“How was 2019 for you?” a good friend asked me. That was when I realized that this year is really coming to an end. I didn’t have an answer to my friend’s question. I hadn’t thought of this year ending. I hadn’t even thought of this year beginning. For some reason, I feel that I lost most of this year – the months and days just seemed to coalesce into moments of nothingness, a void that I can’t call quite emptiness because even emptiness has form and this has none.
There’s a song by Flora Cash called ‘You’re Somebody Else.’
“Well you look like yourself
But you’re somebody else
Only it ain’t on the surface.”
I somehow feel that’s what I was this year. I was somebody else. I try hard to rock these memories and try to remember, but I can only come up with the shifting sands of useless memories. What can I say of this year?
That I wrote a novel in 30 days?
That I ran my first full marathon?
That I had a life-changing experience walking the Camino that I can’t seem to put down in words?
That I lost more money this year than I ever have in my life?
That I realized even more what an utter idiot I can continue to be?
That more people are kind to me than I am to them?
That I lost more time than I gained?
It was a year where I lost people, not to death, but to idiocy and pride. It was a year where I lost money because of my own foolishness and carelessness. Would I then define this year in terms of loss? Would a year have to be defined even? All 525,600 minutes of it? That’s 8,760 hours filled with nonsense, wisdom, love, failures, occasional successes, and many arguments. During my evening walks with the perennially optimistic and occasionally wise Birdy (grin), we discussed this year, arriving at diametrically different paths to it, as we often do.
“Where do you think we will be next December at the same time?” I asked her.
Her reply was as always, hopeful, and full of faith. “I see a year where we finally achieve financial freedom. I see myself with you, traveling as we used to, having chaat, going on drives with Toopi, working hard, and having beautiful friendships. I see us being more patient with each other and everyone else. I see us growing in all ways.”
My reply? Hah, I said. And then for good measure, I added: “You thought of all those things last year too. And did those things happen?”
She didn’t flinch. “Just because something didn’t happen WHEN you wanted it, in the precise manner that you want it doesn’t mean that it won’t. I look at how far we have come – and I trust the process that we will reach this too. That’s my faith.”
Faith. That’s the dreaded word for me. I walked 800km in search of it. I spent many of those 8,760 hours meditating on it. I don’t have religious faith. No. That wasn’t even part of the search.
But I think I know what I want 2020 to be – not the year searching faith but the year believing I already have it. I know that because I have faith in the friends who stayed by me this year. I have faith in my family – the one I was born into and the one I adopted. I have faith that maybe, just maybe, this all leads somewhere. And even if it doesn’t, it shouldn’t matter. I have faith that experiences and memories are really what make our life shine with the light of a thousand suns. I have faith that money won’t occupy my mind any more. I have faith that I can trust myself on this journey. And I have faith that meaning is to be found in many moments of joy.
For the first time, let me shed my cynicism and believe.
Before I go, I know I have been lax in responding to emails and calls. I am trying to be better on messaging – I have set myself a target of responding to all messages within 24 hours. But I know I have a long way to go in communicating better. I am trying. And for those of you who have put up with my sporadic communication, thank you. So much.
Thank you, my adopted American family: Dave and Karen. We didn’t meet this year, but I have faith we will next year.
Thank you to my family for a year where I learnt that this family will truly accept me and my crazy actions no matter what.
Thank you, my incredible friends, for bearing my moods and sarcasm with gentle kindness and compassion, offering me support I couldn’t have done without: Birdy (my greatest stress and support), Poodle (we will celebrate 20 years of our friendship in 2020!), Boy, Sheetal, Anil, Prasanna, Sooraj, Nilom, Husna, Shabin, Dorothee, Voozy – you all inspire me with your words, actions, and sheer friendship.
So, what else can I end this year with except gratitude? And maybe, that’s the only definition that matters.
To gratitude and faith.
May your year be light.