Have you ever taken notice of a defining moment that precedes a major shift in one’s principles or decisions? The one similar to what Gandhiji must have experienced when he got booted out of that train in SA? It must have slowly dawned on him, during that brief span of time which I like to call ‘the defining moment’, that a lot of hardship awaited him on his path for a greater common good. It is the moment after you have suffered a mental shock and oblivious to your surroundings, thoughts spurting out fireworks, you guide your mind towards that one decision which has been working its way out from the back of your mind for some time now. The moment before you voice out -This is it! This is what I have to do to be happy from here on!
My personal defining moments have been quite a few (Phew!). Each time the thought process would have got triggered months back. Much like a hunted prey, I would be vaguely aware of the incessant stalker who is making me stop at my tracks and check over my shoulders during my otherwise perfect skip down the path. Then suddenly something gives off, the pounce comes down heavily on me and during that moment – I make a decision that will change my whole personality, bring whole world crumbling down and surround me with all those blocks to start building a whole new pattern once more.
One such instant was what I like to call ‘The Vegetarian Call’. There always was that nagging feeling whenever I ate meat when I was a kid. While walking to the school bus stop one day, fate presented me with a long hard glare from the severed, brown head of a goat in a butcher shop. I kept walking but my mind was churning out things I did not understand then. Everything around me slow-motioned for a moment and then cleared out. I came back home that evening and declared myself a vegetarian.
There were other defining moments like the first, jaw-dropping (figuratively speaking of course, why? Read on) view of the Indian Ocean and all the wonder that scuba diving thrust on me just by an unceremonious dunk in the sea. I knew I was hooked and even wrote about it here :- Lip lock with Havelock. Or the slow and steady contentment of travelling alone that sneaks in while one is quietly observing the Tanjaore gopuram – Thanjavur . The causes and conditions were different each time, but results of getting hooked on with a new interest – the same.
No prices for guessing how quick I can spot these defining moments – D.M. from now on. But what prompted my latest soliloquy and later on a D.M., was when my bags and through them I, was thoroughly exposed at London’s Heathrow airport.
After almost 7 hrs of flight from Toronto and another one spent standing in line just to get to Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport left me brain-dead. So when the posters said pack liquids in a separate pack and that liquids more than 100 mL will not be enjoying a flight from there, I dutifully packed my mouthwash which was the only liquid imprisoned inside a 250 mL container. Having thus prepared for my security check, I waited patiently and prayed the shouting lady doesn’t hold me in her queue.
Was I ever so naive! She caught and spewed me out left right and center. I broke a nail and scratched the skin of my hand while huffing and puffing to her orders of heaving up my trolley, backpack and laptop in the preferred order and manner. In went the carefully packed mouthwash into the trash. God save my fellow passenger for next 10 hrs.
This nightmare was far from getting over. Both my bags didn’t impress the scanner and made it to the shame list. As I waited again in the shame queue, I apologized for my bags to the gum-chewing young woman standing behind. To which she replied, “Whatever, I just don’t want to miss my flight”. Well then maybe you should have taken out your iPod out of your bag and kept out of the shame queue yourself?
Out came carefully packed clothes, emergency underwear, tiny bottles of perfume/lotions, gifts for near and dear, hair straightener and what-nots. The fact that I had no trouble at Toronto airport with all these intact made no impact now. Here I could be a terrorist hiding undetermined pollen of chemical weapons inside tiny tubes of moisturizer or e-bugs up the ass of my Kindle. With people ogling at the contents of my bags strewn about, I felt really violated for the first time in the West.
After every inch of my bags got scanned and it was verified that my poor jet lagged brain was in no way a danger to precious Londoners, I got the privilege of packing my bags all over again under 2 minutes before the woman behind me went for my throat.
I had to sit down somewhere far, far away from the security desk once the ordeal came to an end. The D.M. stuck at this moment as a part of the second of my two revelations. First revelation was that Heathrow should seriously consider upgrading their scanner machines to actually detect something lethal and harass tired passengers less. Second, was that I am a heavy packer. I like to travel light, but contrary to my liking, I was packed to the brim. Yes, I was moving back to India after 6 months abroad but wasn’t there something I could have avoided cramming up?
Was I doing the same with myself? Packing unwanted baggage in the form of anger, frustration and disappointment? Weighing me down and lowering my self-respect. Carrying dead relationships, dreams never worked upon, lists never attempted at and an ungrateful corporate job . Resentment at people who fail to understand and behave a certain way – my way.
I remembered coming across a way of life called minimalism. Said life is about experience and not the stuff or even people you call yours. The only constant in life is change itself and how important it is to realize that the only thing you can control is your own mind. A few blogs I read about said it frees you and helps prioritize. Together with few other insights I gathered from the book, The Dalai Lama’s Cat, I knew at that moment that this was something I had to try to de-clutter my space and mind and trying I am. This blog by the successful minimalist duo – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, http://www.theminimalists.com, is describing just that and much more. They even have a 21 days plan on how to do it. Am currently on day 2 🙂
I try to be more generous in hope of it finding its way back to me. I have let gone of my failed relationships and accepted them as the manure to my growth as a person. I am trying to read and write more. But it is too soon to say that I have uncovered the perfect way to happiness and contentment. After all I’m only figuring it out as I go and I will let you know for sure if it is.