Truth will set you free. But before that, it will piss you off.
If you’ve heard public speaking gurus speak publicly, you will know that not all of them are as fantastic as they think they are.
This is a snatch from a private conversation:
“When I was first married, I was right on time with the biological clock which set the pattern of correctness and timely dutifulness and the predictability of a marriage that lasted 14 years, kids, two of them, of course, divorce, a second marriage which was a disaster because, like everyone who divorces after 14 or 18 or 22 years, you’re crazy as a loon and you don’t know it and you think you’ve learnt so much and now you know what you really want and then this man shows up who tells you that you’re the one he’s been looking for forever and your body wakes up and you feel attractive and valued and excited about life again and so what if he’s a lot younger than you and even though all your friends and all the books and articles warn you that it’s too soon, that you need at least a year or two to figure things out, what’s the rush etc etc, you’re so caught up in the look in his eyes and, besides, he seems to know what he’s doing and it just feels so good to be in love and lust again that you go ahead and marry him and then it takes a week or two, maybe a month to figure out that you blew it. All your friends and books and articles were right. I mean he doesn’t even know the words to your favourite songs but then it takes a year or two to finally give up and get out and then you finally meet someone right for you. You marry him and you don’t see it coming. One morning two weeks before Christmas when you’re reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee and you are in your nice home with your nice husband and you are suddenly terrified that your life will continue exactly as it is until the day you die and you realise you better put your seat belt on because lunacy is sitting in the corner behind the Christmas tree, and it just irritates the hell out of me that all this is part of the schedule, you know, all that midlife crisis stuff, and I’m right on time as usual. I am a compulsive punctual, having a nervous breakthrough.”
That’s a stump speech. Showing up to yourself.
Write one for yourself. I will too. Answer four questions:
Where am I going?
Why am I going there?
Who’s going with me?
How will I get there?
The longest day of the year. The coming together of light and darkness. The summer solstice. Sun standing still. It reaches its highest point, furthest away from the equator in the northern hemisphere and then rests.
For millennia, this day has been celebrated as a symbol of the earth’s bounty and the sun’s potency. There are temples dotted across India, all along the Tropic of cancer, dedicated to the Sun God. This day is similarly honoured in various European and Middle Eastern countries under different names. Our ancestors recognised it as the first harvest of the year, a time to celebrate warmth and abundance, a time for spiritual awakening and the marriage of heaven and earth.
Bonfires are lit to give more power to the sun. This is an auspicious time for weddings as the feminine and masculine powers of nature are fruitfully aligned. The fire is used to drive away evil forces, to bring fertility and prosperity to men, crops and herds, to prevent disease and misfortune, to purify and strengthen.
This is the time to meditate on the light and darkness around us and within us. To welcome and honour them both. To be grateful for both. To acknowledge that one cannot exist without the other. To harmonise ourselves with our environment. To celebrate and be at peace with what is.
May you have beautiful dreams, fulfilling endeavours and may you find the love you search as you dance with your body, heart and soul.
At the Delhi International Airport, leaving home, I usually am sad to be leaving my folks. But on this occasion I felt like an uplifted version of myself. Positively happy. Buzzing. Most uncharacteristic. Something was not right, if you know what I mean. I thought back to what had gone on in the few preceding hours. Well, the only new thing was that just before leaving home, I had a glass of ice-coffee that my Mum had made for us. It was most welcome on a warm day like that. That was the first time I had coffee in more than 10 years.
Here was my answer. Saagar used to love Mocha Frappucino. I thought it was just the sugar hit he liked but now I know it is a combination of the coffee, the coolness and the calories. For some, the cream on top. I had just found a ‘back-up’ plan for my blues. It was a tried and tested remedy.
Since last weekend the temperatures have completely justified a generous dose of ice-coffee and we’ve indulged every day.
This is how we make 2 glasses :
Medium strength coffee: 200 mls
(While hot, dissolve 2 heaped teaspoons of dark muscavado sugar in it and allow to cool to room temperature)
Cold Milk: 1 glass
Ice cubes: 14-16
Blend the coffee and sugar mix in a blender.
Add the milk. Blend again
Add about 12 ice cubes. Reblend.
Pour into 2 tall glasses and add the other 1-2 ice cubes in each glass.
For extra luxury, add cream or vanilla/chocolate ice-cream to the mix.
If you drink properly, you can even get yourself a nice moustache. I am hooked. Can hardly wait till tomorrow.
(I am not going to be a numpty and post a picture of ice-coffee. I think everyone knows what it looks like.)
‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.’ – Cesar A. Cruz
Yesterday’s play on ‘Shifting perspectives’ through theatre and today’s trip to the Dragon café brought this truth home.
The work done by the patrons of the Dragon café was compiled into a big black book called ‘Artspace’. Looking through it was an immersive experience. Some brought me comfort and some disturbed me, making me a mixture of ‘comfortable’ and ‘disturbed’.
I shall let you find out how they make you feel.
Certain events or times of day are more difficult – like being alone late at night, or having arguments. During these times it can often be more difficult for us to feel a sense of hope, to feel connected to the idea of safety, to feel our own resilience. This is the times when ‘self-care’ is essential – taking time out to be kind to ourself, to find activities that feel good, or allow us to connect with ourself again. Self-care is about caring for ourself, inside and out.
Focusing on the present moment, the present activity, whilst allowing thoughts and feelings to just be – has a long history of helping people with their mental wellbeing. By allowing ourself to become absorbed in the moment it’s possible to feel a sense of calm and focus that can distract from painful thoughts and feelings. No wonder colouring books for adults and kids alike are taking a special place on book store shelves.
One of the actors at the above workshop, who is also a mentally ill patient in recovery spoke about his insights, “I realised that as long as I depend on the State to look after me, I will be met with the lowest common denominator. This brought me to the conclusion that I may not have control but I have agency.”
After I got home, I looked up the meaning of ‘agency’ to figure out exactly what he meant. Agency is an ‘action or intervention producing a particular effect’. For example, many infectious diseases are caused by the agency of insects. Synonyms to this effect are: influence, power, effect, force, means, channels, routes, mechanisms and techniques.
In effect, he was referring to ‘self-help’. He was saying, “I have the power to change my situation.” It was inspiring for me to hear him say that. That statement reinforced the message of the workshop – there is a very thin line between the well and the ill. Role reversals are common. Sometimes visible. Often not.
I came away from there with a mixed bag of feelings. On the one hand, I could clearly see the daily struggles of mentally ill patients and on the other, their brilliance shone through. I wonder how Saagar would have been, had he got through that big dip.
It seems like that was another lifetime. Some moments however last forever. My mind has been dancing in overlapping elliptical, circular, zig-zag and squiggly shapes between the remotest past and the far future and deep inside this bottomless present moment. I find gems scattered all around. Today the moment when I first saw his face shone the brightest. I picked it up. I held it in both my hands, looked at it for a while, felt it, kissed it and held it close to my heart. This is where he lives. In my heart, in the past, the future and the Now. That moment from another lifetime is mine again.
Experiences can only be experienced. Not explained. Ones who has experienced it know it, ones who haven’t can have a guess. Some songs say it all. This one does. It speaks to me. It’s a song of love. Roberta Flack sings to my heart. She knows how I felt the first time ever I saw his face.
“The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and the stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies my love
To the dark and the endless skies
The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hand
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command my love
That was there at my command my love
And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last ’till the end of time my love
And it would last ’till the end of time
The first time ever I saw your face
Your face, your face.”
NICE guidelines on ‘Bipolar Disorder in Adults’ regarding the role of families and carers state:
“Quality standards recognise the important role families and carers have in supporting adults with bipolar disorder. If appropriate, health and social care practitioners should ensure that family members and carers are involved in the decision‑making process about investigations, treatment and care.”
“Why is it that some psychiatrists sometimes don’t fully appreciate the views of carers and involve them in the care of a patient when NICE guidelines clearly state that it should be otherwise?” I asked a senior psychiatrist casually during a recent conversation. “Traditionally” he said, “doctors were sons and daughters of doctors, their friends and spouses were often doctors and those were the people they spoke with. Carers didn’t fit into that box. It’s a cultural thing, still lingering. Hardest thing to change – a mindset.”
India gets criticised for its caste system. In other countries it exists in other forms – the power dynamic between different groups of people in different strata of society. As the Grenfell tragedy unfolds, I see how the management didn’t take the resident’s concerns seriously. What is the nature of Tenant-Management relationship? Who is disadvantaged?
Any number of guidelines cannot change deep-rooted, unconscious biases. Only humanity can.
Mrs May visited the site but couldn’t speak with the residents for ‘security’ reasons and because she is very tired after her recent election campaign. Being with them would have taken compassion. And humanity. I wonder if this was a Mayfair tower wether she would have felt more secure and less tired.