Travel

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Haircut

For the love of dialogue and conversations...


I think you should get a haircut soon.
What?! I just had one a few days ago.
That was a few months ago!
Yea but, I don’t think I need one as yet.
Look at your hair. It’s almost below your neck.
So?
So, it’s too long. You should cut it.
But why? What’s the problem if it’s too long?
It’s not supposed to be that long.
Her hair is so long!
She’s your sister.
Thanks, I didn’t know.
Don’t take that tone with me…
Sorry mum. But so what if she’s my sister?
I meant, she’s a girl. She’s supposed to have long hair. You’re a boy. You’re supposed to have short hair.
But why?
Enough with the ‘why’s!
I’m serious. Why can’t boys have long hair?
It doesn’t look good.
Says who?
Says everyone.
But I think it looks good.
Well, it doesn’t.
But if it’s my hair, and I think it looks good when long, isn’t that all that should matter?
If you were stranded alone on an island, then yes.
Huh?
I mean, if you lived entirely alone, it wouldn’t matter. You’re part of a society. And the society’s opinion matters.
You mean the people in our building?
No, I mean society at large. All the people!
All the people as in…all the people?!
Yes.
Including all the people I’ve never met?
I said all the people.
Why do I have to care about the opinions of 6 billion people who I’ve never met about the length of my hair?!
It’s not just about the length of your hair!
Then what is it about?!
It’s just that, the society has some rules. If we want to be part of this society, we need to follow those rules. And the length of hair for boys and girls happens to be one of those rules.
Look, mum, why does the society have rules?
What do you mean?
I mean, rules exist for a reason. What is that?
Rules are there to ensure that everything functions smoothly, right? To make sure people don’t end up harming each other? We have traffic rules and signals to make sure we don’t have accidents. In the same way, we have rules in society like don’t kill each other or don’t steal from each other to make sure that we don’t harm each other. In a way, the rules tell us to consider other people around us, and not just think about ourselves, right?
Yes…
With me so far?
Yes, that makes sense.
So you agree that people should follow the rules of society to prevent themselves from harming each other, right?
Exactly.
Okay, then who am I harming by growing my hair?
Well……maybe it’s not just about harm. Many rules came up for practical reasons as well.
What do you mean?
Historically, men were supposed to fight or work in the fields and things. It would have made practical sense to keep their hair short. It wasn’t about preventing harm to others, like some of the other rules.
That makes sense.
Thank you.
I mean, it makes sense if I were going to fight. Do you see me prepping for war right now?
I didn’t say that’s the reason for it now!
Then what is the reason for it now?
It’s just a practice that has continued.
Even when the reason is no longer valid?
It’s become a norm now, hasn’t it? That’s how most things around us work. I don’t really see the point in challenging the rules.
By that logic, we’d never challenge any rule. Nothing would ever change.
That’s a little extreme…
Seriously, do you actually believe that we should continue to follow society’s rules just because that’s the way things have always been done? That the rules should never be challenged?
I’m not saying that all the rules of society are great. Some are already harmful, and they need to change. But there needs to be a proper reason to change it.
For example?
Well, take dowry. It’s been a societal practice for many generations, and has led to the abuse and death of so many women. So that seems like a very good reason to challenge this rule and to push for a change.
Yea.
But growing out your hair – what reason is there to do it?
I want to do it.
That’s not a reason.
Of course it is. Being told that I have to keep my hair short makes me unhappy. Growing my hair will make me happy. Why isn’t my happiness a good enough reason to go against a rule?
That’s hardly the same thing.
I’m not saying it is. But at the end of the day, if a rule makes someone unhappy, isn’t that enough of a reason to change it?
Perhaps, if everyone felt that way, then yes. But I don’t see all the other boys in your class trying to grow their hair.
That’s like saying if one woman was abused because of dowry, but others’ weren’t, she shouldn’t push for any change.
The two situations are completely different.
In the extent of happiness and misery, yes. But they are both still about happiness and misery.
Misery is a strong word for a haircut.
Fine, unhappiness. How does that change anything?
Look, you keep talking about change, but it’s not an easy thing. You think the first push to challenge dowry would have been simple? There would have been a lot of resistance, people pushing back, even adding on to the abuse. But that cause was strong enough for people to continue taking a stand against it. Now, if you were to grow out your hair, you’d face a lot of resistance too. Of a different kind, yes, but it would be there. Everyone would make a big deal out of it. The school would not allow it. Your classmates would ridicule you. Is the length of your hair really worth all that?
If I said yes, would I then be justified in growing it?
Really?! You’re telling me that having short hair is making you so miserable that you would rather be a laughing stock or a thing for everyone to point at and comment upon – just to be able to grow it?
No.
Exactly. That’s what I thought.
I’m saying that I see no reason why I should not be allowed to grow MY hair, when it will make me happy, but would bring absolutely no harm to others.
I just told you the reason. Everyone around will make your life that much harder.
That’s a reason for why it would be difficult for me to do so. Not why I shouldn’t do it at all.
I feel like you’re starting a revolution in this house.
It does feel like it, doesn’t it?
A revolution for hair. If only Gandhi could see you right now.
Correction: A revolution for personal choice.
Fine. Do what you want.
Really?
Well, in another few weeks, your school is going to call you up to have this exact same conversation. So we’re really just talking about a few centimeters of hair then. I can live with that.
What makes you think I won’t be able to convince the school?
You know what? You actually might. Now that would be a conversation worth getting a front row seat for.
Thanks mum. I can just picture you sitting there in the parent-teacher meeting with some popcorn, enjoying the show!
Just let me know the date and time!
So we’re good here?
I think so. Wow. I can’t believe we spent all this time arguing about the length of your hair.
My thoughts exactly.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Time to Pray

A professor once told us that if we want to be sure we've understood a concept, we should try explaining it to a little kid. This post sort of took off from that idea...

“Where are we going?” the boy asked, holding on to his father’s hand as they walked.
We’re going to pray.
What’s pray?
Pray is…when we ask for blessings.
What are blessings?
Blessings are good wishes.
You mean how people wish me on my birthday?
Well…something like that.
But why would I ask for wishes? Don’t people wish us when they want to?
This is different. We’re not asking people for blessings. We’re asking God.
Who is God?
God is the one who made all of us.
Huh? He makes things like the carpenter made the table for us?
I don’t mean things. He made all of us human beings. Me. You.
But I thought mamma made me.
Well, yes.
So what did god do?
I don’t mean you alone. I mean all people. This entire world.
Is god a very rich person?
He is not a person!
So…what is he?
He is…it’s hard to explain. Just think of him as someone who is much bigger than all of us people.
Is he a giant?
No!
Oh.
Listen, you will understand God better when you grow older.
Okay…
So we’re going to p…pay God now?
Pray! Pray to God.
Yes, pray. So we’re going to ask God to wish us?
Well, we’re going to first say thank you to God.
Thank you for what?
Thank you for everything that he has given us.
What has he given us?
Well, our family, our house, our friends.
I don’t have that many friends…
Don’t worry, you will. You just need to talk more to the other boys. You’ll make friends.
But you just said God gives us our friends.
You won’t get friends just like that. You have to do something about it.
But then what is God’s job if I have to go making my own friends?
He…well…you’ll understand some day. He does a lot for us.
Does he do a lot for everyone?
Of course. He takes care of this whole world.
That’s so many people!
Yes, God has special powers. He can take care of everyone.
So after I say thank you to god, I can ask him for whatever I want?
Yes.
And he’ll give it to me?
Hopefully.
Can I ask him for a toy?
No, you should ask him to keep everyone happy and safe. Ask him for good wishes.
But I wanted a toy.
God doesn’t give toys. He gives good wishes.
So he gives good wishes to everyone?
Yes. To all the good people.
What about the bad people?
You don’t want him to give good wishes to bad people, do you?
Well…I…
What happened?
Nothing…it’s just that…yesterday I forgot to do my homework.
That’s okay. Just remember the next time.
My teacher said I was a bad person.
Oh! No, I didn’t mean that way. Of course you’re not a bad person!
But my teacher says I am.
Listen, that’s just because of one thing.
So if I do one only one bad thing, I don’t become a bad person?
Depends on the thing you do.
What do you mean?
I mean, look, not doing your homework, that’s not so bad. But things like stealing or hurting others are bad.
But my teacher thinks I’m a bad person.
She doesn’t think that. She must have said that because she was angry. Besides, everyone else thinks you’re a good person.
What?
So if someone thinks I’m bad, and someone else thinks I’m good, who would God listen to?
The good ones of course!
What are you thinking?
You remember that man on the news who went to jail? You said he was a bad person. But his parents were saying he is a good person. So will god listen to them?
No, that’s not what I meant.
What did you mean?
Look, God knows everything. He knows who are the good people, and who are the bad people. He will take care of the good people, and punish the bad people.
So God doesn’t need us to tell him who is good or bad?
No
What if God makes a mistake and punishes a good person?
God doesn’t make mistakes.
But if he does?
Then he will make sure the bad people are punished after their death.
How?
He will send the bad people to a bad place where they will be punished.
And the good people? What will happen to them?
They will go to a good place – the place where God stays.
Where does God stay?
No one really knows.
But then…how do we know that the good people go there?
We just know.
How does God punish the bad people if he doesn’t stay in the bad place?
God doesn’t need to stay there. He is everywhere.
You just said you don’t know where God stays.
What I meant was that we don’t know where the good people go exactly. But we do know that God is everywhere.
How can he be everywhere?
He is God. He has special powers.
So you mean he is here also?
Absolutely. He’s always with us.
I’ve never seen him.
You can’t see God. But he is always watching us.
Isn’t that a bad thing? To follow people around?
It’s a bad thing when people do it. But God is special.
How do we know God is here if we can’t see him?
We just…know.
But how?
You’ll understand when you’re older.
Okay.
I’m tired.
Just a little bit further.
But where are we going?
I told you. We’re going to pray.
But where?
To the house of God.
We’re going to meet God?!
Uh…no. We’re going to a place where everyone goes to pray to God.
Does God live there?
No.
Does God visit there?
I don’t know.
You said God is everywhere.
Well, yes.
Then why do people go to this place to pray?
It’s a special place.
Why?
That’s where the priests are.
Who are priests?
They are people who serve God.
They serve God food?
No! I mean, they…work for God.
God is their boss?
No no. They are important people who help us connect with God.
How?
Well….they show us how to pray.
What do you mean? I thought we just say thank you and ask for wishes.
There are some other things also that we do to make sure God gives us our wishes.
What things?
You’ll see.
So everyone has to pray in the same way?
Well, everyone in our religion. People of different religions pray in different ways.
And which way does God like more?
He likes all ways. It doesn’t matter to him how we pray.
So then why do priests make us pray in this way?
That’s just the way it’s always been done!
What do you mean?
I mean that some things are done because they have always been done that way.
I don’t understand…
Don’t worry. You’ll understand –
- When I’m older?
Yes! Now enough questions.
But-
I said no more questions!
Can I ask one last question?
Fine. What is it?
What is religion?


Monday, October 17, 2016

Contemplation

I stared at the bowl
At the many tiny creatures crawling over it
Realizing, a little late
My own idiocy
Of having left it over night with dessert crumbs

And I stared
Wondering what to do
Knowing fully well what I would do
Yet wondering, nonetheless

Coming to a decision
I picked up the bowl
From the edge that was free
And quickly moved it into the sink
And before I could change my mind
Turned on the tap

And I stared
As dozens of ants scattered
Most, unable to flee
Dragged under by the pull of the water
While the others scrambled
As fast as they could
Wherever they could
Doing whatever they could to survive
Knowing, that they wouldn't

And I stood there
Feeling that tiny twinge I didn't want to feel
Telling myself it had to be done
If not now, then later
If not this way, then another
If not by me, then by someone else

I reminded myself
That this wasn't the first time
Every step I've taken till date
Has probably led to many deaths
That they are inevitable
That this is the way of life

And yet I knew
That this one was different
This one was was intentional
This one was chosen
And that made a big difference

And as I stood there
Contemplating life and death
I heard a familiar buzz
A buzz that grew stronger
Breaking my contemplation

Annoyed, I turned towards the interruption
And without a pause
Reached out and clapped it in my hands
Feeling a sense of satisfaction as the silence returned
Leaving me in peace to turn back to the sink

And continue my contemplation.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

That Thing Called Nationalism

People often ask why we study history. Of the many reasons, one is that it has a way of creeping back into our present lives in the strangest of ways.

Then...
They called us terrorists; we called ourselves freedom fighters
They called it a mutiny; we called it a war for independence
They jailed us for sedition; we proudly called it our right
They shut down our press; we called out their fear of the truth
They massacred us in our gatherings; we learnt to make bombs
They killed our citizens; we killed their soldiers and officials
They hanged our leaders; we praised them as martyrs
They said we were part of them; we said we wanted nothing to do with them
They said we were divided on what we wanted; we agreed, but knew that we didn't want things as they were
They said we couldn't survive on our own; we asked for the right to try
They asked for obedience; we asked for freedom;
They called us terrorists; we called them oppressors.

Now...
We call you terrorists; you call yourselves freedom fighters
We call it an act of terrorism; you call it a war for independence
We jail you for sedition; you proudly call it your right
We shut down your press; you call out our fear of the truth
We kill you in your homes; you learn to use guns
We kill your people; you kill our soldiers
We shoot your leaders; you praise them as martyrs
We say you are a part of us; you say you want nothing to do with us
We say you are divided on what you want; you agree, but know that you don't want things as they are
We say you couldn't survive without us; you ask for the right to try
We ask for obedience; you ask for freedom
We call you terrorists; you call us oppressors.

100 years have passed
They have changed
You have changed
We remain the same
Except
I'm not quite sure who we are anymore.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

That thing called failure

Do you ever imagine a version of yourself that's different - better - than the current you? The one that confidently talks in front of massive crowds to resounding applause. The one that writes stories that'd make J.K. Rowling proud, or even envious. The one that travels across the world and records their experiences in a blog that millions of unknown individuals follow. The one that plants thousands of trees, cleans up an entire lake, cuts up a mountain, and goes down in history (or at least, on Facebook) as one of those inspiring tales that people read about. The one that takes risks, tries new things, puts themselves out there, fails, succeeds, experiences life in that crazy exhausting way that you repeatedly tell yourself you want - all the while as you sit in front of the TV and watch the rerun of that Friends' episode for the twentieth time, taking the much needed time for relaxation after that hour-long ride home from that job you've now become comfortable with?

If your response to any of these questions was yes, then here's something I'd love to know: what do you actually do about it?




Recently, I sat with a friend at a familiar bar, with a lime juice, water and pizza between us (de-perks of driving), and had my entire life analyzed and deconstructed bit by bit. Said friend also happens to be that critical feedback buddy I had mentioned in the last post (let's call her J), and given my wonderful relationship with vulnerability, this clearly was a conversation that in hindsight should have begun with a few glasses of vodka.

The conversation ranged from where we are in life right now, the things we want to do, the things we hesitate in doing, the reasons for that hesitation, and other such happy topics. And a basic question that we kept coming back to was: what's stopping me from doing all the crazy and not-so-crazy things I want to do?

Now, I pride myself on being rather self-aware: I'm always thinking about the reasons I do what I do, and the things I wish I were doing but am scared to. I already knew the answer to this question. I know how this tiny thing called fear has permeated in bits and pieces into almost every aspect of my life, clawing its way out in the most random situations. It's not something I'm proud of, but it is something I'm aware of. So, at the very least, the conversation was fairly amusing as J struck upon a series of earth-shattering realizations about me (with all the fervor of a psychologist finally arriving at the actual diagnosis), only to have me nod along and say, "Yep, that's the case. I'm glad you finally got there!"

I don't think psychologists like it when you tell them you've diagnosed your problem before them.

And then came the much anticipated question: what exactly was I afraid of? Judgment? Failure? A bit of both, I think. In school, I never joined my classmates in basketball despite loving the game because I didn't want to make a fool of myself. Till date, I've avoided presentations with a fervor to not have to put my limited public speaking skills out for the scrutiny of others. Perhaps (though I'm not sure of this one), I haven't signed up for a 10K (or even a 5K) run because I'm not sure I'd make it across the finish line (despite being told by enough runners that this is one of the best ways to push my running). And while I'm very vocal in my campaign against educational assessments and the irrelevance of grades in our lives, I have been known to feel rather bummed when I got a low grade on an assignment.

Do I think failure is bad? In theory, no. In my head, I know failure isn't the end of the world. Hell, I'm pretty sure I even agree with those typical quotes like "Failure is a stepping stone to success." As a teacher, I constantly pushed my students to not worry about making mistakes and to try out the things that scared them. Yet all along, I couldn't get myself to do the same.

I know, the hypocrisy is deafening.

So the next question thrown at me was: What's the worst that'll happen if you fail?

R: Huh? What do you mean? I'll fail!
J : Yes, but...so what?
R: So what means what? It's failing. It doesn't need a 'so what'.
J : Of course it does. Seriously, think about it.
R: Fine...I guess...I'll end up making a fool of myself in front of others...I'll be shattered...Lose confidence in myself and my abilities...Be too scared to try it again...Happy?
J : Or...maybe you'd learn how not to do something and actually improve your skill in it...?
R: ...
J : ...
R: Nope. I'm pretty sure it's the former.

Cheekiness aside, I get it. I get what J was saying. It's same stuff I used to tell my kids. In my head, I know that I can't really learn something without being open to the idea of failing at it. And that's the hard part, isn't it? The idea of working hard on something, and putting it out there for the inspection and scrutiny of others, only to have them tell you that your work is terrible. The struggle of separating criticism of your work from criticism of yourself. The sense that all the effort was for nothing - though deep deep deep down, you know that's not true, that you did learn something from the process of doing and failing, and that the next time, you probably would do a better job of it - if only you can get yourself to try it again.

And that isn't easy. At least, it doesn't seem to be. One of the biggest, scariest things I ever did was join the Teach for India Fellowship. But it wasn't a typical movie-like situation where I rose to the occasion. Hell, I crash landed. All the time. To the extent that when I walked out after two years, I looked back at a lot of those moments and just cringed. The result of this failure was that I actively avoided teaching in any form over the next few years, and it has taken three years of passively studying education to make me want to even consider going back into that arena.

Did I mention that I'm not great at dealing with failure?

In this regard, J is an inspiration. J actively seeks out feedback and criticism in the attempt to get better, and doesn't expect others to mince their words in the process. For J, putting yourself out there and trying out the things you think you're terrible at is the only way to learn and improve, and if the thing standing in your way is the fear of looking like an idiot, then, well, you're giving far too much importance to yourself (there's a reason I call her my critical feedback buddy!). So it's rather flabbergasting to her that someone can be so aware of their weaknesses and fears, and not do anything about it.

Basically, J is that breath of fresh, annoying perspective that constantly tries to prod, nudge, push and downright tackle me out of my comfort zone.

And continuing with that tradition, when J realized that I haven't failed enough in life because I haven't tried enough things, she ended our conversation by declaring that the only way for me to deal with this is to fail at many more things.

Subsequently, this person I call a friend proudly and excitedly began coming up with a list of things for me to fail at.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Here's to Writing...Again

I love writing. Okay, maybe that's a bit strong. But I definitely enjoy it. Yet in the last couple of years, I don't think I've written even a dozen times. And I've been wondering why that is.

It's not from a lack of things to write about - my head's constantly spinning with thoughts and opinions and judgments.

I sometimes tell myself that it's because I started writing whatever I wanted to in emails to a friend, so the motivation to transfer all that into a blog didn't feel all that strong.

But if I'm being completely honest here (which I usually hope I am), it's because I'm scared.

You see, a lot of people like to write because the act of writing itself makes them happy. That really isn't the case with me. For me, writing isn't a private act. It's not a diary filled with my thoughts where just the ink on the paper provides me with a sense of catharsis.

For me, writing is about communication. And that means there's a reader on the other end.

People who know me well enough would know that I'm terrible at talking. Like Chandler Bing, I'm socially awkward when it comes to conversations. I usually never know what to say, or if I do, I struggle with articulating it. While most people think on their feet, I think on my ass. I need time to gather my thoughts, and then present them in a way that I have some control over.

And that's writing.

So while I do enjoy the act of writing, for me it is really about getting my thoughts out to others. Thoughts that I think are important, worth stating, and hopefully, worth reading. And given that I don't do a great job of conveying those thoughts orally, the pressure of conveying them well through the written word is...well...a little high.

The downside of this, however, is that I'm also overly reliant on others 'liking' what I read. And I don't just mean the Facebook click. There's a sense of vulnerability associated with putting my thoughts and opinions out there. This works really well if the post is received positively, but also has the ability to cause me to shrivel up and want to delete the post at the first sign of disagreement.

Admittedly, this just means that I need to toughen up and learn how to take critical feedback - an important skill that we're not taught enough of [more on this and my critical feedback buddy in a later post].

But a part of this hesitation also arises from this new trend of 'trolling' that seems to be getting so popular. As much as I hate it, I often find myself reading through the comments of random people in articles that I like, and the level of nastiness in them is just alarming. The number of personal attacks that people today feel comfortable launching on unknown others is messed up. How can you possibly 'troll' a person who speaks out about their experience of sexual assault?! With each passing the day online, my level of disgust at humanity rises, and as a side-effect, so does my fear of writing.

Yet deep down, I know that fear is unfounded. Hell, it could even just be an excuse to cover up my laziness - I'm not sure. But the fact that I'm writing on my blog after three months is confounding, and I really feel the need to find something to blame (other than myself of course).

So what really inspired me to write again today? Well, it was a challenge posed by a fellow writer / cousin / friend [I really do need to stop waiting around for these challenges to write each year]. For those who might be interested, it's a happiness challenge [read this and this].

And while I don't see myself resorting to excel sheets to track my happiness any time soon, I figured the one thing I really should get on with is the one thing I've been delaying for a while now: this blog.

So, here's hoping that this post will be the trigger of many others to come. One a week. One a day. One whenever a thought pops into my head. Whatever it takes. No more waiting around for it to be perfect. No more worrying about what others think of it (at least, pretending not to).

And hopefully, somewhere along the way, learning to add my two cents again.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Train Tracks

This is going to be one of those posts
The ones that never seem to end
That may not have a clear point to make
That does not follow a rhyme or meter
That's a prose pretending to be a poem
Or perhaps a poem pretending to be a prose
I'm a little confused on that
But that's okay
Because it lays out the theme rather well
Of this unending post
Which technically hasn't even started yet
But strangely
Started a few weeks ago
Or perhaps it's been several years
I'm not quite sure
Like I said
There's a little bit of confusion



A month ago
I went running with a cousin
Well, he was running
I was jogging in between my breaks
In any case
We went down the road
And reached the train tracks
And instead of turning back
He turned left
To run along the tracks
On the gravel
That pile of stones that you see from the train
And it was a gorgeous path
Difficult to run on
But with a thrill of its own
Occasionally crossing the tracks
Or even a bridge
Keeping an ear open
For the rumbling of a distant train that never came
And some time later
As we sat under a tree
Catching our breaths
Enjoying the wind
Taking in the shade
I said casually
"I've never done that before"
"Gone running along the tracks?" he asked
Nodding slowly, I added softly
"Or even walked along them"
And he looked up
Surprised
Shocked
At the absurdity of the statement
And I couldn't blame him
It sounded absurd even to me
And this was my life we were talking about
I had never walked along train tracks
Why?
I just hadn't
It had never occurred to me
I mean, sure
Sitting on the train, staring outside,
I had always wondered
And yet
Never when I was on solid ground
You see
It was out of the path
In fact, it had no path
So I'd never wandered
Or strayed
Yet all the time
I couldn't help but wonder
Why Frost had never mentioned
That the road less traveled
Was reserved for the guys
That they could bike around the country
Alone
And I couldn't walk five minutes to a friend's house
Without worrying my parents
That they could hop on to a truck
And go wherever it took them
And I couldn't walk the street at night
Without stressing over every passing gaze
That they could run freely along train tracks
While I had never strayed from the well-built road
And sure
This isn't any absolute
I know girls who travel alone
Who wander alone
Who walk without fear
Well, in fairness
I know one
The others I've just heard of
Because while it's not an absolute
There's no denying they're few
And that's messed up in its own way
That we've managed to raise a population
Of which half is doused in fear
But blaming this screwed up society
Is hardly a novel response
Or even a useful one
When the problem is more within me
And today, as I was listening to a friend
Talking about taking a month long trip to Shantiniketan
I couldn't help but think
I want to do that
I want to be able to do that
To travel alone
To be with myself outside the walls of home
To hop on to any bus
Destination unknown
People unknown
And just wander
To go on a road trip
With or without a guy
With or without company
Not because I mind the company
I love it, I really do
But it needn't be a pre-req
To hitch a ride on a passing bike
Or in a truck heading out of state
Even better, on top of that truck
No plan in mind
Where the music and my thoughts are enough
To go where it takes me
And walk on the unbuilt roads
And meet the gazes of strangers
Talk to people I don't know
Travel the road less taken
Quite literally
And yet
Caution calls out
Warning me
Telling me the things it has always told me
Don't go out alone
Especially not in the night
And stay on the main path
It's not safe out there
Especially for women
And this makes sense too
After all
Safety isn't a joke
We all read the papers
Watch the movies
Hear about the rape
Hell, most of us have been molested
Just walking down the street
So it really doesn't seem all that crazy
This idea
Of wanting to be safe
And I get it
I really do
I wish I didn't
But I do
I want to be safe
I don't want to be hurt
Or be a cause of hurt for others
But I also want to live
And people say
At least some people do
Life is outside the comfort zone
Outside that safety net
And so
There's a constant debate in my head
One side telling me to just go
That it's all in my head
That it's easier than I've been told
And I won't know until I try
And this other side
The one that obediently sent regular updates
As to my whereabouts
Says it's not worth it
That it's the idea I love
That this isn't who I am
I'm not Cheryl Strayed
I don't wander off the path
I love being around familiar faces
I love my comfort zone
Far too much
And while that's true
The comfort zone is addictive
The call of the wild grows louder
Maybe I'll hate it
Maybe I'll love it
But I won't know until I try
So go, why don't you
Stop complaining
And just go
As the wise Nike said
Just do it
Make a choice
And live with it
Either way
Stop complaining
Life isn't meant to be lived with regrets
But how does one know
Which choice will lead to regrets
How can you know before hand
Whether to jump off that plane or not
Whether that chute will open or not
There's only one way to find out
But it requires trust
Not just of myself
But of countless others who I don't know
And as I'm rambling
I've realized I'm going on a tangent
Earlier I had written
That it's a choice
Between wanting to live
And wanting to stay alive
But I've scratched that bit off
Because the more I think of it
It really isn't that
Living or staying alive
It's not so black and white
This isn't a about a trip
Nor a single life-altering event
Nor the boasting rights of having traveled
Nor the thrill of experiencing the unknown
It's about every single moment
Of stifled choices
And raging fear
That has enveloped me
Since the day I was born
The desire to not lose my options
By virtue of a few different organs
The desire to be able to take a local bus
Late at night
Alone
Or to walk the streets of the neighbourhood
Without heartbeats raising
With every passing gaze
It's not about figuring out what I want
And sticking to that choice
Though I agree
That that's important too
But it's more than that
It's about wanting a certain kind of world
And trying to help create it
One where the things I do or don't do
Are based on my interests
And not on my fear
A world where I have that option
The one that Frost spoke of
All those many years ago
Of choosing the path less travelled
Or perhaps one that doesn't even exist
Or even the one everyone goes by
Because it seems the most interesting
Of walking along the next set of train tracks that I see
Simply because
I can.