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As I sat down to watch Friends for the hundredth time with my daughter, she asked me a question, “Was it okay to smoke then?”
I thought about it for a few seconds and said, “No, it wasn’t okay, but it wasn’t as taboo as it is now.”
I looked at Phoebe’s fingers. She had silver rings on almost all of them. At University, I remember buying silver jewelry for myself in an arcade that smelled of joss sticks.
Once I started to work, there was also a quaint shop near my flat where I would regularly buy some knick-knacks. I remembered my shiny silver ring that had a design of a wave on it. It fit as if it was made for me. I don’t know where it is now.
Life moved on and I am now wearing diamonds, but at that moment, I craved my intricately designed, smooth silver ring.
I was young, naïve, and confident—ready to take on any challenge.
We lack experience, knowledge, and intellect in our younger days, but we feel as if we know it all and can conquer the world. We are ready to disagree (lacking sheer intelligence) and fight the world and prove everyone wrong. However, as we grow up, we become shy, hesitant, and wary of our surroundings so we inhibit our answers, feelings, gestures, and tone of our voice, accordingly.
We create barriers with nature because we are making a boundary where our expressions are concerned.
I miss my young self.
I miss my confident, outgoing-natured self. I miss being carefree and making a complete fool of myself (and laughing about it).
I miss getting up when I wanted. I miss eating what I wanted when I wanted. I miss shopping whenever I wanted. I miss getting on the train and visiting my parents whenever I wanted.
I miss learning what I thought was new and feeling fabulous about it. I miss keeping up with the regular fashion and looking flawless without having to make much of an effort.
I miss all the attention I used to get from the opposite sex (even though I was too innocent to notice). I miss the girly giggles with my long-lost college friends.
I miss the boys who would share their feelings about their girlfriends with me because they felt they couldn’t with the boys.
It’s a strong, magical feeling to feel comfortable enough to share almost anything with someone and still trust that it won’t be judged or shared with anyone else. I miss the long conversations we would have that would start in the evenings and carry on the early hours of the morning.
My best friend hadn’t found accommodation for her second year at college. I let her stay with me till she had. After our classes, we used to cook together, go out together and talk until we fell asleep. Once we heard the birds chirping, she would say, “What do you think they are saying to each other?”
This was the depth and innocence of our conversations. It was all so pure.
I also feel that people were different then. They were more open, lively, and willing to be vulnerable and real. There was no reason to impress because they were who they were. Their lives were in front of everyone, and no phony impression was required because there was no image to maintain on social media.
I recently had a conversation with a relative of an older generation, and I felt refreshed after talking with them. They had no inhibitions—they were candid and there was not an ounce of pretentiousness.
Nowadays, the children are on their mobiles and it feels like there is no family feeling whatsoever. They come out of their rooms for lunch and dinner and then disappear again till the next day. It’s almost as if they are doing us a favour by joining us for their meals.
I was speaking with my mother-in-law recently and casually mentioned to her how the olden days must have been more enjoyable and real. She smiled and said diplomatically, “We must appreciate what is left. You have come to visit me and here we are talking face to face in one room. That is special.”
That was an unsatisfactory answer to me at the time. I appreciate her point of view. Maybe, she is right. Perhaps in the future, one will need appointments with children to see them twice a week for dinner. It’ll be normal for families to not see each other and be independent.
On a completely different tangent, perhaps co-dependency will phase out. Maybe families won’t exist or even having partners will be seen as something really out of the ordinary and strange. People might only live for themselves, work from home, shop from home, talk to each other from home, have online drinking coffee plans for birthdays or housewarming parties. It would be a robotic, alienating, futuristic, and out-of-the-movies kind of world.
But would it? Who would have thought two decades ago that we could instantly connect to a person via video call or send photos of where we are and what we want from somewhere when someone is out shopping?
The world is changing rapidly. Humans are evolving to fit into the changing technology only to find themselves becoming irritable, anxious, and fidgety.
We are always trying to keep up with the rat race—to impress and outdo each other. We are forgetting to live. We are losing ourselves amidst this man-made chaos. I crave the past.
It’ll be hard to find ourselves unless we slow down and start connecting, and having real conversations that are about us and our feelings—conversations about how we want to grow and change, about our surroundings, about what scares us, about our limitations, and about our dreams instead of gossiping about someone or something.
It’s really hard to undo what one has been doing for years, but it’s really important that we begin to unfollow a regimental routine life, running after work goals, cocooned with our gadgets, away from spirituality.
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I believe one is also separated from nature in a way, when we are not talking to and connecting with other humans.
Nature is life. It keeps us grounded, flowing, and uninhibited like tree branches blowing in the wind, their leaves giggling happily.
Human beings are supposed to be like that. Just like I was all those years ago: carefree, relaxed, and cheerful.