Meghana suggested writing eleven random things on this 11.11.11 day.
So here are eleven different paragraphs on some of the thoughts and emotions that have been running through my mind these days.
1. Mortality, and more specifically, my own, catches me by surprise every day, like a little child jumping out, saying Boo! Half my life is over quite certainly. Yesterday, we were talking to a guy for health insurance. Talking about life beyond 70. And I said, 70 is a good age to die. I would like to die then, I think.
2. Am I a late bloomer like my mom? My mom did her teachers’ training after all her three children were born, and were themselves in school. She landed a good job, and now even draws pension. She gave Carnatic music concerts when she was well in her forties. Or is this something I’m convincing myself just so I have something to look forward to? Misplaced optimism is better than no optimism, I console myself.
3. What does it feel like to be excellent? I attended a concert, where the singer P Unnikrishnan, controlled the music like flying a kite. The notes soared, expertly guided, relishing their flight, yet their strings were firmly in his hand. Was he ever satisfied? Did he look for that extra thing, that unique thing that added the zing to his singing? Did he ever want to explore different types of music, jam with other artistes, create something totally different and all his own? How much was he singing on auto-pilot? Was he tired and jaded, or excited about what he was doing this very moment?
4. I have no real control over Lil D. And yet, how much it affects her — the way I speak, the tone I use, the words I use. Why do I always insert the laptop between us? I wish I were a jollier mother. We have our moments, many of them, but I am hungry for more, yet reluctant to put my effort into them. She is growing rapidly, and soon, will spin out of my orbit. I weep at that future already, yet refrain from celebrating the present. I think about it a lot, but I think I don’t know how to celebrate. I am still trying to tightrope-walk the thin line between fearless parenting and traditional parenting. I think that’s the problem.
5. When the end comes, there will still be so many things undone. There will be regrets, there will be to-do lists, there will be the things you swept under the carpet which will yield nasty surprises when the carpet is shaken out. We’ve got a slice of time as our lives, like a neat cut of bread, and we butter it up, jam it up, crumble it…but that bread will get over, there’s no doubt, even if it ends up in a dustbin, moldy and green. It will never end perfectly. There is never a perfect ending, just a letting go.
6. Memories are unreal.
7. I love the way Margaret Atwood writes. She has such a meticulous eye for detail, she has a lovely ear for language. I’ve been reading a lot of her books lately. I can sense the pattern to her books, and I feel vindicated when it follows what I’ve imagined. There is both micro and macro in her writing. She elevates the mundane.
8. It is mind-boggling to think how many different lives are led, not just by different persons, but by the same person, both simultaneously, and over a life-time.
9. How does one achieve a state of confidence? What is that border you cross, the point where the grey, wishy-washy zone of self-doubt gives way to a sure, sharp black? Why is it that after so many years of both cooking by myself, and being catered to by cooks, I am confident of my cooking skills only now? I’m not scared any more, doubt doesn’t gnaw me from within when I’m pottering about with the pans, having asked my cook to leave over a month ago. It isn’t that my cooking has leaped several levels in quality; something has changed within me. Maybe I don’t care enough any more. No, it’s not that. I’ve already explicitly instructed people to appreciate my cooking every now and then, to keep me going 🙂
10. How does one add magic to words? How does one make something reach out, touch the soul, transform in some way? I like the thought of magic sprinkles. “Add sparkle to your words”.
11. We are such a pattern hungry species. We seek patterns in everything. We squish things into patterns even if they aren’t “patternable”. Comfort lies in our patchwork quilt of patterns. We huddle in it for protection, for warmth, for that sense of well-being. I seek patterns in words. I love playing Text Twist till my fingers ache. I seek patterns in numbers. Lil D’s got that too. She wants to relate everything back to her home, her car, her belongings. We live in patterns. I like the pattern the word “pattern” (lowercase) forms. Somehow, it feels like a metaphor for life. Peaking somewhere around the centre. Which is where I am right now. But is this the peak? That is the question. And the answer will come only when I am elsewhere.