Human cages

Looking back at this picture, it reminds me of the beautiful world we live in. Last year, particularly hindered all our travel plans. However, this particular shot makes me think about how we, as humans, build some fences all around us, restricting our own growth and reach. How often do we wonder about what’s stopping us from doing the things we’ve always wanted to do?

Sometimes we are restricted by external factors whereas, sometimes, we unknowingly build a cage around ourselves and keep running in circles. A lot of things we worry about are just in our heads. If we don’t even try to wander beyond the usual, letting go of the insecurities, self-doubt and risk of failure, we might never get rid of the cages we’ve put ourselves in.

Pebble beach, California

The above picture is a gentle reminder of how free we truly are, to be anywhere in this big, beautiful world and become the person we really want to be. It’s all about the perspective. 

P.S: This is one of the lookout spots from the iconic 17-mile drive along the Pacific coast in California.

Choose yourself. Over and over.

We often talk about how we love a fictional character from a movie or a show. Have you ever wondered how easy it is to love every other thing in this world and yet, so difficult to love ourselves. We try to find meaning in the outside world, to search the light that will guide our way and give us a reason to live, something that will make us happy and feel good about ourselves. But, how often do we sit with ourselves and try to make sense of what we are.

You try to find the “good” side of all characters in movies, friendships and even relationships. And yet, you’re so cruel to yourself. To think that you’re unworthy of any good thing in this world. That you will never be as cool as the other person is. And yes, you can try to be that person, but you can’t escape who you are and what lies within you.

It takes a lot of strength to face your own demons – your insecurities, your weaknesses, your pain, your failures. And trust me, it takes an insane amount of courage to acknowledge all these things that make you vulnerable. If you can be kind to strangers and even stray animals, why not show some kindness to yourself? The first step to self love starts with accepting yourself. The good, the bad, all of it. These are the things that make you, YOU.

Accepting yourself empowers you to grow past your weaknesses. You need to tell yourself insane amount of times that “I am not just a product of my insecurities. Rather, these are just things that make me human”. What really matters is how you choose to get past it and focus on things that do bring the best out of you.

Honestly, the world is always going to have something to say about you – sometimes good, sometimes bad. Don’t let them define you or just blindly adhere to the world’s perception of you. You have the choice to live a life built on your own beliefs and choices. Just work on yourself. Believe in yourself. Choose yourself. Over and over. ✨

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. ✨

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.

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.

Perks of being a Wildflower!

That’s the thing about these wildflowers. Nobody planted their seeds here. Some were carried by the ferocious winds and some by the torrential rains. I wonder how far did they have to travel and through how many storms and hurricanes before they found this spot, right here, by the beach! But once they found an empty home, they blossomed through all the empty spaces where once was just dirt and dust. Without being cultivated with caring sets of hands or even fertilizers that could supplement their growth, they just grew.

You too, don’t need everything that you think you do before you can start. While you’ve got this innate ability to grow where you are, you will grow in the high-maintained gardens and in the wild parks by the sea. And that’s the beauty of it all, while you sit here pondering over where to begin, you’ve already commenced this journey. All you need to do is sow the seeds and watch yourself grow. These wildflowers, they find their own water and light along the way, simply thriving through all rubble and rain.

You don’t have to wait for someone to plant you or until you find that perfect place or time. Just remember, wildflowers grow from NOTHING and yet, Mother Earth brings them all the water and nourishment that they would need to flourish. Don’t forget, you too, are her child. So, this is what makes these wildflowers so special. They are born with the only purpose to bloom, that’s all they know and that’s all they ever seek to do. 🌸

What a view!

I once saw a tv show where a guy visits an old mansion and gets a chance to meet the couple who live there. When he looks at the woman, he sees a beautiful young bride trapped in a big castle, married to a man twice her age. It breaks his heart to see this confined soul in this desolate place and he even offers to rescue her from the man. The girl only smiles at him thinking what a fool he must be. She tells the guy that she’s actually happy with the person she’s married to and that they both love each other. He cares for her selflessly and is even supporting her in continuing her education. In the end there’s a scene where the couple is shown dancing away in their vast empty palace, no one around, just the two of them, living a fairytale of their own.

Sometimes we are so obsessed about finding issues and problems in other people’s lives, we often tend to overlook the bubble they choose to live in. We are so eager to project our way of living life onto them, we simply disregard the other person’s choices and priorities. Everyone doesn’t want the same things in life. Wouldn’t it be kinda boring if that were the case? Some people are just genuinely happy with all the things they have and they’re wise enough to not care about what the outer world thinks about it. What may seem less to you, might be just enough for them. Only if we start being more mindful about other people’s choices!

People want different things in life and have different priorities. So what you may perceive as a bad situation, the other person might just be wanting that. We need to stop judging people for the choices they make and rather try to understand why they did so. And if you can’t understand it, the least we can do is try to respect their choices. We have all got this one life to live. Would you really throw it all away just for what others would think? Everyone deserves a life of their choice and there’s nothing wrong in choosing to live it your own crazy-but-fulfilling way.

My mantra has always been live and let live!

PS: The picture was taken at City Palace, Udaipur (City of Lakes), India in January, 2018.

The perfect fall leaf.

I stood at the beach, close enough that I could look down and see the empty shells in the crystal clear water yet far enough that my shoes didn’t get wet. I stood there a few feet away from everyone else with my back turned against the world, just staring deep into the abyss, breathing in the crisp fall air and watching the colorful reflection of the maple trees in the still water. The sun and the sky, the trees and their fallen leaves, the beach and the broken shells, it was all there right in front of me.

This was my last fall foliage trip since just in a few days, it was going to be past-peak for the autumn in Vermont. Throughout our entire journey, I was trying to find a maple tree with the perfect red leaves to capture. I was looking for a red maple leaf without any holes or dirt marks. However, the moment I set my eyes on the crystal clear water, I saw this one rogue red maple leaf right in front of me. It was nowhere close to what I was originally hoping to capture.

However, its worn, tattered texture stood out amidst all the pebbles. And while I stood there pondering over, it just struck me! Doesn’t this leaf symbolize what fall is all about? It teaches you about change. Just like how the lush green leaves change into different colors and shades, in our life too, we go through numerous changes, wanted and unwanted, both. But what we can do is adapt to the change. It felt like the leaf was conveying nature’s message to me that everything doesn’t have to to be perfect all the time, even your life. Sometimes, all you gotta do is take what you’ve got right now and still manage to find the beauty in what lies in front of you. Because in a week, all the perfect and the not-so-perfect leaves, they all were gonna fall from the trees and wither away.

So, here it is – my version of the perfect fall leaf. 🍁

Pause.

I took this picture after I had walked on the other side of the road. When I turned back for a swift second, I saw an old lady park her car on the curbside to capture this beautiful view. While looking at her, I thought to myself, isn’t that how we all should learn to appreciate life? To work hard on our dreams and goals, but also learn to stop for a while and just stare at the view, acknowledging where we are right now. To not forget about how peaceful even the small things in our life could be, if we just give them a try. This lady must’ve possibly seen hundreds of sunsets in her whole life and yet, the simple beauty of today’s sunset made her stop the car and admire it.

Right now, especially, we are all going through something and it’s okay to feel lost. To not being able to understand the unpredictability. But don’t let that take away what you are able to feel and understand, what you’ve always known. Take a small walk (make sure you wear a mask) and just try to soak in the beauty around you. Maybe this is not the place where you planned on spending the whole year, but nevertheless why not try to have a good time where you are? There is so much of beauty in and around you, only if you begin to look for it, you will find it!

During this pandemic, I’ve learnt to be more involved in the little things that bring joy to me. Be it cooking, gardening or writing. And watching the sunset during my evening walks only makes me feel grateful that I’m being able to feel good, just by admiring the beautiful sky, by smiling at my neighbors, by getting excited when the flowers start to bloom from the plants I grew, trying my hand at baking and laughing at my failed pizza-from-scratch attempts (I’ve gotten better now!). I believe that until I’m able to do so, I know things will turn out just fine.

While you’re striving so hard to achieve that big dream, don’t forget to pause for those tiny moments of happiness too.

Picture perfect.

I sometimes see people freaking out when things aren’t going according to their “plan”. And I used to be one such person too. I had this mental image of how my future would look like, monthly goals, yearly goals. And while we are busy working towards this mental image, life generally hits you with its own plans and may decide to take you down different roads. But, don’t just judge yet if these changes are good or bad for you. Sometimes, the roads less traveled might lead you to a destination that you were meant to arrive at. A place that’s meant for YOU.

And no, I don’t say that having a plan is a bad idea. But you need to stop obsessing when life doesn’t happen according to your plans. If one thing isn’t working out right now, there’s definitely something else that will or some other way. You need to accept these uncalled changes and face them with all you’ve got, maybe even try to find happiness along the way. Because you’ve already lost what you had imagined and now you’re also throwing away that could actually be something better for you. Sometimes we’re so fixated on what we want, instead of what we need, that we are not ready to accept the changes happening around us. If we learn to embrace these changes, we can surely learn how to adapt to different situations.

So the next time, paint that perfect-picture in your mind. But also don’t be afraid if you end up adding some random strokes and blurry outlines. Maybe, life does have bigger plans or you. Who knows, when you sway away from the original path, you might end up on the path that was really meant for you. Even if it’s a rugged road you were set on, life will bring you so many beautiful things to get through till you reach the final destination, that you would need a bigger canvas to paint the whole picture.