Tag Archives: Unlearning

Learning To Unlearn And Relearn

29 Mar

Isn’t that what moving forward is all about anyway? It’s astounding how these simple concepts are gems we store for later, more intellectual conversations and situations, oftentimes overlooking their importance in being applied to life every single day. I’ll speak for myself at least. I cannot remember a time when the necessity to unlearn and relearn something wasn’t used and just what a life saver the flexibility to do so, is.

But I admit, I never imagined the need to do the same to other more crucial facets of my life, my functioning, my relationships, my perceptions, and my wellbeing altogether. Perhaps it was the luxury of living with family all my life which made me so ignorant, until now, when I’m not living under the same roof as them, and have a lot of my shit to figure out on my own. Where did this shit land up from anyway, I wonder, because the last time I checked, all was dandy, all was fine, all was the opposite of sandpapery, if I may.

I haven’t been hitched too long, but it has taken me faster than I fathomed to figure out that – not everything will go your way or as you’ve been used to, and you’d be foolish to expect it. So here I am, trying to unlearn and relearn a lot that I had conveniently assumed I was a master at. How presumptuous of me.

To be more specific, here are some things I’m currently learning, unlearning and relearning:

Not all close relationships are the same and therefore not all close relationships can be handled the same way. You may want to say du-h! at this point in time, and perhaps you should, because I thought otherwise.

Nobody, no matter how close to you, is the same as anybody else…so responses from x are very highly likely to be different from y, even though you behaved the same way with both parties, at the same time, in the same place and under the same circumstances.

In connection with the previous point, time plays a major factor, as do priorities. To elucidate, person y may not necessarily be forgiving to you for stealing a slice of bacon from their plate the second or third time around, unlike earlier times when they didn’t really care about bacon as much. Perhaps they’re really in the mood for bacon and don’t feel like sharing, perhaps they love bacon unlike their previous preference, perhaps they’re saving it for somebody else, perhaps their bacon sharing priorities have changed – always give room for consideration. Also, point to note – it doesn’t really mean you’re loved any less. It just means that time and priorities change everything sometimes.

(Fine example, Babska. Fine one, indeed!)

Not getting a reply, especially via SMS, especially when you’re used to this form of instantaneous gratification in that category, does not mean you are not loved or cared for anymore. (Big learning!) This may make you want to run back and thank all those lovely people who actually make the effort to respond to you when you want them to, which is usually instantly, right?

Responses to a situation which you imagine are natural and instinctual even, may not really be natural to the actual person whom you’re expecting that said response from. I always imagine my husband to respond to certain things in ways that I am used to because that is how my family responds to me in those situations…but seldom are they the same, or rarely is there a match in these responses. If it matters that much, and as hard as it may be for one’s ego, it does help to spell out how you expect a response to be rather than let the waterworks flow some more and still not get what you want. It’s true.

Your comfort food or ideas of comfort food may not be comforting (at all) to somebody else. Be prepared to compromise on that sort of thing or make two meals or eat alone – whichever is worth battling over. Yes, the heartbreak on learning that my husband doesn’t really care about khichdi too much was a hard one to take.

Again, your idea of cleanliness is definitely never going to be the same as anyone else’s. I think that’s a universal law of absolute crappiness, if you ask me. If you’re used to things being xyz, somebody else may be used to abc, while another person may not be used to the concept of cleanliness at all. Who can say? It’s a tough one.

I guess the basic premise of all this unlearning and relearning is the fact that A LOT of what you imagine or expect or even plan in your head has a 99.90% chance of not being the way you want it to be. I’ve fought many a battle (only to sound dramatic) because when you are so removed from what is known to you, or away from the norm of how things are done, or even disconnected from a certain routine, the friction can sometimes be too painful. Sometimes things go our way, and a lot of the times, they don’t.

Which brings me to this main point:

Learning how to not be so much of a control freak, especially in the many areas I can afford to let go off without much heartburn or effort. It’s some nasty business for a control freak to be at a point where no control can be claimed for a lot of things. And I think it comes with these fundamental building blocks of sanity:

Letting go
Acceptance
COMPROMISE
Being selective of the battles you pick
Demolishing one’s EGO

I reckon anybody who can do even one, if not all of the above, is definitely headed down the road of peace.

Before leaving Bangalore to get married, I went about meeting people who really matter to my family and me – many friends, family friends and some acquaintances. Through these many meetings, I sponged off of them as much as I could – their learning, their thoughts, their advice, their words of wisdom. The most humbling and soulful piece of advice I was given was from an acquaintance whose words still ripple on my consciousness every time it feels like I know nothing at all. Dear reader, his pearls of wisdom are as follows:

Learn to be like water which can flow even around the biggest boulders and seep through the tiniest gap…be like water which can meander, bend, take any shape and form…be like water – life-giving, thirst-ridding, sustaining… be like water who doesn’t speak but whose presence is always felt, forever needed… be like water who when she wants, can make her voice heard the loudest and still be calming. Learn to be like water and you will always bear fruit.

Learning: The treasury of wisdom comes from constantly learning.

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Timing

27 Mar

This has been on my mind for most of today. Today was one of those days where all I wanted to do was nothing. I wanted nothing in exchange for thoughts, conversations, quietude and the need to just be. It was one of those days. And I don’t see that as a bad thing. Sometimes you really want nothing in exchange for all that you’ve got, all the baggage you’re carrying, all the thoughts you’re playing on loop in your head. Nothing; that sounds good. Emptiness seems appealing. The need to figure what you’re made up of, what walls comprise you and what binds you becomes more than just a need. Because we carry trash. So much of it. All the time. I don’t know why. I don’t know how.

How is timing connected to all this? It’s because I believe there’s a time for everything. Yes, everybody loves saying that, especially when you’re being placated, but yes, timing is it. There’s a time for every single one of us to shine, to fall apart, to rise, to progress, to take five steps behind…there’s a time for everything. There’s a time when we also realize what we need and what we do not need. There’s a time when we realize we’re more important than we think we are. Because there’s a time when we realize this:

Why does it feel so good to get rid of things? To unload, to let go. Maybe because when we see how little we actually need to survive, it makes us realize how powerful we actually are to strip down to only what we need, to hang on to only what we can’t do without, not just to survive, but to thrive.
Dr. Meredith Grey
Grey’s Anatomy (Throwing it all Away, S10)

There’s also a magic in timing because things come to you when you need them, if not need them the most. And so this came to me today. Because I needed to hear a fictitious television show tell me the truth. I love this show because it has some of the most powerful monologues/dialogues/moments that are real because they feel real and stem from reality. Because if I’m here, writing this, talking about how this makes sense to me at this very moment, then it matters. In fact, it more than just matters.

Letting go, sometimes by force and sometimes by chance, is just one of those things that has to be learned simply because we suck at it. Or let me rephrase that to talk for myself; because I suck at letting go as easily as I would like to. But I’ve tried (and still am) and it’s the best thing ever. It’s the best thing to really, really, not care without vengeance or vindication. It’s liberating to walk on without any strings attached no matter how hard memories and associations pull you back, and repeatedly so. It’s important to break. It’s important to break, to disengage, to move. But, unfortunately or fortunately, it doesn’t come easy. It needs effort. It needs doing to undo. It needs so much hard work.

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But it helps to survive. Because when you take in that breath of fresh air, you feel so alive, so independent, so light. And really, the feeling could be addictive. You need that nothing to feel that breath of fresh air. How can we ever breathe if we’re choking? Through this all, the only thing that’s constantly being reaffirmed is the importance of you; your self. If something doesn’t fit even after trying, it’s got to go. Because it’s important to survive and thrive for your own self. And there’s no selfishness in that. There never will be. Even shadows disappear when we throw light on us the right way.

Here’s to timing and the magic it has lying around every corner, because really, every skipped piece of rock you thought was a part of you may have perhaps just been the stepping stone you needed to move and find what you’re really meant to find.

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All photographs are courtesy the author.