Why Don't I Write

Four decades back, almost to the day, a middle aged man with a paunch yelled out to me across a vast hillside as I was watering the concrete slabs that would later become a place for thousands to gather to revere the guru. “Write a book!”, he shouted over the sounds of the breeze and birds. This was during a few months of clear thinking bookended by deserts of darkness. While I considered him one of my lifelong mentors, I have not written a book. I have blogged. This blog has nearly 400 posts with an average of 800 words each. That’s a few books if you ask me. Thankfully, nobody asks.

I wandered frequently but was rarely lost. I repeatedly fell prey to my weaknesses, for fame, pleasure, money, popularity, but was always gifted the strength to climb back on my horse and head north. I often took these gifts, and other gifts, for granted. Sometimes, I found in me the capacity to be grateful, truly grateful.

In an age of instant news, instant unfollows, and instant validation, we have lost our capacity to reason, to revere, to remember. We no longer view history as learning but filter it to suit our beliefs. We code for neural networks without appreciating the sutras of a Patanjali or the timeless transmigrations of a Pythagoras. We look to science for data to build unicorns instead of understanding the love hate relationship planets have with the sun. We count down instead of counting up. 

I write to put in perspective the dualities that make existence possible. I write to leave a record of my time, of the times I remember, and the times I have learned about. I write to put in perspective that there is goodness and greatness in our genes, that there is evil and entropy too, and that this battle is the meaning of life. 

I write to remind myself of the mystery that is me, that is you, that is us. I write to acknowledge and overcome all that I do not wish to be, and to celebrate and strive towards all I can. The being in the human being comes into existence without a user manual. The product design is that the laws of nature and nurture, of parenting, teaching, and friendship will build for each being its own unique user manual. All of us are broken in some ways, alone at some times, despairing at others. None of our journeys are free from breakdowns and wrong turns. Yet, here we are magnificent and victorious, ready to look the abyss and our own destruction in the eye. I write to leave behind my user manual so it can be used as a template by those who need it. 

This Frog Is My Stone

This is not a picturebook. This is my frog.

Why I walked, why I am going to hit publish at the end of this page, and whether it will be different this time around. 


Why I walked

I have gotten used to explaining myself, so here goes. My attempt to build community over shared concerns made me face three truths - my own “genuine impostor” status, the immense depth and breadth of commitment that my fellow travelers brought to the table, and the abundance of “perpetrator victims”in the field. Not everyone who is wounded is a healer, no matter how bad you hurt. Further, my effort to build community through writing was short-selling my commitment to writing as an art. I will be dragged through the mud but copywriting and SEO are not art, and if there is a tragedy greater than climate change and strident identity based politics in our times, it is the sacrifice of art and artists at the altar of commerce. 

Why I am going to hit publish

I write to overcome entropy, to make peace with darkness, and to give thanks for the pain. I write to celebrate the gift of language, the music of the worlds, and to laugh at the mirror.  I am not writing to make the world a better place. I write to remind my future self that there never was, never will be a better place. I am going to hit publish because I have not done that in the last five years (barring the very personal series of paintings and poems from earlier that were pulled out of the drafts in an act of bravado that I will regret any day now). I am going to hit publish because I made a promise as a teenager that I would love her till the day I died. I am going to hit publish because I broke my promise again and again. I promised again and broke my promise again. And again. And each time, she let me back in, black coffee and buttered toast, wordlessly. 

Will it be different this time around?

I remember my mother often, bless her tortured soul. But never more than when I make her famous stone soup. Stone, water, salt, and heat. Seasoned with nigella seeds, green chili, and on splurgy days, a hint of ginger or fresh coriander leaves. Garnished with raw mustard oil. Of course, there were tweaks and tricks, the powdered cumin and turmeric, the slurry of flour, and the fried onions to hold the soup together. If she had potatoes and pointed gourd, great. If she had fish, super. But to set the ball rolling, all she needed was stone. This frog, this tub of concrete I have stood myself in, this hitting publish, is my stone. This frog is my leap of faith that I will be able to say what I need to say to myself, all else be damned. I have taken this leap many times in the past, only to have to retreat into my cave to nurse myself back to willingness to be. Every time, I took the wrong turn and started saying what I wanted others to hear. This time, it is different. I am different. I am old. And tired. Tired of explaining myself. Tired of working around the wounds of others. And I won’t be fooled again. Music of the worlds. 

Bay leaf and fenugreek seeds to follow.  

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