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Creating Flow

The Freedom To Be

Monthly Archives: November 2010

This is the story of three characters. Me,You and We.

The story begins with Me.

Me was born. A girl child.

Like most newborn babies Me cried when she felt hungry. Me’s parents came running to feed her. Me learnt when she needed something all she had to do was cry. And Me did. And sure enough someone came running.

As Me grew to be a toddler, she was admitted in a playschool. Me came across other Me’s. For the first time Me realized that she was not the only Me. There were others like her. Small Me boys and small Me girls. Each one crying for attention.  Me now had to compete with other Me’s.

And, boy was there competition! They called it exams. They called it sports. Someone stood first and someone stood last. Someone won and someone lost. When Me won a prize, her mother gave her an extra warm hug. Her father gave her an approving look. Her teachers patted her back.  No one paid attention to the Me’s that lost. The worst thing that could happen to a Me was losing. If a Me failed, they were called failures. It was frightening!

That’s when Me gave birth to You.

Me realized that if it had to survive and thrive in the world it had to please You. You Parents, You Teachers, You Friends, You Everybody else. Gradually she lost touch with Me. And got pre-occupied with You. She didn’t even realize when she stopped being Me.

For many years she lived as You. For You.

You did all that others told it to do. It wanted their approval, their love, their affection. It was hungry for others to like it. Could never get enough of it. You graduated with distinction, got her dream job, even had a grand marriage. You did all the right things. Like everyone else. You ran the mainstream race. Yet the more mainstream she became the more marginalized she felt. As though life from her very veins was gradually being sucked dry. She began to feel hollow. And this emptiness seeped into her life. She lost her marriage to her job. She lost her job to the economic meltdown.  And one day she realized that she had lost herself. She didn’t know any longer who she was. Or what she wanted. As she sat on a park bench, watching the children play, she reflected on her life as You. She was angry with You for ruining her life.

That’s when she re-discovered Me.

She thought she had lost Me forever. Yet it was there. Hidden somewhere in the deep recesses of her being. For the first time she spoke to Me. “What do you want?” Me did not respond. It was extremely angry. Hurt at being abandoned as a child. She realized her mistake. She knew that she didn’t have a life without Me. Me was the source of her life. She apologized to Me and they decided to become friends.

Now there was Me. An angry Me. A rebellious Me.

Wanting to make up for all those years it had lost, Me only cared for itself. Like a petulant child it wanted everything for itself. She blamed her parents, her friends and her ex-husband. For being selfish. For making her sacrifice. She believed that the world is selfish. And from now on she would be selfish too. Now she would live only for herself. She got another job. Another apartment. Another car. And indulged herself. She only had Me to please. She moved from one relationship to another. She didn’t believe in love anymore. Only loving herself. She covered herself in a hard shell of cynicism borne from her bitter experience as You.

She distanced herself from her parents and relatives. She hardly had any friends. She got into fights at work. She was angry most of the time. She knew that this was not who she was. In her fight to reclaim Me from You, she had lost out on Me.

She wondered. “How can I live as Me, in a world full of You?”

She quit her job and went on a sabbatical.

She read books. Met holy men. Visited ashrams. Attended workshops. Each had something to offer.  Yet the answer eluded her. Just when she was beginning to give up hope, something happened.

She was sitting at the seashore watching the sunset in the distance. In the fading sunlight she caught the sight of geese flying in a V. We! She had an epiphany at that moment.

We was born.

From experience. From wisdom. From lessons learnt as Me and You. We was a space where Me and You could co-exist. She could now be Me without making You a villain. We knew how to draw boundaries to protect Me. Yet engage with You. She got her answer atlast.

Without You, Me could not exist. And without Me, You had no meaning.

She got up and dusted the sand from her clothes and looked up once again. At the flying geese in the distance and wondered….

How did the geese learn to fly in a We?


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“At times you can see where the inner compass is pointing but are conditioned to turn a blind eye to it. Perhaps along with the compass you need the guts to swim against the tide, have blind faith in the compass or sheer madness!”

That was a response I got on my previous article on the ‘Inner Compass

It reflected most other responses. It is one thing to know and another to have the courage to do it. This then seemed like the logical exploration for this article, as the sequel to the ‘Inner Compass’.

Does change happen to us or do we create change? What is change? How do we know we are changing? When is the right time for change? What is necessary for change?

I wondered where could I find a change expert at short notice to answer my questions. I gazed at the books lying on the table next to me. One book caught my attention. ‘Conversations  With God’ by Neale Donald Walsh. The author finds his questions answered by God. Enough answers to fill three volumes. Perhaps I could invoke a God of Change and get him to answer my questions.

I close my eyes and invoke Change.

I ask my first question.

ME: How do I know that you are the God of Change, not a part of my belief or imagination?

CHANGE: Isn’t that what God is?

ME: Huh! (after a thoughtful pause) But how can I trust you to give me the right answers?

CHANGE: There are no right answers. Just as there are no wrong answers. What makes you reflect and make conscious choices is perhaps right.

ME: Hmmm…Ok. Let’s get down to business then. My first question on change is what most of my readers are asking. We often know what is best for us yet we don’t have the courage to follow it. Why?

CHANGE: Fear of the unknown. What you know is a lit circle. What you don’t know is the darkness beyond. Most people prefer to be in the comfortable warmth of the circle, even if it burns them gradually. Then there are other times that people think they know, yet they don’t really know.

ME: What do you mean ‘don’t really know’?

CHANGE: Knowing is not different from action. When one knows by putting his hand into the fire it will burn, he chooses not to do so. It does not take courage to keep his hand away from fire. It is common sense.

ME: But life situations are never so simple. There are many factors and people involved.

CHANGE: True. Yet the final choice is between what gives you life and what takes it away. Does your life situation enhance life or deplete it.

ME: Like I said, it is difficult to give a clear answer. Each situation has its pros and cons. Things are never so black and white.

CHANGE: Yet people continue to be in relationships long after they have stopped nourishing them. Both at work or home.  Often it is an unwillingness to know themselves beyond who they currently are. They hold on to old tattered clothes, rather than expose themselves and wear fresh new ones. The old identity wants to survive at all costs.

ME: But isn’t that natural? The desire to survive.

CHANGE: Isn’t it natural to die too. Nature is cyclical. One season follows another. Life follows death. And death follows life. It is ironical that more people die because of their desire to survive.

ME: Hmm…I am touched. That’s a powerful statement….

CHANGE: Be with it. What touches you can grow. It has the seed for new life to emerge. What doesn’t will eventually perish.

ME: Can I ask you a direct question?


ME: When is the right time to end a relationship that is not working?

CHANGE: There is no right time, just as there is no wrong time either. Moreover, relationships never end. They continue inside you.

ME: C’mon! Don’t be vague. Give me a straight answer.

CHANGE: Okay. Tell me, what is the most important thing in a relationship?

ME: Love, commitment, trust, acceptance…

CHANGE: And what builds all of that?

ME: I guess it’s built over time. Isn’t it? (reflecting) Why don’t you tell me what is the most important thing in a relationship?

CHANGE: Honest communication. When a relationship does not allow honesty to yourself or the other, perhaps it is time to give it another form. Like energy, relationships never die. They transform.

ME: And what about work?

CHANGE: When work becomes a job. It is best to change. Work is a creative expression of who you are. Anything less than that is something you do to earn a living.

ME: Are you saying that we all quit our jobs to follow our passion! Is that practical?

CHANGE: Most of you are not educated to follow or know your true self-expression. Your education prepares you for a job not life. In your compulsion to be practical like everyone else, you give up on your true self.

ME: Is there anything such as a true self?

CHANGE: True and false are words. What is real is your experience. Examine it closely. It will speak to you. Do you look forward to work when you get up? Are your relationships nourishing you? The answers to these questions can point you in the direction of your true self.

ME: That brings us a full circle. We began with knowing what is best for us yet not having the courage to do it. So what is the solution?…wait, I almost know what you will say “There is no solution. Life is all about choices.”

CHANGE: (smiles) Yes, and each choice has a cost and a benefit. I don’t think you need me anymore.


ME: Hey wait before you go! I have one last question. Who are you really?

CHANGE: I am a part of you. The part that knows. Free of fear or confusion. I exist in every person.

ME: Then why don’t you guide everyone.

CHANGE: I would. However most people don’t really ask.

ME: Ask what?

CHANGE: Questions.


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“You tell me what to do?” she said.

I looked out of the large sliding windows and noticed the morning sea go about its business of creating waves. The water merged with the mangroves acting as a green bridge between the concrete promenade and the sea. A boundary indicating the end of nature and the start of civilization.

We sat in a sea facing apartment. It was where she had grown. Her parent’s home. This very room where we sat, had bunker beds where she and her two sisters had spent their childhood. She had occupied the top bunker. So, she told me.

“My elder sister never liked me. She thinks we are adopted children. We have had terrible fights. Terrible.” She emphasized. That word heavy with difficult memories.  “I always did what my parents told me. I was a good daughter. Whenever, I didn’t  know what to do, I prayed to God. I recited the Gurbani – a holy Sikh chant. And, I got an answer in some form or the other. Once, while going to school, I forgot to take money and had to buy a bus ticket. I chanted and found a 25 paise coin on the railing. I always got an answer in some form or the other. ”

I nodded. It was fascinating to hear her talk. Watching her story unspool before my eyes. She felt I could help her. At cross-roads in her marriage. With two small daughters. She did not know what to do.

“He says my contribution to our marriage is zero. He doesn’t understand my contribution as a mother….” she trailed, as she reached for a tissue to wipe her tears. Unable to contain the hurt of being unacknowledged for her contribution. “He doesn’t understand what I say. He does not believe in self-growth or change. He is now filing for divorce. I don’t know whether the marriage will last or not.” She picks another tissue.

I gaze out. The sun’s rays reflected on the waters, creating a sparkle in the sea. Like a piece of jewellery tossed on the bobbing waves. Few people walk on the promenade. The afternoon heat claiming its space, keeping people away.

“What have you thought about it?” I ask.

“I have two close friends. One says I should know my rights as a wife and go to a lawyer. Which I did. The other friend says that I should not even think of leaving the marriage. What example will I be setting for my children? Which is what I would like to do. Yet it is difficult. Very difficult!” she explains her dilemma.

“But you know what! I think there is a pattern between my relationships. Between me-and-my-sister and me-and-my-husband. I think there is something common in both. I don’t know what it is. I am hoping you can help me. Perhaps the answer lies in that pattern.”

I looked at her for a while. Searching for a response.

“Where is your inner compass?” the question emerged, catching even me by surprise.

“How do you navigate yourself? How do you make choices?” A chain of questions, one linked to another. “At the moment I see you being guided by forces outside of you – parents, friends, books, God – each telling you how to live your life, pulling you apart fragmenting you. Where is your inner compass?” I repeated.

“I don’t think I have one. How do I build it?” she asked.

I wondered. Can it be built or is it lost. Buried under layers and layers of conditioning. Under the mountains of expectations, we build for others and ourselves. Does a plant need to be told that it needs sunlight and rich soil to grow? Does the sea need to find its natural tidal rhythms? Does a baby need a timetable to announce its hunger? We are born with a natural primitive instinct that knows. It knows what nurtures us and what doesn’t. Our feelings broadcast the messages from our soul, if we care to listen. The inner compass knows our calling. Our natural gifts. And where we belong. It is perhaps our only true guide in the ever-changing contours of the world. We do not need to build it. It is there ticking, under the mental sand dunes of social dos and don’ts, should and should nots. All we need to do is dig, dig, dig…and find it.

“What do you wish to create?” I gave her the shovel to dig.

She noted that question in her small diary. “That is something I need to think of?” The question seemed to find its roots in her. Perhaps the digging had started.

Meanwhile the sea outside continued its shimmering game with the sun.

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