When they were little, they came and told us everything every day. They vied for our attention. We didn’t have to ask them anything. They went round and round us and wanted to tell us all about their friends, people they met, things they did, what they had at lunch time, who said what to whom and so on.
A few years later, we started going round and round them, asking – what did you do today? Who did you meet? How are your friends? What did you have at lunch time and so on… but we didn’t get much more than monosyllables in response. What happened? Same child. Same parents. When did the equation change?
When they were tiny, we looked at them and smiled at the lovely things they said. They received our appreciation. They felt our complete acceptance of who they were, our whole-hearted approval of their pure innocence.
One day they came to us and said, ”Guess what! Today I bunked school to go watch a film.” Did we smile then? Did they feel our approval, acceptance or appreciation? No. They didn’t. If we could have smiled that day, they would have come and told us each and every detail of their day. But that day they felt our rejection. That day we put a deep long distance between them and us. They came to us with an openness which we were not ready for. Our judgement got in the way. We gave them a proper telling off in their best interest. In the evening, a family meeting was held to discuss the fact that this child has gone off the rails. The child got criticism, humiliation, ridicule and a feeling that everyone was trying to control their actions.
A few days later they tell us that they were introduced to smoking cigarettes by a friend at a party. That day a big huge drama takes place at home. Slowly, they stop telling us anything. We think they have learnt their lesson and stopped doing those things. In fact they have only stopped telling us what they were doing because they don’t want to meet our disapproval, our inability to listen without judgement.
We wondered how and why this distance came about?
Because we made them feel deeply rejected.
Everyone needs appreciation, approval and acceptance to experience closeness in any relationship. That leads us to the issue of boundaries and discipline. More thoughts about that tomorrow. Of course, I am no expert.
Leicester Square Tube station is a short stimulating walk from there. Chinatown is mouth-wateringly aromatic. Soho is teaming with restaurants and bars of all kinds. Music of various genres flies on to the street from doors and windows. The streets are buzzing with tourists and locals of all kinds, colours and inclinations. Outlandish garbs and hairdos are normal. It is Entertainment Central.
Ronnie Scott’s is black. A legendary jazz bar that has hosted every big name. The entrance is an unassuming black and red double door. It leads into an atmospheric, intimate space. The shapely waitresses manoeuvre their way delicately around tables in black dresses with broad red belts. The walls are awash with black and white pictures that capture jazz artists in an ecstatic moment. The cocktails are elegant and the menu fit for a Queen.
A drum-kit usually sits at the back of a stage. At best, to one side. But last night, it held centre-stage in all its glory – 5 drums and 8 cymbals at various angles. It was a celebration of Buddy Rich’s 100th birthday. He’s been called the greatest drummer ever to have drawn breath. Gregg Potter and Dave Weckl played the drums as a tribute to Buddy. They led a beautiful-big-band made up of 11 wind instrumentalists, a pianist and a base guitarist. They added layers upon layers of intricacy and magic to their music. Notes slithered up and down the octaves like snakes up and down a staircase. The sound was smooth, the timing impeccable and the speed, unbelievable. It was soothing and explosive at the same time. The beats bound time in a tight grid. The drums became an extension of the drummer. They were one.
I wonder if Saagar had heard Buddy. I wonder what he thought of him. I am sure he would have found his drumming to be ‘ridiculous’. Saagar often went straight to his drums on getting back from school. Drumming was his passion and respite. I suggested he do his official music grades. He said he had nothing to prove to anyone. He just wanted to enjoy it. He was a natural. Pity we never went to Ronnie Scott’s together.
All I manage to read these days are short stories. Partly due to my abbreviated attention span and partly because the time has come when I ‘should’ start wearing reading glasses but I don’t. I get by, by increasing the font size and by reading for short periods of time. Also by squinting a lot.
‘The First Forty nine stories’ is a collection by the Nobel prize winner, Earnest Hemingway. In the preface he says, “In going where you have to go and doing what you have to do and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dull and know I had put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and out a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well-oiled in the closet, but unused.”
After devouring the collection, I read up about him and was saddened to find that he suffered with depression and died of suicide. Here’s an example of the sensitivity and vulnerability of his characters and the simplicity of his story telling style. It’s called ‘Cat in the rain’.
Time has 3 dimensions.
Truth has 3 dimensions.
Consciousness has 3 dimensions.
The essence of the past is love.
Everything in the present is aimed at love.
Same is the hope for the future.
Love is what makes us complete.
Love is infinite, never ending…hence incomplete.
Love alone is supreme – a river of life,
Seeking the ocean of existence.
Your source is love and goal is love.
The path is also love.
Love is our very nature.
Though love is only one, it manifests in many ways.
Praising is uplifting – an expression and awakening of divine love.
Seeing divinity in every form – trees, flowers, road, TV, others, self …
Knowing that we are born out of fullness – wanting to offer and give.
Remembering someone you love kindles love.
Memory, a deep impression of divinity.
A desire to serve and surrender willingly to the divine is love.
Being a friend, relaxing together is love.
Seeing divinity as a child, like baby Krishna or infant Jesus.
Making the divine your beloved.
Dissolving oneself in the divine is love.
Being one with the universe is love.
Unbearable longing for the divine is love.
For more than 25 years, I have practised anaesthesia. One would think that by now I would know for sure that procedures take much longer than they are scheduled for and that every list these days is overbooked. Still, foolishly I hope to finish in time every day. Even though I have had to cancel after-work plans on many occasions, at every new opportunity I want to give a chance to the possibility of a desirable outcome.
When Saagar was ill, I was optimistic. I believed that he would get better. That it was only a matter of time. The messages I got from professionals reaffirmed that belief. My faith in life and confidence in Saagar and myself kept that belief strong.
Now when I am with worried parents and friends, I hold their uncertainty and mine. Things can go one of many ways. We don’t know. We just need to be with that uncomfortable uncertainty with positivity. That is compassion. Understanding.
In quantum physics, Heisenberg’s principle of Uncertainty says that there is an inherent uncertainty in the amount of energy involved in quantum processes and in the time it takes for those processes to happen. Vacuums are often defined as the absence of everything. But not so in quantum theory. It is possible that for very, very short periods of time, a quantum system’s energy can be highly uncertain, so much that particles can appear out of a vacuum. This is well within the laws of quantum physics, as long as the particles only exist fleetingly and disappear when their time is up. Uncertainty, then, is nothing to worry about in quantum physics and, in fact, we wouldn’t be here if this principle didn’t exist.
“One misconception is that entrepreneurs love risk. Actually, we all want things to go as we expect. What you need is a blind optimism and a tolerance for uncertainty.”
Valmiki started his life as a thief — looting to feed his family. He felt that he was protecting them and doing his duty. He was about to steal from Saint Narada who questioned him on his stealing ways.
Saint Narada: Why do you steal? Valmiki: It’s my duty to protect my family. I only know how to steal and kill. Saint Narada: By killing and robbing others you are acquiring lot of bad karma. Go and ask your family members whether they can take any part of your karma. (Valmiki goes to his family) Valmiki: Can any of you take part of my karma that I have incurred for you, due to my stealing habits. Valmiki’sMother: I didn’t know anything about the bad things you were involved in. Therefore, in no way can I be part of it. Valmiki’s wife: I didn’t know anything about the bad things you were involved in. Therefore, in no way can I be part of it. Valmiki’s children: We didn’t know anything about the bad things you were involved in. Therefore, in no way can we be part of it. Valmiki (to Saint Narada): Nobody is willing to share any part of my bad karma. What’s the salvation for me then? Saint Narada: Chant ‘Rama’, all day and all night.
Valmiki chanted ‘Mara’ as he misheard the saint. He chanted for many years. An anthill formed over him. People heard only the sound. When he came out of his meditation, he wrote the famous epic Ramayana.
His career choice is dismissed by some as : “You’re just trying to fix your own psychological problems, just like all mental health professionals.” Having psychological problems is not insulting. They are common, often treatable and nothing to be ashamed of.
Surely, heart and cancer researchers are not perceived in the same light. This is another reflection of the stigma that surrounds suicide.
Stigma is fear combined with disgust, contempt and lack of compassion – all of which flow from ignorance. We need to understand that suicide is not easy, painless, cowardly, selfish, vengeful or rash. It is not caused just by medicines, anorexia, smoking or plastic surgery. It is partly genetic and influenced by mental disorders which in themselves are agonising. That it is preventable (eg. through means restriction like bridge barriers) and treatable (talk about suicide is not cheap and should warrant specialist referral).
Once we get all that in our heads, we need to let it lead our hearts.
“I am terrified of this dark thing that sleeps in me,
All day I feel its feathery turnings,
– by Sylvia Plath