In a striking and thought-provoking article, Uma asks :Why don’t more people take the trouble to understand what is really going wrong? Why don’t they speak up about all that they see and feel? (For the whole article, click on http://basicindia.typepad.com/basicindia/2007/10/a-few-thoughts-.html )
My thoughts on the above question
A few years ago, I walked the earth thinking I am here to create my own stories. I don’t know when that idea got into my head, but as early as in my teens I already was living out a story, my story in the making. The story had a past, with its own sweet and sour episodes, and everyday I weaved through my day trying to make a story as pleasant as possible.
I told the story to my friends. I told the story to my therapists. The story had smaller stories.
Until a few years ago when I had nothing more to weave into the story, I had nothing more to say.
And life stopped. Time seemed to wait for me, looking at me beyond shoulders that had moved ahead of me. I longed to catch up with time, with the people who had managed to steer ahead of me, but couldn’t move. I was left behind. Time moved. Seasons changed. Friends changed too. But life was the same. With no plot, no story
Then someone told me gently that only if I would try to stop weaving my tales and just shut up, if only I could allow my mind to be silent for a while, I could listen. Stories would then come again, but this time I would not be talking. Then who will narrate the stories, I asked. I was asked to just keep silent and listen.
A few days passed, and I found how my body and mind mirrored the city that had grown polluted with noise over time. I found how the city had moved on in its known pattern of pursuit of happiness, stepping over people whose voices were brutally suppressed. I asked myself what voices lay buried deep within me?
And then the seasons changed. In my timelessness I found I was acknowledging the arrival of a new season for the very first time. During winter, I felt the cold enter my body to touch my bones. For the first time I heard the bird perched on a lonesome tree outside, calling out to his cronies. For the first time I wanted to feel colours, for the first time I wanted to see the world – not through the filters of my past… I wanted to set free into the present. And I found that Present wouldn’t allow me to step into her turf with my bundle of stories. I had to leave my stories back there, where it belonged… in the past.
And I asked myself, wouldn’t that mean forsaking my own identity. What people without their history and oral stories, what man without a past!
And found the answer finally. I am myself a product of my past. I don’t need my stories here, for my stories are not my stories, they are illusions. My past is still within me, and my identity survives even without my stories and history, in the form of my feelings, reactions, my behaviour.
And I found my feelings were now telling me stories, not my mind. Stories I had felt too uncomfortable to listen to, so had whisked beneath the carpet, stories that frightened me, stories that told me how I felt and how I lived.
These were not the stories of a brave warrior, which I thought I was. These were the stories of an ordinary human being.
As I sat down to listen to these stories- the unspoken, wordless stories-, which could only be felt, I discovered that it was not just my story I was listening to. The story had a greater universal element. It seemed to be the story of the Universe, of humankind. The pain I felt was not just mine, the fear I felt was not confined to myself.
Today, standing at this juncture, boundaries seem to dissolve. And a larger ocean of humanity seems to be contained within a single heart, their fears and anger I feel in my gut. Where is my identity now, I question. And feel scared. Where would it lead me, if the boundaries are dissolved I ask… and something within me says –“ if it is not just your pain that you feel inside, and not just your fears that terrifies you, what makes you think you can contain it within your own little self? What will happen if you let go of the boundaries, flow into the larger ocean of humanity, give up the fear and resentment and open yourself to people?” Would then the stopper on free-flowing unconditional real-felt love be undone, and true love emerge within my heart?
Why are boundaries so important when you know that you have no more self-boasting tales of a warrior to tell, but only the larger pain and anger to share?
What stops us? How long will we bottle up pain and fear within, trying to contain it within our little bodies?
And I ask if I really do have the space, to be allowed to have the precious moments to hold what comes out and not be judged. For every time one expresses this anger or pain in some form, words or otherwise, another steps in with a cutting question, a disapproval-soaked word, a wise advice, or a pregnant silence, to stop the wound from bleeding out into the real world anymore. The stopper is put, the bleeding is contained and all the dirty poisoned blood accumulates inside each one of us, blocking real love.
The world continues to live on, in its little compartments. Each one of us bleeds inside, afraid to look at the blood of another, afraid to even acknowledge the wound of another. Lying to ourselves that it is just our tiny little heads, we carry on keeping the silent agreement, never to look each other in the eye, never to see, never to give vent to the stories that come to us from the Universe so to acknowledge the Truth of our situation, the situation that humanity finds itself in. Each one silently lives his own warrior-story, standing up brave but broken within, a few of us collapsing and ending up in some mental asylum in the long-run, or worse killing himself. Never to be able to really speak, or be brave/ wise enough to truly listen.
What is it that we are afraid of? How long will the false structures we have created and lived in survive? Isn’t it carrying too much of load already? Isn’t it stretching a little too much?
Uma further notes, and concludes: (For the whole article, click on http://basicindia.typepad.com/basicindia/2007/10/a-few-thoughts-.html )
“How does one go about creating a space which is safe for expression so that everything can be said and looked at without fear of retribution? This act in itself would succeed in defusing so much of the aggression and feelings of rejection which are responsible for many sticky situations in the world. In such a space of course, individuals are likely to be sometimes hurt (by the truth). But if even a few of us were to manage to hold the space long enough for things to get sorted out, a few more people would emerge on each occasion, healed from their internal wounds, simply from being heard and accepted. And so the circle of understanding and acceptance would increasingly widen.
It all starts kind of small, I’m thinking. Starts with us wanting it and being ready to put up with whatever discomfort temporarily arises from listening to all that we don’t want to hear. Somewhere along the way, when you manage to do that, you find an almost imperceptible feeling of freedom in the air. The freedom to voice what you’re thinking and to be able to do it without having to look over your shoulder to see who is listening. It is only in this free space I think, that a democratic and peaceful way of life has a chance to emerge.”