2015.

(Disclaimer: Excruciatingly long)

Well, 2015 is coming to a close. On most counts, I am glad this year is done. Putting aside a brief two-week vacation to Nepal, to my enthusiasm, 2015 has been overwhelming on the low front. I had a couple of surprising heartbreaks, professional and personal, that shook my earthing. A few diagnoses were the additional bonuses on the health front! Woot.

When I used to write on Blogspot (before I wanted a clean start and began this blog), I did a year-end review. I thought it was a silly practise till my conversation with A from last evening made me realise how smart I used to be.

I get bogged down by the low a lot. Perhaps a little bit of this is in my nature. End-of-the-year existential crisis is common and tempting to wallow in. I have honestly done a lot of it. BUT, I learnt a lot this year.

Embracing my personality with all its quirks has been rewarding and relevant. I stopped making excuses when I didn’t feel up to being around people. Especially those I had drifted away from. I learnt to enjoy my company and do what is good for me which resulted in lots of art and getting my hands messy. I began to look after myself more. My health taught me that my mind and body are not separate. The pressures on my mind will be felt by my body. So care is not optional. It needs to be integrated into daily living. Smell a few more flowers, perhaps. Unfortunately, these health crises have forced me to give up sweets and coffee. Something till 2015 I thought was not possible. But I am finding new patterns and routines. Healthier ones. All while remembering that I am really tiny in the grand scheme of things. People tell me this insignificance scares them. But it has been one of the most reassuring and calming truths.

“When I go for a drive I like to pull off to the side
Of the road and run and jump into the ocean in my clothes
And I’m smaller than a poppyseed inside a great big bowl
And the ocean is a giant that can swallow me whole
So I swim for all salvation and I swim to save my soul
But my soul is just a whisper trapped inside a tornado
So I flip to my back and I float and I sing
I am grounded, I am humbled, I am one with everything”
– I like giants: Kimya Dawson

As a surprise to myself, I fell in love. Accidentally. Madly. To an unsuspecting bystander. Though it has left me recovering from a broken heart, it reminded me that I am intense and love is overwhelming. It was nice to sit drenched in the emotion and learn to just breathe. Let the pieces fall as they will. I am still learning to live with my intensity and even enjoy the depth of character that I seek. 🙂 Love dragged me along a long path of self-discovery which has been difficult, painful, stirring, and intimate in discoveries about myself.

My professional heartbreak is far more difficult to write about. Since most of the year and waking hours were spent at the office, learnings are integral to my growth. I had to quit a job that I was fond of because of grave internal turmoil, certain strife and need for more challenges. It became essential for me to embrace that I am young, emotional and vulnerable which people in workplaces often use against me as a weakness. I didn’t realise how much I had pushed these away. Over the years of hearing it being pitched as a negative, I had happily accepted this to be true. Not anymore. 🙂

One of the most unsettling truths of the year was revealed while stranded at the bottom of the Himalayas because of unseasonal rain and snow. Rainer Maria Rilke was the bearer of the news – ‘Life is right in all cases’. Rilke has rescued me on several occasions. His words were a float when I felt I would drown in the ocean of anxiety and self doubt. They were a balm to my soul that felt out of place, making me more home in my skin and less cuckoo. (Or is it be more cuckoo? :))

“Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a young poet

I also turned around my writing this year. It was a much needed change from the self-deprecating stuff I tell myself about lack of any talent. Though I write here, I had not written about the many learnings from my work and the world around me. Starting to write for Women’s Web and Girls Globe is an attempt to fix this. I am happy to add my two-cents to the progress to women’s rights and equality around the world. It is a small drop in the ocean, yet a satisfying drop.

I think writing these words was an important part of taking stock of the changes, both good and bad, the year brought my way. In the darkness of doubt, pain and unanswered questions, I have found it is comfortable to believe I had an unproductive year. One where I have been stagnant and done little to further my beliefs. But I have made a lot of personal growth and some professional strides. This forms part of a learning process to understand myself better and walk closer to the person I want to be.

Hope 2016 is less harsh but as rewarding.

INFJs, mountains and Rilke

INFJs*, mountains and Rilke.

Believe me, it is a deadly combination. When two INFJs decide to go to the mountains to recoup, they mean business. They carry more books than warm clothes. They have writing books, reading books and second-hand books, letter pads, post cards they gather along their travelling paths. It is dangerous to travel with them. They spend hours reading and staring into space. They visit museums with a purpose – to read the explanations. Not like many others who just see and move on.  My INFJ travelling partner is a joy to be around. She allows me to fall deep into my thought process and patiently begins to communicate for me. The beauty is when the need arises, I would do the same.

Our itinerary loving asses were treated to a surprise when the mountains were suddenly elusive because of snow/hail/rain. To be fair, our books would not have kept us warm and we would have frozen to death. So, we spent several days bummed out in coffee shops sipping coffee and wine and eating cake like we would die if we didn’t. It was difficult.

Here is where we rediscovered Rainer Maria Rilke. Rilke is a poet himself and his words were soothing to our distressed souls. We struggled to calm down, relax and let ‘life be right in all cases’. It was hard but I doubt I would have been able to live through that trip without my trusty INFJ and our survival kit comprising Rilke^. I would read him out loud and then sigh over the deep philosophy. We learnt a lot through him, I would think.

We had both read Rilke before. The circumstances – being stranded at the foot of the magnificent mountains – helped us explore the depths of his words.

“It is always what I have already said: always the wish that you may find patience enough in yourself to endure, and simplicity enough to believe; that you may acquire more and more confidence in that which is difficult, and in your solitude among others. And for the rest, let life happen to you. Believe me: life is right, in any case.” ― Rainer Maria Rilke

It was a difficult trip with lots of rain, hail and rocky bus rides. But I remember two moments vividly. One where we were soaking wet, sitting in front of a fire and reading. The other where we were in an airport lounge for insane hours with cups of coffee and reading. Both times aloud and both times lost in the words. (The second book I suspect is another INFJ favourite [perhaps not just INFJs] The Little Prince.)

In my current moments of anxiety, depression and stress, I picture the elusive mountain ranges and repeat to myself: Life is right, in any case. Contrary to the original situation, it calms me miraculously.

*INFJ – MBTI personality type

^ After returning, we discovered in an article online that hard bound Rilke is an ideal present for INFJs. They couldn’t have been more right with regards to these two INFJs.