Reasons to Keep a Journal. And Why I Stopped


Sometimes I am highly tempted, unreasonably tempted to pick up a pen and a diary. The kind of diaries I used to use. Pretty, inspiring, thick with a lot of space to play with words. Space where you can be whoever you want to be and have nobody question you at all.

There is an old timer’s charm about journaling. It is intensely romantic and personal. It is an experience of being you without anyone trying to dictate their thoughts or opinions on you.

If done right, journaling is an art; a process of self-discovery that can reveal your deepest secrets to yourself.

I truly believe in the power of good journaling. There’s only one way of looking at the world and it is through our own eyes. And since we feel and experience different things at different times, we are prone to partiality and deception. Our senses are untrustworthy, our mind can easily mislead us. And while journaling is not a response to that, it is a means of examining events of our own life from a perspective which may be coloured in a different hue from the one we were caught in when we were actually experiencing that event.

What I mean is simply this: you could go out today and have an ice-cream with an old friend, chat for an hour and come back. You will have impressions, memories and thoughts buried within you. If you try to reconstruct a part of that experience on paper, you might discover reasons why things felt the way they did. They might make sense in a different way this time around. Who is to say whether what you see the second time is right or wrong? The only truth is your own. Your journaling will offer you an alternative.

This wouldn’t work for everyone all the time. I once told someone to note down their feelings about an experience they valued and it seemed as if the task was not beneficial for them at all. But stay at it long enough, it will have the desired effect. Long term personal evaluation is a necessary part of understanding your own journaling requirements.

You can be your own eyes and ears because you have the power to control  your own narration. If you truly are writing for yourself, you are freeing yourself from the control of other people. For once, you can be honest.

It isn’t easy for most of us to let go of the skeptic manner in which we choose to view everything and everyone around us. This is a mechanism to protect ourselves from self-harm, of course. If you can learn to be free from the fear and choose your journal to be a sort of sanctuary for your thoughts, it can be a divine experience where you’re writing for yourself, understanding yourself.

Letting go of negativity can be an important part of journaling. Your anger, hurt, fear, mistrust…all of it can find an outlet on paper. Why this is important is because there are so few opportunities for us to accept ourselves just the way we are, with all of our imperfections. We have been taught to be perfect or to strive to be perfect or to worship a Being who is perfect and hence superior to us.

We are not perfect beings. We were never meant to be perfect beings. We cannot be ideal and we cannot live in an ideal world. We can only learn to love ourselves. I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t try to improve upon what we have. The first step towards becoming more than we are is to accept what we are, in this moment. That acceptance can lead to change.

But this too, does not always seem true to me. Sometimes acceptance leads to complacency. I am this way. I am flawed. Why should I not be happy with what I do have? Why would I want to change it? Why should I want to make the standards of the world my own? I can easily be a rebel. I can be okay with being different without caring about what does or doesn’t matter to others.

There is wisdom in these words too because there can be no universal standard of judgement. We can only hope to find our own.

We can only be our own judges at the end of the day and journaling can help with that.

And we add to ourselves through our creativity. Creative processes are mostly solitary pursuits. We may engage in them as a group but when we are really beseeching the universe to storm us with ideas, we are alone in our own thought bubbles. Whether you want to write or draw or doodle or just brainstorm, a journal is a great place to start.

But I am afraid of the rawness that journaling brings. When my grandmother died, everything she had ever had and valued as possessions was left behind in a room. Among other things were a collection of her diaries. I don’t know where those diaries are now but I don’t think anyone got a chance to read them.

This is it, though, I thought to myself. You’ll die one day and you’ll leave behind a truckload of journals which will be open to the whole wide world. Anna Nalick’s prophesying words ring in my ears,

‘And it feels like I’m naked in front of the crowd, coz these words are my diary screaming out loud and I know that you’ll use them however you want to.’

I cannot let that happen.

But that wasn’t the whole story. It took me almost another year after that to give up what was to be nearly eight years of intensive journaling. I cannot do it. I would rather be here, talking on a blog, using it as a personal vent, being fully aware that it is visible to anyone who wants to read it. This is akin to climbing on top of a stage in a crowded room and yelling on a microphone. Half the people won’t listen because it’s boring to listen to speeches. But there will be someone paying attention. Just knowing that these words are visible gives me the strength to write things in a particular way. So now I am sort of controlling what goes out into the world. I could pretend to do the same on paper but that would feel like hypocrisy. Here, I am talking about things which matter to me and yet in a way I feel invincible. I don’t know how long this will work.

I know I can’t stop writing. I have to write somewhere. Shouting out into the vacuum scares me. This is the perfect alternative.

Impressions of an Optimist


I couldn’t see the scars
Across your chest
Or the wrinkled skin
Under your eyes

I couldn’t see the countless times
Your heaving breath became a sigh
Or when the froth lined your mouth
And cramps belied the times you almost died

I couldn’t see that drop of tear
Pooling on the vision of your eye
And the times you pulled strands of your hair
As means to escape your horrific surmise

I could only see your hand tremble as
You tried to pick up something new
A long-lost passion flicker through the depths
And for a while you were renewed again
An era passed before your mind
You turned it inside out again
I couldn’t see the ugly things
I just saw your beautiful, smiling face

Like an Intruder


These boxes
Open for my inspection
(I asked myself why)
You are another one of us
Now I can follow the lines of your ruin
Through colours splashed on paper

And so you smiled up at me.
So triumphantly.
These stories- they are you
But people change
But you are still you
But you changed too
I feel the surge of pity
You’re not alone but you’re lonely and
You don’t even know it

I have seen your hair disheveled.
Puffy eyes. Behind the sunrise
You are singing, laughing, playing, happy.
You’re mellow, moody, placid, murky.
I don’t know where you’ve been.
I don’t know what you’ve seen.
All I have are these strange, half-torn pages
I can take them anywhere, add flavours
You see. You’re not there anymore.
You are as much of a stranger to your memories
As they are to me.

I can ask you why you let them.
You will say, I was in a new place.
I was with people who mattered.
I wanted to remember.
But do you?
Where is the woman with the large bag
Hurrying past you, thinking about her emotionless marriage?
Where is the child who reached out for your hand
Wondering how wonderfully motive those large fingers were
I bet you don’t know. I bet you wouldn’t care.
Those stories are long gone. And so are YOU.

And me? Now I am just an intruder
I am looking at things that don’t belong to me
It’s as if I walked into a room after you were
Done making love and sheepishly
You are staring at me. Like at a mirror
At an image that wasn’t part of your experience
But now you have to answer her
And now you don’t know what to tell her.
There are no words.
I know. I can only just manage to stare back at you.
Guiltily.
I am just an intruder
I don’t have the right to see these
It is almost like I have seen you naked.
Fleeting pieces of your soul in my hand
Tender, chaotic, broken.

These boxes.
They are your heritage.
Perhaps the only thing you will leave behind when you die
Reduced to cardboard with bits of life
And me? I am just an intruder
I’ll pass on my own too
But for now, I have this inheritance
And I can glimpse into your life
And listen to some of your music. Through
Your photographs.

The World Through the Eyes of a Poet


I call myself a poet, irrespective of the quality of my poems and the number of people who read them.

This is because being a poet isn’t really a number game. It isn’t really a choice.

What makes a poet a poet?

We’re emotional people, easily swayed by our emotions. We are given to bouts of depression because the world seems grey but more importantly, the world can seem bleak. We can swirl in a medley of colours, float on the surface of a dream for hours. We aren’t really living in the moment but breathing in the moment and letting it live in us.

A full moon isn’t just a full moon. It is magic.
A beautiful song isn’t just a beautiful song. It is a reason to cry or laugh or both and not know why.
The depths of despair are a deep, dark pit full of more fears than we can put to paper.
We don’t know how to say half the things we mean to say. Only a small fraction of thoughts slip out through our poems.
We see people through a lens, non-judgmental, peaceful, accepting.
We can be bitter to the core and heated to the extreme. We can be loving, passionate, full of so many feelings at the same time that they overwhelm us and then we have to put pen to paper and pour our thoughts out.

It isn’t an option.

We may find ourselves dying, constricted, suffocated. We may feel imprisoned behind invisible walls,unable to escape and crying for help and a means to let out the pain.

The only escape is to write down what we are feeling. To give vent to our emotions.

When we are flowing with our words, nothing matters to us. Other people, food, water, the call of nature. The whole world becomes black and white and recedes behind some invisible line. We are caught alone in the waves of our emotions. We don’t care about anything else, even breathing. We are just a living, breathing instrument. Pulling words out is the goal of our life. The only thing that can ever mean anything. It doesn’t matter if there are a thousand deadlines waiting for us. The poetry is the only sacred object of our life.

We see painful details others won’t. The tiniest details out on the street pop out in excruciating detail. The devastating exquisiteness of the world cradles us in its arms and we don’t know where we are going. We feel things we don’t want to, we shouldn’t have to. And then we feel things we hope nobody else can because we passionately want to own them. We can be silent for hours but the silence holds a thousand meaningful conversations inside it.

We can be the harbingers of hopelessness and inspiration at the same time.

We don’t always know what we want to say until we’re done saying it. We aren’t always talking from our consciousness. We are broken people who become whole only through our words.

We make stories and weave fairy tales out of ordinary events. We add sparkling emotions to dryness and drabness. We make things bigger. We cry for people and things that never existed. We long for those we will never have, for those who touched our lives fleetingly and then disappeared forever. We long to be a part of stories that were never ours to begin with. We feel for those who we were never meant to feel for. We see through the illusory nature of life and make things out of vacuum. We feel like we are nothing. And then, in just another moment, we feel like we are everything. We own the world and the world owns us.

We struggle to be understood, we fail to explain why we can break down in the middle of a perfectly ordinary day, brushed aside by the cruelty of life and her hate while shopping at the supermarket. We count the hours till the end of a workday when we can be alone with our echoing thoughts. We let photographs talk to us. We fill notebooks with our darkest feelings.

We feel lost when something becomes extraordinary in our eyes but for everyone else, it is just another moment. We know our profoundness is felt by different people at different moments in their own lives but never at the same as ours. We understand that this means they will judge us and make fun of us. But we also know that there will be moments when they’ll know exactly what we’re talking about, even if they go around thinking they are too dense for poetry.

We know that poetry permeates through the layers of existence, coming out of at the end of the day as a connected thread flowing through every single incident, event and momentous visions that light our life. We let it uplift us into a transcendental platform where anything is possible.

We see too much and then we realize that what we are seeing is just a tiny fraction of everything beyond. We can capture just bits and pieces of our agony, our empathy, our joys and sorrows . We are living under the belly of utter chaos. We see a skewed world but accept that everyone else does too, they just don’t know it.

We are living in the age of technology. But we’re hovering feet above the ground.

Accompanying trance-inducing song: Out of the Woods, Taylor Swift.

Colour


I don’t often think of my skin
We are all skeletons underneath
Made from the same star dust
But sometimes I find myself looking at countries
Through the haze of history’s vast potential
And I wonder if wandering amidst the clouds
I might find myself confronted by a question of design
Would my shade be a part of my metamorphosis?
I can only think of the chains people wore
And compare them to my own invisible ones today
Are the two any different?
Have I, like water, flown out of a drain
And emerged in the vast, expansive ocean
Or am I just a land-locked phenomenon
Limited in my imaginative pursuits
And in the way my heart can sing from within
By these invisible concrete walls of colour?

Little Infinity


I’m not quite sure how I got here
All paths look the same
Did I walk in while you were changing skins
Interrupted your transformation with
A simple smile? An uncertain hi?

And it is suddenly as if I never knew
A time that existed apart from you
I have only these snippets of memories
Of life before you consumed me
Stranger from across the universe
And now I fill my diary with words
Hoping to bewitch my own little self
Into thinking I can be fine all alone

I’m not quite sure how I got here
Did you lead me in, Pied Piper?
How is it that in a world full of people
Each one more engaging than the other
You hold my attention so hypnotically
Transforming me from just another plain girl
Into stuff made of fairy tales?

My instinct is to take a dark flight
Far away from everyone, from everything
Cradled like a baby, held here by a strange comfort
Undefined, except in the deep reaches of my mind
I stay. Because I cannot fight this.
I become a tiny angel- the engine of my own demise
We are blowing smoke circles of SOS into the air
But on the surface we are a pretty sight

I’m not quite sure  how I got here
Or how I am supposed to return
I’m like a moon caught in orbit around you
I’m internally on fire and it’s beautiful
In the heat and light of this event, we are
Strangers from across the universe
And yet from all the people that I’ve ever known
You. This. Right here. It is
My own little infinity.

Little Girl


You are the memory
Of trees I used to climb
And sit for hours with the sky above
And the grass beneath my swinging legs
It was the mysterious elegance of that simple world
That pulls me back towards it like a kite flying with the wind
Is ultimately just waiting to fall back to the ground
Home bound- that is the way you’ve made me feel
People may question the significance of
A broken little girl in my life since
She’s been dead so long

But the truth is
Your photo reminds me
Of my own long-lost innocence
Magically transforming something bittersweet
Into a tiny little forever of our own- it can’t be taken away
It flows in my veins and will continue to do so until my heart beats
That is why I dream of you on hot summer nights, naked
On a bed of broken glass where I lie still with just
Enchanting stories on my tongue
But no one to tell them to
In this massive universe.

I heard a true story yesterday about a girl who died when she was twelve and it moved me. I saw a photograph of someone i had never met and never will. A stranger calling out to me through the strands of time. Perhaps there could have been a way for me to have known her. Or perhaps just hearing about her and feeling myself stirred into emotion for someone I only hear of as a dream (or will it be a nightmare?) was enough. There was a time I thought magic existed. Back then I might have concluded there was a reason I got to hear of her. Perhaps so that I could write of her. And perhaps she would be somewhere out there, smiling through that invisible wall that separates us. Or perhaps she would never comprehend why I felt for her when she should mean nothing to me really.

Now I am not so sure there is any reason to this chaos except me wanting to put these thoughts on paper. The only other thing to expect is that someone, somewhere would read this and it would remind them of someone they loved and lost or a fond childhood experience with a person they no longer know. Either way, I felt the need to put to paper this story and yet I didn’t want to get into it. I think the only real reason I write is to console myself, to consolidate the threads of my heart that keep getting tugged at by things I see and stories I hear and people I know.

I am a believer of an individual’s powers to heal and emerge stronger through change. Metamorphosis waits to occur outside our doors as long as we choose to let it in. As long as that happens, we can continue to live for as long as we are supposed to or meant to without falling apart. That is what I wish for everyone anyway.

Leaning


You have darkened my blood
It’s strange and sort of lucky
For me to open my soul
I had forgotten what it felt like

These sweet, sad kisses
They swim against my body
I’m turning over with something
Intensely personal.

I can only love completely
Or not love at all
No longer intoxicated
I’m leaning

Leaning against your will
Against your heart
Against that open space between us
Against thin-aired ecstasy

Against the fuzzy, dreamy place
Where magic starts
Against that tiny pulsating light
I see projecting out of you

And I don’t want to lean anymore
It just wouldn’t be me
But I don’t know how to be
Anything else but this.

Good Today


I’m good today; because
I found
An absurd place to pray; so
Don’t
Feel sorry for me; I won’t
Let you
Stuff yourself with pity; it’s
Horrifying
As though I’m not whole; and
Nor are you

I’m good today; you see
I dug
Quite deep inside me; and
There
Was music in my soul; its
Beat
Just daring me to go; you
Won’t
Believe me; so just keep
Faith

I’m good today; I won’t
Claw
My soul out from my rib cage; I’m
Completely
Sober; this ain’t one of those
Games
I promise no more bruises; I’ll
Just
Lie here; and in utter chaos
Wait.
(for some place to crawl into)