Friday, September 26, 2008

My happy place

I want to move to New Mexico. Well, actually I'd like to move to Mexico. But since that isnt even a realistic option right now, for now New Mexico will do. Ever since I visited it a year ago, and then again this year, the place keeps calling me back. It's this strong urge to want to live there, this strong feeling of belonging, almost as if "that desire originated in the soul of the universe". You'd have to have read the Alchemist to get that last part (if you havent read this book, forget this blog, rush over to the nearest bookstore right now and start reading it NOW! I am not exaggerating when I say your life will never be the same again).

You know how when things get really, really stressful, your mind takes off and finds comfort in its happy place? Well, my happy place is the memory of this one morning in New Mexico last year when we were driving through the Jemez Mountains - just Joe and I. We had spent the night camping literally in the middle of thick forest because we got lost. We had tried to take a short cut through the mountains and lost the road we were supposed to be on. Sounds a little filmy, doesnt it? But no, there was no dancing around the trees bursting into a Bollywood song. And it really did happen that way. And it was getting dark and if you've ever driven through the Jemez Mountains, you'll know that the smart thing to do is just stop, sleep and wait for the morning to see your way. Because the narrow road winds up and down around the mountain and it's easy to drive off the cliff in the dark. So we camped in the middle of a ponderosa pine forest and waited for morning.

My memory is of that early hour of the morning when we had set off again to drive. After talking to some construction workers we encountered along the way, we realized that the road we were meant to take was under construction and we would have to make do with a dirt road that led out of the mountains. And so there we were, driving through the heart of the mountain, on a bumpy dirt road, building up a dust storm behind us as we drove on. The only car along the road for miles on. Literally in the middle of nowhere. The sun's rays filtering in through the thick canopy, lighting up the path ahead of us. And it was driving along that forgotten dirt road to nowhere, that for the first time in months, I felt unburdened and carefree. The stress of all I had gone through in the past months seemed trivial, and nothing in the universe felt as important as being there, right there in that moment, savoring what life had brought along my way. What lay ahead of me was not important, and what I had been through was temporarily forgotten. I was content with the tranquility of that moment in itself, just simply driving along that endless road, warming up under the early morning sun rays, looking out of the window. Life was simple, right then.

The trees soon cleared up and we got a glimpse of the luscious green valley, dotted occasionally with small spanish style houses or pueblos as they are called, that are the trademark of New Mexico. Clay red houses with little bancos built into them. Hand painted tiles sometimes plastered into the walls. Bright red chile ristras dangling from the roof. A horse or two grazing free in the backyard of the valley.

It was at that moment that my soul decided this is where I belonged. I had found my spirituality. It wasn't buried in some church or temple. It was right here, in this little corner of the world where I felt happiest and lightest at heart.

~vagabond~ © 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Coach bags, Manolo Blahnik shoes and New York City

Warning: A large portion of this post is going to be mindless rambling, but I need to vent and I rarely need an audience for that. And if you love Coach bags, or Manolo Blahnik shoes or New York City, and you're still reading this, my apologies.

Recently I had the misfortune of encountering a relative I simply just dont like. We're as different as chalk and cheese, me and her. The trouble is, while I make my dislike for her obvious and she knows it and the whole world knows it, she insists on playing mind games instead. Pretending we get along. Pretending we're similar after all. To her own convenience. Even though we're not. Not in the slightest bit. Dont you hate it when people do that? Pretend to be diplomatic and polite and hypocritically, sugary sweet when all you want from them is to be real? The only good that comes out of this extremely disastrous relationship is the fact that she makes me appreciate my own life a little more every time I encounter hers. I know, I know, I sound a little bitchy but she does have that effect on me.

So in a sickeningly saccharine display of her fake affections toward me, Ms. Snobby-two-shoes gifted me a sickeningly pink 'Coach' bag. For anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past decade, a 'Coach' bag, right along with Manolo Blahnik shoes, represents the epitome of having made it to Carrie Bradshaw status in Sex and the City. Think snotty looking purses and shoes that cost hundreds of dollars. And she is a Carrie Bradshaw of sorts. Because the concept of success in her head is analogous to how many Coach bags you own, and whether the clothes in your wardrobe are true designer wear, and whether or not you live in New York City, the mecca of all Carrie Bradshaw wanna-bes.

I dont own a Coach bag. I dont care for designer clothes. And I dont want to live in New York City. Mighty unsuccessful, huh? And I'm okay with it.

Because what I do want is a life full of experiences. In the end, stuff is just stuff. It sits in your wardrobe, you staring at it, it staring back at you. And while it tries really hard to dress you and give you an image, in the end it doesnt have any say in who you are. But the experiences you live, those are what truly define you. I want to live my life to the fullest. Travel new places. Experience new experiences. Be enveloped in new cultures. Have no regrets over what I didn't get to do. And when I'm 90, I know I will remember the day I went white water rafting down the Colorado River or went camel riding in the Rajasthan. What I will not remember is the hideous color of the Coach bag I owned in 2008.

PS. Any bets on how long it will take before I sell the Coach bag on ebay?

PSS. I do not hate New York City. I do want to see New York City, but only for its architectural beauty, its cultural diversity. Not for a shopping extravaganza. And not to live in it.

Friday, September 12, 2008


There's a simple solution to my complex problems. Just let go.

For a while now, I've been dissecting my misfortunes, placing them under a microscope and picking at them with dissecting needles, teasing them apart, trying to figure out where I went wrong, what I did wrong, how I could possibly have avoided the situation I am in, and on and on. No I'm not a masochist. But my analytical little head needs a reason. The fact that shit happens is just not a good enough answer for it. The voices in my head demand to know why the shit happened in the first place. It's what years of being a scientist does to you.

So I tried assigning blame. Just so that I would have a reason. Just to make the voices in my head shut up. I blamed myself. I blamed people I love. I blamed random strangers that had nothing to do with my problems in the first place. I blamed God. And the universe in general for conspiring against me and making me so miserable. And the voices in my head finally shut up. Because I'd given them the good, solid, analytical reasons they needed. But I was still miserable and unhappy inside.

So I figured miserable and unhappy was the way things were meant to be. And I moped in it. I whined. I grumbled. And I blogged about it. And when things went from bad to worse, I allowed for them to be. Because that was how things were meant to be. I played the destiny card. Things were the way they were because that's how they were meant to be. Unhappy is how I was meant to be. I was going through a bad phase, I reasoned. And that gave me permission to be miserable, mopey and grumpy.

So mopey, grumpy and I went to the park with the dogs yesterday. And I was playing tug-on-a-rope with Charlie, my german shepherd, when the great big epiphany hit me. Okay, so bear with me here. I know it's not like I discovered a new law in physics, but still when it hit me, it seemed pretty huge. And for all you so-wise-and-philosophical ones, if you've known this all along, play along with me here, this is MY moment under the sun.

It suddenly struck me how this tug-on-a-rope game that I was playing with Charlie was so similar to what life and me had been playing all along. I pull in one direction, and life pulls harder in the opposite direction. I want it to go one way. It wants me to go completely in the opposite direction. We both hold our ground and pull the rope, struggling with all our might. In the end going nowhere. I get frustrated and angry and tug harder on the rope, and then suddenly it dawns on me. That all I have to do to make this sick, frustrating game end is to let go.

Perhaps the reason it took so long for this epiphany to dawn on me is the fact that I am such a control freak. Letting go simply wasnt an option I had considered. Because letting go meant letting someone else or something else take charge. And that scares the daylights out of me. I mean, I cant even trust someone else to drop the mail in the post office for me, because they wont do it right, and I'm talking letting go. This is huge.

But I'm finally ready to do it. I'm ready to stop being such a control freak and just let go and let things be the way they are. Sure, it'll drive me crazy when things dont go my way. But I'm not going to tug and pull and fret over them anymore. I'm going to go with the flow. And not struggle so much to make things go my way. Who knows, perhaps I'll even like the new direction that life pulls me in. And if I dont, it's not the end of the world. I'll just pick myself up and walk away. Life and I arent going to tug-on-a-rope anymore. Because I simply let go. And I'm ready to move on.

So here's to letting go. Letting go of situations I cant avoid, people I cant change, things that are clearly beyond my control. I refuse to let them bother me. And turns out, shit happens is now a good enough answer for me.

~vagabond~ © 2008