In life, when there is a crisis, there are two things we usually do. We quietly sit and wait for the tornado to pass over our heads, or we blame it for ruining our lives. I’ve grown up in a place where we were taught to “fight” the tornado. And all my life, I’ve believed my actions have been just that – a struggle, a battle, one victory at a time. When I was in school, everyone thought I was a meek, unfashionable person. As elitist as it may sound, everyone in my class seemed to have better cars, better houses and better summer vacations than I could possibly imagine. I fought through that, became academically comfortable – if not “elite” – and eventually found my way into going where my heart wandered. I learned to dance, sing, draw, write, manage and lead. Through university, I learnt to balance, rebel, negotiate, deliver and live.
I fought my way through everything.
I was always under the impression that to be happy, you need to do what you love the most. You need not compromise, rather you pursue your heart’s desires and one day, you will be find yourself standing on the 19th floor of a skyscraper and pat yourself on the back for your success. I have always chosen career over family, dreams over desires, ambition over love, and immortality over simplicity. I lived by the day because making plans never worked out for me. I learnt to forgive, to be politically correct, to see the bigger picture. And “the self” is extremely minuscule in the presence of fate.
However, it wasn’t until recently I realized all that I had thought and stood on meant nothing. Inside me, I carried a life I couldn’t value in the chaos of career, ambition, my life. I spent nights weeping and blaming my misfortune, I spent days wallowing within myself and I was a complete mess. I am not a cruel person, or at least, I believe I am not, yet during those times, all I can remember is how cruel the world was to me – or in fact, how cruel I was to myself, how I misunderstood simplicity. We get tied up in the complications of life, of how much we love our jobs, of all the magnificent plans we’ve made, of all the adventures we claimed that we often forget the real adventure, the real magnificence was in front of our eyes. We were merely blind.
I put my entire life to a halt and I blamed fate for it. I thought I could leave my baby to pursue what I was “destined” to. I used to get angry at the smallest details, at imperfections, at the success of my contemporaries. I used to mark days on the calendar and wait for the “worst” to pass. And I thought all my anguish came from the fact that my plan had deviated and I had to fight from the scratch to return to it.
Fate however, decided to give me exactly what I thought I wanted. It made things “simple”. It took away the “deviation” and suddenly, all I am left with is a plan with no purpose. When my baby was dying, I cried and begged for forgiveness. I didn’t want her to suffer, I was ready to suffer for her. Life, as she reminded me, was more than a degree, an nice couch, a loyal following, a few pieces of writing and loving your job. It was about rediscovering, happily compromising plans along the way. It was about people whom you loved. It was about the little moments when you turn in your sleep and hear the love of your life snoring next to you, or the comfort of knowing when you come home after fighting the world, a gentle hug and kiss are waiting – just for you.
I realized, for the first time in my life, that I wasn’t angry because my plans had deviated. I was terrified of losing what really mattered to me deep inside my heart. It was the beauty of being together against all odds, of knowing when your home isn’t empty, that you and your love can watch your child grow up together. I wasn’t afraid of my unplanned career, I was afraid that my heart would be separate across two continents and I couldn’t bear to have it.
I am heartbroken. I am angry at myself. I feel foolish.
And I am so relieved. I am relieved because for the first time in my life, I don’t feel what I supposed to feel – I feel what I genuinely feel. For the first time in my life, I believe there is no battle to be won. There is a third way to face a crisis. It was to embrace it and live life, remembering it.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.