You Choose

By Ramitha Ramesh
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Nowadays, I smell the aroma of my chai before I take my first sip each morning.
I pause to capture a picture of my smiling mom with her freshly cooked dishes.
I patiently wait to let authors take me along to their fantasy lands.

I make sure that I let every scene of every movie and show I watch engulf me. 

I enjoy the sunset from my terrace every evening and I groove to old, forgotten music.
I sing my heart out like nobody can hear me.
I take time to reconnect with my family in newer, deeper ways. 

I call up my grandparents when I miss the smile my grandad gives when I try to be funny.   

I call up old friends after ages to tell them that I think of them at times, even though life had taken us apart, and I write about all of it. 

I pause, breathe, and appreciate everything I had taken for granted for far too long in my everyday life.

I find myself rediscovering old hobbies, and finding joy in the smallest of things. I wonder now when I began to overlook the beauty hidden in these mundane every day activities.

And on one such day, I stumbled upon something I had lost long ago..the serenity in my way of life. 

It was cleaning day. Well, every day was a cleaning day with my mom around. But what I loved most about cleaning day was finding memories. It was an opportunity to find parts of myself by walking down memory lane. Parts of myself that I’d forgotten about…parts of myself I had lost to other people, parts of myself I never wanted back, parts of myself I wish I could revive – each of them giving rise to a rollercoaster of emotions in me.

It was beautiful how memories could exist in so many forms. An old photograph of me and my sibling, and a letter I received years ago reminding me of a beautiful, but lost, friendship. My old collection of posters of movies and actors, the tickets to Harry Potter: Deathly Hallows Part 2 during which I had bawled like a baby, refusing to let go of the favourite part of my childhood, and my collection of old friendship bands that mean nothing to me now. Books that had been gifted to me, sparking the reader in me, colouring books reminding me of simpler times, clothes that no longer fit me making me regret ever growing up, and pictures of puberty making me realise I am glad I grew up. 

Ah yes, I had always been a sucker for nostalgia. But aren’t we all?

Back in the day, I might have been dissatisfied with my life, my experiences, and how meaningless everything had felt. But what is it about humans finding meaning in retrospect?

Now when I look back, everything makes sense. The journey I took in life, the person I am today, the changes I brought in over time. It was all meant to unfold this very way.

Like Freud once said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” 

Everybody deserves that moment of clarity. Where you pause, look back, and realise that it all makes sense. That the universe, at the end of the day, was on my side after all. After years of cursing the stars and believing in horrible luck, was I not glad that it all led to this?

It all led to the person I am today. The one who believes in the power of kindness, and in the courage in vulnerability, one who fosters hope and happiness. One who strives for a better future as a better human, one who thrives in challenges and always, relentlessly, moves forward to find the light in life. 

I would be lying if I said I did not have my bad days. Days of wanting to run away, wanting to start over, drowning in regret and wallowing in self-pity.

But then, there comes along days like these; days of retrospect, of clarity, of finding beauty in old ruins, of having faith and peace instead of the old familiar albeit irrational need to control my life.  

A sense of relief and peace sweeps over my body, “We were never in control anyway.” 

We all have our moments of weakness, when our emotions take over our entire being, but why not choose to look at them as outfits we choose to wear every day?

Let me set the scene for you.

I open my wardrobe. I see different outfits hanging inside ready to be worn – indifference, anxiety, depression, frustration, hatred, irritation…but what about those old clothes you had forgotten about, lying at the back of the wardrobe?  Oh yes, there it is. There lies peace, joy, gratitude, affection, sensitivity, courage, even faith.

You choose your outfit. Every single day.

And today, today, I chose gratitude. Maybe with a shade of nostalgia? People say I wear it well.

Trust me, you will too. It brings out that beautiful smile of yours.

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