Monday, August 13, 2012

to the womb and back

We can cast pretty long shadows...

I've been thinking a lot about the conflict between most children and parents: the endless struggle, which appears to get more complex as time wears on, from infancy to adulthood, and yet seems quite the same as it ever always was.

I've been told that we actually choose the parents to whom we are born to. That this is somehow part of our--sick and twisted as it sometimes seems--karma. This choice, and the lessons embedded in the relationship we have with our family, is crucial to our education, to truly learning who we are.

That this choice was made by me is, kind of, well...comforting. I am, it turns out, a willing participant in what sometimes feels like totally random luck of the draw.

Here's the but: I've stopped believing in dumb luck. Over the last couple of years, my faith in the way the universe works has been greatly buoyed. I believe there is a reason for everything. Yes, even the tough stuff.

And it's great to feel that there is a point to it all, that there is some great purpose to what at times feels like madness. This is yet another gift, one beloved friend would most definitely say, that comes in unusual wrapping.

Recently, in an attempt to "unwrap" this present, this gift of a complex relationship I have with my mother (this is not to say my relationship with my father is much less complicated--but he seems to have figured greatly in last year's grueling discoveries and is thus less prominent now), I traveled to my most unusual destination yet on this trip. I went back to the womb with the help of my friend Kumar, from Mumuksha in Mysore, who is here now in England to do some healing work via transomatic dialogue therapy.

Ok, at this point, some of you reading this might be tempted to roll the eyes, sigh in thinly veiled bemusement at me going all new-age-y. In truth, even I want to sometimes react like this towards myself, give myself a side-glance and an "Ohhhh, really?" 

In a recent conversation, one of my best college friends, who also knows my mother well, suggested I see a therapist to talk out my mommy issues. This too elicits a similar response from me. I can't help it. It's a bit of a reflex. I guess I am from a similar stock as my mother. If you can't grin and bear it in the end, then go figure it out quietly by yourself. Hmmm, perhaps the root of my problems?

Whatever the root, I do recognize that there is only one real problem, one that takes lifetimes to figure out, it takes many births, many parents and a whole lot of varied experiences, some good and some bad. It takes discernment of mind, openness of heart, strength and determination to dig, to uncover layers, to excavate all the blockages that keeps us from the true treasure. We need all the help that we can find, from friends, from loved ones, from therapists and healers, conventional or otherwise. And as for the challenges that arise to test us, they are here to help us too. These presents-in-disguise are obstacles in the darkness. But they are also clues. And as I fumble around the dark room of my soul, these objects give me some idea of my true shape and form, who I am and who I am not.

So here I am, unrooting, unwrapping, traveling unknown distances, pushing boundaries, bumping my knees on obstructions that seem so haphazardly strewn before me--though they are really guiding me down this dimly lit path, where I continue to feel for that magic light switch, so that I might shine, so that I might see.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

uphill battle

A good fit: a prayer for the journey on-going.
Unfortunately, don't have any pics of the magnificent ride.

Pickering, Yorkshire, Great Britain

I like a good bike ride. And by "good" I mean slow and easy, on relatively flat surfaces. A friend back in Boracay would always overtake me on his bike and marvel out loud that it was a miracle I didn't just fall over sideways, I was going so slow.
That's usually how I roll. Smooth. Easy. With turtle-like-stealth.

But not yesterday, as I followed my friend into the forest trails in Yorkshire. We were steadily going uphill. He on the biggest cog. Me, trying to keep up, vacillating between the three, always ending up on 1st each time the heat started to burn at my thighs, which was pretty often.

It seemed an eternity going uphill (mmm, closer to 15 minutes) when I started to think that consenting to this bike ride was a bad idea. I should have stayed indoors. Where it was warm, where I would be sitting, legs happily static. And did I really agree to going off-road into the forest on a road bicycle? What in the world was I thinking!

At some point--as I was huffing and puffing quite undignified-like--I thought, I can still turn back. It was one long stretch back to my friend's house. I was sure I could easily find my way. But this would require some serious pedal power to actually overtake my friend whose legs appeared--at least from my vantage point, with dust and distance between us--to be made of steal. So, instead, I followed on.

Off the road, up we went into the woods, which was, at the super slow motion speed that I was going, sublimely serene. I was struck with this external peacefulness, which felt wild and foreign but also very calm, mostly because it was a stark contrast with what felt like a raging battle within.

My heart was thumping wildly, each beat reverberating in my head. Each sharp slope upwards seemed to push me to some unknown limit. The struggle up the hill seemed to have given rise to loud, mutinous demons within. My demons. Old nemeses. Old so-called friends, pulling me down from all sorts of heights. "What was I doing?" they shouted in my inner-ear. "What was I trying to prove?" "I'm so obviously not good enough."

At some point, it got so bad I had to stop, pull-over, and have a good whimper. By then, I was in the middle of nowhere, my friend's dust had ceased to be visible. It was already late in the afternoon. And it was not a good time to have a total emotional breakdown.

So I inhaled and exhaled and pedaled. Albeit slowly, up the mountain. My friend came back down to meet me, by then quite close to the top. And we made our descent together. From there it was downhill. Also not smooth, on such rocky terrain, but downhill nonetheless. In fact, the entire way back--the same road we came up--was downhill, which made me realize that the entire first half was an uphill battle.

Life is a journey. There are ups and there are downs. The heights we have to sometimes climb seem insurmountable, impossible even. We are challenged. We are often pulled down by these challenges. But if we keep on, we find that it does get easier.

My body, heart, mind moaned and groaned up the forest trail. There was a riot in my head. And yet, slowly, inch by painful inch, I did manage. Though most of the pain, I realize now, was in my head. I got to the top of that blasted--and stunningly beautiful-- mountain. And the freedom of the descent, the exhilaration that came as I sped swiftly down the rocky pathway quieted the din of internal doubts and demons.

It was just me, the bike, and the winding road down.

And, actually, I am looking forward to going back. It won't be much easier, but at least I know I can do it. I can manage the tough ascent. And I'll enjoy the ride, the entire ride, both the up as well as the down.