The Year That Wasn't...

The regrets are many, the unease over them short-lived. I mean, if it wasn't, life would have been different, a tad at least, if the January 2014 introspection had been conducive in enacting a change in my life.
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As I look outside my window on a cold January evening, there's a darkness enveloping the patio, half-covered by the winding branches of a tree, the name of which I always forget to ask my part-time gardener. The dark-grey sky, languidly, foreshadows a night that would be foggy, starless. How 2014 just rushed past me, leaving me confused, often joyous, at times serene, mostly procrastinating, unapologetically blue, and occasionally breathless. While my plans rested on a some-day, I, somehow, managed to match my life to the rhythm of my alarm clock, with one button: snooze. Ah, the lazy introspection that jostles with the stack of not-met deadlines, postponed ideas, delayed responses, cancelled plans, life-on-hold in my head.

The regrets are many, the unease over them short-lived. I mean, if it wasn't, life would have been different, a tad at least, if the January 2014 introspection had been conducive in enacting a change in my life. A noticeable one. Shrugging mentally, I thought I should do what I do best: write what I feel. The coherence, fluidity of words in harmony with thoughts, structure of a piece and the word-limit (set in my head if not by the editor) amalgamate. The result of that an article that may not win any accolades but is a subliminal manifestation of how I envision my life: conceived, dead-lined, to the point, and a desired blend of heart and mind. Now if only my life was as simple, as delightful, as euphoria-inducing as an article, op-ed, blog...

Now don't let any undesirable cynicism overshadow your still-optimistic mindset, making you hide your list of new year resolutions to the back of your mind, the unchecked notes on your iPhone 5 (note to self: must get the iPhone 6 before Apple decides to replace it with iPhone 7 in Feb.), the almost-empty journal on your night table. The first week of January is all about jotting, editing, changing and redrafting that list. The I-must's. Of looking at yourself in your chronic headache-affected mind (note to self: must get the neuro and optical MRIs my doctors advised last year for my almost 15-year-old left-temple pain), or in the full-length mirror in the icy bathroom. Days into weeks, weeks into months but the list keeps changing like the weekly bed-linen, like that schizophrenic Jack Torrance in The Shinning. Fine, not that scary, or manic, but equally unpredictable.

The first resolution is mostly about working out regularly, and the one that's hit more by procrastination than the sixes hit by Dhoni in his ODI career. As one looks longingly at the size 4 jeans folded neatly in one corner of one's closet, the six-day workout regimen is carefully planned. Psssst...after the first two weeks, it's all back to square one, and unwanted inches, to workouts that last little, and occur rarely.

As one's eyes narrow on the unread pile of books on the chest-of-drawers, there's a shaking of head (mental), and the plan to read four books-a-month resurges, in all its worded glory. Tsk-tsk'ing how little one read last year, lost in dreams that weren't-to-be, memories that became hazier by repeated appearances (on demand), and thoughts-that-can't-be-shared, one picks up the smallest book from the pile (note to self: must not give in to any book-buying craving unless all those in the pile are read.), and snuggles on the couch. Now if only the tweet-notifications didn't take so much time... and attention to read...

Fearing one has become a virtual recluse (despite being a very social, very loud Punjabi extrovert), the must-do is to have more interaction with one's friends. It's irrelevant how superficial most social interactions are today, and how easily ooh-aah'ing the latest Chanel/Birkin becomes more boring than our prime-time talk shows. It's also immaterial how most interactions turn into gossip sessions, or make you a topic as soon you exit, air-kissing those perfectly contoured pals of yours. Gratitude is immense for those few friends who are there for one, come what may, no matter what year it is, how topsy-turvy the world becomes.

There's the reiteration to spend more time (quality) with one's family. As I watch my son whoosh in and out of my room, with his quick smiles and quicker hugs, I wonder how time flew, and he's almost as tall as me. Planning his birthday (January 26; yep, that makes Jan. my favourite month) used to be the highlight of my year, but now it's zeroed in on one big gift (sigh, mostly a phone that's more than my two-year cosmetics budget), and a birthday lunch/movie/get-together with a few friends. Here's to wishing you, kid, the 15th year of all your dreams, and PS4 games.

Perchance it's also time to get cracking on the book that was supposed to be started two months ago. What I wouldn't give to have a book in my room with my name on the cover (hard one), sitting coyly among books I have loved, and reread for years! I have loved books since I could read, or thought I could, and nothing would make me happier than to do what I have dreamed of with open eyes, and a book hugged to my chest: to gambol through words and ideas and thoughts and responses, and just sit and write. Watching simple letters turn into a readable work is the rush, the satisfaction of which there is no parallel. And to write a book (thank you, my very patient editor), I have to start...writing. Phew, sounds way simpler than it truly is.

This is the year to lock the precious memories in some vault, and forget where one hid the key. It is time to bid adieu to the ghosts of stories-left-halfway, reclaiming one's sanity. There is the self-promise not to let strangers become privy to one's personal life, doing away with the defensive mode for a bit. Forgetting is not easy, coming to terms with what one can't forget is. Self-preservation 101. Happiness is a state of mind, and there is not much that one cannot convince one's mind to do. I learnt that losing bits of me last year. When one feels the four walls closing in after becoming the byline of a saga one was a footnote in, it's time to take stock, exhale and step back. Love is a four-letter word used to tedium in cheesy movies and romantic novels. Trust is more fragile than the ego of a Miss World. Sanctity of relationships has less worth than yesterday's newspapers. And vows are only made because they sound good. (Note to self: must quit making promises to my kid, and family to be less trusting, or act quickly).

Life's too uncertain to be beholden to those who with time become just a cherished memory... a tattoo on one's finger, a thread around one's wrist, a pendant around one's neck. There is so much promise, so much beauty, so much to do, so much to savor, and so much to value that even a moment wasted in regret, over pain for what was not to be, for those who broke your heart, and trust (note to self: must start practicing self-restraint when it comes to the application of this five-letter word: trust). There's always the next book, a new movie, a lunch with an old friend, a coffee with your new buddy, chats with old friends, dinner with that special one, chatty evenings with family, movie marathons with the kids. Things to write. Sunrises. Pancakes. Laughter. Places to visit. Books to write. Dreams to catch. And one's son to hug. A heartbeat away.

I embrace 2015 like that beloved I may never see again. It's now and here. No plans, no resolutions, no promises. Just be. One day at a time. With clarity, and smiles in one's mind and soul, each day beckons, limitless. The future is here. There's just one thing one has to do: open one's heart. The rest is just details.

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