Mine your own Material: the Past

Day Eighteen: WordPress Writing 101, September 30, 2015

“Think about the things we leave behind. Tell us about a time you’ve left an object, place, person, or even an idea behind — and had to move on”. WP

Moving on beyond the PAST:

As I write this post, I can’t help wondering why moving on from certain things is so, so difficult. Sometimes you have a dream, an idea of what your life is going to be. It’s like a blueprint etched in the brain and when you come upon it you know that this is what you wanted to do all your life. It feels so right. You are willing to give up anything, undergo anything just to achieve this goal. This happened to me some twenty years ago. I was on a path that I thought destiny might have charted for me. It was not easy to get onto it. I even faced opposition from my family who felt that I was taking a very big risk with my life. Maybe I was. But the so-called enormity of the chances I was taking did not count because I had fallen totally in love with this idea of what I wanted to do with my life. Well, a small clue — it was a career choice that I made, away from the beaten track.

Does this sound familiar?

And then for five years in the prime of my life, when every energy and enthusiasm is at its best, when you are ready to take on the world, I toiled for this dream. Yes, I did make mistakes, I wasted time perhaps, I got distracted by emotions and by circumstances beyond my control, but I tried my best to make it work. I gave it my ALL. And then it happened. Just when I was about to reach the finish line, there it confronted me — total and abject failure. I had chosen ‘the road not taken’, and walking down that path, fraught with many challenges the least of which was loneliness, I came to a ‘dead end’. Life just stopped and I with it.

Today twenty years later, even when I know I had given it the best as I knew it then, regret sometimes fills my heart. The mind fills with ‘what ifs’. It is too late now and pointless too. The universe whispers messages that unless I totally let go and move on, I could never truly live again. That is what I have been trying I do these past years. First I tried many things to bring this dream back. Retrace my steps, so to say and hope that a miracle would find its way to me and there would be an opening I could clutch at! But nothing happened. I spent a lot of time in limbo, stuck, unable to move. The past kept me there. The past was over, that much I knew finally. But the future was a void and path less. I hung at the mouth of an abyss, neither falling in, neither flying up. Then one day something subtly changed.

Something totally unexpected happened in my life. I resisted it with all my might, but it did not go away and then slowly my fossilised brain understood that life was reaching out to me. So what if this new element was nowhere in my plans, so what if I never thought that the road I did not take that day in the woods waited for me still and was  opening up for me ? Life is very strange, friends and Grace comes when you least expect it. When life gives a second chance grab it! Even if it does not look like anything you ever imagined, go for it. There is a higher power that looks out for you and always keeps you in its sights. Some call it God.

Today I stand at a place where the future is not yet formed. It is like a cusp between the past and the future. These things take time, this much I have learnt from life. Finally, after much painful and sometimes involuntary lingering, I am finally letting go of this obsession, this so-called dream that seemed so perfect. No, that is not meant for me and guess what, it is relief that I feel. Well that is something I did not expect. It is as if I have given permission to rid myself of the burden of an unfulfilled dream. I discover that it was a beautiful mirage that I thought would fulfill me. But now sadder and wiser, with much more self-knowledge under my belt, I finally sense that I did not know myself at all. It was not even my dream after all.

The shattering of that long ago dream was necessary for me to truly arrive at what will make me happy. That dream itself was not mine, but one subtly superimposed on my psyche by expectations from people around me. Even when I thought I was following my own path, it was not truly mine. This long journey has been worthwhile because it helped me separate what I truly need and want from what I thought I did. Yes, I agree with the great Lebanese poet, Kahlil Gibran, that “pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses our understanding,” a quote from his masterpiece, The Prophet that has always haunted me. Finally, I am ready to let go and for this, I am grateful.




Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties ~ Erich Fromm

I am often amazed at the similarity between the CREATIVE process and the SPIRITUAL process. To be authentic both require that we let go of certainties in life. That we be ready for changes in life by not resisting or fearing them and yet live the present moment in its entirety, giving it our best. A lesson in selflessness here. (If you are doing this perfectly, you are a MASTER !) For, as has been said, CHANGE is the only CONSTANT in life  !


A true artist while working on technique, language and other skills (like blogging daily !) also is aware that an inspired piece of writing or art is very different from a carefully and merely crafted one. Creativity FLOWS. When inspiration strikes, it just wants to be put down, there’s not much planning to be done. You just take up your tool — your pen or keyboard, brush or piano — and the words, the notes and the colours flow through you. You don’t need to be clever or pretentious; something much more intelligent, in fact Supremely intelligent is working THROUGH you. Well, just BE there — EMPTY — free of mental clutter, self-consciousness, pre-conceived notions about talent, cleverness, impressing the world and so on. Just BE.  (A word of caution here: technique is important too. If you don’t know how to paint, inspiration will not find an outlet and will just clog you up. So both are important — technique and inspiration. )

I have always wondered at how this happens, I mean all those poets and painters producing fabulous works. And finally, I have the answer ! (Note to reader: after years of agonizing enquiry and effort this has happened, mind you.) Creativity happens when we ALLOW life to occur, with its ups and downs, its highs and lows, always alert even when overwhelmed, that there is a higher purpose working through us through these events. It is a process of hollowing out the ego and what I would call the false- self -identification  debris from within us. PAIN is a very good tool that life or SOURCE/Universe (GOD !) makes use of to initiate this hollowing-out process, and that in many ways, makes us more complete human beings. And at the end of one such, who knows, you might suddenly discover that poetry has spouted out of you or you suddenly burst out into a song, freed from a constricted throat. It happens. LIFE and CREATIVITY are very linked. When one has an open attitude to life, accepting its uncertain elements, CREATIVITY blossoms. Quite natural, if you ask me. If at every point in time, you are using all your resources (internal and external) to solve life-puzzles, grappling with change and uncertainty, thinking ‘out-of-the-box’ out of necessity, then you are being CREATIVE. Hey presto !! So if life has been extra hard, don’t worry. You have been ‘selected’ by the powers-that-be for fulfilling a higher purpose other than


 . . . possessing the perfect job/career, the perfect relationship, the perfect husband/wife/ partner, the perfect house, the perfect garden, children, family, income and all other such happiness-generating mechanisms . Seldom does life work out like this anyway. What you dream of at twenty and what you are left with at forty may be vastly different. But on the way, while you may or may not not have received the expected, you might very well be richer by hidden gifts that you need to notice more.