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Leaving the Lighthouse

“The dip of the light meant that the island itself was always left in darkness. A lighthouse is for others; powerless to illuminate the space closest to it.” ― M.L. Steadman

I was young and foolish. Agreed, young is an arguably relative term, but then so is foolish. And yet, it’s all I’ve got to work with. I was young and foolish and in love. I wanted to be in love and he wanted to be happy; so that’s really where the trouble began.

Such a small word, and it means so many drastically different things to different people. To some it means stability. To some it means loyalty. Love to me then meant magic. It meant unpredictability and thrill and just a little bit of danger; enough to seek a lighthouse but not quite enough to seek harbour yet.

I think love for him meant peace. I think he was young and foolish too.

Do you know what lighthouses do? I don’t. But from all the stories, movies and legends, they seem to be both guiding lights and warnings signals for each and every ship at sea. Am I the only one who senses the irony in that? It must take everything in a lighthouse to look at a pretty little ship and say “You’re beautiful, but if you come any closer, you’ll get hurt. So go there.”

Some people are like that too. Selfless, you’d think. Strong and selfless and guiding lights to those who need them and those who don’t. But while we’re all applauding these lighthouse people for their maturity, we forget that it must take everything in an unbalanced ship to hear “You’re beautiful, but if you come any closer, you’ll get hurt. So go there.” The unhinged love stronger, you know. They run towards the light and seek warmth and love louder.

You were my lighthouse. I guess it was hard to see my hinges off from way up there. My ship wasn’t even in the midst of a storm, the sea and sky were clear and calm and I think that’s really what led me to you; the insufferable quiet of it all. I thought I’d dance in your light for a while and leave at day break, and so I did.

Once.

Felt like enough, until it didn’t.

It took me months to pass by you again. I even took a detour, for the heck of it. What harm is a lighthouse, I must have thought. What harm is another dance in the light, the light that’s shining for everyone to dance in anyway. And so I came, and danced a while in your warmth, and just as it was time to leave I noticed that the closer I got, the darker it became. You weren’t meant for me to embrace, you were meant for me to love from afar, for everyone to love from afar – little did I know then, it’s darkest where the light is being cast from.

The trouble with our tryst was that you never offered me safe harbour, you just told me the rocky island was secure. I nestled my head on your shoulders and asked if you were comfortable. “More than I should be,” you’d say, because you knew you had no room for my anchor. I was a universe too late and the spoils of the ship at the bottom of your island weren’t mine to keep.

How much we fools in love bite our wretched tongues until they begin to bleed. I loved you till I realised you were a warning sign for a menacing coastline. I loved you till I realised your light was meant to usher me, not warm me. I loved you till I realised you weren’t mine to love, till I realised that who I was wasn’t for you. A cage made of hopes is but still a cage.

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” ―John Steinbeck, The Winter of Our Discontent

The Goodbye That’ll Do

I was supposed to eat healthy this year. I think I wasn’t supposed to fall in love with anyone new. I had to write a book and complete blog posts and talk to publishers. I had to work on my art and fill all the empty canvases lying around my house, yearning for attention and colour as they gathered the year’s passive grey dust. I was definitely supposed to travel and subconsciously that’s the only promise I kept. And thank god for that.

I travelled to Mumbai and saw the filthy drugged and the stinking rich live side by side in perfect ignorance of each other’s worlds – not hating, not loving – just existing for purposes they found sufficient. I travelled to Pondicherry and saw three Italians pulling vegetables out of their kitchen gardens to make a meal for me in their wood oven. I travelled to Bangalore and saw some old friends. Some grown up more than they’d have liked. Some grown up less than I’d have liked. I travelled to Los Angeles and saw women with botoxed foreheads holding Prada handbags, their worry lines now buried deep inside their skulls, invisible to everything but their own soul, because that’s how they like their foreheads. I travelled to San Francisco and saw a homeless woman reject the pancakes I gave her. I danced to bluegrass banjo music with people whose names I couldn’t pronounce or hear. I saw seventeen miles of a sky in colours I can’t name.

I also loved. Deliberately, consciously, carelessly and then carefully. I loved like I had never been broken. I loved a person across cities, states, countries and continents because it’s 2015, and distance is nothing but a minor inconvenience. I got over emotional unavailability, only to realize that it’s the most selfish reason not to let someone love you.

I read books I couldn’t relate to that taught me so much about the people I’m not. The people I want to be. The people I must allow in others.

I lived with my family long enough to fall back in love with them and then remember why I can’t live with them anymore. I heard my father talk to me like I was seventeen, and didn’t get irritated for once because the last time he spoke to me over breakfast on a Tuesday morning in pajamas was when I was seventeen and we both forgot that we both grew up in the years between that Tuesday and this one.

I think I learned how to breathe slower this year. I learned my feet freeze the fastest when I’m out in the cold, my stomach last. I learned that money is important to live a happy non-materialistic life as well. Because it’s 2015, and money is nothing but a major convenience.

And with 2016 three days away, I’ve decided I’ll eat healthy this year. I’ve sipped fine sake and guzzled shitty absinthe and my body deserves some peace. I won’t fall in love with anyone new. Because my heart’s only this big and it’s full. I will write a book and complete blog posts and talk to publishers. Because I started seven books this year and they’re all now just unfinished parts of me. I’ll work on my art and fill up those canvases with colour. For no reason in particular.

And when 2017 is three days away, I’ll tell you what I did instead.

Featured Image – Picture clicked in the Standford Museum of a notebook with doodles and scribbles. This particular page ends with the lines
“Made it from there to here and now
Here’s there again”
Anonymous, like all good feelings