Tuesday, October 21, 2014

We are Always in Transition

Before I'd left for India a week ago, I got a stack of new books from the library. In one of them, Pema Chodron said something that leapt out at me. It went something like this: we are always in transition. 

Such a simple statement, yet so true. We are always in transition. 

Delhi feels different, although it hasn't changed much. There are still the same or similar models and actresses in the magazines. The ads on T.V. are familiar. There is still the overwhelming sea of humanity whenever I have ventured outside. 

It is difficult to just walk to the market for an errand, sidestepping the onset of people and cars and bicycles. It is difficult to not feel slightly uncomfortable as people get into my space. Personal space is an oxymoron in public spaces here. It irks me no end. I can finally see how much I need my personal and metaphorical space as an HSP and empath.

And yet, when I got out of the car today after a shopping trip, there is a scent in the trees around, a fragrance that I can't quite name, but that I can place. It has some part of me wrapped up in it, and inhaling it takes me back to that part. 

There is the India that I love, made up in my memories. I think of people I haven't thought about with any immediacy for these last few years. I fall back into old parts of myself, both good and bad. 

Do you like being in America, someone asks me. I like it, I say. I do. They are expecting me to say that I miss India, which I fail to mention, although I do miss it. They are expecting me to maybe talk about how sanitized and uniform America is, which I think it sometimes is. 

The truth is that you can never say this is better than that. There are things that I love about India. There are things that I hate about it. Both loving and hating it makes it mine. 

Then, there are things I dislike about America and things I still don't understand. But it's the place where I am finding my voice. It's the place that is helping me to question, where I have become a little more of who I am. I already have a storehouse of memories there, even in this short time. 

On my layover here, I looked at an Indian woman and thought about her travelling across the ocean, from one side of the world to another. After two years in America, I can start to see the layers of beliefs super-imposed on someone like her, because she is also someone like me, going back and forth in two different spaces. 

When I am more familiar with Americans, I will be able to see all the beliefs that shape and mold who they are. How much of us is just programs running, a place out of which we'e grown? How much of us is real?  

I had started reading Rollo May's The Courage to Create back home in America. Now, in my parent's home in Delhi, I start reading it again. I love what he writes. He talks about being and becoming. We are different from the rest of nature in how we become ourselves. 

An acorn becomes an oak, a cat becomes a kitten automatically. There is no choice involved. But to be iand become who we are is not automatic. It requires courage. We have to commit to and assert our true self if the self has to have a reality.   

Here in India, I think about and come close to all the old me's, many of whom were automatic. I feel the shell of my ego that's hardened. I hear the beat of my heart that's lost inside.  

I think about the thin layer of guilt that always coated me here. I couldn't quite pull it apart then from among a thousand other motivations. Now, I know that as an empath - as someone who can sense and almost feel other people's feelings - Delhi was completely overwhelming. 

Just going outside was an assault on the senses. Numbing myself and being more like other people - detached - was a coping mechanism. But not feeling or not channeling my feelings into action was harmful. 

Maybe I couldn't or didn't want to help every poor or distressed person I came into contact with. But not responding, not giving when I have the capacity to give, made me passive. It took away my power. 

As empaths and sensitive people who feel too much, maybe this is part of our journey - to look back and see where we might have done wrong, or just had bad habits, or little understanding from those around us, and cut ourselves from a source of our strength.  

Instead of getting mired in feelings and thinking, taking some of that energy and channeling it into doing something straightens me up. I can't do everything, but maybe I am not required to. 

1 comment:

  1. very well written.. You can articulate your feelings so well!!