A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

Being able to live in the moment..

Posted by Pepper on April 24, 2012

Disclaimer: I usually avoid disclaimers, because I believe they aren’t too essential. If you like what you read, if you have the patience to deal with endless banter, you will carry on. If not, you will exit the page on your own. It isn’t something I need to tell you. This time though, I think the disclaimer is important. This post, in all probability will be classified as ‘boring’, ‘philosophic’, ‘anxiety ridden’  and not something too many people can relate to. I know, I never enjoyed reading posts that revolved around such heavy hearted thinking, let alone writing them. So if you belong to that category of people who can digest only a breezy read, please go ahead and skip this one.

I talk about being able to live in the moment. It’s something that came naturally to me until a while ago. Like most others, I went about living my life, being busy with everyday tasks, meeting friends, going for movies, eating out, seeking thrill in the new shoes I bought, and generally being too caught up with life to really think much about it.

There were others around me who encountered sorrow and grief. Some of my friends lost one of their parents. I know some parents who lost their child. Every now and then I would hear about death. Either within the family or within our social circle. It hurt me deeply. It bothered me for nights. A lot of times it made me sob for days. And then, like most others, I would get over it after an initial round of hurt and tears. The people battling the loss would always be in my prayers. I would always feel for them, but I could go about living my life with a smile again. I hurt for them, but the parting thought in my head was, ‘Life is sad for some, but thank God I have everybody around me safe and sound and I am not undergoing such anguish’

A few months ago, I could sense some change within myself. I can call it an awakening of sorts. Call me stupid, but the unpredictability of  life hit me all of a sudden. Yes, we all die. All our loved ones die. That is the biggest truth and it has been drilled into our heads. But I had never really realised or accepted it. Like most others, I was stupid enough to believe such horrifying things happened only to others. Also, I worked under the assumption that young people rarely die. Elder folks die. Surely, the chances of us, in our twenties and thirties, or other children or teens won’t just die all of a sudden? Why would they? We are relatively healthy and fit. How wrong could I be?  I am glad I awakened to the realities of life. You don’t have to be old to die. Any of can die tomorrow.

This awakening has turned out to be a double edged sword in my life. All of a sudden, I feel the need to be prepared for the worst. My definition of ‘worst’ is all my loved ones being dead. My family, my partner, all my associates, everybody being taken away. Me living my life all alone. Nothing terrifies me more than that.  I know I sound neurotic, although I am not. I believe if I prepare myself for that kind of an existence, I will never fear anything. Leading a fearless life sounds liberating. I know right now I carry a  million fears in my heart, due to all the heavy strings of attachment that tie me to my loved ones.

I call this awakening a double edged sword, because on one hard, it teaches me how to live life.  I believe it makes me more compassionate. Now I give more importance to things that matter, and I avoid thinking of things that don’t carry too much meaning. On the other hand, this realisation has changed my perspective to such an extent, that I am unable to live life in the moment. It’s like knowing that the house you live in, the one you love to death, is going to be burned down sooner or later. That a fire is inevitable. What do you think it will do to you?

I now live with a fire extinguisher strapped to my back. Even a tiny spark somewhere and I panic.  For example, when my parents health becomes shaky, it fills me with deep fear. For others, it might just be a passing illness. For me, I wonder if it is that final spark that will ultimately burn my beloved abode.  Probably the others don’t fear it as much cos they have not  fully realised the fact that a fire is inevitable. Or maybe they have, but they are certain they have a long time to go before the fire swallows them. I on the other hand, live with the fear of the fire occurring any minute.

Instead of being happy that my loved ones are alive, the realisation that they might not be alive tomorrow saddens me. I put too much pressure on myself to be in the moment, because I know for sure that it will not be there tomorrow. As a result, the stress does not let me enjoy my present. It’s like knowing your favourite pair of shoes are going to be charred in a week. You decide to make the most of them in the one week you have. You wear them everywhere, admire them, give them some extra love, feel happy that you own such an awesome pair, but at the end of the day, all those thoughts are also accompanied by a lingering sadness. Sadness from knowing that you are losing them soon. This awakening of the ultimate has been a mixed bag of emotions for me. I am happy to have what I have, but I am also sad cos I know I won’t have it for too long.

It was easy to live in the present when I did not entertain thoughts of the impending fire. Now, I want to be able to live in the present, despite being aware of the fire’s sudden emergence. I am so grateful I am getting a chance to live with my family. The four of us spend time laughing in the living room every evening. My papa turns on old Hindi music, which we all savour, along with the tea that mama has prepared. We exchange hugs and kisses. The sister and I are thoroughly pampered on most days.  We do live it up and I feel calm and peaceful, when I notice the soft music, the smell of ginger tea, the sound of laughter and love in the air. I pray to God to give me strength to be able to live in the moment forever, with no fear attacking my mind. Because sometimes, enduring the constant weight of the fire extinguisher on your back is not easy.

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53 Responses to “Being able to live in the moment..”

  1. R's Mom said

    Wow! I never thought of it this way…I mean, I must admit that death scares me…especially if it involves my loved ones..I dont think what to wrote is something…well I am not getting the right word..what I want to say it, even I have felt this way many times..more after I have become a mother…I take extra precaution while crossing the road, while getting on to a train…it seems really stupid, but then it is..

    While, most people tell us to ‘enjoy the moment, savor the present’ I am also someone who thinks a lot about ‘what if’

    Am I a pessimist? Yes I am :(

    Big Hugs to you Pepper, here’s to many more chais (errr…can I come along) dancing to movie songs and loads of hugs around the family!

  2. VCM said

    Pepper- am happy that you are back to where you belong!And that you are really happy!Actually what is happiness?It is all in the mind.
    You are indeed brave to have taken the step of returning home for there are so many who keep on contemplating and mulling over but are ‘bheerus’ and never take the plunge!
    This post exposes your very sensitive nature and you have expressed it simply and with utter frankness.
    We all are ‘victims’ of having been caught in this ‘web of life’ and as the GREAT SHANKARCHARYA says in his BHAJA GOVINDAM(my father along with my dear mother used to chant these lines so very often)
    इह संसारे बहु दुस्तारे
    कृपया पारे पाहिमुरारे
    भज गोविंदम भज गोविंदम
    गोविंदम भाजा मूढ़मते
    We are helpless and can only rely on EESHVARA KARUNA.My mother also told us children what SRIKRISNA BHAGAVAN says in the BHAGAVAD GEETA-
    कर्मण्ये वाधिकारस्ते म फलेषु कदाचना
    कर्मफलेह्तुर भुरमा ते संगोस्त्वकर्मानी॥
    So do what you have to do and dedicate it to EESHVAR;

    Fear is also something that passes when we have to face reality.

    So BE BRAVE -that which you are!!!

    All good wishes on this day- AKSHAYA TRITEEYA!

    • Pepper said

      Happy to see you here again VCM. Thanks for reinforcing my beliefs and telling me I did the right thing by moving back.
      “We all are ‘victims’ of having been caught in this ‘web of life’” .. you said it perfectly well. That’s exactly how I feel now. And most of us victims don’t even realise we are being victimized by these illusions.

      This kind of talk really bored me at one time, but now I do find myself leaning more and more on spirituality. So what you say makes a lot of sense to me now. Thanks once again :) Good wishes to you too!

  3. Ashwathy said

    I am not sure what brought this on for you. Is it having more free time for different thoughts in your head? Is it being away from Mint? Is it the shifting and all the activities that followed?

    For example, when my parents health becomes shaky, it fills me with deep fear. For others, it might just be a passing illness. For me, I wonder if it is that final spark that will ultimately burn my beloved abode.
    That’s how I am too, except that I never usually talk about it. I sometimes imagine the worst when I hear bad news too. It’s sort of like preparing yourself for the worst so that when the hurt finally hits you, you are able to still take it. But then immediately after the worst-case-scenario hits my brain I am hoping at the positive side as well – that the person is just ill and not really serious etc.

    I guess that way when you think about it ….very little is in our hands, isn’t it? One can only pray, do our best. And leave the rest to Fate.

    • Pepper said

      What brought this on? A lot of things actually. I was wondering if I should do a post on all the going ons, but decided against it. But yes, it is a combination of various factors. A few recent deaths that occurred shook my entire foundation, dad’s health has been a little unstable, Mint’s absence had been adding to it, and a few other things that made me really contemplate on the meaning of life. I am glad I awakened though.

      I usually refrain from talking about it too. This time, it’s been on my mind so much, I really had to write about it. Yes, all we can do is pray and do our best. :)

  4. It is one of the truths of life , we all have ot go ..
    I never thought till that fateful call early morning when i had to go back home ..

    and now its the same .. thinking of my mother and grand mother

    • Pepper said

      There is a reason early morning calls scare the hell out of me. :| .. Hope you’ve truly accepted this reality and have made peace with it. :)

  5. subathrad said

    I agree with you on this esp the analogy about your favourite shoe. I guess the best we can do is hold on to the present we have with our loved ones and not worry about what the future has in store for us although that might be difficult.

    • Pepper said

      It wasn’t so difficult until a while ago, I chose to be oblivious to the obvious perhaps. Now it’s a lot harder. Hopefully I will get over it..

  6. I can identify with what you are saying…This kind of thought just struck me one fine day without any warning and just stayed…But now I have started appreciating life around me because one doesn’t know when all this can go away..But its scary I agree..

  7. ajay said

    I can relate to your post so much. I had this sudden realization when I was in school in 6th or 7th grade. It’d struck me hard and I had become withdrawn. I couldn’t sleep, eat or play without worrying continually. Even during happy, blissful times this thought would suddenly strike me and would make me invariably sad. With time though, the worrying subsided gradually but the realization remained intact.

    I try to reconcile my thoughts and worries to a positive end but without success. We want things to last longer. We want to freeze happy moments into eternity. But we also know that all this would end with death but can’t seem to come to terms with it. Human frailty, I think. When I look at the bigger picture, everything pales into insignificance. Everything seems so trivial. In fact, this is my way of consoling myself when something worries me too much. Life is such that we quickly forget things and become involved and busy with it. I want to write a post on this topic. I have many things to say but somehow I can’t seem to bring my thoughts into a coherent whole now.

    • Pepper said

      You had this realisation in school? Wow. At that age I lived a blissful life, without any cares or concerns. You have always been a profound person I suppose. Your comments always resound with my own inner thoughts. Please do write a post on this soon? I really want to read it. Please?

  8. It reminds me of an arabic saying, “You see the thorns in the flower and you’re blind to see its crown of dew” … :)

    • Pepper said

      Okay, this seems too deep for my shallow brain to fully understand. Could you explain the deeper meaning to me? :)

      • It means that when an anxious person sees a flower, he only see its thorns, and he is so anxious (defeatist) that he is blinded to see the beautiful crown of morning dew on the flower :)
        It’s natural and useful to want to be prepared for bad things, but try to enjoy the moment, until it ends.
        I think that not living the moment to the fullest with your family, is a big regret that you’ll have in the future

        • Pepper said

          Thanks for explaining it to me. I feel so stupid for not having understood it :)
          Yes, absolutely, I realise that too. Which is why I wrote this post, wanting to be able to learn how to live in the moment. When I lived with Mint, I longed to have my family around. Now that I have my family, I don’t have Mint. Sometimes I wish I could forward this year so that I have Mint around as well.. and then I ask myself to stop thinking on those lines. I want to just savour being around my parents while I can, instead of thinking beyond that. Or I will always lose out on the present, thinking of what could have been.
          I am glad I have folks like you to remind me of what is right..Thank you!

  9. Rahmath said

    I can relate to what you have written so so much that i didnot breath (at least that’s what i felt) until the very end of your post. If you find a way around this fear. Please do share.

    I don’t know if I am delurking with this comment. i have been following you for sometime now!!!!

    • Pepper said

      Thanks for delurking. Didn’t think people would be able to relate to a post like this. Not sure there is any way around this fear. I’ve just started praying a lot more and I now try to place all my faith in God :)

  10. Tanishka said

    Death of my dear ones is one thing that depresses ad scares me a lot and that is why though it is inevitable and I try my best to never think about it… But then once in while these thoughts do come to our mind no matter how much we try to keep away from them and I get extremely restless then… I understand what you are saying…

    • Pepper said

      Yes, that was my standard solution at one time. To not think about it. But now, I no longer want to take the escapist’s route. Not thinking about it only helps for sometime, it does not give me eternal peace. It’s a temporary solution.
      Now I want to be strong enough to undergo whatever comes my way. I want to be able to bear the thought, not run away from it. I think it makes more sense to strengthen yourself to face what you know is inevitable, and yet live in the moment. :)

  11. binpin said

    I pray that you get strength to lose that fear:)..*Hugs*. I used to fear the same before. My relationship with M over the last one year changed that all..

  12. Sig said

    I know what you mean Pepper. When my mum got sick just now – it was THAT moment that made me realise their mortality and the inevitable thought that they aren’t going to be with me forever. I suddenly started noticing how OLD they were, how much more tired they were and each little day I worry.

    I have a huge fear of fear. Seriously. I constantly feel like I am living on the edge of a cliff with my dreams and desires in reach but myself unable to take that step. The result is that I plod through life, unhappy in some ways, happy in others…but just living.

    If only we could rid ourselves of that fear…

    • Pepper said

      We all plod along through life. It is a journey after all. Truly, if only we could rid ourselves of that fear, we’d much so much happier.
      Sometimes I wonder why we are so attached to our loved ones? I know my own death doesn’t scare me. But I feel paralysed by the fear of losing my loved ones, and that does not make life easy. I wish we were free of attachment at times, we’d have so little to fear. But I guess that is not easy..

  13. Geet said

    Pepper,

    What do I say! You have stolen words from my mouth. I go through every bit of fear that you have spoken about. I give the same reasons to my hubby to get back to India, just waiting for that day when I can just pack my bags and fly back. When I am awake late in the night, I always have these visions of my phone ringing and some one giving me a bad news, touch wood but its been tough. Anyways, Glad that you are having a nice time with uncle n aunt! All I can say is be strong! BTW loved your post because I can so relate to it:)

    • Pepper said

      That was our primary reason in moving back to India. I do hope you get to do what your heart truly desires Geet. Although being close to your family will not eradicate your fears. Sometimes, it magnifies them in fact. I will only consider myself to be brave and strong once I have learnt to gracefully accept whatever has been chosen for me, and yet me able to live in the moment. :)

  14. Anusha said

    I can identify with all what you say, I try hard but am not able to get rid of this constant fear lingering in mind day and night…..and Yes, it makes “living the moment” so difficult.

    Glad that you have come over it and its so true when you say “enduring the constant weight of the fire extinguisher on your back is not easy.” *Hugs*

    Pepper, you put down thoughts in words with an amazing clarity, and i keep falling in love with the way you write !!

    • Pepper said

      I wouldn’t say I have overcome the fear. I am trying. It’s a big learning process.
      Thanks so much Anusha, sometimes I reread my post at a later time and cringe at the mistakes. Did you notice a few in this post itself? I’ve omitted words and made other mistakes, but I was too lazy to edit it. So despite all my errors, if you think I can express my emotions coherently, then I am so glad. :)

  15. P said

    I don’t know if it’s possible to rid ourselves of this fear the way we look at it. But a different perspective might help. I recently read a book that talks about reincarnation with scientific proof. Point is, if you can believe that we and our loved ones lived before and will live different lives later, it’s reassuring in some way. If you can believe that our existence here is for some reason, for us to learn a particular lesson, to grow, after which this life does not make sense, after which we move on to many other lives, mortality still hurts, but from this pov, there is more to it than we can see.

    • Pepper said

      Absolutely P. That is the perspective I’ve been having. Now I do believe that we are all here for a purpose, to grow and reach a higher level spiritually. But then, what can I say? I am selfish, when I think of the departing person, I think of how that will impact my life, how much I will ache, instead of thinking of how it was the right thing for them. Nevertheless, understanding all that does take away some of your fears.

      There definitely is a lot more than we can see..

  16. metherebel said

    I can relate to what you are saying and have seen the worse too. But I must tell you, you will somehow learn to make peace with your life and move on!!!

  17. Deboshree said

    I can totally relate with it Pepper. It is easy to read about living in the moment but practising the same without a glitch can be dicey. If one is constantly worried about what is to come, the only proverbs that last are the ones about change being permanent.

  18. Smitha said

    Hugs Pepper. You know, until a few years back, I was totally living in the moment, not too worried, but as I grew older, and saw my parents aging a little bit more every time I see them, I have been worrying as well..One of the biggest reasons why I want to move back to India.. At least I would be just hours away from them..

    No matter what, I think I will keep worrying.. Hugs!

    • Pepper said

      Being close to them helps, but like I said, it does not take away thoughts of the inevitable from my head. Now I am working on being a stronger person, instead of avoiding the thoughts. Big hugs to you! I hope you learn to overcome your worries too.

  19. Pepper, I have the exact same feelings,Hugs dear!!

    Recently my mom fell sick and I was unable to sleep for many nights and I was unable to focus on anything, R was trying to cheer me with his lighhearted jokes, but I would punch him, I wish I learn how to live in the moment, it just not practcial, atleast for me :(

    • Pepper said

      I know right? We know in theory that we should all live in the moment, but it’s hard to apply that thought practically. We can all try and learn though. Hope your mom is okay now LF. Hugs!

  20. Pepper, I used to be like that until recently too. Until I realised that the weight of the fire extinguisher wasn’t letting me be free and enjoy life today. I realised that regardless of whether or not I carried it around with me, whatever was destined to happen would happen. And so I decided to put the burden down.

    Yes, I do get tensed from time to time, when loved ones fall sick, when I heard of freakish accidents; but I think at the end of the day, we need to remember to calm down and enjoy life as a gift :) *Hugs!*

  21. I am glad you wrote about this coz I was starting to believe that I was some kind of psycho to worry endlessly about things that is not in my hands. There are days when I feel miserable and however hard I try to push these thoughts away..it never goes. I think slowly I might be able to make peace with my own monstrous thoughts :sad:

    Hugs and you just see…one year will fly away and Mint will be back with you :smile:

    • Pepper said

      I am glad I wrote this post cos I thought I was the only one too. Turns out we have company. Hope you make peace soon! Hugs! I am not in a rush for this year to pass, I love being with my parents, just hope Mint gets here soon. :)

  22. There have been a lot of times this realization of death or losing a loved one has crossed over my mind, but then why let these thoughts trouble us? We should cherish every single moment of our lives with them, there are more chais to share and even more laughs to share. I love the title.

    • Pepper said

      It does make sense when you think about it objectively, but sometimes, it becomes hard to gain control over your emotions, and in particular your fears. Especially if it is a time when you are being tested. Nevertheless, it’s a good to get periodic reminders. :)

  23. Hello my darling pepper. As always, coming to your blog is one of my favourite Sunday activities where I read your words, breath in your thoughts and then think through all that you have said. I especially love this post, because I have been entertaining similar thoughts as of late. I am going to end my second year here in University soon, and I will be going back home to live with my parents after a full 2 years of living by myself. I am so caught up in pondering about the future, that I so quickly lose track of the present and all that it has to offer me.

    I love your analogy about the fire extinguisher strapped to your back. Just like you, I have somewhat of a Mint as well, and just like you, he has been my solace, my friend, my strength, call what you will. In less than 2 months, he graduates and he is going back to wherever he comes from (which is miles apart from where I come from). The fact that I am never going to see him again (due to life, circumstances, etc) is my fire extinguisher. I try my utmost best to appreciate the present, but I know that there is always a knot in my throat that comes with it.

    I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

    If you find a way of striking that balance, I hope you will share it with the rest of us.

    P.S: I hope that Mint is doing well.

    • Pepper said

      Oh.. I feel your ache. Sometimes when we know we have limited time with our loved ones, we can actually hear the ticking of the clock as each second goes by. It’s very stressful, when we try so hard to hold on to every second. I hope you find the strength to deal with whatever comes your way.

  24. Reema said

    Oh I can totally relate to that..everytime my parents get sick, the realisation comes that they have aged now and are not going to be there forever..it is so distressing :(

  25. Sharell said

    Oh gosh, somehow somewhere along the track, I’ve also recently become aware of the inevitably of death, particularly in regards to my parents (although they’re still healthy and fit). I don’t quite know how to deal with it. It’s causing me a lot of pain. When you’re young, it feels like it will be that way forever. Life seems caught up in time. But now, it seems to be marching forward and death will be becoming closer and closer. I guess it’s because my parents are now in their early 60s and I can see them aging (even though they’re not sick). It makes me want to move back to Australia in the future to be with them, and I think we’ll end up doing that.

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