field of bluebells and happily embracing being alone. You're amongst people, in a party, where your phone is dead, the crisps pack is empty, the drinks are not helping, you wish you were somewhere else.

You wish you were someone else with a better story, than the one you're living.

"There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person."  ― Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol 1: 1931-1934

"There is not one big cosmic meaning for all; there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person." 
Anaïs Nin, The Diary of Anaïs NinVol 1: 1931-1934

It is so easy to get overwhelmed with everything around us. We are constantly being bombarded by so much information. Everyone is trying to be loved. Everyone is trying to feel important. Everyone is trying to pay the bills. Everyone is trying to be needed. Everyone is trying to matter. It makes it a bit hard to stay afloat. It also makes it a bit hard to notice other people around you.

Love them.

Even if a little.

Because everyone has a story. They may not want to talk about it all the time. They may not know how to express it. They may feel like they don't matter.

But if there's one thing I've learnt this year, while being alone, loving myself, and feeling loved, and at the same trying to make a name for myself while trying to have my head above the water, trying not to drown in apathy and euphoria at the same time, is that everyone matters. 

The earth has a story, and we being a part of it, are the storytellers, all trying to get our stories out.

"In every grain of sand, there is the story of the earth." - Rachel Carson

"In every grain of sand, there is the story of the earth." - Rachel Carson