Finding God

Birthday wish

One of my colleagues J asked me why I don’t write posts the way I used to on my blog — with anecdotes from my personal life, with all its trials and joys. I told her I don’t have the urge to do that anymore but for old times’ sake, I decided to write one today.

I turned 41 yesterday. It was my day off from work, and I spent the first half of it wrapping up pending woodwork at my present apartment. (We’re going to move in a few days and I didn’t want to leave behind loose hinges and broken door locks.) It was pretty intense — there were four workmen around the house, my husband was fast asleep on the sofa, the kids were busy messing up the kitchen, the phone kept ringing as my loved ones called to wish me, the computer made pouty faces urging me to sit and do some work, and the doorbell was at its incessant best as delivery boys or the landlord dropped in. My office sent me a cake and flowers. I got several birthday wishes on Facebook.

By afternoon, there was a lull as the activity died down. The family kept asking what I wanted to do with the rest of the day. I couldn’t think of a single thing. So we just hung around and ordered Subway (but I still ate leftovers because no one else wanted them) and we watched some TV and I talked a whole lot on the phone — one call after another, and another, and another. Then another colleague sent a Whatsapp joke: “What did the Buddhist say to the man behind the Subway counter? Make me one with everything.” I loved it. I think it was the most wonderful birthday present EVER.

Before I slept at night, I decided to make my day REALLY special, so I turned off the lights and as the husband snored away (yes, he seems to sleep a lot on the weekends), I talked to God. And my day flashed before my eyes as my whole body beamed up waves of gratitude.

I thanked God for the carpentry work — I was able to tie out the loose ends before ending one phase of life. I prayed to die with such utter completion, like my aunt, whose house burned down and she learnt to give up material attachments a few months before her death. She passed away painlessly, laughing, playing a game of cards with her daughter and full-time help. We die as we live.

I thanked God for my family and for their presence on my big day, for the sense of love, meaning and belonging. I thanked God for all the other abundances in my life, the homes, the jobs, the relationships, the friendships, the phone calls, the cake and flowers, the opportunities, the blessings, the magic, the furniture, the clothes, the angels, the sheer miracle of being alive.

Intensely moved, I cried my heart out with pure gratitude for nearly an hour, thanking the universe for the supreme privilege of having me, for every single step of the journey that has brought me here, for all the little and big lessons I needed to learn before I could appreciate my gifts. I begged forgiveness for grudging my sorrows and begrudging my challenges. All of my existence made perfect sense — from the moment of my conception to the moment I sat down to pray my birthday prayer. It was God’s plan for my life and it was just…. perfect.

Tears running down my face, I began repeating over and over again, “Make me one with everything. Make me one with everything. Make me one with everything.”

It was an intimate moment that I wouldn’t have shared had not J brought it up. But now I guess she knows why I no longer share so much of my life out in public. There’s so much happening within.

Often, dear J, at the end of each day, I feel one with everything. And then there is no need for words. Except maybe one.

Om.

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Seeking God

5 benefits of having kids

A few days ago, I found myself driving the kids back and forth from their aerobics class after I’d come home from work. So there I was, all tired and in the mood to crash on the sofa, forced to play driver and ferry the kids, buy groceries, walk the dogs, and generally be ‘mom’.

In the car, I mused aloud to my younger one: “I wonder if there are any benefits of having children. I mean, humans do it every single day and it’s all about passing on the genes and taking the human race forward and all that, but tell me, really, is there any other benefit of having kids? There’s just work and pain and tension and heartache and expense… I can’t think of a single reason I’d recommend motherhood to anyone.”

My otherwise bright teen had no response. “I dunno, mom. You’ll have to figure this out yourself. I want kids when I grow up, though.”

So I’ve spent some of my spare time (increasingly rare these days) figuring out if there is any reason to recommend motherhood to anyone. I finally had a eureka moment today and thought I’d write it down while on a flight back home from a conference.

1. Having kids keeps you updated on everything that’s trending in the world – from music to fashion to technology. It is through our kids that we stay updated. Now, you’ll say one doesn’t need to go to the drastic extreme of having kids to do that, but I say, any learning is far more effective when you live both the pros and cons of it, day in and day out.

2. Having kids keeps you young. This sounds paradoxical but it isn’t. If I didn’t have kids, I’d avoid a lot of adventurous, spontaneous things in life and would be an old fuddy-duddy sooner. Because of them, I am forced to do new things on a regular basis and that keeps me young at heart.

3. Having kids helps you in your career. Again this sounds contrary to common sense, but hear me out. I work in an industry (online media) that targets young adults. Knowing their behaviour patterns and life choices helps me tremendously in understanding my target audience. I am able to make better informed decisions when it comes to creating my product for them. They also actively give me feedback, which I then act on. So having them around is good for my career.

4. Having kids makes you get up early in the morning. Now, everyone knows the benefits of this, but I’m a lazy person and if I didn’t have kids, I’d be in bed till 10 in the morning. Due to their school schedule, I now rise with the sun and it’s been over a decade that this excellent habit has been forced on me.

5. Having kids keeps you busy and alive. No matter how much I grumble about the back-breaking labour and the chores that are my burden as a mother, the fact is, all this is keeping me occupied and living life to the fullest. There is never a dull moment. It is a crazy, maddening, even exasperating existence but somewhere I think it makes life worth living far more than not having anything to do.

I once read somewhere that having kids does not increase the parents’ happiness quotient (it may even lower it) but people continue having kids because it gives meaning to their lives. And meaning is more important than happiness, it appears. Perhaps this is true.

In any case, I have made peace with my lot today and have thanked God for planning a better existence for me than I would done for myself. They’re hard work but I’m better off with children than without them. So hey, if you want a review on motherhood, here it is:

It works for me.

Finding God

When we’re in heaven

When we’re in heaven
I’ll rub almond oil on your eyes and lips
And you will massage my feet (just out of curiosity)
And we’ll look into the mirror together
And see the other’s face glow

When we’re in heaven
We’ll cuddle under enormous blankets
And your warmth will melt me (and mine will put you to sleep)
And our limbs will possess the other’s
As if they are all extensions of the same being

When we’re in heaven
I will press my lips into your sleeping cheeks
And graze the corner of your lips (your stubble will gently scorch me)
And I will fall asleep to the rhythm of your breath
And our gods will sprinkle golden dreams

Did I tell you, beloved, the gods have made us a promise?
That when we’re in heaven
Things will be exactly as they were on earth.

Finding God

Scrubbed clean

Dear God,

I see what You’re doing. 

I see how You’ve scrubbed away, layer by layer, years of grime and stress. How You’ve gradually helped me unlearn the frenetic lessons of the past few years. How You’ve taken me back in time to an earlier, more sordid remembrance of who I used to be, and then, when I shook in my veins with trepidation, taken me to peace and understanding beyond that…

I see how You’ve removed, day by day, the compulsions, motivations, frustrations, needs, wants, desires, ambitions, dreams, monkey thoughts, distractions, tensions, worries, doubts, fears, insecurities of what my life had become. How you’ve taken me beyond my greatest successes and my worst failures…

I see how You’ve transported me back in time, hour by hour, to a 10-year-old’s passions, when I used to read all day long, even during my meals, deriving such intense joy that I could not perceive doing anything else, EVER. How You’ve removed all certainties and fixed plans, so that I must make peace with living from day to day, the only constant being the people I love…

I see how You’ve then taken me beyond even them, so that I must love myself most of all, and be sure of only who I am, and then taken me beyond that too, so that I cannot be sure of who I am and what I want, and life seems like a fortune-cookie quote that says with an indifferent compassion, “Anything is possible”…

I see how You’re teaching me slowness and freedom and smelling the roses and the dogs, and rolling about on an undone bed in the middle of the day, and taking quiet walks long into the night, and observing my varied thoughts with detachment and awe, and honouring the demands of my body and the seasons, and feeling each feeling to its fullest, and then taking me beyond them too…

I see how You’ve scrubbed me clean and left me with an open slate of an existence, so that there’s no ‘should’ or ‘must’ any more, there is no doing, only being. How You’ve left me empty and whole so that I may in fact do nothing else but what You want me to do, and I may think of nothing else but how wondrous You are and how stunning this life is…

I see what You’re up to…

You attention-seeker, You.