Dear Zindagi

We think we know stuff and then comes learning and lessons which we must undergo pain to code into us. Here are 7 of them that I had to learn or am still learning to incorporate into my daily living:

1) Dealing with fear is the single biggest challenge as our default response of shutting down or sweeping them away shrinks our life. The lesson with fear is to feel them deeply, without trying to sanitize them, edit them or to lessen them in any way. The trick with fear is to not to be in fear of fear and to stay open and be willing to experience them fully. So the biggest impediment to a full life is in our handling of fear and that is the first lesson I have learnt.

2) Second life lesson that I have learnt is that caring for what people think is actually trying to validate a fantasy. I learnt that in our ignorance of ourselves we are guilty of projecting an image or wearing a mask. Adjusting this mask properly on our face always needs a mirror of public opinion.The counter technique I had to learn to get perspective is called drawing an opinion circle which meant envisioning 360 degree feedback and thus being real with negative opinions.

3) Since birth we are counseled to be someone or something. We are conditioned to bow to authorities, conform to norms and stay within realm of political correctness. The life lesson around dealing with self came in two parts. First was that to gradually recognize myself amidst all the surround noise is a life task. It is a trial and error activity to see what engages my passions and appeals to my core. It was like playing ispy with myself. Second was that the onboarding of this self into daily life required making space for it thus changing routine and altering habits.

4) As long as my present was a reaction to my past I was being a crouching child in an adult body. The life lesson I learnt was that adulthood is not recycled babyhood and I must make deliberate choices and purposefully expand my horizons to practice a large canvas living. That meant I needed to meet unlike people, delve into unknown territories, choose different books, eat variety foods or to put it another way, drop the whole menu down to choose and not stick with default options presented.

5) To have experienced love is a great privilege. It feels warm and wooly on the inside and is the real tight hug of life. The lesson I learnt was that only those who have experienced both of its parts, giving and receiving, know it fully. Content with just receiving love was being a child. It was only when I could give love that I felt grown up. Also I realized that it is the only safety net I needed as I took off my harnesses for the climb.

6) I learnt that in this world lots of door open, only when you push against them. Knocking does not help. Keeping your manners is good but garnishing it with occasional screams is even better. I learnt that idealism barters in kind but pragmatism pays in cash.

7) Lastly I learnt that ignorance is obesity of the mind. Unless I made gaining knowledge my lifelong quest, I was condemned to be a conditioned convert. So after my schooling ended, I opened a library to start my real education.

Now I remind myself everyday that to embrace my uniqueness is to stop being normal and start being an artist.