Consequences of Choices

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A statement that I often hear, and am also fond of repeating quite frequently is – I don’t have a choice. After years of hearing and making this self defeating statement, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that this is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. Not that this realisation has stopped me from taking this easy way out.But what I am very sure of now is this- We always, always and ALWAYS have a choice. What we don’t like are the consequences of that choice. But choice we always have.

I think the reason we like to take this route is because it’s the easy way out – to feel like a victim in the hands of a variety of forces- destiny, fate, karma. Call it what you will, the only constant  is this feeling of powerlessness, of being a victim. Maybe it’s a bad job that you are “stuck” in; or perhaps it’s a bad relationship that you realise just isn’t working for you anymore; or perhaps a city that you don’t want to live in. All of us have, at some time or the other, found ourselves in a situation or place in life that we don’t want to be in. How we ended up there really is irrelevant- bad decisions, bad choices or well bad karma! The essential thing at that point of time is what we choose to do henceforth.

I think I have spent a better part of my life feeling this way – living my life with a feeling that I don’t have a choice. When my son was very young, I felt I had no choice but to quit my job and be a full time mother- a decision that is for no one else to make or judge but mine alone. However, it is this “no choice” rant that, in retrospect, I feel is the most debilitating. Now, with the wisdom and clarity that are the gifts of hindsight, I can say that yes I had a choice. It was the consequences of that choice that I did not like. I could have left my son with a maid; or perhaps my mother or my mother in law; or explored day care centres. That is not to say that the alternatives were easy to come by or to put in place. But they were there- I chose not to exercise them as I didn’t like the consequences- delegating, and to that extent compromising I felt, my child’s upbringing.

So very often I hear people talk about a bad job or an abusive relationship but they choose to continue suffering anyways. Reason? I don’t have a choice. But what they don’t want are the consequences of that choice.  Perhaps it means losing the children if one walks out of a bad marriage; perhaps ones house and financial security, independence or at times your very life, as you have known it till now. The choice is difficult no doubt. But the choice is there. If you choose to continue in a bad relationship or job, do so but as a conscious decision rather than as a victim.Every choice has a consequence but the important thing to realise is that there is a “choice”.

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I read a post by Elizabeth Gilbert sometime ago where she touches on something similar and points out very succinctly that the problem often is that there is no Plan B in place. The fear of the unknown, unfamiliar is indeed unnerving. And it’s alright to be scared. In fact, as she says , it’s alright to not even have a Plan B. It’s alright to know  “Not This” even when you don’t know what else. I don’t know what else, but definitely “Not This”. From there follows the rest. Unknowingly  we make our comfort zones and fall into repetitive behaviour patterns that are difficult to break out of. The comfort may be just the familiarity of a situation, even if a bad one, and the absence of a vacuum rather than any comfort per se. A bad marriage or bad job may be just filling up gaping hole that would otherwise suck you into its vortex. To face that, is to my mind ,infinitely better than living a life of denial, of a victim. Choose to continue or walk out. But either way, do so consciously.

Life is way too precious to be wasted as a compromise and more importantly, to be lived as a by stander, an onlooker of your own life. Every moment, every day needs to be cherished, to be lived consciously as a choice. Life indeed is for the living and definitely not for the walking dead who pass off as the living. To quote a cliche, what is the end of the caterpillar is in fact the beginning of a butterfly and unless you put an end to self defeating patterns, nothing new will emerge. Rather than go down without a fight, let’s “Go to the Mattresses”!

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Mother’s Day

 

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Yesterday I woke up to Mother’s Day. As much as I might try to romanticise it, the awareness of this all important day was not brought home to me by my dear sonny waking me up with a bottle of wine and some flowers but by the media – old and new.
Suddenly there were mothers all over the place…in the newspapers, shopping malls, eating joints not to mention the virtual world…. Facebook statuses, whatsapp pictures and messages, instagram. Seeing everyone singing praises of their mothers, thanking them etc. I was suddenly consumed by guilt. By and large we (my brother and myself that is) have always ignored our mother, a legacy duly carried on by my dear son. So while my son decided that the best way to celebrate mother’s day was by taking him to a movie and feeding him at his favourite fast food joint , I thought of at least wishing my mom, who would be totally clueless about this whole hullabaloo in any case.
Dutifully I called her at 8 in the morning. ..no response. Again I called at 9. Still no response. I dropped a couple of messages but still no reply. So it continued for the rest of the day. My brother was as clueless about her whereabouts even though they live under the same roof. The totally spaced out mental space that my brother lives in makes others pretty much redundant to his scheme of things. That is until one day when he’ll wake up and smother you with all love and affection only to disappear again. My dad had no idea either which I didn’t expect him to in any case. After over 40 years of marriage one is rather happy to have misplaced one’s spouse I guess . Despite my mother’s unfathomable claims of being busy all day how could she be so busy,  I just couldn’t get.
It was finally at 8 in the evening when we were on way to “celebrate” as per my son’s wishes that I finally got to talk to her. By then all mother’s day love and affection had taken a beating and all that I did was to yell at her for disappearing so. ” The best way to celebrate huh ? ” , I asked her, ” Fall off the grid with a bottle of wine?” Used to being harangued by us so , she gave no answers about her being M-I-A all day long but continued to laugh and giggle. And that really did make me wonder. ..did she actually think that the best way to celebrate was to take off away from the brats with some liquor ? Genius! ! Why didn’t I think of that ?
Whether she actually did do that or not, I really don’t know. But that she had a good day is what matters. Motherhood in any case something that we as mothers need to celebrate for ourselves . The children didn’t ask to be born. ..it was we who either consciously decided to, or well just became mothers. Either way motherhood is a life long commitment. As my favourite Elizabeth Gilbert puts it in “Eat Pray Love”, it’s like having a permanent tattoo on your face. So you might as well be very sure about it. And even if you weren’t so sure, once you are a mother, you are so for your entire life-like it or lump it.
Best way to celebrate ? To each his own but for me it is to thank these lovely imps we have for children rather than them thanking us- Children who allowed us to explore and discover hitherto unknown aspects of ourselves. So yes, my mom taking off (with or without liquor) on her own is as much of celebration as me watching “Captain America-Civil War” with my little one. The two mothers are in different phases of motherhood, each to be cherished and enjoyed, neither to be undervalued.

So here’s to all the fabulous mothers and all that they are, and the children who make them so. May each day and each moment be as much of a celebration as this special day!

Writing – whiting and Melbourne

                                      Writing, my teacher-cum-friend, had once told me is not simply about inspiration but a donkey’s work. If one was going to sit around all day, she enlightened me, waiting for Muse to descend or inspiration to strike while doing nothing more than twiddling one’s thumbs, the chances that anything more than just twiddling thumbs would get accomplished were rather bleak. In retrospect I can vouch for the veracity of these words – wiser words in fact were never spoken. There were lot of other wise words that were spoken but more of that later. For now, suffice it to say that my inactivity of past year or so pretty much proves her point. It’s not that I’ve been inordinately busy. Rather I’ve just been waiting for my hallowed Muse to do the donkey’s work rather than the donkey itself (herself in this case) doing the work. And when nothing got done, I blamed the missing-in-action Muse. Cutting long matters short, here I am, hopefully back in action and doing more than twiddling my thumbs.

As much as I hate labels and oversimplifications, I can dare call 2015 a year of travel. Actually it was more than travel. Calling it just that, is well, again an oversimplification. The year did begin with a visit to Goa and ended with welcoming 2016 in Melbourne with some amazing friends, with Paris thrown in between, but travel was just an outward manifestation of the great churning inside.

20160104_142212    The realisation that life is for the living and effectively what you make of it hit me hard. Unless you take the bull by the horns, so to speak, you can sit and whine all you want but nothing will get accomplished. Forget getting anything done, you don’t even live, in the true sense of the word. You may not have been dealt the best hand but here you are on Mother Earth, and while you are here, might as well make the most of it. We really do owe it to ourselves to be happy and make every effort in that direction.

Past year saw me flipped over in every sense of the word – geographically taking me all over from Goa to Paris and finally landing me in Melbourne and in the inner realm of the self, trying to find myself and my life. Yes we are all works in progress but the catchword is progress lest we forget that and become fossilised in our ways.

As my favourite Elizabeth Gilbert says – “Onwards”.

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