In a long queue of London cabbies, this one was definitely the happiest!
My reflection can’t defend against even the most graceful swimmer. It creases and curves in the water’s wake. Whether it is freighter or fowl that slices by – my feeble countenance suffers permanent wrinkles in time.
The impact hits me like an iceberg, crushing my fragmented twin into further pixelated ruin. Shards so small, that I can no longer feel my limbs.
I am bruised, I am severed, I am a quartered villain.
This time however, there are no King’s Horses. No men. My only salvation is in Euclid, and in the theory that the shortest distance between two points…
is not a straight line.
Sit on a sidewalk facing out and eat.
Watch how the kids smile shyly and feel complete.
The cook just graduated from college, I think.
The dirty pail of muddy water is his sink.
I believe the couple divided by the paper could break –
The tension between them is more that I can take.
Thoughts turn to myself and my hands –
I stare into them until they look like rubber bands.
Life is passing me by as I eat.
Alone is the only time I hear the chorus and can tap its beat.
Today of all days, I felt like giving in and returning to a life of high pay and high stress because that’s the only pattern I know. I felt like succumbing to the pressures of limited resources. Today, I felt silly for peeking my head above the clouds and dreaming a childish dream.
In my meditation, I asked in moment of clarity, ‘What sign or proof do I have that going down the road less travelled will amount to fulfilment?’
I was amazed that after just a few weeks of this meditation stuff, I could receive an answer.
A sea of immense warmth poured over me. With eyes closed, I saw the brightest yellow glow. And I felt as if I was floating, like I was being taken on a journey. In a split second, with no words this time, I knew.
We are filled and surrounded by more love, goodness and security than we realise.
Life will ebb and flow. Our days will be filled with ups and downs. Some days we will feel like getting our skis on. Other days we will feel like drowning.
But how will we know that choosing a different fork in the road is still worth taking?
I think, it is when we begin to feel disconnected from the formality of our lives.
When we begin to observe ourselves as con artists in our own Ocean’s Eleven.
When we want to dive into the most inviting sea only to be met with a BEACH CLOSED sign.
We will know then that slowly, it is time to wake up.
Because there is something inside that tells us none of this feels natural anymore.
When that happens there will be no alternative.
Sometimes I see you from the corner of my eyes looking back at me
And then I turn to catch the corners of your lips soften in serenity.
Other times I am engulfed with myself and am blind to you perhaps rather selfishly
But you hold my gaze and tell me it’s not worth the calamity.
If I passed you by in another life and brushed against you unwittingly
I think I would get that shiver I do when I hear you whisper to me with philosophy.
You’d turn to me while I catch my breath and exclaim, ‘I’m sorry’ rather fittingly –
And I would walk away with a sense that part of me has finally fallen to catastrophe.
There is a flame lodged inside my rib cage. Sometimes it burns brightly. Other times it is but a flicker.
I suspect that when we die, the flame extinguishes but its essence remains. It merely takes on a different form. It is smoke, it is steam, it is a faint trail of singed hair.
This essence dissipates and converges, like a flock of starlings that shift with the grace of fine chiffon. When they converge, their density reveals their very existence. When they pull apart, their slim profiles trick the mind into not believing.
But a fire always lives on. A flame hovers and scans the landscape below. Waiting for the next entity to embody. And when it does the pure, baby-blue spark of a matchstick’s big bang holds the promise of inciting a million songs.
Four days post-surgery. Benign polyps, out. Unintentionally along with it, parts of my insides also ripped out and 2 litres of my blood due to complications from stitching also siphoned from my body.
As we struggle through life, we are presented these pearls called reminders. A wake-up call that we are indeed alive. This weekend, I was given a big fat reminder. A gem of an opportunity that pulped me over my head and sideways, awakening me to the wider view of one’s timeline on this planet.
We take things for granted every day. Every time we bemoan the little things – the weather, the laundry, the rain, the pain, the mud, the blood, the light, the dark – we are doing a disservice to the counter-balance of the chemistry, the biology, the history, the probability, the philosophy, the love the joy, godliness or otherwise, which surged together in an instant Polaroid of a moment that formed our current mortal coil.
We are here by such a glorious edification of events. We have one duty only on this earth. And that is to marvel at that past moment as well as every other moment that comes afterwards, as and when those moments unfold. Like the blood that slowly drained away from my veins, we rarely get a chance to get it back. In another instant, this life that we so often bemoan, can slip away from the pincers and the instruments, and the clamps and the tubes, and the bed and the bedpan, and the masks and the monitors. Our last breath can be cut off from our lungs in a split second and all that we bemoan will be lost.
I instinctively cried when I woke up from the anaesthesia, not having yet known that a 20-minute operation had turned into a 3 hour life-saving ordeal. I cried and took breaths quickly and greedily, gasping for air, water, anything. I cried for my consciousness of the surroundings, which however tense and urgent, I loved and wanted to drink in and swallow down. There was no better moment in all of my life as that. The moment that I actively became part of that recovering team’s efforts. I demanded to have my oxygen mask taken off so that I could communicate the pain. To which an immediate response of morphine was given. I was then injected with an antibiotic, which a few seconds later made me itch and I signaled a welt that was forming on my right arm. To which, the response of antihistamine was given.
Most pressingly, I asked the nurse to tell my husband who must have been worried and waiting, to call the nanny to pick up the kids from school.
In a moment of calm, I asked the room, ‘Hey, I must have bled, huh?’
‘Yes you did. But we are getting you more now’ came the voice.
More now. More for now.
We are all just drops away from our last bag. Live it now. Down to the very last drop.
45 days since Walk Out Day, the day I walked out of my office for good. The reasons were tenfold, but nothing worth unfolding now. The truth is, I needed to go.
I’m not sure what has happened in this short period since Walk Out Day, but much like how a snake sheds its skin (which, incidentally, includes eye caps) I feel like a completely different being. I have literally woken up from a long slumber. Even the eye caps have been repossessed.
What’s changed? Well. All those things that you are meant to do regularly, I now at the age of 39, finally understand that it doesn’t happen by osmosis. You actually have to lift a finger, and you have to commit. To give you an example over the past 45 days, I have:
- Nutrition: Given up red meat – that’s like becoming Vegan for me
- Mindfulness: Meditated 20 minutes every day
- Exercise: Taken a private pilates class once every week; Done a form of yoga, once a week; Walk every day.
- Spirituality: Consulted with a Healer. Hired a life coach
- Creativity: Designed my own website; Started a blog
- Entrepreneurship: Outlined a plan to start selling a product, on my own terms
The impact that these small forces have had on me, have amazed me. I walk around in a state of surprise and shock daily, which I suppose is a bit counterproductive. But anyway, I digress.
From what I can see, these are the changes that have occurred:
- An ability to not just once but on several occasions, withstand my son’s tantrums with absolutely calm and understanding
- A newfound gentleness for my daughter’s sensitive nature by consciously remembering to marvel at her as being a separate person to me, because she is NOT me
- An acceptance of myself as being all the fiery things that I can be, without judgement, which ironically quashes the need to flare up at all
- Noticing my ego rise up and in the next moment, actually witnessed it go away without a need to do anything
- Started a blog purely from listening to my inner voice one day during meditation
- Purchased with my own money a sample product with a contact I barely know in China, with the view to start a business partnership
- Discovered last night sitting across my husband at my kitchen table that I am actually capable of asking for his advice whist remaining level-headed, non-accusatory, and open to his devil advocate’s approach
- Started talking with strangers with a smile and open mind and realised that the world is much more supportive than I thought
- Waking up every day, no matter how little I’ve slept or how early my son has decided to exchange his bed for mine, completely ready for the day, cracking jokes with my family with one bleary eye open
Perhaps the most telling of all is that the morning nerves and occasional panic attacks have literally disappeared. My days and nights are filled with what I can only describe as more ‘space’. Moments of pure joy. Observations of the most micro and macro scale. Taking in the world one gulp at a time, with an overwhelming sense of completeness.
Why does any of this matter?
“A snake sheds its skin regularly to allow for continued growth.”
Therein lies the wisdom.
14 years ago today, I was walking out of an interview at McCann Erickson London when I first saw the images on the TV screen in the lobby. Then, again repeatedly at every station coming home to South Ealing. Images of the smoke from the buildings. Ending with the collapse of the Towers completely. A desperate phone call to my mother to establish that she wasn’t on any of those flights as she had landed safely in LAX, she, still unaware of how the world had instantly changed.
Today, hold your loved ones a little closer. Spare a thought to those still experiencing the fall out of terror, hatred and violence. Help them everyday by applying care and thought to every action we make, to every relationship we have. And with that comes the hope that these small ripples will spread like smoke as it plumes with the wind.