MonthJuly 2015

everything.

The exhaustion shears away at my heart. And other parts.

I feel exhausted mentally, physically and emotionally. Yet I still want to try and do everything. Then I have to come to the hard realization that I cannot. I cannot. It makes me feel like such a failure. My goal for this year was to get back at everything. I couldn’t do it. I had to step back from my involvement in certain projects because I just couldn’t balance the time.

My main internal goal this year, beyond all the other ones was to rebuild the body. My knee has been wonky for almost two years now and it was eating away at me. It was preventing me from getting into the types of physical activities I wanted to get back into. I probably won’t be able to get it to a hundred percent again, but I can get it somewhere in between. There was first the pain of injury, and now the pain of recovery. And it’s leaving me exhausted. If it’s the only thing I do this year it will be worth it. But I’ve dropped things in the process which is not cool; I’ve had to let go of things. That eats away at me.

So what now? I still want everything. My movement towards everything has been so stunted it ought to leave me stunned. Too many years ago I posted on this blog about wanting to take long train rides. It wasn’t just a want, I said I needed it. I never did it. I didn’t do it. I just let it linger. For years! How silly is that? How stupid do I have to be to ignore a need like that? To make excuses instead of creating ways? For not making enough space for self at the expense of others and other things? This stuntedness needs to disappear. That is my work.

Sure, it’s not like I didn’t accomplish other things. But I can’t keep measuring myself with what I’ve done. The missing parts need to be measured, too. They are a measure of me and I’ve come short. It is what it is, it gives me more to reach towards. The curse of everything is knowing that you will never get to the end.

So what now? What’s next? Do I keep clinging to what I can do now? Do I label myself as a programmer? A writer? A photographer? A magician? Fuck labels. It’s what I do that matters. How do I extend myself further into learning and experience? How do I take that desire for a long train ride and turn it into an extended life around the world? Eight months around world. Why 8 months? Because 4 months in, you still have 4 months to go. Maybe a year. Why not? Why let the lack of practicality get in the way? Which dream starts with, “well, this is rather practical!” How can I make this happen? How do I get my ducks in order? There is just one world and I’m only ever going to get one chance at it. How will I spend that?

So what now? Do I keep doing what I’m doing now? I love it when people can demonstrate range. When people dip into things beyond what the type dictates. People who write, direct, dance, compose, and more, and more. People who do everything. So where do I stop? Where do I say, yeah, I did these X number of things and this is it. Do I say that now I’m done and satisfied? Hopefully never.

I don’t just want to listen to songs, I want to make the sounds myself. I don’t just want to learn to make music and learn to dance well to its beats, I want others to dance to my music. I want others to sing my words. I want people to ponder, laugh and cry by my words. How extremely distant is that desire? I have no idea how to make that happen. It may never. Still, I want everything. And I’m going to fail at it over and over. Still, I should be extraordinary at everything that I love and desire to do. Why shouldn’t that be the goal? Why shouldn’t I reach beyond my reach? Why shouldn’t I struggle?

Nothing comes without its pains, and everything is the same.

I want everything, still.
I want everything,
everything else
and everything in between.

hazaaron khwahishen aisi ke har khwahish pe dam nikle
bohat nikle mere armaan, lekin phir bhi kam nikle
phir bhi bawra mann dekne chala ek sapna …

dancing to the beat.

The ball comes spinning from the other side, it hits the top line of the net, hops up for a bit and comes down to nick the edge of the table maybe some four inches away from the net. The moment I sense the ball hitting the net, I leap into action. The ball is changing its direction from the path that I had predicted, I have to get there fast. In this leaping and running action, I work on new prediction models. Where will the ball be when I get close to it? Everything happens so fast. The ball nicks the edge of the table, my secondary prediction models are wasted, too. Now I act on pure instinct. I extend my hand far as forward as I can, and the connect with the ball. The ball jumps back over the net on to my opponent’s side of the table. He lines up for the smash, and misses the table entirely.

“Noooooo,” he exclaims, “You weren’t supposed to get that!”

“Wasn’t supposed to?” I ask, “I try and hit every shot.”

“Yeah, you weren’t supposed to. That’s an impossible shot,” he says in his French accent, “Who takes table tennis so seriously?”

This shot is “impossible” for a few reasons. When the ball hits the net, it changes its trajectory. It becomes very difficult to predict where it will land next. Difficult, but not impossible. The other thing that happens when the ball hits the net is that it gains speed. So not only do I have to worry about placement and direction, but also velocity. I have to adjust how I will play the shot in more ways than one. But when you couple this with the ball nicking the edge of the table, playing the shot becomes impossible, as it were. I love it when my models are shattered and I have to build new ones. It isn’t easy, but it is very rewarding. Even when I miss.

“I do,” I retort.

And I do. I am a desirous man. I don’t just want to hit every shot. I want to win every point. We play games up to 21 points. I want all 21 points. But beyond the 21 for any particular game, I repeat: I want to win every single point. I think I can. In a very “the physical laws of the universe permit such a possibility” way. But the odds are so very low that I never will. But my desires are not swayed by facts of probability. I play as if I can.

I love this game. The rhythm and the beat, the continuous nature of motion; I love this dance. My opponent isn’t my opponent. He is my partner. Together we create this beautiful dance. It is both physical and intellectual, both exhausting and uplifting, both nurturing and destructive. I absolutely love it.

My desires do not stand still. They conflict. They are paradoxical. I said earlier that I want to win every single point, and I do. But with the same intensity, I want my opponent, my partner, to never miss. I want the beat to continue forever. I want a never-ending challenge. I am not satisfied with a few steps on the staircase, I want to scale mountains. I want to be at my limits. I want to be at the end of my wits. I want to win, of course, but in this continuous rhythm there is no winning or losing, there is only motion; there is only the dance. The dance is all that matters. It is the dance that I truly love. Winning and losing aren’t even concepts in my mind anymore.

Opponents as we are, we have to respect our partners. I don’t mock my partners when they make mistakes. A botched serve bounces back in his face instead of on the other side of the table. I do not laugh. That could easily be me. In fact, that is me on the other side. If I win a point by luck, I apologize. We do not celebrate luck. Luck happens so far beyond our control, we do not take credit for it. If my opponent celebrates on a lucky point, I’ll be damn as hell sure to smash the next point. We all learn our lessons somehow. I have learned plenty of my own, and plenty more to come, I’m sure.

But the self is not so spared. “Fuck,” I’ll yell at the top of my lungs. Angry at myself for missing a shot I ought to have clearly made. For not having the discipline I should. Ultimately, it is not the other that I play against. I play against the self. The self is all I can control. Ultimately, the self is all I have.

The conflicts of desire, like the desires themselves, are endless. I want to win every point, but I also want to be down in the game. I want to be down 16 to 6, and work my way up. I want a steep climb. The score is just a number. Nothing else. I take a deep breath, and look my partner in the eye. I want to let him know that I am here. I am losing, for certain, but for certain I am very present. “Bring it!” I yell at the edge (but not the top) of my lungs, trying to disrupt my partner’s rhythm. The game is played in the mind as much as it is with the dance. A few points later, the score is 16 to 10. What seemed a sure loss with a ten point gap is now within reach. The score is just a number. Nothing else. I am so focused that I am slicing up every moment. You couldn’t find my focus with a laser if you tried, my focus was more precise. The score is now 16 to 13. The game is on.

I sense a heightened nervousness in my partner. My heart, too, beats rapidly. Drops of sweat fall to the floor. The score is now 18 to 16. I am down just two points. The score is just a number. And now the game is tied at 19. From nearly nothing I am level again. The score is now 21 to 19. The game is over. I am down two points. I fought my way back to level the game, but I couldn’t tilt it my way. I am tired and defeated. I hate losing. I hate it so much. But I also accept it like it was my own skin. The moment is gone and there is nothing else. The score may just be a number, but I can no longer change it.

“Would you like to dance again?” my partner asks. I do not know how to say no to this question. The score is zero-zero. We begin again. I try and dance to a new beat. But every loss lingers. And all the wins, too. Every point, and all points of my past, they linger. I find the new beat. One step back, and one step forward.

jaana.

yeh haal-e-dil kahaan, jaana?
ke jaan se jaan kahaan jaana?

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