dependent

Webbed Independence

Webbed Independence

I have always had, (still have) this independent streak in me. I try my utmost to accomplish every task solo; without bothering a single other soul. Not because I don’t wish to seek outside help or that I shy away from stretching my hand to ask a favour of someone. Just that, it has been that way with me; I need to do it all myself! With every passing day, a realization keeps showing its true face to me, teasing me about my illusory independent accomplishments. The verity is that life is rife with webs. We live a webbed life striving to achieve that elusive independence.

How can I be independent? Dependence begins with birth and goes on.  My mind is forever juggling more than one thought process, my heart is experiencing more than one emotion at a time and my physical self is an expert multi tasker, it barely ever shows one singular symptom at a point of time. One thing is dependent on the other within me, in me I have a web, and I am at the centre of this web, breaking free. Forget about my association with the world and its connections; that is a bigger, wider net and little introspection will reveal, that this is a web I can be free of, gain independence from; if I so choose to do so.

I never really gave all this much thought; because this independent streak always limited itself to doing things, accomplishing the worldly deeds and pursuits in a self-reliant way. That was my struggle and definition of being independent; breaking free of the web outside. Now, this independence is also a pseudo independent state, don’t you think? Because, everything I wish to accomplish, there are many interlaced events and people involved who have to participate on my schedule and whim, to bring the event to timely fruition; my way. This, I realised only when I came across many stumbling blocks in the recent past, and my daughter commented about how ‘my independent decisions’ were affecting her life and decisions because she is dependent on me!

Apparently, my interdependence was not as harrowing nor did I have to make any big sacrifices like her. Since I was too busy to commit to 2 days a week to collect her after school; she was forced to forego the exclusive choir group in her school (only 16 girls from the whole school were hand -picked and she was one of them). The poor girl swallowed the bitter pill with great equanimity, yet I was gently reminded of her sacrifice more times than I care to recall. And all this occurred because of her dependence on me. Ah ha! I thought, all this doing solo and not getting in the way of anyone else is a big sham; I am dependent on everyone and everything for everything.  And so is my poor kiddo! We are a part of this huge web and in that the only independent space is the individual space! All else is knotty and intricately knitted, well-crafted work of God almighty, so we cannot Break -Free! And thus, came my moment of epiphany…

My umpteen failed attempts to be regular with my blogs and posts is yet another example worthy of mention. The first step towards this was to be regular and disciplined; and this is where I have consistently boomeranged!  I had a finger in every possible pie; something pressing always took precedence and writing remained on the ‘to do’ list.  With dedicated prioritisation, I finally committed to one post per week, and then I realize I forgot to pay the fee for my website, and thus the website was inactive. So, I patiently wait and get that work done, then my editor gets busy and goes on a sabbatical, so another setback, unfazed, I decided to put up some poetry and unedited posts (at the risk of quality versus continuity) then my website goes on to some maintenance and is offline yet again! It was as if the world had conspired to stop me from being regular, try as I might, my interdependence would not allow me to accomplish this job ‘my way’. I was webbed; and I had to lump it.  This is just a very small instance, which I noticed because of my daughter’s comment. We all have such webbed moments, and I am sure the feeling of being independent is very illusory. Maybe that’s why the most common sigh we have in our moments of frustration is,’ Oh! when will I be free of all this!’

The above aberrations did not make me feel webbed; I could be independent and interdependent; this was the revelation I had. If I could be emotionally free, detached and unaffected, all the other webs (social and worldly) hardly bothered me for long. They were small speed breakers on the road, part of the journey, and probably imperative too, to maintain my speed, and help me see the view on the way. My daughter’s gentle reminder of ‘her sacrifice’ brought to the fore what I personally was trying to break away from; the emotional burden we carry for every action we take or escape.  The constant nagging and having to ask, seek permission, being judged, is what the heart wants to break free from; physically we don’t mind the dependence, on the contrary, we welcome it! It gives us a chance to pass the buck, and have a ‘shared burden companionship’ feeling. It is the emotional clutter that we hanker to clear and yet unwittingly latch on to.

Whenever I feel webbed, I clean the clutter of the house, throw unwanted things, clear the cobwebs, make a schedule; get things under control (as much is possible)! This external control over things helps me put a leash around my free- spirited thoughts and the clearing makes my heart ‘see’ better, I think.  I learn to enjoy the webbed independence state, independently.

Alone – Together

Alone – Together

Alone Together

The thought of this title has been playing on my mind for a really long time.  I see the above state played, replayed and lived almost every single day in almost every urban household. I am still trying to frame and articulate it aptly with equanimity and fairness, about what I see and what I feel about this life. We, “the urban and developed”, tech savvy generation have come to lead today; ‘Alone Together’.

 It all started when a couple of weeks back, we were enjoying a face time call with our cousin. He started with the lord of the house (my husband), exchanged a few pleasantries, and asked for me. I was in the same room, right by his side, distractedly overhearing every word, yet busy on my phone, texting someone else, on a totally different topic. So, the phone came into my hands and he was a little surprised that I was right by my husband’s side, yet absorbed in my miserable gadget. Then came our daughter’s turn, and to make matters worse, and drive the wedge deeper into my already bleeding heart; there she was; right next to me, on her I pad, watching some idiotic show! Trust our dear cousin to make note of this too and he remarked ‘Oh! you are the perfect modern family, alone together.’

That’s that, the final nail in the coffin! I have often complained to my better half about his being glued to the phone. The gadget barely the size of a palm is  his heart, the phone being his life partner, best buddy and I can go on…but that caustic observation from our cousin brought to light the simple truth we all are avoiding today. We all are uncomfortable alone and worse; we are unknowingly more uncomfortable together.

Technology has robbed us of the pivotal, key ingredient of life and living; comfort in togetherness. We send texts with ease, because the message is devoid of physical proximity. The true essence of the meaning that we wish to convey is at the mercy of the befuddled receiver. We post pictures on Face book of every possible occasion, and fearlessly share our treasured moments with strangers. The immediate family is the last to know, or may get to know from ‘following’ the family on Face Book. Speaking to our extended family and relatives have become a weekend ritual.  We are more connected on what’s app group chats and when must speak over the phone, we procrastinate, tentatively rehearse our lines, and hope that by some fluke chance we can postpone it to the next weekend.

On the other hand, we prolifically text friends, seek new friends on the net, bare our hearts, confess to some faceless friend of the moment, here today, gone tomorrow. The importance of family, togetherness, being able to speak to a person, face to face, these have become outdated and obsolete.  With family, we are walking on thin ice; with strangers, we are on solid ground. With family, we are afraid, snappy, irritable and judgmental; with strangers we are bold, pleasant, eager to please and understanding.

Secrets are reserved to be kept from family members; but world can know all about us, and we care two hoots. The family should be kept in the dark; that’s more important. The world does not judge us, and even if it does, we don’t go back to live with the world, do we? We return to the family; thus, the need to hide from the family and be in their good books is essential. It sounds mighty hypocritical, but isn’t this a fact? Maybe that’s why we are fidgety around the known, and at ease with unknown.

Long gone are the days when we used to have a family lunch, or a simple get together for no reason at all. The fact of being together and looking forward to enjoying each other’s company was the prime intention. Nowadays we do have our lunches together, but we all have our friend in our pocket, tucked closest to the bosom, and we seek umbrage almost immediately after the perfunctory greetings are out of the way. Of course, we all sit together and watch a movie, but we all also have the phone stitched to our palm or an I pad on mute playing some other random, personal choice video. That’s the togetherness we have today.

We make weekly calls to my mother in law who stays all by herself. However, the funny part is that her loneliness is a constant worry for my husband. She is  in fact cheerful, happy,and coping very well with her way of life. She is  perpetually busy with her huge circle of  friends and many social engagements. Yet, he worries for her. Realistically speaking, I feel she is more engaged and together inspite of living so far away. We are right next to each other, yet we are lonelier. Listening to the cousin and my husband’s worrying rant, the profundity of that phrase ‘alone together’ hit me.

‘The less you have, the more they are worth.’- This was a toast raised for friends, on some Television show, I forget the name. It has become defunct today, won’t you agree? With the advent of Facebook and other social sites, the world is replete with stranger friends. We have no dearth of friends, so the real worth of a friend remains a mystery. Secondly, the world is our friend, so the more you have the more the confusion as to who is worthier! ‘The more you have, the less they are worth’; bring us back to the title; we remain alone, together.

It is best of both worlds really, we are together physically. We live under one roof, we seldom argue, because we never talk to each other, about each other.  We talk about the world or still better, we don’t have to talk at all! That sense of commitment and belonging is missing. We nurse our pain and misunderstanding and heal ourselves through help from strangers. Together, we wind up embittered, vitriolic and want to be alone. And alone, we are unhappy maybe, but the world worries about us, and that pseudo concern makes us happy? I am not sure, this is my ruminative rambling. We seem to be happier alone together, and we want to leave it that way.