Bare

Kappil Lake, Kerala
Kappil Lake, Kerala

Let the baggage go

spread your arms and hug the air

my friend, you stand free

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Memories past

The day dawned bright 

On the east there was light 

Whilst the west, still shrouded

Wintry mist on streets crowded

awaited with breath bated—nigh

For their sun to tear through the sky

Why today, wondering she had to clench

End precious life, god heartless wretch

Clutching a sorrow note from a friend

Message of death, never can mend

from the west to all the way east

had travelled wretched beast

As the world was between years

Our lives were between worlds

Farewell old times, my friend

Hot air balloons | Unspalsh.com

Of resolutions

Every year around this time, everyone talks about one thing: new goals for the new year. And without a doubt, every time, we share big plans with others, spending an entire evening rambling and trying to prove to ourselves that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to.

Why do we do that, though?

Why do we have the urge to tell others, to share our life plans with external stakeholders, to allow them the power to hold or words against us when we fail?

It’s because we all feel the need to be accountable. Deep within us, we know that letting someone in on a secret or running an idea by them helps solidify it. The more the number of people know about our plan and agree with it, the stronger is the possibility of its success.

That’s why most of us inflict our most profound plans and ideas in the world, in the last few days of the year because new years are new beginnings.

I’ve never made a special New Year’s Resolution (or NYR as the text-speakers call it) because I don’t need the first of January to start working on something I care about. Any day is the beginning of a new year for me. I know what I want to do next week or next month, and what I want to achieve by the end of the year.

That said, sometimes I don’t know what I want to do this week. And that’s fine too. Perhaps I’ll go to work and see what challenges come at me.

It’s nice to have someone enquire how things are going and offer to help, but we needn’t force ourselves to figure out a goal so that we have something to say when it’s our turn.

“What’s your resolution for this year?” — That question is a mere conversation starter. Perhaps a good way to diffuse the tension around a family dinner table or at a boring work party.

Family and friends might wish us well when we tell them we want to lose 15 pounds. Or make a ton of money, or end debt, or work harder, or spend more time for personal wellness.

Beyond that, however, it doesn’t matter to other people what our resolution is or why we chose that one in particular.

But the idea of forming a plan, a proper outline for how I want the rest of my days to turn out is a lot of pressure. After all, no matter how much we plan and plan, life will throw surprises and disasters our way.

New Year’s resolutions are overrated. People make something up every year and promise to uphold it even if they know they won’t. New Year’s Eve isn’t about trying to think of something almost achievable that we don’t feel inadequate at the party later, but it’s more about reflecting on our mistakes from the previous year and learn never to make those mistakes again.

Real goals don’t sound like weak NYRs. Real goals are inclusive of the unfamiliar, respective of the uncontrollable, and realistic to the core.

Image source: Unsplash.com
South beach, Miami

Artificial reminders

Birds chirp, flowers bloom

yet it’s signboards that remind

life is beautiful

If I were to die next week…

Here’s a thought: If I knew today that’d I’d be dead by this time next week, what secrets would I want buried with me?

As I sat down to think about all the things that I hold precious, the physical baggage that I won’t be able to carry to my grave, I realised none of it matters as much.

A few weeks ago, I was on a trip with my colleagues. We were at a dam called Manimutharu, and although the waterfalls were too savage for us to shower in, we still explored the lower end of it where the water washed through polished and uncut rocks. I was climbing up one rock from the one I stood on and slipped. I fell face forwards into the water, right in between two big rocks. My head grazed the stone but missed a catastrophic collision by mere inches. My immediate reflex was to get back on my feet and protect my phone. But it took me a couple of seconds to recognise I’d lost my spectacles in the interim. It was a heavy current and all our efforts to find my glasses went in vain. 

Now that was an expensive pair of spectacles. It was sun tinted with a cat’s eye frame. No one in my family liked it, but I’d insisted on it. I loved the way I looked wearing it and washed it every day to ensure maximum clarity. And it was gone.

To my surprise, I didn’t care. I knew I’d lost a lot when I lost my glasses, but it didn’t bother me at all. I was just thankful to be standing on my feet again. 

That’s when it hit me. Even though I valued that spectacles so much, the experience of falling into the water changed my priorities altogether. 

The moment I knew I’d escaped colossal accident, nothing material mattered anymore. 

With that experience, I wondered again: do I have anything that I’d want to take away with me when I die?

It took me a while, but there was one thing I didn’t want my family to see: my diary.

When I started writing a journal, it was my emotional outlet. I poured out my happiness, sadness, pain, anger, and frustration to an inanimate character I named, X. 

I complained about homework, summarised episodes of my then favourite television series, Robin Hood, and droned on and on about my parents. My family was in disarray, and I was going through a hard time. Every day was a struggle against the depression and self-deprecation that engulfed me.

It was an account of a disturbed teenager’s life. Now that I think about it, I took my inspiration from Anne Frank, one of the many Holocaust victims who died in a concentration camp. Her father published her diary years after her death, and it at once became a chilling reminder for the rest of the world of a time we all wish we could forget. 

Although I read and appreciated Anne Frank’s thoughts and emotions, I never wanted others to read mine.

My journal portrayed me in the most vulnerable state I could ever be in. And years later when I moved out of my parents’ house, the diary remained there. I’d made my mother swear never to read it, but I’ve spent many days worrying for the secrecy of its contents. It disturbed my peace so much that I regretted having written it in the first place. 

That’s the only thing I’d want to take to my grave.

But last week, I burnt it all.

My dad was getting rid of some weeds in his garden and wanted some papers to help ignite a fire. And as I watched years of diary entries crumble into ashes, I felt an incredible sense of calm. 

I’m happy I wrote those emotions down—it was a physical way of letting them go. Now I’m also glad that all that I’d let go will stay gone forever.

If I die next week, I will take nothing but memories.

How about you?