Its 4 am, everything is silent, the night is still, besides the hum of the system’s fan and my descent on the keys its all silent, its a wonderful silence, so deep and still, the stillness that can only come when everything has come to a halt, all of human activity retreating into a nocturnal realm to rest their bodies and souls, before meeting the last day of the year 2012 head on before the day ends and a new year is born. Only a few minutes ago I had posted my status on Facebook, speaking of GOD, hoping the best for all my friends in this new year, besides these occasion oriented greetings in this thick cold dark night I wonder what to make of the upcoming year, 2012 had sped by, there were ups and downs, there was joy and there was pain, happiness and sadness, in many ways this year had been the toughest for me personally, I learned things about my own nature that deeply unsettled me, I almost lost my mind, almost lost my life and almost gave up when it mattered most, despite all the damage to my conscience, to my heart to my soul, GOD had graciously lifted me up and given me a fresh new start,a brand new day and a brand new song. It feels almost surreal to even sound hopeful but that’s my exact tone at the moment, they say hope floats, and as I gaze into the uncertainty that the future would essentially bring, I find that I have reasons to fear and reasons to hope, I know that I have miles to walk and loads to bear, there are so many things to learn and so many promises that I have to fulfill. I don’t like planning my life, since I opt more to take it as it comes, but at this juncture when my life seems to be hanging in the balance and I seem to have adulthood on one side and my fast fading years of youth on the other, what choice do I make…? Do I even have to make that choice…? I had no qualms of growing older, as a matter of fact I relished growing older in a certain way, I valued experience and knowledge more than innocence, but still innocence was a virtue that I valued greatly, though I wonder if anything is left in me. Would things change this year….? What about all the stories that had happened the past year…? All the unspeakable horrors that the media finds pleasure in revealing in all its nakedness, the girl who passed away still weighed heavily on my mind, there were a lot of things that are on my mind this particular day, a lot of heavy heavy things, things that make one hesitant to profess, things that make one think twice and things that grieve. But their effects are not heavy on my mind for Christ lives in my heart, my mind like the silence of the night feels the vastness of the slumber and finds quite some comfort in the emptiness borne of it. I walk over to the window to chance a glance at the night, the roads are cloaked unevenly by the street lights and contain the residue of the dark within them, the night is thick and the stars are few, the moon was full yesterday, but now its starting to wane away, the skies are fresh and clean, it almost feels like they were scrubbed clean, though they were immensely dark and haunting , there was a symphony of reverie that resonated from its direct contact of experience that I felt in my heart at the moment, at times the night air was filled with the sound of a speeding share autorickshaw, it all returns to the former state of vacuous serenity. It would be dawn soon, things would start happening, people would wake up, engage in their lifelong morning rituals, the grass would be damp with the mist of the cold december night no doubt, my mom would wake up in a few minutes and ask me to walk our dog, my dad would awake in another half an hour or so and give me one of his patented looks of displeasure at my staying awake all night, followed by a smothering lecture that would be philosophically charged and strategic in addressing my lack of routine and discipline, but what I would miss the most would be the slow descent of light into the swampy darkness of the plains, I would of course miss the silence too, my mom would soon head to the kitchen where she would proceed to prepare breakfast and lunch before she left for the office, my mom had done this for twenty five years without taking a day off, there was always food on the table in the mornings and also for the afternoon as well, Always… Its only right that GOD in all his mystery blessed her with the most lazy son this side of the twenty first century 😀 , Today was a day just like any other, people knew what to do in a day, they planned tv time, office time and home time beforehand or their minds so accommodated with the usual routine sunk into it with no complaints. People got older too, we are all dying everyday, our lives are getting shorter, we lose something everyday that we hardly know about, there is always something happening, always.
Pretty soon I would need to go over to Madras, I would probably take the same ole train, feel the same ole’ opposition to Chennai Central( the railway station), argue the same price for the auto fare back to my apartment near the famed Gemini Bridge, go back to work, meet people in my office who would never change, talk to people who would never listen, work in a downtrodden community where I was perceived as an enemy more than a friend, read books, buy books, forget all about them, where did everything I ever read go…? I was not the rain man most certainly but I would have liked the company of those very lines that had made quite an impression, I am not bemoaning the fact that the ritual of life never changes, but I am wary of this earthly life with all its pitfalls and with all its failures, I would fail, I am sure of it, but I would learn something out of it as well, I would change too, I would find new ways to make a moment more meaningful, I would speak too, I would take it upon me to spread the seeds of the good news, and GOD was with me, I knew that he would not leave me nor would he forsake me, but the weight of the present year that is about to end sits heavily on my shoulder, on Jan 1 , 2012 I had watched a shooting star in the night skies, I had wished for the year to reveal itself through my soul, and I got my answer, my soul or rather my heart revealed itself to me completely, I saw how delusional I was, how selfish I could be, how self centered and heartless I really was at times, how I shrunk , how I suffered in self righteous anger, how I gave excuses, how I failed miserably through repeated actions of self grandeur and carelessness, my heart in other words my soul was revealed to me in abundance, I saw how meaningless my life was without GOD, and I am one of the good guys, apart from my cutting self analysis, I tend to keep extremely high standards in terms of my conduct but inspite of all that, inspite of a million goody goody acts, I still had not felt complete within those times, but the minute I encountered Christ rather like Paul on the road to Damascus, I fell down, and I asked the blinding presence, ‘ Who art thou Lord…?’ , and ‘ What dost thou want of me…?’ , like the prodigal son who knew that he belonged to someone far greater and superior but for a long time leaned on his own understanding, his own self will, his own egomaniacal dogma of surviving and waiting for the right thing, until in one moment of clarity I saw how foolish I was and how ill conceived all my attempts were, I saw that the loneliness in my soul was not because I had no one to love me, it was not because people deserted me, it was not because this past year nothing great was accomplished by me, it happened because I did not have GOD in my life, I was doing things that were hurting HIM, and I took my freedom of free will for granted and served pagan gods when my true master awaited patiently for my return, how monumentally stupid have I been that I had not even realized that I was lost in the lies that my so called destinies seemed to offer, my true calling has always and will always be to spread the word of GOD, I remember how when I was young I likened myself to Jonah, I knew that I possessed similarities to him, I ran away from God too, I had given my life to God at a very young age, at the age of fourteen, but I had not kept my end of the bargain, I stumbled, slipped, backslid, fell down, tumbled, struggled and wrestled with my faith for a very very long time, I have come close to abandoning my worldly life many times, and I wanted to , I wanted something more spiritually satisfying, I found that or I thought that I found it in Zen, the mystical aspects of it greatly appealed to me, especially since they depended on self scrutiny, giving up of the self and seeking peace, it gave me great joy for quite a long time, and I almost felt it change me within, not a permanent change, but rather a gentle sentiment that struggle was the nature of all man, why struggle when the end is known…? I thought. There were great moments of personal peace that came when I followed Zen, of all the world’s religions that I studied, and this list is long, it includes the wicca, hinduism, buddhism, judaism, the teachings of Osho, the teachings of Krishnamurti, certain teachings of the occult, certain aspects of Islam( the importance given to prayer greatly appealed to me) Jainism, nature worship, Magic etc, the mystical traditions spoken of by Paulo Coelho, I did not deeply enter into these things with lifestyle changes, but I let them enter my mind and I allowed them to ask me questions, questions that I was open to, answers that I believed must be sought, very much like Frankl I deeply believed that man needed meaning to survive, and I connected all the teachings that I came across with my heart that was open to self inquiry, and my intelligence strove to understand their origins and the people who practiced them. But despite all these my life seemed to have an immense void that could never be filled, partly because I was running away from Jesus, aspects of the artistic life greatly appealed to me, especially that of dedicating oneself to his art or craft, and I found that my urges took me very much in the same path, I started to isolate myself and spend more time working on subjects, reading poetry, especially the lovely lovely poems of W.B. Yeats, that of Keats whose sensitivity I admire, Frost whose observations I enjoy, Wordsworth whose temperament and themes greatly excite me, I will speak of the struggles in these realms later on, but as I said my life seemed vastly empty, I had loved but even that seemed more on the earthly level, I sacrificed my health by staying late night at the basketball court hooping it up, but even all the love that I had for it seemed to waver, and I really wondered if all the passion that I poured out into the game was misplaced, I turned to music, the performing arts, I listened to music through much of the night, I explored, I made the most of my time in regard to listening to new music, I found myself fascinated immensely by Ludovico’s compositions, by Miles Davis and his trumpet, Wynton Marsalis and his range, by Tupac and his smoldering dual personality, by rap music and the artistic expression and potent of the spoken word, all these were well and good, they gave me a world to live in, even though I had no job or money, I found a certain sense of satisfaction in them, and if those failed I took my bike on long long drives, travelling to roads by the sea, finding isolated places in common parks where I would sit for hours just to engage in this walk called life and observe all the people and wonder how their lives were lived, despite all these extravagant notions, despite radical claims to my ideas being superior, despite my rage at being despised and advised to frequently, despite my revolutionary fire that was sparked by a friend who later grew to judge me, despite all these seemingly unique pieces of a troubled personality, despite my bohemian urges,despite my sensation seeking nature, my lack of conformity to society, despite all that I was still empty, and all these aforementioned things did not enter into that emptiness nor could they make any form of lasting impact, in my usual vague mindset I wandered off key and started to blame my own sense of self, I was rather cruel to myself, I hypothesized that I was the root cause of the problem, that my deep seated tendencies to fear and self loathing (in the past ie) were the keys to my problem, Aha, I thought, feeling all proud of myself, I had identified my problem, now I would channel all those past memories, all those vulgar emotions and their insidiously draining dramatics could be quelled and disposed of with my mind, I always survived didn’t I…? I have changed too many times to remember now, I would change, even though my heart was shattered into a million little pieces I would adapt, evolve, change… I would later see all these things in retrospect and they would all make a lot of sense to me, I thought, I was wrong again, in a series of events, major blows would fall or rather rain down, and I was systematically destroyed, abolished, demoted, deactivated, hung in suspense over raging kindled fires, lost and frustrated. What was it…? I would obsess over a whole day, I tried different self administered therapies, weed, pleasure, alcohol, friends, wild drunken nights with people whom I really should not have been friends with( one of those earned a trip to the Police station btw), brutal self analysis, dream analysis, meditation, trance music, scoping out multiple job opportunities, repeated attempts to wash out my memory and start anew but these attempts would not last more than a few hours, and I would be again cast into that foul pit of self despair and my war against the demons who practically obliterated my soul in those times continued day in and day out, I had trouble sleeping, I lost my appetite, I started to fear people, I locked myself in my room for days on end, and there just seemed to be no way out, I was gone I thought to myself. I would not survive this time, and it was then that the son of the woman who works as our maid committed suicide, and it really struck me, that I was dead, soulless and without any feeling other than pain. To the outside world I was the same Joey, the one who played basketball late into the night, the one who always listened to their seemingly irrelevant stories, who always supported them and always had a word of encouragement for them even when they were often , how do i say it…? Wrong…? But my oscar worthy acting was crumbling too, my mind lost its handle, it rotated hyper-extensively , my competitive nature made things worse, I needed to do this I thought, pain is something that you have always embraced, c’mon Joe pull yourself together, you counsel people for crying out loud, you gotta do it, I would say to myself , but I couldn’t, it really seemed that I could not escape this time, that I had been caught , that all my life lines had been cut, here I was stranded on the highway of life all alone, with my famous ego(famous to me of course), with no friends ( I hardly made it appear like they mattered most times), constantly shifting between Vellore and Madras, which is a hundred kms apart, losing it every other minute, and what was all this struggle for…? It was then that I realized that all that struggle was for my life, my will refused to give up, even when playing basketball and say we were down twenty points, I would be the only guy believing that we would win, I always liked great odds, but this battle seemed more complex than those, they seemed almost too easy, for the first time in my life I got a whiff of what victims of abuse went through everyday of their lives, I understood pain and frustration in whole different dimension, I saw how pain overpowers conviction and pushes out faith, in the past whenever something happened to me, good or bad I would say a small prayer in my head, it was during one such time that I realized that all through my bad times, the Bible had always opened up to a passage that spoke to me personally, a psalm that felt like it was written especially for me, or a song that I would find a christian song whose lyrics healed me, whose lyrics touched me, I was finding more and more reasons to smile, I found the immensely therapeutic effect that prayer was having on my soul, it is written that the Lord was closest to the broken hearted for HE hears their cries, and no matter how great my burden or plea the Lord made me realize that he was indeed the Shepherd of my soul, I broke down and fell on His knees confessing all my sorrows, apologizing with a broken heart that I had strayed too faraway from Him, that my own choices were responsible for the void in my heart, and that He was not to blame, I confessed to Him that I was happy to have Him back in my life, and things changed, those were days of immense struggle, a lot of sweat and tears, a lot of time on my knees, a lot of lessons, a lot of clearing up( though issues remain, I am free of their emotional consequences), a lot of revisiting the past in order to forgive truly the foes from my distant past, and life returned to me again, I took great joy in those days, God made sure that He stayed as close to me as he could in those days and He has been so ever since, His promises never fail, they never will. I sometimes wonder why I talk so much about those experiences, its not like I wanna revisit them everyday and in my mind I don’t. I do sound more and more like a gushing teenager with his first crush than a dreamy minded 25 year old who up and until now had never known what a personal relationship with God can feel like. But I guess all things work together for good , and that He has made all things Beautiful in His time, I certainly am not asked to write by any divine intervention or personal message from the heavens, this is more thankfulness than anything else, this is thankfulness, love and gratitude and awe all rolled into one that is doing all the talking , in rambling sentences, at times ill timed sentences and a breathless intoxication.
So its 7:02 am now, I did not write all that long, as I so expertly predicted mom kept me busy for the better part of an hour with taking care of our doggy , and also running some minor chores in and around the house, the atmosphere has shifted from a sacred sanctity to that of an awakened toddler, hungry and in need of some attention. I chose to accept my sentence, the morning dwellers would pretty soon be teeming all over the place, honking horns, destroying any semblance of silence, since I lived in a town the noise levels are much lower, but when you’ve been fed the pristine silence of unconscious fate you can’t stand the distractions of the conscious fate, every atom of sound reverberates through your entire being making you feel like you’re sharing a crowded space, and the light though blessed and all embracing can feel like noise at times, especially for the sleep deprived soul..! I know that I have been searching for something for quite sometime and I have figured it out, the conclusion to this grand essay, so though I started to feed the thoughts that drove this essay they all began in the appreciation of the present moment or rather a moment in the past few hours that helped me realize how beautiful each hour was in a way, for I saw myself seated on the edge of a cliff, and below me lay the valleys that all humans need to endure and pass through, in my life they mean encountering unsavory characters at the basketball court who are driven by selfish and egoic pride, in whose presence I cant seem to find my game, it means to drive everyday to work and listen to people a few years older telling you what life is all about through their lens and through their eyes, convincing you that they know better, that no matter how wonderful your testimony in Christ is they are the experts in the field, I would love to take them aside one day and tell them, nobody , Nobody knows life, every moment, every second is not revealed, Only God knows what can or will happen, so stop repeating things that you normally say to youngsters whom you seek to guide just so you can flatter your own vanity, I follow my Christ everyday and that is more important to me than your self righteous predispositions, in this place you can only tell me what to do in regard to a particular aspect of work, don’t try to understand or confine me, since I care not that you do..! No matter what difficult aspect you seem to grapple with, pain, sorrow, rage, frustration, wounds, failures.., no matter what form or shape they take, know that there are things in this world that must be endured, but take Faith in knowing that you have the almighty God and his power to redeem and save at the bowing down of your head and the kneeling down of your knees, figure life out, the Bible is not that harsh a book, its probably the most beautiful book that I have ever read, for in the struggles of the people in that book the shining glory of GOD shines forth and conquers any dysfunctional aspect of humanity and saves, so I guess this is my new year message, that of hope for you (whoever you are), that of faith( I hope you make all the suitable arrangements for it…!), a message of sticking through ( no matter how hard the ordeals appear, no matter how meaningless life appears, no matter how unchangeable something appears), I feel that God will do miracles in your life if you only give Him a chance, I like Paul(of the Bible) accept my fate, though in no way can I be compared to that inimitable man of God, I speak more like one who learns from his experiences, his letters and as an apostle to the most High, Happy New Year 2013, I pray that you give your all to Christ,