Summertime Sadness

“I get really, really scared of how this is going to go.” … “And you know what? Nobody wants to hear that stuff. Nobody wants you to talk about being afraid, or in pain, or being scared of dying through some stupid, random infection.” – Me Before You; Jojo Moyes

I have a dull pain around my navel. We did abs exercises in class yesterday, and I realized afterward that it was more intense than what my body was used to. I don’t even need a flat stomach for crying out loud. But there I was, trying to make myself feel less miserable about how inflexible my body was and did whatever I deemed acceptable. I detest it when I have a health issue. Hair fall. Back ache. Abdominal pain. It makes my insides cringe and makes me want to disappear. And now, I have the pain, every time I laugh or stretch, to add to my low self-esteem. Nothing ever works, does it?

There are days when I find it extremely hard to see a silver lining. Sometimes I feel repulsed at the thought of everything. Whenever I try to imagine a better scenario, I find myself saying, “Doesn’t matter. Not happening.” And I get on to living my routine life and do all the things that check off as my daily investment to my life. It’s a calculation – do x, practice y, plus stay out of trouble, and measure your actions. Some sort of formula that saps the magic out of living. Trust me. It’s God-damn predictable as hell, but apparently it is supposed to work. So, on my down days, I clench my teeth, do my daily routine (which I now measure in a habit tracker app) and find ways to be miserable alone in a corner where no one can see me. This is one of the reasons why I observed Lent this year – to believe in something. It was also to stand in solidarity, but well, let’s not go there.

An honest discussion of fear and distress is more of a taboo than an uncomfortable social gathering. We don’t have the skills for it because we’ve been conditioned to believe that our fears and sadness are some sort of disease that should not be mentioned. Therefore, there’s no socially acceptable conversation starter for it. It’s always something that happens to someone else; not us. It’s like a shadow you carry around. And when you’ve hidden behind this facade, you find a relief when you learn of someone’s troubles. “Oh, it happens to others, too.” Well, duh!

I read a wonderful article about grief on Brainpickings, quite possibly the only place on the Internet that I know of, which dishes up a gathered view of the human condition. In the article, Maria Popova talks about how Meghan O’Rourke wrote about the loss of her mother to deal with the grief. It’s such a heartbreaking read and illuminating at the same time. In the post, Maria Popova says something that I don’t think will ever leave me.

“Ours is a culture that treats grief — a process of profound emotional upheaval — with a grotesquely mismatched rational prescription.”

Enough said.

Because yes, as I have quoted at the start of this post, nobody wants to hear that kind of stuff. At times, even I don’t want to hear it. I get sick of trying to make sense of the scrambled dots that got handed to me, and I find it much easier to shove down three-and-a-half scoops of ice cream with strawberry and kiwi jam even though I don’t quite dig ice cream. It’s much simpler to do so. I get tired of trying to haul myself across the long littleness of this life. So, at such times, I draw all the things I love in my journal, or practice my Urdu and try to center myself from becoming a raging danger to myself.

Because sometimes I get scared. Really scared.

1. So far, all my posts have been titles of songs. Let’s see if I can keep this up this year.
2. It’s starting to get excruciatingly hot in Mumbai.

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