Dear Diary… What Should I Really Be Doing Right Now?

Shivani Angelina Pathi

Dear diary,

I thought about how to write this article for a good week or so. The idea just came to me, and I felt compelled to write it: does that mean I am conscious enough to create new beginnings, or does it mean that this idea was simply written in my fate already?
I am currently sitting on my rooftop. It is dangerous, but not as dangerous as going to the supermarket – the irony. But what is danger, really? You see, at times like this - when the world is at a standstill; when time is too much of a commodity - one tends to ponder one's existence to an excruciating extent. Unless you're Stephen Hawking, then that's just an everyday affair. But currently I am not him, and neither am I in a perpetual state of existential crisis... Yet. However, Covid-19 did make me think: here I am, in my home, as fortunate as can possibly be. A day in my life seems trivial to talk about, but this is the blessed simplicity it entails. My sitting and pondering is the highlight – it hasn't sparked in me a ground-breaking discovery - but it did confirm a few things.

Firstly, it confirmed that balance and change are two very, very important things. I don't know who's in charge of these two things, or if it is even a who, but these two forces work together. There is energy, there is intention, and us humans are not above it all. It still baffles me how much leeway humans give themselves in terms of their excludability from these two phenomena - how much we think that the more successful you are, the more resource you have, the faster you can escape it. And essentially, that is the mindset - that one is always running away, running towards... One is dynamic, but unaware that one's goals are against them. Unaware of how trivial and undermining the omnipresent 'goal' is, or how it's always on a time crunch, always just a few years apart. Does the purpose and the person ever meet? And is it a friendly interaction, or just a curt 'hello', and onto the next goal?

Today, I’ve come to the conclusion that when you hold onto something too tight, you lose it faster. You don't allow it to breathe; you suffocate it until you are sure that it will no longer leave your grasp. However, in the process, it changes - it is now a strangled mess, perhaps a little less alive. Not the same thing you once cherished. There's no freedom anymore; none of that meaningful balance.
I believe that's what we do to ourselves as well - in pursuit of that one (or multiple) thing(s) that we are desperate to seek out and achieve. And maybe this is why some humans are so unaware of themselves, so detached from who they are. Holding onto characteristics that we're conditioned to think define us, to chunks of material life that shape our everyday. I'm not trying to be Osho or something, but it just feels like that's what we are doing - holding onto something so tight that we end up losing it faster.

Over time, I've figured out that the trick to this is to just let it be. That doesn't mean just exit; it means coexist. It means freedom, which I've grown increasingly fond of. I believe all relationships start to crumble when freedom is lost - relationships between you and your friends, your lovers, your environment... Relationships with yourself.

We don't realise that existence is more than just one thing: more than just a sport, more than just a job, more than just striving towards a goal. It isn't about just spending time with your friends, or reading a book, or travelling either. It's this freedom that I see as desirable, this reality where variety is not immature or unfocused, it's a balance. A balance you strike inside yourself, a balance you strive towards with others. A balance you seek with nature, and your surroundings. It is also change, which is both inevitable and invigorating. It allows you to be free, and explore: to be creative inside the box, not just outside it. It allows you to set your own boundaries, get to know yourself better, and move with purpose - not necessarily towards something, but with the knowledge that the systems you are creating as you take new steps, are those that you truly feel good taking.

A bird has just flown above me. It looks full of said balance – which is probably why I’ve not been pooped on... Moving swiftly onwards:

The second thing I've realised Covid-19 has confirmed for me today is this: we, as a race, are made up of a genuine ego, that some people end up in conflict with their whole lives. Is it so hard to fathom that people aren't that important? That's not to say they aren't important at all, but I believe we give ourselves way too much credit. Freud apparently thought that the ego stems from when humans are born; that babies think their crying means that they can get what they want whenever they want; that the adults are dependent on them, not the other way around. And it just grows bigger from there. Whatever it is, it makes us believe that our contribution to the world is substantial, that being ahead in society is important, and that on some level, we are better than the rest (it also does other, very meaningful things but that's beside the point). The assumption of the latter, of course, this wondrous pandemic has absolutely crushed. I'm not saying thousands of people dying is a good thing, but there are repercussions for everything that we do. Nature is alive, and we are a part of it - we do not make it, or are imperative to its existence. In fact, it's the exact opposite. Every breath is an acknowledgement that we are vulnerable - not weak, or strong, or any less of a creature. Just vulnerable. Living from one inhale to the next exhale. And our current situation makes me understand that clearer.

Which now brings me to the last thing that I thought of today. It is that in times of change, one tends to fall back on one's past life, rather than embrace the uncertainty. To delve into and across the mental spectrum; explore and introspect - these are daunting tasks. This may also stem from a place of fear or ego, or maybe none of the above, but I've witnessed on many occasions this phenomenon of people wanting to go back to their old ways, life and relationships once they realise things are changing. I am still uncertain about whether this is subconscious, but judging by how many of us are ‘tired’ of living our old lives, I assume it is so. I was once guilty of this, and at times that I am unaware, I still psychologically put myself in a regressive mental setup. Not that it is more comforting, or was a better time - it is just. More. Familiar.

And this needs to change. I read in one of Osho's books (it's called "Being In Love", in case anyone's interested) that pain is a natural feeling, on the same plane as happiness or anger. However, we treat both so differently: we try to shut away the pain, but allow emotions like happiness to wash over us. If we allowed pain to wash over us, it is no longer undesirable; it's just another state of being. And hence, pain is inevitable - but suffering is a choice. Similarly, change is inevitable - you cannot be the same person your whole life, in the same environment with the same people. Or maybe you can, but it is undesirable to me: people want to grow, but they do not want to be thrust into the uncertain, often painful realm of growth. You may grow at a faster rate than your surroundings, or you may feel like it is too overwhelming to be in a place that requires you to adapt at such a pace. But in choosing the familiar over the uncertain, you are already cutting off a whole world of possibility - the possibility of freedom. Of knowledge that uplifts, or a curiosity that creates. Of a new quirk, or skill, or even a new life altogether. And this is what I believe education is about.

This doesn't necessarily mean one must strive towards learning a new language, or bettering themselves in this period. Pandemics are apparently a period of uncertainty for some, and clarity for others. A period of uncertainty that leads to clarity for me. Growth is natural, and nature encompasses us. "When the student is ready, the teacher arrives", is what my English teacher says - I believe life works in a similar fashion. That being said, a dynamic approach isn't bad - it is the expectation of the approach putting you on a fast-track towards growth that is the 'bad' part.

And with that, I hope uncertainty brings you growth. Dear diary, I hope you distinguish the difference between existing and living, and how you don't need to go outside to do either one of these. I hope you are safe, and healthy, and happy - I hope you are enjoying (or learning) to spend time with yourself, the one person who matters most in life. Most of all, I hope your connection to nature, and the universe, strengthens. See ya next time :)

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