Helping Hand

hope
Image: Prateek Gupta

Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up. – Thomas Wayne (Batman Begins)

Just to be safe, let’s practice yelling as loudly as possible for a rope-ladder.

I love rising out of ashes stories. That journey of climbing out of the pit, brushing down the muck and moving on with life’s lemons? Oh yes.. count me in as I add some tequila into the mix. Funnily enough, I commit the heinous crime of overlooking the lifelines and cooling stations in my own story, not that there were any significant ashes.

Like a bitter pill, I spit out my pride and zip up my mouth. A stubborn misconception plagues me that requesting help makes you weak! It keeps me from taking the first step and admit that maybe, I cannot do this alone. Obviously, it comes with a cost of bewildered family and friends that justifiably feel hurt. Even if they cannot give a hand they can always lend an ear, right?

I am also a hypocrite as when someone else does the exact same thing – I am sense & sensibility personified. Turn the tables and there will be a me-shaped hole in the door… Classy, I know!

I am serving a life sentence for this. At least the prison isn’t empty – in fact, it is probably a fire hazard at this point. 

I took my sweet time getting used to counting on someone. Getting married helped. Funny how long it took me to realize that asking for help is the first step in becoming a bigger person. Funny how late I realized the amazing liberty of pestering someone and they will unconditionally be there to carry you through. Did you know they even get you ice-cream? If you did, why didn’t any one tell me sooner? I was missing out.

Oh to have the compassion of the helper and the strength of the … helpee? I am struggling with the maths here. 

Check out Erika’s infinitely brilliant take on this

Ad Astra Per Aspera

van-gogh-vincent-starry-night.jpg

This beautiful Latin line roughly translates into “A bumpy path leads to the stars”. My bestest friend who has been roughing it out in the US of A for about sixteen months has been the inspiration to this post.

The exhilaration that follows a long struggle, the quiet slightly unbelievable relief after a series of attempts is precious. It is not just about accomplishment but the journey of discovering yourself and your capacity to endure. These moments show you what you are actually made of – they don’t teach any new lessons, just facilitate to uncover chapters of your personality.

Where is the fun if one leap brought you face to face with your desire? If a regular progression opened the doors to the very opportunity you have been waiting for? Is it truly a pure victory if all you had to do was take a stroll and hop over a few bumps? Where is that sense of “I have arrived!”? They call it luck and there are always people who have that knack…. Till a while back I was one of them except for this one phase which changed everything I had ever taken for granted.

But this is about my friend. And her determination, perseverance and faith over the last ten years to make her dreams of practicing medicine come to life with vibrant colours. She is one of those geniuses; her brain has a Midas touch. She has been almost flawless in her academic performance, almost unparalleled to anyone else I even vaguely know. But on a personal front, she has had her share of demons. Some of them may be uncalled for and of her own making but they were there piling up like a jenga stack. And one mistake had the whole thing crumbling down.

And she made me understand that the struggle is real – they make a great story but play havoc as it is being plotted. They inspire mostly in retrospection. There are days when you want to throw in the towel and give up all your dreams. Where you start questioning the sanity of your goals and check each of the seventy seven thousands steps you have taken to get there. There is a knife stained with defeat hovering over your head that becomes a predominant part of your nightmares. And of course, there is always the trap of seeking comfort in unwelcome and wrong arms. Mistakes are great but some turn in catastrophes where you lose your faith, confidence, self-respect and even a sense of identity. It is a deep well where no sunlight reaches and making your way out takes up energy, hope and courage.

I saw her go through this and emerge with happy tears, exhausted mind and a thankful heart.

Is she unscathed? No.

Is she recovered? No.

Is she victorious? Not exactly.

It was not a battle where a victor emerged. She is a survivor who got eliminated the battle. And finally she is on a smooth track where the destination is closer, clearer and friendlier. She is being real about it – given a choice, she would want to cut down on a few mistakes. She will prefer a slightly easier way of learning the lessons that came her way and not all at one tight go!

What is her plan now as she takes a moment to take stock and look at her little worn and bit torn self? To keep breathing and to keep moving. With a few glasses of wine, Netflix and some good company.

After all… Priorities.

Temptation

Temptation by Javier G Pacheco
Temptation by Javier G Pacheco

It is an unconscious struggle for me everyday. Not eating like a starved maniac and lap up every chocolate, pastry, cheese and cream around me. In my head, I actually become a version of Augustus Gloop but with nicer hair. Grabbing a fist of chocolate pudding with one hand and the decadent cheesy puff pastry with the other hand.

Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

The funny thing is, it is not even a conscious decision of limiting myself. I am not over-weight. I am very healthy. I exercise. I eat the right things most of the time. And it comes naturally and not forcefully. Yet, at the back of my mind there is a little me (probably even fictive) that wants to indulge in those creamy frothy concoctions. With a dash of espresso on top.

It is a temptation even without me making it so!

This is just me and food. I have met people who really have serious issues about stopping once they start. And not just food. Alcohol, smoking, sex, shopping and something as simple as peaking into the last page of this very very intriguing book. When it is time to sheepishly look back and admit how you went a little crazy for a while, the standard reply is “I couldn’t resist. I couldn’t help myself.” Apparently, you are not yourself anymore and this different version of you takes over. All you can do is helplessly look as you give in to your guilty pleasures (or perhaps not-so-guilty as well. Some people are too hard on themselves!) and later on drown in misery about being so weak and not having enough self-control.

Maybe we start off with high expectations. We don’t realize that we need to gradually wean off so that the withdrawal symptoms don’t hit so hard that we relapse even deeper into it. Or maybe we have the right kind of motivation that is guiding us into something. For example, I went off ice-cream for a year in 2014 in the memory of my grandpa. He loved ice-creams and till our last meet he kept up, “We need an ice-cream party”. And my regret was I could never hold that last party. Wrong or right, I stopped having ice-cream for that year (On hindsight, maybe I should have done the opposite? An ice-cream daily?). And I admit, the first few months were BAD!! But afterwards, I got used to it. I had tubs of chocolate brownie sundaes in front of me and I could cheerfully dole them out without even a twinge of temptation.

But it was just one year. Imagine your guiltiest pleasure reclining on the love seat and beckoning seductively. There is champagne and candle lights to finish off the decadent strawberries. And you have resist this every single day for the rest of your life? Reading stories about people fighting addictions and succeeding (or succumbing) makes me question my determination. I am not sure if I am strong enough to resist. That said, I am not sure if I will ever get addicted so strongly to something. I think.

Something by Mark Twain that makes me think twice and more (I looked it up as I couldn’t remember the exact words) –

“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.”


Where do you find your discipline and self-control? What is your guilty pleasure that lures you in its silken traps? A secret temptation perhaps? It can be funny, weird or downright believable!

We are talking “temp” at Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday 🙂 Jump right in!!