The night Shekhar passed away all fear vanished, laughter disappeared…in essence, life died. The numb silence that followed was timeless. At any other time of my life and for any other reason, I would have welcomed the reprieve from the business of living. The opportunity to check out and drift, like a wraith. I would curl up in a ball and sleep…when I was awake my body rocked itself. I was not hungry, I felt no pain, I was not aware…It was a strange phase but could only last so long…
Two days before his funeral, I started writing my journal again. On my last entry…the day he died, I had written a phrase on a post it and stuck it on the page to explore the next day…I remember reading it somewhere and being impressed by the sheer elegance and poetry of those two words together. I now like to think that it might have been a prescient message to myself in the wake of what was about to happen…the green post it with the words – Personal Velocity. Personal as in originating from, relating to my self and Velocity… the vector, path, trajectory, direction defined by change in distance over time…In that enlightened moment, I believed I had been given the mantra to make the journey through my grief.
Soon enough the numbness started to ebb and as it receded fear returned with what if…? What if I die? What if I live? What if I make the wrong decision or choice? What if something happens to the boys? What if I can’t do this alone? What if I can’t do it at all?…What if, what if…and life kept coming at me, testing and pushing, challenging and dragging…and I reacted with resilience and personal velocity only to realize that you can’t sprint a marathon. I have tried, believe me! But time will not be pushed…it will follow its own frustrating pace…too much when you want little and too little when you want more…one way or another, you have to go through it. But thankfully there is a flipside…
Over two thousand years ago, Seneca wrote a treatise On The Shortness of Life, where he spoke of living a preoccupied life and wasting time. Essentially, he said life is long and there is enough time to spend on what is truly important…Seneca recommended studying philosophy as the only worthwhile endeavour. I have learnt different…I have seen that Shekhar lived a long life in his short while here because he knew his priorities. No time was wasted. I have also seen that when you let every preoccupation fall away as it did for me the night Shekhar died, what is truly important calls your attention and focus. That night I realised, for me, it was our children. They were all that mattered…so I applied my personal velocity and invested myself heart and soul. But velocity is distance travelled over time and we have come a long way. Much has happened. The boys have become young men with independent spirits. They don’t need me as much…and I have to learn to accept it. So, what is truly important now?
A semblance of an answer is forming…slowly. A few insights have emerged…instead of letting life come at me, I need to throw myself at life…not with a reactive vehemence as I have done before but in a studied state of grace and presence. To learn to say Fuck Yes! Or Hell No! And stop living in the shadows of myriad shades of grey…what is truly important now is to make the journey to myself. That is the only way, as Spock would say, to live long and prosper…and Seneca would qualify, live immediately.
The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.
Seneca, On The Shortness of Life