I have tried before to harness the power of positive thinking. But I used to feel worse than I already did. I became angrier over how things never worked out the way I wanted them to. So, one fine day, I just stopped. I am unsure when exactly it happened or what led to it. I only know that letting go of positivism, during certain times, was the best decision I could have made.
It liberated me. It taught me that karma isn’t some magic trick. Nobody owes us anything. First, we see the rabbit. And then, we don’t. But there is no argument over where the rabbit is.
Many self-improvement philosophies advocate the same to-do lists. Eat healthy. Exercise. Talk to positive people. Focus. Elevate. Finger-paint. Masturbate. Make a bucket list. Most of all, they preach the power of positive thinking.
All it did for me was put me under pressure to be unlike I wanted to. It gave me headaches. Listening to others talk about how much it changed their minds was worse. I used to feel sick to my stomach. Unbeknownst to me, whatever I did to get over my own slumps was akin to what self-help gurus spoke about. It was probably why none of it ever worked for me.
Now, I have stopped trying to better my life through positive reaffirmation. I have come to a conclusion that my problems are just monkey bars. All I have to do is find my way out of them. They don’t need any special attention from me. Or anyone else. I prefer to let them be. Because, as much as they bring me down and kick me in the scrotum, I need them.
They may darken my days and turn my nights into unruly parliament sessions. But they are mine to bear. They give me strength to push myself; filling me with the urge to give shape to them. To write, to make music, and produce films. Without them, I feel like a bored and unhappy child.
I don’t want to meditate and conjure up some white ball of healing light. I don’t have to nurture a positive frame of mind to find contentment. Even darkness can reveal noble truths. Put me on the path to personal glory and professional success. All the good stuff that I once attributed to the sole labor of positivity.
But, a cloudy disposition about life isn’t necessarily a character flaw. It is a perspective. A few days ago, I had left, during early morning hours, for the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary. Halfway into the drive, it started to drizzle. When I reached the intersection that led to the sanctuary, I checked the weather app on my phone. It had bad news for. The air was thick and foggy, with a decent chance of rain.
Yet, two hours later, I felt blessed. It had nothing to do with luck. It had happened last weekend too. The residential birds came out to play. Once again, they were so many Spotted Owlets that I lost count of them. I couldn’t be that good at spotting them. So, I told myself that these things just happen. And I shouldn’t make a big deal out of it.
A few days ago, I had to cancel a trip to the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border. Instead, I went to Puducherry, a quaint coastal union territory not too far away. While I knew it was going to be a lot of fun, I was a little upset that it was going to be yet another weekend without bird-watching. There have been too many of those lately. On the way, we decided to stop by the Alamparai Fort at Kadappakam village. During the early 2000s, it used to be a favorite sunrise-spotting place of mine. Since then, it has turned into a tourist attraction. But the ruins of the fort that lead to the ocean, continue to hijack the heart.
I sat down on a large boulder that faced the crashing waves. At a distance, I noticed a flock of gulls hovering above an estuary. I watched as they drifted in with the wind and dive-bombed every few minutes to pluck fishes out of running water. Then, a Hoopoe flew into the picture and found its place on a branch of a tree. There were Bee-Eaters fluttering about, too.
I grinned wide. Life, though, didn’t seem any kinder. It neither changed me nor left me with a sunnier disposition on issues beyond this broken down fort.
Yesterday, the supermoon appeared in India. Everyone was tweeting about it. Many were writing odes to it on Facebook. And I started to feel irked by the occurrence. Because I can be a grinch, whether or not – Christmas is around the corner. I saw it, while driving around the city. It was big. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It was really big. But I didn’t understand the hype.
When I was home, my niece rang me. She squeaked. “Mama (Uncle), are you looking at the moon? It is so beautiful. It is the most amazing thing I have ever seen.” I thought I had to feign some amount of enthusiasm to ensure I didn’t dampen her excitement. So, I went out to take a look at the supermoon. Surprisingly, I found myself at a loss for words. I was entranced by its size and splendor. When my niece hung up the phone, I brought out the camera and clicked a few photographs and videos.
Like the climax of some artsy Iranian film, I realized that it was a significant moment. Not that the supermoon unraveled the mysteries of the galaxy for me. Or that it gave me hope for a better life. Even the photos weren’t that good.
The fact of the matter is being positive, irrespective of the situation, works for some. But, it certainly doesn’t for the rest of us. We travel light, and we prefer to walk in the shadows. However, none of this has anything to do with how beautifully and benevolently the moon spills its cheese, every single day.
(Photographs / video: Chennai, Kadappakam & Vedanthangal)