“Live to the point of tears.” The voice said it over and over again. It was my voice, the small voice, the one that also said “Go to India, you must go to India.”
The message wasn’t from me but it was resonating and influencing an understanding of my life since I heard it. Before that, I listened to other messages that held a gentle, outstretched, hand on the small of my back urging me to move beyond my own vulnerability and step forward to new dimensions of my life, and mostly they all said “yes, do it” But, this message gave poetry to the yes. It made it all make sense.
Relevant messages, I have realized, are seldom ones we expect to hear. They don’t pile up in a message bank like those on our phones, or our email inboxes. They come when we least expect them and they have meaning when we pay attention. My roommate, for Christmas, handed me a small blue box a few days before the 25th – (it wasn’t a Tiffany box), it was my Christmas present that she couldn’t wait to give me. Inside was a leather wrap bracelet with a small, inscribed, silver plate that she had the words “live to the point of tears”. A quote by Albert Camus.
My tears have always been the point. This was the poetic message to my yes.
I’m currently in India, sitting in a thatched roof beach café atop Indian cushions and mattresses, providing me comfort only a few inches above the sand. The sand, in fact, is the cafe floor. Billowing fabric, outstretched from the sea breeze, is the only protection from a piercing sun. Dreadlocked and tattooed Russians are lounging around, smoking Winston and Marlboro cigarettes, deep in conversation in their hardened and curled tongue, every sentence sounding like a command. The music in the background moves from Indian dance, 80’s pop classics, reggae and ska and back again; music left from travelers over the years, the staff tells me.
As I write, Men At Work’s ‘Down Under’ plays. This song is too ubiquitous for me to see it as a sign anymore.
The ocean churns itself, only a few hundred feet away. The waves are small here, in fact they only form themselves as they close in on their consistent race to the shore. I am reminded of the line in Sarah Kay’s poem: “Because there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it is sent away.”
There is nothing more beautiful.
I arrived into Goa a few nights ago. Before then, I was in Pune and before then; Mumbai. It’s only been a week but already feels like lifetime.
(Click here, to see my route so far.)
Very quickly, India took charge of my experience and everything I have ever read or seen about this country has been true. Do not try to make things happen, they will happen but never in a way you could plan. It is not a country for type A personalities.
I don’t exactly know why I came to India. I mean, I know ‘why’ – because I wanted to – but that was the extent of the reason. This trip didn’t have a purpose, per se – which is the beauty of it. Sometimes I wonder if we have done ourselves an injustice by making decisions only in search of result?
Three months ago I was a far cry from the setting I am now in. I was sitting in my very convenient, very comfortable, very safe apartment in Fairfield County, Connecticut plotting my course to success. I needed a move, I felt, something more stimulating, something that felt more like living – not striving, plotting, organizing or planning . Nothing was wrong – I mean, not from the outside. But, it’s the common story isn’t it? She has everything, but something is missing.
It wasn’t quite like that but I was looking for a change. I wanted new sights, new sounds, new smells, new flavors…yes, that’s probably the best way understand this. My senses felt flat. I was thinking of places to move to, mostly within the United States and certainly close to all of the work that I had so diligently worked hard to create for myself.
There is a line in that late 90’s song by Baz Lurhmann “Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen”, it says “The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday”. The same is true of our opportunities, or blessings. They never arrive when we expect them to and yet we strive and strive to make them happen, until we wear ourselves out. I always wonder if it is, perhaps, because of our effort that they arrive, or because we gave up trying. Or, maybe the balanced, truly lived life, involves both.
It was, literally, a Tuesday afternoon. I was sitting at my dining table. I was idle. In fact, I was simply exhausted trying to figure out what to do. I felt suspended in decision making. The lease on my apartment was up in a month – a beautiful 1 bedroom apartment that I had no desire to fill with stuff in the 2 years I lived there and, quite frankly, didn’t want so much space. I didn’t want to move to another place in the same town. I loved my friends, I loved my work but I felt like I had exhausted most of my options in terms of culture and spirit. .
Plus, I am transient by nature. So, this feeling was familiar. I had been 12 years in the same town, and I felt I was waiting at the border.
Not only was I wanting a cultural move I was also at the tail end of a romantic love I so wanted to land, its existence happening only in the energy I was giving to it. I was sad for that. The kind of sad that has a knowing and an acceptance all at once but, urges one last fight. I had attempted one last effort of connection, with no response.
I had the urge to call a dear friend in England who I rarely speak to but, we experienced a lifetime in the first month we met, 16 years ago, so our connection isn’t measured by time. It just exists. Not only does it is exist so firmly in my heart, she heals my heart.
She answered and within the first minute, without knowing anything about our lives so far she said “Darling, I’ve rented a 2 bedroom house smack bang on the beach in Goa, come and be with us.”
There is a shift that happens when we experience something we know to be true, after we have been beaten down by over thinking until we can’t think anymore. We answer without thinking. We answer intuitively. I said “yes.” At that very instant a text came through that said “I’m sorry I can’t meet” – the love was landing somewhere else. And then I cried.
I was at the point of my life, my tears; the precipice between the yes, and the no. The space in between, where all the magic happens.
It turns out I was being prepared for India all along, which is why, when I woke the next day I had to remember that I actually said yes and. which is also why almost everything fell into place for it to happen (that roommate I mentioned above was a big factor in things falling into place – I moved in with her when my lease was up and I will write an Ode to her one day). In fact, everything was already in place. And, in a twist of fate for both of us, my friend isn’t able to come out at all.
Because of this intuitive response, for the months leading up to my departure, right up to the very morning I was leaving, my inner dialogue was “Wait, what the fuck am I doing?”
Living to the point of tears in India for 3 months, that’s what.
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