Monday, August 8, 2011

Surviving in the Satan’s Alley: When Things Fall Apart

This weekend started on a bad note. A very depressive note. The Mumbai weather is continuing its gloomy avatar. Although I love the rains, this one time I would have loved a clear sky. Several factors added to the gloomy mood. Most of my flat mates had gone to Pune for a short trip. So on Saturday evening, I returned to an empty dark flat. But something else was bothering me.

I was feeling uneasy. I had just discovered that I was living in a vanity, a pride that I was a good judge of individuals. But I witnessed something that shocked me beyond my wits. My illusion simply shattered. Human nature and behavior will never fail to amaze me. Why do men and women rush after things that might very well be unattainable, and in that rush, neglect what they have in hand? Why are human beings so greedy? Or, in modern relationships, so ‘lusty’?

Many must have heard tales and even witnessed tales about men cheating on their wives or girlfriends. Actually there is nothing surprising about that. But trust me when I say women are also not far behind. Personally I have seen many girls cheating on their boyfriends and a few of them have been in relationship since a decade. And majority of them have no sob stories to justify the adultery.

So when I discovered the same case is happening with someone I know, I felt sorry. I am not sure for whom though. But I was definitely feeling low; there was a restless heartache. The absence of company at that moment only added to the depression. I have been alone before. After all I was residing alone in Delhi. But for the first time in my life I was feeling lonely. Thankfully my friends (love them!) kept me company over phone. And thankfully, a few girls returned to the flat.

But Sunday morning again began on an irritating tone. I was woken up by the shrieks of the girls that there was no gas in the kitchen and the landlord flatly refused to send a new cylinder as it was a holiday. Thus, my day started cursing the landlord, the world and my life as a whole. Surviving in a big bad metro like Mumbai is not easy for a single girl. Nothing romantic or fancy about our lives as depicted in those countless Hollywood chick flicks. Honestly, there is no fairy tale brewing here. The problems in personal and professional lives make a mess of your own life. I feel that I am gradually turning into a sarcastic person, a facet noted by many till date.

Anyways, I survived the daytime watching a few movies munching on a few snacks. But towards the evening, I was bored. So I escaped to one of my favourite places in the vicinity – Landmark bookstore in the nearby mall. As I was taking in the aroma of new books (I just love that smell) and going through the shelves, one book caught my attention. It was “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. I had never heard about the book or the writer, but that may be because I am not a self-help book person. The book’s title and cover attracted me, might be because of the emotions which were going through my mind.
The next two hours were pure magic. With Eagles and Pink Floyd playing at the background, I got immersed into a whole new world. I experienced a new spiritual awakening. I will take the liberty to quote a few paragraphs from the book to make you understand what actually made me happy:

“We want victory or defeat, praise or blame. For example, if somebody abandons us, we don’t want to be with that raw discomfort. Instead, we conjure up a familiar identity of ourselves as a hapless victim. Or maybe we avoid the rawness by acting out and righteously telling the person how messed up he or she is. We automatically want to cover over the pain in one way or another, identifying with victory or victimhood.

Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our fearful patterns upside down.”

Thus I learnt about the middle way. What is the middle way? Read this:

“When we feel lonely, when we feel hopeless, what we want to do is move to the right or the left. We don’t want to sit and feel what we feel. We don’t want to go through the detox. Yet the middle way encourages us to do just that.”

According to the author, if we scramble for security from loneliness, anxiety and hopelessness, this will only bring in momentary joy and the vicious cycle will continue. The middle way is to feel those heartaches, let them settle and make peace with them. We will gradually find contentment. In the words of the author, “We are cheating ourselves when we run away from the ambiguity of loneliness.”

At the risk of being labeled as preachy and boring, I will recommend this book. This will be a good way get rid of all those toxic emotions. At the end of the day, my happiness and peace of mind matter the most to me. And same should be the case with everyone. This will at least make the world a less depressive place.

(P.S. Note to all the cheaters, call me old-fashioned or unreal, but a few moral aspects still matter. If you really want to enjoy the life, at least please let go the poor person who is in a relationship with you. Finish it and then the world is your playground!)


  1. I loved this article. I guess, I'm an old fashioned soul too. So I get the whole value of this post. Keep writing!