Where do I fit in?
I have just come from a kirtan at a beautiful, magical place here in Goa, aptly named “Magic Park”. It’s a haven for the spirit seekers, and there are many here in Arambol, Goa. In fact Arambol is a playground of meditation retreats, yoga courses, tantric workshops, fire dancing and a host of other activities to ignite your chakras and balance your yin, with your yang
Earlier, I had been at the drum jam which happens at the beach every night before sundown. Tonight’s jam seemed a little pale in comparison to previous nights but then I quickly realized another group had formed and had taken some thunder. Only a few yards away a small collection of musicians playing different hippie instruments including the hung drum, along with a violinist, had drawn a more gentle crowd of swaying, closed eyed, love children away from the densely tribal sounds of the beating djembe and bongos.
It was essentially a hippie drum off and I was torn; do I do the wild, ecstatic twirling hippie dance or do I go for the blissed out floaty, flowy hippie dance? I decided to go for dinner. Feeling mostly failed that I didn’t feel authentic in either; “Why can’t you just let yourself get into it?” was the resounding question.
But, clearly I’m not a hippie.
After dinner I strolled over to Magic Park to hear the Bhakti devotional singer. I arrived just in time for the Hare Krishna chant I so love. Truth is it’s the only one I know by heart.
“Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna, hare Hare
Hare Ram, Hare Ram, Ram Ram, Hare Hare”
I mean, there isn’t much to learn really. That’s pretty much the chorus and the entire song.
So, I sat there cross legged for a while, and then adjusted my position to knees bent and hugged tight, then to legs extended, then back to cross legged. All the while singing “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna”…..I swayed, I closed my eyes and I sung all the words correctly vascilating between it all feeling familiar and ridiculous. ”Do I really want to be singing this?” I would occasionally ask. For ‘inspiration’ I’d sporadically open my eyes to check people out.
There was the emaciated looking baba, with his long, stringy hair and intense eyes, who spontaneously shouted that he was Krishna and danced by jumping in circles on the spot. The couple to my left was clearly a new ‘spiritual’ union as she sat grinning at the entire world like she was auditioning for a toothpaste ad, while they rubbed cheeks like two felines allorubbing.
The woman to my right sitting next to me was singing quite excitedly – achieving more and more elevation in her little high pitched voice, giddy with delight as she sung; laughing and shouting “Hare Bol”. Her arms went up into the air and she too swayed and ignited more and more joy inside of her until she launched herself at me and flung her arms around my swaying waist. She was overwhelmed with love for Krishna, it seems. I feigned a devotional smile and hugged her back.
They all felt more authentic than I did. At least, they were doing a good job of faking it if they weren’t.
People started dancing and twirling and arms were up, victoriously floating to and fro to the music as it reached the crescendo. Barely able to keep up with the up-tempo, frenetic turn the singing had taken, the dancers had to simply jump with joy. Until the music stopped and it was story telling time again. Which, after 10 minutes some heckler yelled for more music and the Baba jumped up, yelled that he lives in the tree behind Magic Park and has no wife and then declared, once again, that he was Krishna.
The Bhakti singer then told the crowd, after the Baba had darted out, that the Baba was definitely not Krishna to which another member challenged him. “The baba is Krishna, I can vouch for him. You can talk to me about it later”
A spiritual showdown now?
Feeling awkward, I left before Krishna called in his mates Vishnu and Shiva.
While I’m familiar with this kind of devotional gathering, I wasn’t feeling very devotional.
I walked out of Magic Park toward the ocean where, once I got to the beach I could turn left to go home or right to try for something else to occupy me. I had decided to go home and do what I truly felt like doing; being quiet, reading & writing. But not before I noticed my mind arm itself, ready to take me down “you should be out, connecting” “Why aren’t you feeling comfortable?” “Just get in there” “Why aren’t you fitting in, what’s your problem?”
It’s the same battle that has plagued me for a lot of my life. Regardless of how social and connected my life looks, I’m constantly having to negotiate where I fit in and manage guilt around where I don’t. Leaving my home country was the mac daddy of them all.
It’s a moonless night sky tonight, so it is darker than previous night’s where the recent full moon, and the few nights following, required no flashlights to see my path. Until I could reach the beach and some peripheral light from the restaurants, tonight’s walk required some tenderness in my step. I had to settle into the night’s darkness so that I could see from its light. And it’s precisely what I had to do with myself.
I just had to settle into the dark conversation and then give it some light, with tenderness.
I thought of all the multifarious ways there are to live a life. Just on this journey alone I have encountered hundreds of people doing extraordinary things, with vastly different interests and lifestyles to each other. How can we possibly fit in to all of it? Just as kindly as I took each step, I reminded myself that to have been born at all, is to have a place and that where we are truly meant to fit in is right within our own company.
To stay honest with oneself, even when everyone else is doing something different, can feel like a lonely journey at times; like you’re lingering in a place with no name. But I’ve come to discover that, when you are firm and grounded in your own company, when you’ve reached the place where your likes and interests become enough for you then you discover a place which has no questions. The question-less place. The place where the only answer is to be. It’s from this place that we are shaped to fit perfectly in the world.
And so, the place where I fit in, where I am most comfortable tonight is right here. Alone, writing this.