By Aastha Katyal Pant
Picture credits: Aastha Katyal Pant
Time is but a constant flow. Then how is it, that a mere date on the calendar can make us feel renewed, rejuvenated, the same time year on year. Does the world miraculously undergo a drastic change when the clock strikes 12 on the night of 31st December? Do we all get covered in fairy dust or something, which magically makes our problems or the dilemmas we’ve been dealing with go away? What makes us so hopeful and suddenly optimistic as we bring in the New Year?
I guess it’s something to do with the will to live. Spiritually speaking, life could be viewed as a process that helps the soul learn, grow better, fulfill what it’s supposed to on earth within the body it’s been designed to have, and move on to a higher dimension. Physically speaking, life is trying to run this machine you’ve been handed and make it do things as per societal norms or well, against it -whatever floats your boat. Mentally speaking, life seems to be an endless wait, as we go through different levels, stages all to reach an end goal which we have no clue of. Let’s play Mario!
Oh, wait! I have another one. What if life is a Netflix series? Each episode may last the duration of a week or a month or a year – basically depends on how it unfolds and if it has all the ingredients required to make it an interesting one. One starts off not knowing what lies ahead, but one is optimistic. There are no reviews available however to sort of give us a glimpse into how it all plays out ahead. There are way too many twists and turns at times, a lot to our liking, while some we could absolutely have done without. But there is no fast-forward button is there?
Pictures and videos we take along the way seem to sort of serve as a rewind button but there isn’t really a rewind option either. One can’t go back and relive a happy moment just the way it is like one can re-watch the same beloved episode of Friends a thousand times over, with each passing year. There is no Skip Intro button, and the credits are ever-changing. We do have music playing in our heads at times over some filmy moments. We also see ourselves in different roles – a hero, at times a villain when the perspective shifts, often in the “best friend” role, at times a guide, philosopher or a teacher. Hopefully never a damsel-in-distress! But I digress.
Our theme today is “Constant”. Which is funny, because nothing in life is constant. Well, except worrying about change. Why don’t y’all go ahead and write a short essay each on what the term “constant” means to you? Feel free to approach it from whatever angle interests you. You’ll have 20 minutes. I want silence on your lips, but your minds to be vocal on paper! So, get to it, folks!
I have given my students a task on the first day of this semester, and I shall now utilize these same 20 minutes to make my notes. Last week when Doctor D mentioned to me during our third therapy session that perhaps I should try to keep a journal of sorts and attempt to note down my thoughts and feelings through the day – as often as I felt I needed to – I was piqued by the idea.
I do fancy myself as a writer of sorts, even though I’ve not been published in any of those fancy publications, but well that’s not the only benchmark to it, is it? I pondered on this idea and decided to do this homework before my next session. Which was tomorrow. God, when did I turn into such a last-minute floozy from the overachiever nerd that I used to be all through school and college? No, Tani, not now. Please let’s not kick into self-pity mode again. I can’t handle it!
OK, so what should I write about? Let me think… I love the sound of typing and how I feel inside as I clatter away on my keyboard. Makes me feel so important and busy even though I am writing absolute bullshit and basically talking to myself on (virtual) paper.
Hmm, so let me write about the biggest issue I have realized I face too often. Anxiety. I am sick and tired of my anxiety, to be honest. I overthink, I obsess, I make life miserable for myself and others around me, and then I lash out and go on a blaming spree only to fall into this miserably familiar abyss where I feel like life has no meaning left and why is it even? Well, this whole process seems to be a “constant” for me.
Maybe this is my essay! One which I can never, ever read-aloud for my students or let anyone else read it. What if they go into an overdrive of worry for my mental state? Worse, what if they simply think I’m being needlessly dramatic and ignore me as they roll their eyes? OK just calm down Tani. Nobody is reading this. And just as well. Only you think you’re a writer. Who even knows what you’ve done that’s remarkable enough to slot you as one?
Uggh, I’m tired of this voice inside me which constantly opens up the door shut firmly tight to keep it down, only come out mockingly at me time and again. Why can’t it ever be kind? Or generally encouraging and uplifting?
Well, duh, because I’m part of you! This is you, essentially. Be kind to yourself and maybe I’ll be kind to you too. Basic logic, right?
There it speaks up yet again.
OK this isn’t what Doc had in mind I’m sure. Let’s just get to the actual assignment please.
I have opened way too many windows in my mind, and all are now clattering about this chaotic mess created as thoughts woosh past each other. OK, time to shut some off. And instead, open the one I don’t often like opening. I need that for this piece to work.
Relationships. A lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of faith and trust and a lot of shocks but also a lot of glorious, happy, fuzzy moments. It really depends on our attitude and outlook, doesn’t it? Let me take up from that thread for now.
This would be my fourth attempt at a relationship with a guy. The first two were very peer-pressure-driven and more of friendships with a “romantic” filter applied, to be honest, where even holding of hands was too much. The relationship that really got to me was technically the third and my most serious one. I fell head over heels for this guy, adjusted too many of my own strictly set moral definitions, and basically went pretty crazy thanks to this cloud I had over my mind during the time. I basically worshipped him and all I needed in return was attention, and the feeling of being someone special to him, someone irreplaceable. And while I may have let him feel that way by the way I acted around him and thanks to the things I did to please him, he was clearly not on the same page as my now cleared out vision reminds me.
Around the same time, things at home had started taking a drastic turn with my father falling into an alcoholic haze which was recognized as a legitimate illness only by doctors. Not even by some of the closest family members and trusted friends. It took me about 2 and a half to 3 years, away from my hormone-laden lovey-dovey haze for this guy, to fully realize the severity of the situation at home with my Dad. But by then it had kind of gotten out of control.
While I struggled to hold onto this relationship with this boy that meant a lot to me then, even as he scurried off into the arms of my then best friend after I moved out of town with my family, I also struggled to deal at home with this totally new facet of my father’s. My boyfriend who had meant the world to me had entirely shattered it all with his callous and pretty insensitive choices, and my father who was the pillar of our family’s entire world had begun severely crumbling himself.
With that came a ton of uncertainty about how our lives would shape up, what we should do to deal with this totally shocking twist in our lives in the face of us being emotionally and financially reliant on Dad, and how can we rally ourselves out of this tight spot we found ourselves in, especially as a lot of family and friends seemed to be dropping out of touch, not knowing how to help or whether even they wanted to in the face of what my Dad was going through. Is it even a surprise that I was an anxiety-ridden teenager who grew into an anxiety-ridden adult?
To be fair, my dad’s now out of that phase thanks to some timely intervention and forceful rehab therapy we got him with the help of some close family members (the few who’d shown their staunch support to Mom and me through all this). In fact, today we celebrate six years of his sobriety and our family is far calmer and together than we’d anticipated being during all those nearly 9 years of absolute horror and uncertainty we went through.
But even though the alcoholic haze seems to have left us, my anxiety clearly hasn’t. It stays with me, eats at me constantly every single day and it has started to gnaw at my existing relationships threatening to bang the door shut on them for good if I don’t stabilize. This realization hit me strong, as I bid goodbye to 2020, the year of gloom and doom for the world. I, luckily, had a lot to be grateful for this year – from getting to spend amazing quality time with my loved ones, to get sufficient time off from the mad rat race we are all in, during which I reconnected with my husband. But when it all seemed to be going down the drain yet again towards the year-end, I was forced to re-examine myself and my responses to things which had turned the tide for me. I noted I could definitely be much better in my behaviour, with regard to my reactions and be far less uptight.
After months of having struggled with the idea, I finally decided to open myself up a bit, start seeing a therapist, and this is where I now stand – writing to myself, amidst a class of teenagers, hopefully with them doing the task I set for them and not focusing on the tear that has been fighting hard to drop down for the last two odd minutes.
OK then! Good job, everyone. I enjoyed Kabir’s humorous take on the topic. I didn’t quite understand Shiv’s view of it, I’m sorry. But I particularly loved what Ruchi did with her essay and the totally unexpected light she shed on the topic. We could say her continuing to surprise us all with her unique insight into the mundane is what’s “constant”, eh?
C’mon, it wasn’t so bad. A chuckle couldn’t hurt anyone! Lighten up you lot!
Anyway, that’s the bell for today. That’s it for now. Let’s meet again tomorrow and hopefully, we’ll all be a slightly better version of ourselves then, huh? So all in all, a good first class for this year, I’d say. I hope we can all gather the lessons we learnt from the past year and apply them to ourselves and our lives, towards self-improvement and finding happiness within us! Let’s do that together folks, what say? One day at a time, after all.
Ok then, bye bye!
Vidyut, please could you close the door after you? I need another couple of minutes by myself, I think. Thanks!
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