Monday, April 30, 2012

Feed Your Soul, Heal with Love

Just about 2 years ago, I went through a painful experience in life. I broke up from an almost 4 year long relationship, which really extended to an even longer deep friendship - the kind that the best friend forever commercials are made of. During this time, I had relied too heavily on receiving food for my soul from this one person. When there wasn't enough food for him to give, I was dissatisfied while all the food I was giving, was being trashed away.

At the time, I didn't know how life would change and how I would adapt to this brave new world in which I was by myself and didn't have someone to lean on. What I didn't realize is that my support system had been kept out by me for almost 4 years. That summer, May 2010, I was overwhelmed by the love and care my friends offered. People I hadn't heard from since college to those whom I did count as my close friends - I could not imagine a more meaningful blessing in life.

2 years later, I spent the weekend with my best friend and her husband in LA. While we had a great weekend of hiking, partying and beaching, when I landed back in Chicago I was a new person. My batteries had been replaced, not just recharged. You know when you have old batteries - they need more frequent and more and shorter-lasting charging - it's just time for new batteries then!

I was calibrated back to a laughing person who knows no other emotion as well as she knows happiness. My mom told me growing up that I never cried as a child. I did grow up with a small share of challenges - from my parents building their career from scratch to the arguments and differences, which could hopefully have led them to understand each other better over time, alas, the opposite was true - they drifted further apart. All through it, I was one constant happy force, as my mom puts it, who brought happiness to moments we still treasure from a couple of decades ago.

Two years ago, and possibly even during the relationship, I became a jaded and skeptical person. I had run out of any love and happiness to offer. I stuck to the concept that when my own jug is empty, I have nothing to give to others. And then I took time to heal. I built a list of things I wanted to do. Places I wanted to see. Experiences and memories I wanted to build. And it helped. But it wasn't all of the answer.

When I returned from LA, the love I felt, the genuine messages telling me how much I was missed, the posts to common friends about how nice it was to meet me, reconnected me to the former me - or should I say, the core of me. I had added layers of fear, skepticism, disbelief, detachment, negativity, and a lot of layers of worldly feelings that made it hard for me to dip into our core - of purity, faith and happiness. I also realized that happiness is inside of each of us and all we need to do is find people, things and events to help project and express that emotion. The more we do that, the more we realize how happy we really are and are meant to be.

I also realized how important it is to invest in yourself. And to surround yourself with love.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jan 5th, 2011

January 5th, 2011

Sometimes, it's important to feel pain to remember 
          why at all you feel,
Sometimes, it's essential to take a step back from what you have

          to see what you need,
Sometimes, the words are right in front of you 

          but you've forgotten how to read,
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try 

          you can't tell what's fiction what's real.

In a life full of ups and downs, when the downs are here, 
          remember the ups are near,
In a life full of people who come and go, some will stay, 
          some will leave, after they impact you in their own way,
In a life full of places you'll live and see, for all the places you will roam, 

          very few will allow you to call them home,
Life itself is an experiment, some beakers you'll break, 

          and some new discoveries you'll make.

When you feel tired and alone,
When you've dodged all that's been thrown,
For a moment, feel the victory, feel the loss,
And then, start a new day, yesterday's been tossed.

The events that occur in life,
Sometimes we forget to learn and grow,
The events that occur in life,
Sometimes we forget how to let go.

The more we push forward, the more we'll have to face friction,
Those who have mastered it, will be prepared for flection,
Does not mean we reduce velocity or pause acceleration,
Does mean we differentiate between response and reaction.

It's easy to get caught up in the details or think just of 2010,
It's important to take a step back to assess what just that one year meant,

While keeping a glance in the rearview mirror is constructive,
Let not your past keep you more than that any captive,

2011 is a new year and it's here, for a new start and a new path,
On your goals keep your sight, karma is right, the future is bright.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Indulge at Own Discretion

Instead of a Lunch Break, I Took a Poetry Break This Afternoon...

by Shradha Agarwal on Wednesday, January 27, 2010 at 3:37pm
Disclaimer: Indulge at your own discretion
I know the stops I want to make,
the sights I want to see,
the places I want to mark,
the people I want to have smile,
the journey itself is never-ending,
with no destination in mind.

Why won't Google create an app
that can map out my life
I want to take the most efficient path there
and waste no precious (limited) time.

education, opportunity and security,
i want people to be hardworking, fair and kind,
we don't live to see, to feel, to learn alone, but rather,
to leave something meaningful and permanent behind
in a world where the only constant is change,
the competition should be to contribute, not to collect the most dimes.

the universe lives for us, and we for its people,
give as much as you take, the balance should not slide,
believe in something bigger that yourself
and find the hope, faith, and love to fight.

take on something ambitious,
have a long sight,
with passion and perseverance,
the resources you will find.

but the journey itself is a roller-coaster,
so keep your senses aware, hold on tight,
take in every moment and experience,
of this wonderful ride.

Some Poetic Seasoning Added

Listening to Norah Jones at work makes me write poetry, not proposals...

August 2nd, 2010:

Dreaming of a lazy rainy day,
Sitting by the window,
With a book in one hand,
And a cup of hot cocoa..

While I dream and make plans,
Life is racing by too fast,
Such beautiful moments and experiences,
But how I do capture and make them last..

I'm so used to being in the driver's seat of life,
Never having regretted a decision to stop, go or make a turn,
But now I'm reviewing one quarter of a century gone by,
And taking a passenger seat to life, feeling my energy burned..

Has anyone figured out the answer yet,
To what the right balance in life might be,
Of keeping on moving forward and achieve,
But also pause to hear, see and feel..

If and when we do take a break, how do we tell,
The essential moments in life to absorb and devour,
From the 'fun/distractions' we've been brought up to believe,
That stray us from our goals each hour..

I've been hard-wired to believe that today's sacrifice,
Will be tomorrow's gain for something bigger and better,
But today is yesterday's tomorrow and do I now deserve,
Is my present yesterday's debtor?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do We Forgive Until We Forget?

This post is going to be a lot more questions and a lot less of an open letter because I don't know how I feel on the topic and am hoping your comments will help shape my thoughts.

How many times have we been told by our closest friends to just forgive and forget someone that hurts us or wrongs us in some way? And we say yes, we've forgiven but it's hard to ever forget. Is it really possible to forgive until you are ready to forget? Isn't forgetting the past, the mistake made by the person and the hurt felt by you an important process in the quest to forgive and move on?

There are many a learned men that have said: "The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." Why? Isn't remembering the mistake also remembering the hurt caused by the mistake? And not even just the hurt, but the memory alone holds the power over you and your emotions that you might not use to take any action for a while or for ever, but you know that the power is there to stay over you. By just keeping that speck alive inside of you, you are leaving the probability alive that it may manifest in some action some day. Some other wise men have also said: "I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note - torn in two and burned up."

But even before we understand what the process of forgiveness is, which is a challenge in itself, how do we understand what forgiveness is? What do you do to forgive someone? How do you know you've forgiven someone? Is it when you relinquish the need to judge them, which is what Deepak Chopra would say? Is it when you can talk about the hurt and not feel hurt? Is it when you can think of the person that hurt you and smile, wishing them well? Or is one step further still -- that when you have truly forgiven someone, you are also supposed to reconcile with them? If you have honestly forgiven and forgotten, are you supposed to press the rewind button and start again from the point just before the hurtful action was taken?

One part of forgiveness, for sure, is to let go of the hurt, overcome the emotion and let your soul feel free from the burden. But is another level of forgiveness actually realizing that we are all human and we all make mistakes. One mistake or hurtful action should not change how we interacted and communicated with the person. Can you trust the person in the same way? Can you feel and think about the person in the same way? Of course, we're all human and while today you might be the one who is hurt, tomorrow you might be the source of hurt to someone else. Think about the question from both perspectives and not just from being the one who has been hurt. Do these answers depend on the magnitude of the mistake or how much hurt was caused by the action? Or are the measures subjective and variant upon person?

Are you supposed to go back to the roots and first analyze intent and then maybe use an averaging tool to measure their action against their other actions? We all tend to hold a microscope to people's mistakes, we tend to make them appear larger than they might be, we like to analyze them more than they need to be (for the most part, although not always). Are these only weak tools for coping and accepting? And are these the very tools that hold us captive to the emotion of hurt and the feeling of being wronged? When we try too hard to understand why the person did what they did, aren't we continuing to spend time in the plane of judgment? Is it necessary at all to understand why someone did what they did and what their intent really was in order to forgive the person? Or is forgiveness unconditional, done more for yourself than for the other person, to release and free yourself?

Gandhi used to say that forgiveness is the attribute of the strong - the weak can never forgive. And if forgiveness is the ability to think of the person who wronged you and wish them well, then certainly it requires much strength. However, even more strength is needed to continue maintaining a relationship with the person that hurt you. While you may have forgotten the hurtful action in your process of forgiving, you are then accepting to receive a regular reminder of it and have to yet have the strength to keep it forgotten.

Things are always easier in abstract and in thought than in action. While you may wish them well in the grander scheme of things, would you be their friend in the real world of practice? While you know you will be there for them in a time of need, do you also choose to catch up once a month over coffee? When someone hurts you and you realize only people you give that right to can really hurt you, do you want to continue giving them the right to hurt you, believing they won't again, if you've already forgiven them and refrained from any judgment of their action? That requires a lot of strength - a lot of it! You might believe in second chances and might believe people change, but to have the courage to take the risk of giving them back the key to your emotions and the power to control your feelings, is a high mountain to climb.

What do you do in situations where the person hasn't realized the impact of their action, maybe even after you tried to share it with them, and they continue to be unapologetic? What do you do when the person who hurts you isn't accepting the fact that their action was hurtful? One more level - when the person whose actions hurt you is now the one hurt, claiming their hurt comes from the fact that you would consider them hurtful? It definitely makes the process of forgiving and forgetting even more difficult and challenging. But forgiveness would still apply in the same way, wouldn't it? You would still want to be devoid of judgment, wish them well, and release their control over your emotions.

Forgiveness does not come with any expectations that the person recognizes their mistake, commits to changing or is even apologetic for the hurt caused. So then, again, would you reconcile with this person because you have forgiven and forgotten? Would you at that point leave them to their own karma, which will show them in its own unique way those lessons they chose not to learn this time? If you are leaving things to their karma anyway, then should you exercise judgment because choosing to severe ties is an expression of judgment of their character in your opinion and from your perspective.

I guess another thought is to never give anyone the right to hurt you or the power to control you, but that's topic for another discussion post. For now, I will close out with this one last thought -- don't forget to forgive yourself, while you're forgiving the other person; forgive yourself for allowing the other person to hurt you.

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." ~Mark Twain