While juggling multiple roles, don’t forget you are important too. Make yourself a priority because no one else will with #KhayaalRakhna
When life throws curveballs, we lose control. In our attempts to find stability, we stop, talk, try to find help outside. Eventually, all we need to do is find faith, to keep moving forward.
If the state of unemployment were a period of gestation, we would have had a baby in the crib by now. Nine odd months. That’s how long it has been since Corona moved our cheese. Nine months since the spouse’s salary last hit the teller and life took us on a prolonged period of wadi bashing here in this desert land, Dubai.
Like it has for the rest of the world, the pandemic has given us our own shares of shudders and palpitations. It served us a lavish course of forgettable moments, insufferable emotions, reality checks, stock-taking, along with some remarkable insights and lessons in realignment.
When your chips are down is when you know what the world around you is like. Till then, we live in illusory circuits of ‘I am OK – You are OK’ without really seeing what ‘not being OK’ looks or feels like.
You pretend things are good and will remain good, and all is good with everyone else too. There are elephants in the room that we refuse to see because they are too huge for our sight.
And then one day, adversity comes visiting, unsolicited. It dons different forms, from monstrous to mild. It happens to everyone without distinction, sometime or the other.
But then, like your toothache is just a case of the rotten tooth for others, a job loss for you is just a ‘passing phase’ for others.
‘Think of others who are going through worse. You are lucky to be at least alive with a roof above your head and food to eat,’ is a common refrain that you will get to hear when you mention your woes of a lesser kind.
Of course, of course, we are grateful to be alive. But my toothache is still mine. If you don’t have a remedy to it, can you please not point towards someone with a worse malady and say, ‘you are better than him!’
It won’t make my toothache go away, for God’s sake. It won’t make me suffer any less.
As it happens, people will also say, ‘this will pass too.’ Now, now, who doesn’t know this will pass too? But can they be specific when? Then it might help a little.
If not, let us not fill the plates of the affected with platitudes: this too will pass. Stay strong. You are not alone.
So, even as our reserves began to dwindle and ‘living on savings’ put us on tight monthly budgets, we stopped speaking about our jobless state. I learned that one must talk about one’s condition only if it will help improve the situation.
All else is drivel. Wasted words. People who hear your story will sympathize, trivialize, advise, and patronize. But none will or can give you a remedy or a helping hand to tide over the crises.
Damn it, a majority of people won’t even remember you have a toothache. So why go around telling everyone? The shoe bites only the man who is wearing it. It is for him to do whatever it takes to alleviate the biting pain.
A job loss may not be as tragic as losing a loved one, but what if the extended grief of losing one’s parent four years ago merges with the new difficulty of not having an income and not knowing what to do next?
What if a debilitating depression triggered by that loss merges with financial insecurity? It is like having a toothache with a festering mouth ulcer above it. A bona fide double whammy, eh?
Now remember, your predicaments are just yours to nurse. And, you are their sole solution provider. You are your single window to redemption. The world that you so trusted to be your emotional prop has nothing to give you except the clichés.
So, talk less about it and work more to fix it. Get down to the nuts and bolts and work your way through the repair. Your hands will get dirty, your nails will chip, your fingers will be sore, and the clock will stop chiming on the hour. Eyes will crave for slumber, but you will say, ‘I have miles to go before I sleep.’
Meanwhile, the world out there goes on unmindful, riding its own rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds. Everyone is on an outing of a different kind. But your jolts and bumps are yours alone. So, with eyes on the road, you push the gear up and drive on full throttle.
You chalk out new road maps, take routes hitherto unchartered, with Faith alone firing your nerves that threaten to flag now and then. At some point, down the lane, you let Faith take over the reins and you merely go through the motions of steering the wheel.
You do what is required of you- turning the corners, pushing the pedals, pressing the brakes- but essentially powered by the Engine and led by signboards.
By now, you would have travelled many miles and the journey itself would have turned the destination. And you drive on as if nothing is yours. Neither the roads nor the steering or the milestones.
You drive on because stopping is never an option. You may not be out of the woods yet, but if you keep going, you will be out sooner or later.
You drive on because you know the Engine will not let you down.
You drive on because this journey is your individual destiny. In it lies the purpose of our mortal existence.
Author’s note: I wrote this today when by chance I found my name and my four-month-old enterprise among the top Google searches for ‘Creative Writing Coach in Dubai’.
No grandstanding, no chest-thumping, just a humble, happy acknowledgment of the Universe’s silent blessings during these difficult times.
I sincerely hope it shines a torch for you too.
First published here.
Image source: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/best-road-trips-in-usa/
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Asha Iyer Kumar is an author, life-writing coach, active blogger, and youth motivational speaker
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