If you still think what you are looking for should be here, please increase your vocabulary, expand your mindfulness, explore the unknown and search again.
“So, how are you feeling right now?” I asked my daughter as she woke up this morning. “But baba, I am not sick; I am quite well. I am sure you can see it!”, “Oh, for sure I can!” I said, nodding. “Then why are you asking me?” she asked, suspecting mischief. Before I could collect my thoughts for a response, she had gotten off the bed and fleeted away.
Was she feeling exactly as I saw her? I thought so. Indeed, I “saw” what she said, but there could have been a feeling that she did not say, or what she missed saying, or being the child she is, did not have a word for and therefore could not say? Was I able to “see” those feelings? Do I usually ‘see’ what is not said? My answers ran from Yes..no..maybe.. don’t know…can never know…whatever! I felt strangled as I struggled to release myself from my own cognitive grip.
I went towards the window and started to draw apart the curtains for a fresh breath of air. Instead, the morning sunlight streamed in. It was only then I realized how dark it was inside the room. And if it has been so dim inside all this while, was I able to really see what I claimed to see and what she believed I saw. Perhaps this will remain unknown to both her and me. I drew back the last curtain and laced it to others. “Johari Windows,” I wondered to myself!
Ever since I learned how important it is to be in the moment, step back and observe, I have been trying to practice it, especially when I have a strong urge to stay in control and increasing pressure to stay on top of everything.
How am I feeling right now? I asked myself. I paused to observe myself….happy? Well, not really! Then sad, perhaps? Certainly not! Then are you anxious? I asked myself…I thought for a moment. No! So maybe you are excited, I suggested myself. Hell no! Excited about what? Thoughtful then…well, not particularly. Concerned perhaps?…well…somewhat. But that’s certainly not all that I am feeling. Oh, come on, this elusiveness was getting the better of me! I found myself staring out of the window.
Hey! but wasn’t that urge “to stay in control” by itself a strong emotion. Wasn’t this emotion responsible for my monologue in the first place? So how did it escape my attention? Why did it escape my attention? Then what was it that I was practicing? Being in the moment, or being in the grip of the moment? Thoughtfully, I turned myself away from the window and looked inside, around the room. It still appeared a shade darker than the outside, or so I saw. So much for my conscious incompetence, I sighed.
I again turned, looking out of the window, and as I did so, also turned my thoughts away towards the fresh summer breeze expecting it to infuse me with few insights.
Some distance away, I saw a very familiar figure – a gentleman, talking to another person. I could not make out who the person was from my distance, but I somehow felt the person I was very familiar with, and suddenly I was confident I knew him. But who? I could not identify. The gentleman’s face was turned away, and the distance between us was sizeable. If he could just turn his face a little more towards me, or if I could get a closer look, the mystery would be solved, and the conundrum would vanish. I waited, my eyes keenly observing the situation, but nothing changed. I waited longer. Still, nothing changed. I changed my observing position without shifting post, but still without success. A thought crossed my mind – what happens if this situation does not change anymore in the way I want it to change? Will the identity of the person remain hidden from me forever? Will I never be able to know for sure who he exactly was? I was beginning to feel helpless when the person started walking – towards me. Ah! There now, I will be able to match my feeling with data and confirm my knowledge. As the person drew nearer, his features turned sharper, his face came into focus, and quicker than his steady pace, the truth surfaced – He closely resembled a very familiar face, but he certainly was not the person I thought he was. I was mistaken. I did not know him.
The face that earlier seemed so familiar suddenly became strange and unknown. And along with it, I also realized that I did not know the name of this person. But the fact that I did not know the name of this person made the person any less real? What kind of question is that?… Just because I do not know this person’s name does that mean the person does not exist. Perhaps yes. That person did not exist. At least not in my world!
My thoughts immediately went towards what a batch-mate at CTA had said in the last class – “If a word that describes an emotion does not exist, then does that mean the emotion does not exist?” she had asked. She cited the example of Eskimos, who did not have any word for depression. Just like I did not know the name of this person and therefore did not know who the person was, the Eskimos did not have a word for depression and perhaps, therefore, did not know what depression was! I reasoned with myself.
The word Eskimo dragged my mind away from the class to a classic book that I was reading, “The Fisher King and the Handless Maiden.” In the introduction, the author Robert A. Johnson writes (and I quote): “Sanskrit has ninety-six words for love, ancient Persian has eighty, Greek three and English only one. This indicates the poverty of the awareness or emphasis that we give to that tremendously important realm of feeling. Eskimos have thirty words for snow because it is a life and death matter to them, to have the exact information about the element that they live with so intimately. If we had a vocabulary of thirty words for love and matters for feeling, we would immediately be richer and intelligent in this human element so close to our hearts. An Eskimo would probably die of clumsiness if he had only one word for snow; we are close to dying of loneliness because we have only one word for love.”
“Look at all of them from the perspective of learning, knowing, and improving,” the voice of Dr. Haris rolled in the recording. “You may not have experienced many of them, and you may not want to experience some of them, but you must know all of them.”
The stranger was now passing below my window. He casually looked up and smiled. I smiled back.