I recall an incident from Charlie Chaplin's autobiography. He was traveling in a train from some place in Europe where he had resounding success to some other place. He said, thinking about his success, "I feel so empty."
To nourish the heart and soul we have to turn elsewhere -- and really, there is only one other place, where we anchor ourselves to the Beloved. This does not exclude loved ones in the least. We must work on our earthly connections for our own needs, keep friends and family close to our hearts while staying detached. The detachment part is easier written than done, but that must be our endeavor.
There, writing about it already gives me perspective and makes me feel better!
Monday, 31 August 2015
31st 2:30 a.m.
Afflicted with a sense of isolation and aloneness that being in the lap of the family does not mitigate. It is something inner, though prompted in part by the outer. Tensions in the family, or perhaps it is because I was pulled out of my heaven for the sake of a tooth; or that I have finished Malini and a vacuum has moved into its place, a vacuum in which I feel the lack of a family, children, grandchildren, the comfort of older people; or that as one gets older the life not lived begins to assert itself. These sort of sum it up, but there is always something mysterious about a down, something analyzable, something, perhaps, God-given, to experience, drink to the dregs, not resist. Yes, I feel I have accomplished a lot, fed my cursed (I think today) ambition, but it feels empty, isolating, without heart. I will have to ride it out the best I can. The only way I know how is to plunge into my other project. But no, I must take some time out and feel all these emotions or they will haunt me in my dreams. I am more than a writer: a human being. And I must nurture the needs of this being the best that I know how. October, and all its activity, will help, I hope. Though I am primarily a home body, I can understand now why people love to travel so much. It tires you, distracts you, gives you the illusion that you are not isolated. It can also relax, if I can learn to relax into a mode of existing different from my habitual one.
I understand now my dreams about overshooting the home. Though I love my freedom, it can constrict and incarcerate me in its dreadful boundlessness.
30th Oct. CHANDIGARH.
Malini in Whirlwood is complete, at 58,842 words. Divided by 40 years= 1471.05 words a year = 4 words a day. The number of words will change, but not much. Yesterday I gave all but 3 chapters to Amiya, my grandniece, to read. I was hoping to have completed it before I left BP yesterday but couldn’t since I came here to Chandigarh for Rakhi. I slept most of the way down, much of the afternoon, and six hours at night though I fell asleep around 5 for another couple of hours. I have stayed indoors all day with the curtains drawn in a dark room. Had a non-morning, eating too much, then after lunch meditated – ah, I will never abandon it now! – and plugged myself in. I have many little revisions to make, touch up, as it were. Tomorrow morning I’ll go over the last three chapters, print them, and give them to Amiya. I have to read the script one more time with the ending in mind, and then I will let it sit some more before sending it off.
Meditation is the key to my digestive health. I can do it anytime of the day, under any circumstances.
Now, to return to Book 2 of the Sikh Saga and complete it by the end of September. Had some wonderful ideas for the ending. Only the execution remains. So, I will have, God Willing, arrived at the end of my goal for this year.
P and I at loggerheads before I left. He’s working hard, too, painting up a storm. When we are both tired from working too hard, we do not get along. He gets impatient and snappy, and I can’t handle it. Days in BP so lovely I can’t wait to return. But I go to the dentist’s for a new crown, the old one having broken off, and won’t be able to leave before Thursday or Friday.
TWO THINGS BEFORE I BEGIN:
I'm working a bit backwards, posting things I have already written in my journal and which are still relevant.
I had promised a long while ago to make my posts as personal as my journal entries: to have an audience for my musings, but more importantly, to write as honestly as I can about my inner state to let people know that inner lives can be tumultuous and often difficult for most of us, and to take heart.
Had a much-needed dead day yesterday: couldn’t get out of bed. It is the same mysterious illness I had this time last year, with energy levels touching zero. This morning, too, I tried to take baby steps to put away some clothes but after just a few minutes I am back again in bed. The body lags while the mind keeps pace, only if I stay in bed and do a little bit at a time, like work on the final chapter of Malini Book 1. The end is in sight though I will need to go once more to the beginning and add in a few things the ending demands.
Another dream last night, the third, in which I overshoot my home. I am in a train going towards Chandigarh but fail to get off at the stage and return once more to Ambala from where I think I will simply take a taxi back. There is a saint in Ambala that I want to see, but fail to do so.
I don’t know what these dreams mean – but the phrase, overshooting my home – makes me think, in the context of this illness, that it means going beyond the periphery of my energies? Leaving something essential behind? Or, being free? As usual, I prefer the latter interpretation: More and more freedom from my needs that lock me down when I would fly. Specifically: the long lists I am constantly making to organize my bi-continental life; to stay in control of my day; to achieve and be productive; to get out there and sell myself and my books, the last of this list being particularly bothersome though I persist. There is the launch in Delhi in Oct, I have been invited for the Lit Fest in Kasauli in October, the 50th high school reunion, also in Octover, the New School talk in early December in New York, the talk at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco in February, all of which hangs like a weight over my head. To add to this there is the trip to Hawaii for one of Payson's reunions in January.
If I don’t stay on top of my list, I feel like I am slipping and sliding into old age.
Even writing this list has given me a headache and I must stop here. I marvel at, and almost envy people who retire and do nothing. But I must not crib. This is my life. And that is why I must accept my dead days with gratitude.
But I am going for it all, not resisting. Emerson's poem, Give All to Love, has been my guide through much of my life. It is also consistent with Guru Nanak's message to lead a full life:
GIVE ALL TO LOVE:
Give all to love;
Obey thy heart;
Friends, Kindreds, days.
Estate, good fame,
Plans, credit, and the muse;
“Tis a brave master,
Let it have scope,
Follow it utterly
Hope beyond hope.
“tis a god,
Knows its own path,
And the outlets of the sky.
“Tis not for the mean,
It requireth courage stout,
Souls above doubt,
Leave all for love. (it is about detachment) and ends
When half-gods go,
The gods arrive.