3 months ago, when I was getting ready for the trip, I was the least bit excited about it. I wasn't looking forward to it in the way others do. I wasn't making plans. I wasn't looking ahead. My brother's wedding was in a month, and I felt a little dead inside, for all these non-feelings. My siblings would message like crazy talking about the little things and the big things about the wedding, and people, and clothes and plans. I would participate, but halfheartedly at best.
Sometimes, I feel this is the pitfall of being in the US, where it's so quiet and there is no dearth of personal space. When there is so much of both, I tend to recede inwards into my shell and start getting comfortable there. And any interactions with the outside world feels like an intrusion. It takes effort to even hold a conversation on some days. The only energy I have, I conserve for the boys and what they need from me on a daily basis. These are the days of my existence as a turtle, slow to take on the world, happiest inside the comforts of its hard back, where the din and the roar of everything external, is but a faint hum on the inside.
Of course, not all days are like this. There are days of complete social engagement, interaction, liveliness, gregariousness and I realise the potencies of my own charm, when my tongue feels more fluid in conversation, eager to please and eager to evoke smiles, when I feel inspired to take on bigger slices of life and living, when everything around me feels like poetry, when my own connection with the Universe feels like a constant flow of music. Where I whisper my longings, and it returns it, with interest and dividends attached. All feels well. Everything feels right.
Earlier, I would go all out and express this side of myself to the fullest, to everyone in my life and enjoy the beauty of their happiness with me. But when came the time to return to the shell, it would also confuse, confound and hurt the people around me. Many could not understand this side of me. Those were the days, even I could not understand this side of myself. The highest confusion was mine. But when you go through these cycles enough number of times, and sense the pattern that belongs to it, you slowly begin to accept that you come inbuilt like this. The high and the low. The extrovert and the introvert. The doer and the observer. I actually do not know any other way to be.
There is a saying which I love....Argue for your limitations, and you get to keep them. Soon I began to own this statement. I so completely accepted this side of myself without question and without a doubt that there might something wrong with me, that I would explain it to anyone who took the time or the courage to ask. This is how I am. And it's not personal....I would say. And that was the simple and very convenient truth.
As I matured with age, I began to rein myself in a little during my upswings. I would feel like calling a dozen friends and prodding them out of their own little shells, but I would desist where possible. It was hard, but perhaps simpler to avoid the resultant confusion, when the period ended, as it ultimately would. I started channeling my joy more to my children, to music, to writing. With a few more cycles of maturity, I began extending that tempered treatment even to my periods of silence. I tried not to go so deeply into my shell, that it told on everyone around me. I tried to maintain a string of balance and a small thread of connection to the outside world. Some evenness between this mood and that.
Today, I think this is where I am at. I am very comfortable in my own skin. Confidence teaches you that. That it is okay not to have to please everybody, all the time. That it is okay to live, knowing that someone might be miffed at you. I think you can train people on what to expect from you, and train them to keep those expectations low. In return, I afford, very generously, the same courtesies. I don't expect return phonecalls. It is okay, if you visit the country and don't make time to visit me. It is okay if you sound dull and listless to me on the phone or don't feel like talking. I don't ask for explanations to things. Or justifications. It is unnecessary. I actually, secretly rejoice in these moments, because it gives me a chance to give that full and complete freedom to someone to be who they want to be at that point in time. I love this declaration of individuality of a person. And I love that they can feel comfortable enough to be that way with me.
Isn't that kind of freedom the most beautiful thing we can ever give another person? Free them from our expectations. Give them wings to fly off into their own sunsets and sunrises. And still be there, without judgement, when they come back, wanting to enjoy your smile and a word. That is the beginning of friendship...