Joy.

The world is a big place, with many chances and opportunities, but our path is woven in the stars, and the best we can do is to gather up all the silken shining strands, and make a big fat braid out of them, and swing the hell out of the damn thing.

I’ve made mistakes and I’ve made good; and I feel sometimes as if I have lived several lifetimes. But it’s in those lifetimes that I’ve learnt that joy lies in giving your limited time, energy and emotions to the people who know you and love you; who have faith and confidence in you; who have fought battles with you and walked with you through the storms that have come. We can’t choose everything, but what choice there is, we should learn to take and make and bake the crap out of!

Joy lies in knowing what you love, deep down, and then finding the courage and developing the skill to chase it– chase it hard, chase it everywhere it leads– chase it down rabbit holes deep into the ground, where every single one of us will eventually end up.

It’s in taking the time to do what evokes happiness in you. Because, you know, nothing and no one can “make you happy” or “bring you joy”. Everything we feel is what we have cultivated in ourselves. We can only give as much love as we are capable of, though the well deepens with empathy and compassion; we can only feel as much happiness as we have taught ourselves to feel and let ourselves experience; we can only give as much as we know how to give, and in the way that we know how to give. All that things outside of us can do is bring out what we already have.

Most of all, joy lies in deciding what to fear; if to fear. Every moment spent in fear of things beyond our control is a pitifully wasted moment. None of us knows how much time we have here. I have seen and heard and experienced and witnessed lots of things that should make me hesitant and cautious and frighten me. And it has, in the past. But, you know, I have been given much for which to be thankful; and from that, I’ve earned and learned and built other things, for which I am also thankful. And fear would make me waste all of that; everything that I have dived into, heart, body, mind and soul– the way I have always and ever done anything and everything (is there any other way?). Fear would make me waste everything good I have ever done with my life.

So, I will not fear. I will spend time on people and activities I love. I will find my courage and develop my skill. I will mend what I can and accept what I can’t. And I will gather up all those silken threads that weave my life, and make a big fat braid, and I will swing on it, and enjoy the scenery, and be happy and grateful and the best damn version of me.

Advent Day 6: I’m grateful for choice.

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Choice. We take it so much for granted, we who choose each day our outfits, what to eat and with whom, how we want our tea and coffee, what to watch on the TV or Apple TV. We choose our universities, schools, government representatives, where to take our holidays, where to rent or buy a house, what car to buy. But it’s a privilege that we were accorded by virtue of where we were born, into what circumstances, and sheer dumb luck.

One just has to look around the world not just at those who live under the poverty line or at its margins, but also at those running from conflict zones, from totalitarian regimes and dictatorships… just for a moment… to realise that external choices are afforded to the privileged of the world.

So, needless to say, I’m grateful for external choices. But I’m also grateful for lessons that came with learning to recognise and make internal choices. Older, wiser souls might not have to earn these habits, but I did, and I was pretty frikkin’ irritated about it too… because turning inwards tends to happen only when you’ve run out of places to run, so to speak, when you’re exhausted and when the old way just wasn’t working any more and you’ve really milked it dry.

It’s choosing how to feel at any one particular time. Choosing your emotions and thoughts. Not pushing them away or controlling them or twisting them into the shape you’d prefer them to be. Just choosing which ones to entertain. You know, like you’re the popular kid and you decide to whom you deign to give more attention.

On a related note, it’s also the power to choose your story, your narration. Like in the movie A Beautiful Life, only sans the sheer effort that would have required in concentration camp circumstances. It’s as Viktor Frankl said, that you have to have meaning, and you can choose your meaning, craft it (I am very broadly paraphrasing here).

Finally, I am grateful to have had enough confrontation, enough opportunity and enough freedom to choose myself. That means both choosing who I want to be at any given point (and the attendant failures and successes) and choosing to stand on my own side.

It can be as much of a burden as a privilege, because choice, like power, comes with great responsibility. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, because learning to bear that responsibility with grace, integrity and compassion in a world where nothing is sacred any longer is a worthy life goal. And I’m grateful for it.

 

I’m grateful for awareness.

Digging back a bit into the NaPoWriMo days because I don’t feel like doing today’s prompt.

Anaphora is a literary term for the practice of repeating certain words or phrases at the beginning of multiple clauses or, in the case of a poem, multiple lines. The phrase “A time to,” as used in the third Chapter of Ecclesiastes, is a good example of anaphora. But you don’t have to be the Old Testament (or a Byrds song) to use anaphora. Allen Ginsberg used it in Howl, for example… I challenge you to write a poem that uses anaphora. Find a phrase, and stick with it — learn how far it can go.

We were the first on earth to wield the flame
We were the first dancers to music
We were the first to burn the past
To build a breathtaking future.
We were the first to compress time
We were the first to seize control
We were the first to make Her sick,
To build and kill Gods.
We were the first to know ourselves
We were the first to waste our lifeblood
We were the first to poison our children
To build ephemeral luxuries.
Will we be the first on earth to yield the flame,
The first to write our story, then set our book alight?