I think I should describe the sequence of events of the day to give you a better idea of why things looked the way they did in my head, at the end of it all.
I started the day early, waking at 5 am, getting dressed and taking the car out to get to the box for my morning Crossfit™ workout. As soon as I crossed the gate of my apartment building, the familiar sight of rain-wrecked Gurgaon roads greeted me. Water logged, pot holed and strewn with plastic bags and the occasional tree branch that fell off the night before.
I sighed deeply and felt a familiar, resentful grumbling rising within me, “Look at the paradoxes of this urban jungle we live in; when we are inside our fancy apartment buildings we delude ourselves into believing we also live in an equally fancy, upmarket metropolis, and look at the ugly reality that greets you the moment you step out…blah…blah…”.
Suddenly I stopped myself and it occurred to me, “I actually live here. This is the place I call home. Then how can I berate it so?”
In my work as a therapist I find myself wishing so often that the young girls with anorexia that I work with, would stop berating their own beautiful bodies and begin to love them; that the depressed young adults I meet could see beyond their tormented souls, the wonderland that I see in their beings. Then how could I do the same to the place I call home? For isn’t it all the same? Loving our bodies, our selves, our families, our neighbourhoods, cities, country, the planet. Not because they always bright and beautiful but because they are ours.
And suddenly, I just couldn’t see the point of it anymore. Complaining about the state of the neighbourhood, the city, the country, if I also in another breath choose to call them my home.
Later that same morning as I was driving to work I came across a post by Jeff Brown. I wish I could explain how much it resonated that particular morning and why, but maybe you should just read it here.
“…And I also know from a lifetime of overcoming that it is possible to hold it all at once. To fight against injustice while still embodying the light. To see where we are lacking, while rejoicing in our abundance. To express our anger, and to live our gratitude. To feel overwhelmed by an unfair world, while still achieving our goals. To see how far we have yet to travel, while applauding how far we have come…”
Yes, I realised I was done drinking from an empty glass.
We all know how the rest of that evening turned out for Gurugram wallas. To say the roads were flooded would be an understatement. We were all wading through hip high water, whether we were in cars or on foot, on the highway or the bylanes, inside our fancy apartment complexes or out on the streets. Given my morning resolution, I tried my best to see the brighter side of it all. To turn down the window of the cab and feel the rain on my face. Focus on the glistening green outside rather than on the chaos. It didn’t last long.
By the time I had abandoned my cab about a kilometre away from home and was focusing on somehow making it home, putting one foot gingerly ahead of the other, the familiar voice had become a scream inside my head, “What is the purpose of this life? This modernity? This urban delusion?” Cynicism and frustration battled with concern about the whereabouts of my partner who was stranded in a different car across town, and worry about whether my maid’s house had managed to withstand the crazy floods.
Then I saw the children. And the sheer joy on their faces. Racing each other as they waded through water that nearly reached their waist, jumping into puddles to see who could make the biggest splash; some of them had even filled water balloons to make the most of the holiesque day.
Suddenly I felt the weight lift from my chest. I didn’t want to carry it anymore. I wanted to let the water flush it all away. As it did one of my shoes at that very moment. I watched it go.
Indeed. I was done drinking from an empty glass.
Instead, I reached home and made myself a cup of masala chai. Dunked a bunch of Parle G™ biscuits in it one by one. And reminded myself of life’s simple pleasures.