130521 – Morning Pages

Longish post on losing people, the grief thereafter and coming to terms. And notes from a film.

7 AM
This will be a long one.
And will probably among the darkest pieces I have written in a while.
Read at peril.

So, yesterday, someone I spoke to for less than 5 mins a year ago passed away due to COVID-19. All my interactions with him were limited to one 5-minute long phone call. I remember that even to coordinate for this 5-minute call there was way too much back and forth. He was driving to his office in Gurgaon and the signal was patchy. And then I was on another call and I had a patchy signal. He remained patient and understanding and all that. Despite his seniority and his experience and his connections and all that.

It’s rare to have someone like him at his level with his stature be so humble. I was impressed. My partner, who eventually recorded a conversation with him, told me that he’s seen hundreds of entrepreneurs but none like him. His vision of India, the ethics with which he worked, and the impact he wanted to leave behind was unlike any other.

Can vouch for the impact. When I heard that he’s passed away, I was speechless. You know, sucker-punched. No, I did not know him. The loss was not personal. But it felt as close as a personal one would.

I did not know what to do.

I eventually did what I do best to cope with such situations.

I escaped. Shut the curtains, switched off my phone, ordered a lot of food. Ate and slept through the day. I thought I’ve had enough of this pain and suffering of people leaving the world. I thought I was beyond such pain. I thought I had a heart so tough that nothing could plunge through. I thought I was unbreakable. Numb is the word.

But no.
I learned I am a tad more human. I couldn’t function. I was stifled for breath and thought. Even though I spoke to him for like 5 minutes. That too almost a year ago. I was shrouded by doubt and I questioned the very existence. Why do we do things we do? And to what end? When you can go onward as randomly as this! And for no fault of yours.

Damn this fucking feeling of helplessness! Not just at doing something to prevent this loss but also the inability to cope with the loss. The inability to say goodbyes. Oh, that’s the thing that I suck even more at. I don’t know how to say goodbyes. Temporary or permanent.

I think a simple mechanism could be to not get attached to things that make you cry when you have to leave. And not let others get attached to you that they are pained when they have to leave. This will probably make us inhuman but I guess that’s the only solution.

Have no memories, have no affiliations, have nothing that binds you to a place or a thing and you are ok. I mean there must be people that are overjoyed when you call them. There must be strangers that remember you or your actions. Like I remember this gentleman’s actions. I will probably forget him with time but the way he conducted himself is a lesson.

May be, I need to minimize such interactions so that at least I don’t feel the loss at a personal level when they move on. And if they care for me, they don’t feel the same.

While writing this, I was thinking who all would feel unbridled joy when I spoke to them. Can’t think of anyone but my parents. Most other relationships are mere transactions. If I were to make a list of people I am attached to, it would run in miles! I think I need to start cutting.

Thing is, I just don’t know what to do when something like this happens. I’ve always sucked at saying goodbyes.

Anyhow. Life goes on. Yes, we need to acknowledge the pain, take a pause and reflect on what we lost and move on. The earth does not stop spinning. The chakra of life continues. Even if you don’t like it. So, being the eternal optimist, I need to take a silver lining from this. I need to up my sleeves and do more. And do fast. Life’s so so so unpredictable. Damn!

#epiphany! I realized why I am so affected by this. The guy did EVERYTHING I wanted to do in life. And thus I can relate to his life and achievements so much! When my time comes, I hope I have created a body of work that inspires others to live better.

So moving on.

Yesterday, I Saw Nomadland. The critically acclaimed film that won I don’t know how many awards. I want to write a review per se. Lemme use this post to make notes. Repeat. This is not a review. This is a collection of notes that I will develop into a review eventually.

It’s poignant and uncanny and insane that I saw this film when I am surrounded by so many people that are forced to say untimely goodbyes. To me, it’s also a film about coping with grief, coming to terms with our impermanence, thinking about mortality, and on top of it all, letting go.

So the film is about this old woman, Fern who is left alone after her husband dies and the town that they lived in is shut. She leaves on this road trip (not clear right now, will read more before I write the review) and decide to live in a van, something that is so deeply immersed in the American culture that you cant think of either without the other.

The film follows her journey as she moves around the country, taking odd jobs to pay her bills, trying to overcome obstacles that a nomadic life throws at her, and her search for herself, through the lens of others, the relationships she develops, and the community of other van-dwellers.

To me, the biggest takeaway from the film is not that there are people that have chosen a nomadic lifestyle by living in their vans. But is about how you seek and you need and you must have a community of others that believe in the same ideology as you and how the bond that you form with others in the community helps you tide over your personal battles. In fact, all my life, I’ve wanted to build a community of such people, others trying to find answers. Just that in Nomadland, the community is of people that seek freedom and I want to create a community of people that want to do more and push us, humans, ahead. I think this bit about community and the need to belonging is probably the most fundamental of all our needs. Something that we are willing to kill for. You know the world today is seeing that the need to belong to a certain ideology is making people blind!

I loved how the film filled the vast, empty, remote American landscapes with dense emotions and turmoil that each character seems to be going through. As an aspiring filmmaker, this is something that I need to note and work on when I get to make my film.

I loved how each character had a backstory that was told by them. The fill reversed the old age tip about showing and not telling. I mean there’s a lot of telling, lot of symbolism but a large part of the film is tell.

I loved how the film spoke to me at a personal level – I don’t want to be in a hospital when my time comes.

I loved the juxtaposition of struggle fight against large businesses like Amazon and then, on the other side, reliance on such businesses to pay your bills. The neverending fence that divides capitalists and free-right advocates.

Let’s see what else comes to me once I start writing.

Thing is, great films not just tell a story but change something in you. You shift as an individual after you watch a great piece of cinema. You empathize with the character so much that you want to make changes in how you live! I am thinking I will get a car and start living a life where I just have things that I can carry in a briefcase. Even the books I will donate. Or pack and send to long-term storage (aka my parent’s home in Delhi). Lol!

Moving on.

Need to get on with the day. Before that need to write something. To be able to think better (I think better when I write). So I’ve been feeling shitty and listless for last few days. I think I have pinpointed. It’s the relationships I have and the company I keep. I need to end a few. You know how you need to get better by amputating the part that puts the body at risk?


Here’s the streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 151
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 63
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Original Work (limited time only) – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

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