Friendships lost and found

Isla and me decided to meet at Pebble beach. She always loved the beach. Probably because her name itself meant an island in Spanish – Isla. I faintly remembered our beach getaways during college days. It had been 10 years since our last rendezous at the beach. Since the Californian winds blew quietly that day, we decided to directly head down to the beach.

For the longest time we just sat quietly on the sand, staring at the deep blue ocean in front of us. The sound of the crashing waves being the only sound amidst the awkward silence. I suddenly remembered, this place was called “Pebble beach” and I saw all these pebbles lying around. I grabbed some pebbles from around and started stacking them one above the other. Isla joined in too. We both got engrossed in placing the pebbles on top of each other, trying to maintain their balance. While we were at it, I said, “You know, people stack these stones to make a..”. “Wish! I know”, she said and smiled. I smiled as well, amused at how she remembered this random thing I once told her.

Just like that, here we were, 10 years later, skeptical if we had lost our connection and wondering if our friendship could ever make sense again. Yet, we were back to being those same two kids who used to run off to the beach, where we would stack some pebbles together, wishing for future adventures together.

I didn’t wish for anything that day and I know she didn’t as well. Maybe, one of our wishes from the past did come true. Because here we were, reunited as the best friends we always thought we were.

The thousand magical suns

A wise old man once asked me, “Son, do you want to hear the story about the thousand suns?” Intrigued by the man’s question and worn from my own exhaustive journey, I sat down to hear more. Then he said, “There are these thousand unique suns out in the world and if you let their rays fall on you, your life will be filled with inner peace and happiness, no matter what. You will find them either during sunrise or during a sunset. There won’t be any signs, but make sure you look towards the sky each day and you will just know.”

I searched for long, trying to find these magical suns that would be the light of my life. I visited that old man again after a few years, desperate to find out how I wasn’t even able to find even one of the thousand suns. He looked at me and started laughing. I thought I had made a fool of myself trying to find something that didn’t exist.

The old man then said to me, “Here you are talking about how you failed to find the magical suns that would enlighten your life. And yet, you couldn’t think about every sunrise and sunset you saw during your journey. Those were the rays of sun you were supposed to collect and you’ve been doing it all along. Every time you paused to stare at the magic of this universe, the different colors of the sky and let it grasp your attention, you did collect all the magic out there.”

That day, I thanked the man and walked away to catch another sunset.

P.S: Took this shot of a beautiful sunset at Tulum beach, Mexico. Missing the beach life a lot! Do you guys prefer to watch the sunrise or the sunset?

The guy who sold happiness.

They told me about a guy who sold happiness. Every person I met would talk about how the old man made them the happiest person in the world. I looked everywhere and he seemed nowhere to be found. I was left wondering if this town was full of crazy clowns. So, I stopped an elder man and asked him, if he had seen the guy around. He just smiled and said, “You will find him when you are really looking for him.”

I finally met the guy after a lot of soul searching, he was sitting under a tree with just a book in his hand. I simply walked towards him and asked him, if he is the guy who they say sells happiness. He said to me, “I’m not a rich guy to “sell” you any kind of happiness nor poor to take money from you. All I ever did was help the people realize that what they were searching for in the extrinsic world, was with them all the time. I just made them see the light within them.

I always ask them, what makes them the happiest – is it a thing, is it a person, is it a place? I tell them – don’t tell me if you’re currently happy with what you do, or how the person you’re with is great or about your beautiful new house or car. Don’t overthink it.

Tell me about that one thing which you know has always brought you pure joy, which without any doubts makes you feel like the person you truly are. Just place your hand on your heart and think about it. Because you can fill the void in your life with a lot of materialistic things. But, if you have that one thing in your life, even if everything else doesn’t work out, you will still have YOUR happiness with you, wherever you go, whatever you do.”

This guy never sold happiness, he simply helped people find it. 💫

About friendships that were lost

“Friends forever” were the words we sketched under our desks
For we never even thought our lives will ever be a mess
My partner in crime and my friend in need,
Me for you and you for me, that was our world indeed

We didn’t live for tomorrow, coz our present itself felt like a beautiful dream
We laughed our hearts out and celebrated each other’s wins
Holding hands, we ran with the wild winds, stuck with each other like glue
Look at us now, jumping into the phases of life without any clue

They say heartbreaks are tough but what about friendships that were lost
None of us can put a value on the pain they cost
For love may come and go, but true friendship is one of its kind
Which comes with an unsaid promise, to be together through space and time

To my dear friend, even though we may have drifted apart
You and our friendship had a happy place in my heart
And if I ever come across a picture of us, your hand on my shoulder and us smiling together
I’ll cherish the memories and pray that you don’t lose that smile, it’s all that matters!

– Ashwini

The circle of life

Looking back at this picture, it reminds me of “The circle (more of a circus) of life” and how our lives are constantly changing. According to science, humans are built to be dynamic. The very fact that the cells in our body keep changing over the years, explains that we too, are built to change, to evolve. This world, this Universe is constantly changing, moving and our tiny lives along with it are in motion as well.

And I believe that this is one of the best things happening to us. To have the opportunity to experience new things. To grow and outgrow from stagnant and monotonous lives. To let go of the things that bring us down and embrace the ones that lift us up.

Also, we humans have been gifted with this amazing ability to adapt to change. Our lives changed completely since March of last year, with the onset of an unforeseen pandemic. We were stuck and yet, we were evolving, trying to adapt to a new way of life. Even after a series of lockdowns and the uncertainty of when it would all end, so far, we’ve made it through.

It remains to see how the world will look like after the whole thing ends (we all still need to wear masks!). But well, while you are on the rider’s seat of this “thrilling” wheel of life, might as well enjoy the ride! Do more things that genuinely make you happy, use this extra time for things you’ve been putting off because of lack of time and take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come! 💖

P.S: This picture was taken at Miami in Dec, 2020. How I miss the warm weather while sitting here in snowy New York. Would love to read in the comments how you guys have adapted to this new lifestyle. 🙂

Internal and external freedom

Few years ago, I saw the Broadway show, Aladdin, in New York City. It really is one of my favorite Broadway shows and it does leave you spellbound. There was a scene in this show, where Aladdin asks the Genie that what would he want if the Genie was granted a wish. To which, the Genie replies, “I want freedom”. “Not the riches of a palace or exotic food, just my freedom.” He could’ve asked for any lavish thing in the world or any crazy imaginable thing for that matter. But, all he wanted was his freedom! Freedom from being enclosed in a metal lamp and being answerable to no one.

This tells us how freedom varies from person to person. For some, it’s being able to live lavishly and not having to worry about spending a single penny, whereas for some, it’s about not depending on material things for their happiness. For some, these palace walls are everything that they could dream of, the riches of this world at your feet, not ever having to worry about what to eat and where to get the money for buying food and yet, for some, these same walls are merely pillars which they want to climb out of. Because being able to afford such luxuries also means guarding yourself from the evil world.

When they’re looking out of this window, maybe someone wishes to live in a place like this, amidst these high walls. And there are some, who peek through the window and adore the view, awestruck at how beautiful the city looks, wanting to explore its small lanes and tiny shops. And yet, these same high walls which guard them from intruders could also feel like a cage sometimes.

We all here, seek freedom from a place and some seek freedom from their thoughts. Our mind has this amazing capability to store even the minutest of details. Once we start overthinking, it boggles our minds and causes so much chaos that it feels like it is going to explode. We search and search, for an escape, running through the long passages of memories we shared and passing through the garden of secrets. Sometimes, all you have to do is climb out of that window and take a walk, let peace find you in the most unexpected places. Let the beauty of this world and its people make you find the magic you’re looking for.

Most importantly, believe in the magic that resides within you. Be your own Genie and fulfill your wish. ✨

Love in the time of Corona

We are close to completing a year since the COVID-19 pandemic started. How it has affected all our lives is yet to be fully measured. But I can’t seem to ignore the simple things that we usually forget to be grateful for. Most importantly, it helped us to recognize the value of love that already exists amongst us. Looking back, I couldn’t help but think about the people who reached out to me throughout the crazy phase and helped me stay sane.

There was a time when you couldn’t hug a friend but the 6 feet distance didn’t matter anyway. To see long forgotten acquaintances reach out to you to ensure you’re safe and healthy. The people who constantly checked up not only on your physical health but mental health as well. The long video calls that called for a happy hour or birthday celebrations and let’s not forget the Zoom weddings! For those staying away from family and friends, living a solitary life, how the anxious phone calls strangely seemed to calm down your nerves, being thankful to hear the voice of your loved ones. You didn’t feel the need to teleport through the laptop screen because the love that already exists was enough to endure through it all. It took us a pandemic to realize that the ones that care do find a way to show their love despite perilous circumstances.

Love could never be a weakness when all it has done is given us strength. To endure, through it all, together. These strange times reinstate that there exists a love that transcends space and time. There’s you and there are your people. The ones who cared and the ones who dared to love in the time of Corona. ❣️

P.S: I’m never gonna forget about the time when I was too scared to eat a slice of pizza!

What would you settle for?

I was watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and I came across this dialogue where the protagonist’s mother says to her daughter -“It takes a strong woman to stay by herself in a world where people will settle for anything, just to say they have something”. I feel it holds true for men and women both. We tend to settle not just in terms of people, but things, places, goals and dreams as well. In most cases, it happens so because you go for the easy choice or what society deems ideal for you. We are just so keen on having something to call ours that we forget to question ourselves – Do I even want it? Can I do better? Do I want to do better?

This also has a lot to do with circumstances that force us into settling. But it also takes a lot of courage to fight for what you want despite the circumstances. In the end, it’s really about choosing the battles you’re willing to fight for and dropping your weapons and armor to the ground for some. Don’t ever believe anyone who tells you that you don’t deserve something. No one. Not even yourself! Just because you’ve set your standards high doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a shot at what’s best for you.

To not settle for less also means being able to realize and recognize your own value. To not be afraid of your own shadow. In life, there won’t always be another person making you realize your worth. But it will be the person you see when you stand in front of the mirror everyday. You need to decide what is best for you. And you don’t have to lowball yourself just to be with someone or for the sense of some kind of accomplishment. Think about how many times before you choose other people are you willing to choose yourself. Remember, the pursuit of happiness always begins with you.

New Year, Upgraded Me.

The start of a new year acts as a cue to hit the reset button in our lives. We see this as an opportunity to reassess our lives and find things we would want to get done in the upcoming year. However, rather than the cliched “New Year, New Me”, I’m more of a “New Year, Upgraded Me” kind of a person. I feel that you don’t need to uproot your whole life right away in the name of change. But what we can do, is choose to focus on things we’ve been wanting to achieve since so long and tackle it one day at a time.

Also, I believe it’s important for these “resolutions” we set to be realistic as well. I remember when I used to try to quantify these resolutions just to feel like I’m achieving something. And a week later into the new year, I used to forget about them because they felt far-fetched. However, I feel it’s more helpful if you choose a niche you really wanna improve at and give it your honest try. Change takes time. For example, instead of directly trying to cut out sugar from your diet, why not focus on being healthy first? Find a diet plan that’s going to help you stay fit and gradually decrease your sugar consumption .

This blog, too, was a part of my last year’s goals. And well, here I am! Finally after years of convincing myself that I need to start writing again rather than just talking about it, I finally did find the strength to do it. During previous years, I had set a goal of writing one blog post a day and I failed in doing so. So instead, now I chose to focus on getting into the habit of writing first. I can now choose the frequency of my posts because I can anticipate the amount of time and efforts it takes to finish up everything.

So, whatever you are working on or want to, keep going. You don’t have to take the giant leap of faith every time. Sometimes, even one baby step towards your goal is all you need to get going. It’s only the first month of this year. So, even if everything is not going according to your plans, you still have the rest of the year ahead of you. Don’t give up now thinking it’s already the end of January, rather, focus on utilizing the remainder of your time. Trust me, it’s never too late to start something. Just go for it!

We all have history, darling!

Someone said this to me a few days ago and I simply couldn’t stop thinking about it. Isn’t that true, though? You, me, all of us. We all have been through different things in our life. And that lady didn’t refer to it as some sort of a bad experience. What she meant was, we all have had brief or enduring chapters in our lives which have had a significant impact in our lives. This history that you’ve had has probably led you to become the person you are today.

Remember, how you used to sit for history lectures and listen to your Professor talk about these astounding people who fought battles, who created change, even led revolutions, fought for independence? And we learnt about these men and women because they were brave enough to do something significant that it lives on even after they’re gone. We, too, are modern day heroes writing our own chapters. Some have to fight battles with outsiders who come to rob the love that resides in our hearts, while some have to fight their own vicious mind and achieve control over it.

The scars that these battles leave, might hurt you out of the blue. A sting that hurts you so bad, you lay writhing in pain. But let these very scars remind you, that you fought the battles that have brought you here, you showed up on the battlefield! And though you might have lost some battles, don’t forget what they taught you. You always learn from your failures. And darling, you don’t have to carve out tombstones for the love that died or the people that left or your failures. You don’t need to build a memorial park where once stood a fierce warrior who fought back. But rather build an empire, that thrives with people, who uplift you and who would fight these battles with you. Build an army that would be ready to fight for you, roaring with the battle cries of hope and wearing shields of love as armor.

We are all modern-day warriors. Today, we fight. We fight against injustice, inequality, patriarchy. We fight for the things that our hearts want and we stand our guard against people who try to break down the walls of our mental peace. We are the unsung heroes, that fight bravely everyday. Because if you are going to create history, why not make it a glorious one! A history which doesn’t end up in ruins, but an empire that still stands mightily after fighting hundreds of battles. And one fine day when you will look back, you will think about the braveheart that fought through it all.

PS: This picture was taken at Lakshmi Vilas Palace, Gujarat, India in Dec 2019.