As I stepped out of office and looked at my watch, I realized it was just 6 p.m. Yes, when you run your own work space as well as struggle to keep up with stage, rehearsals and socializing, you realize that 6 p.m. is relatively early.
But as I walked down from my first floor office, I realized that the greatest problem is not that there is “no time” but that I barely – care to – take out that time that I so dearly and desperately desire.
For instance, when was the last time I blogged? I wondered as I got into my car and began to drive. For months now, it had nagged me. While I wrote for my clients, plays for my theatre group and letters to my associates, I hadn’t written a word on Half a Cup of Tea. It especially hit me when I walked out of a recent meeting where this client needed voice-overs and scripts. As I discussed various samples of my writing and walked out, I realized that I hadn’t even mentioned my blog.
I remembered a conversation with my mother as a child, when I used to write my personal Diary very regularly. She had said, “You write so much now, because you have time. As you grow up, you can’t expect to write down your entire life. You’ll lose touch with this exercise for sure.”
I don’t know in what context that came, but I remember it hit me then and I sort of made a secret resolve that no matter what di, I’ll keep in touch with you! (Di being my Diary) And fast – forward now, 15 years ahead, and my mom’s prediction was coming true.
My first resort in a situation like this, when I am almost low is to call my friends. And after a series of them not being free or answering the phone (like it always happens), I end up calling my best one again. “I am coming to pick you up”, I say. “What? But I am just getting out from office. On the way home!”
“Stay where you ARE!” I order, even as I wonder where that authority comes from.
“Alright, alright!” he says, puzzled at my urgency.
There was urgency. There are sometimes those moments of realization that are best not ignored. Sometimes your heart is trying to tell you something and the clutter of ‘everything else’ hides it away. An honest confession would be that I have been ignoring that voice for very long; seeking that inspiration that is so hard to find. In the search to be inspired ‘that much’ again, I was starting to quieten the voice inside. And hence, the lesser number of blogs, the lesser connection with self.
By the time I reached my friend, I had almost screamed at a guy driving on the wrong side while almost knocking down a woman who was trying to go straight on a U-Turn. I could hear her sreaming on the outside of the window before driving away. The signal turned green.
“What’s the matter he said”, as he got into the car, placing his luggage in the back seat. This friend carries a guitar to office, so he can strum it when he has a moment and steal a second from life.
“I haven’t written for ages,” I begin to grumble. “I am feeling sad that I haven’t spent as much time doing things I love. I mean, I love my business and I love theatre, but still. I feel like there is that extra spark I am lacking. Some vibe. Some inspiration. Something.”
“Hmm.” He said.
“And it’s making me sad. I don’t see inspiration anymore. The way I looked at the world has changed. I feel like I am living a mundane life of a non – working, married woman form the 80s, who spends all her time in family duties. The only difference is, I don’t spend all my time in family duties and I am not married either.”
“Who stops you from what you are doing?” he asks.
“My self.” I reply. “I stop myself.”
And that’s another box in my face. It is Us against Us.
Sometimes I wish I could just go back to school and re-live the youthful aspirations. Where do those aspirations disappear after a time? Or is it just me?
“Can you stop beating yourself so much?” he asked. Men, do have a very short span of attention when it comes to grumbling women after all. I check myself.
“Apsara, everyone grows up.” He says. “We have no responsibilities as children. So, we are bound to have uninhibited aspirations. But as we grow up, we’re bound to have more to do, more to work on, more responsibilities. SO, it’s just fine. Don’t stress so much!”
I am driving silently when I recollect a recent session at the TED talks, that I had had the opportunity to host. Vikram Sridhar, a professional storyteller had said, “ Once upon a time, someone told us stories they want to hear. Everything that you know today Is a story someone told you.” The story about the rabbit and the tortoise, the story of the cunning jackal, the story of the crow and the pot of water….. to story of Prince – and – princess, India and Pakistan, Diwali and Holi, Marriage and Relationships. Everything that we have been told is a story someone wanted to pass on.
And as he closed the session he said, “So please, tell the stories that the future will carry and the stories that will make the world a better place.”
We write the stories that we want to tell the future.
While there are many things that aren’t immediately in our control – like falling in love, perpetual success, immediate fortunes and untroubled relationships; there are some things that are in our control – observing beauty around us, perpetual attempts to rise, perseverance to build and sincerity towards the people in our lives. And most importantly, a little bit of self love.
May be, a little more of self love than we think is required.
And just as the thought crossed my mind, I noticed the winds blowing fast and smooth. The trees were waving and the farms were swaying. I rolled down the glasses and the wind touched us in the car. And just as I turned I noticed a tree on the right a rock – seat right below it, just as though it were out of a children’s story book.
“Sach!” I said. “Check that out! Let’s go.”
I stopped the car and both of us hopped out like little teenagers. The wind was blowing. The evening was just setting in. The air had a fragrance which you just couldn’t miss. The magnificence engulfed.
“Wait” he said, “I have something that will make this moment awesome.” He pulled out the guitar.
And there in the middle of nowhere, an aimless drive on a rare early day from work, had led us to this “Story Tree”. We rushed over to the stones under the tree to see who could get there first.
He won of course, the athlete in him.
And within seconds, he was playing music and it was like nature was singing the chorus. I can’t say definitely what song he played or what lyrics he sang. For me… The tree, the winds, the music … just became a chance romance with the universe. I walked straight past the tree, straight into the fields. The grass touched my feet. I walked bare foot. And as I turned around, I saw one of the most beautiful instances ever.
The moon was up, the sun was setting. A group of young boys were making their ‘play list’ request.
They watched in awe as my friend played the guitar. They talked cheerfully about their village, their school and the games they played.
And I told myself then, if this could not inspire me to write, what could?
As the kids carried on with their plan to go ‘cycling’, my friend put down the guitar, content that something so beautiful and meaningful had been experienced.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! For kidnapping me and bringing me here Aps.” He said. “Let me get you Tea. That’s the only thing left to make this evening perfect.” As he moved ahead to bring us the cutting – chai, I pulled out my diary and began to write. I began to write, once again.
And in the end, Amen to Us winning against Us, always.
p.s. Please go out and do something you have been longing to do for ages. I am telling you, today is the best day to do it 😉