Mental Spelunking

A few months ago I reported starting a vision board.  In concept, a wonderful idea.  Of this I am convinced.  When you take the pains to state your intentions, if you spend time thinking about it, cutting out pictures, finding the right words, cutting and pasting things on construction paper; ritualizing the thing in any way, it’s all a means to imprint what you want on your neural networks.  I’ve never doubted visualization even through all the layers of cynicism and hopelessness that have accumulated over the years.

When I was younger I wanted things with greater desperation, with intense hunger.  I wanted to ace my driving test after finishing 4 weeks of driving lessons (didn’t visualize parallel parking well enough – so it took 2 attempts), I wanted to come to the US, I wanted an admission to the Delhi School of Economics and later to the Stern School of Business at NYU for my MBA.  I wanted a job that would support my education.  Hunger was a driving force behind everything I wanted or needed.  I couldn’t imagine a life where I would fail to get any of the aforementioned things.  So visualization was easy.  The goal was shimmering in the horizon, crystal clear and intense.  I imagined myself hitting every note that I needed to and then went on to hit them.  Sometimes with such ease that I felt I was getting more than my fair share of blessings.  I was always afraid that the troughs that were sure to follow would be as intense as the crests ridden.

My vision board from a few months ago is still incomplete.  It’s languishing in one corner of the dining room, the red construction paper fading to pink.  There’s even a coffee stain on it somewhere.  Someone in the home, perhaps me(?) who didn’t think much of this piece of work probably rested a cup of coffee on it.  A vision board is an exercise in futility when the vision has either ceased to exist or has exiled itself deep in a dark cave somewhere.  Perhaps finding it requires some mental spelunking of the highest order.

I really don’t know what I want next, this feeling of being lost in a perpetual fog is so real.  And if fogs really scared me perhaps I’d flail harder and make a more meaningful effort at getting out of it.  But the thing about fogs is that once you’re in them they aren’t quite as threatening as they appeared from the outside.  They could even turn fascinating.  In a fog things in one’s immediate vicinity look clear enough.  I can see my fingers and my toes.  I can see well enough to step around the rocks and pebbles in my path, I know I won’t step into puddles or ditches.  But as far as the panoramic vision goes, I am blindfolded.  I haven’t a clue.

I don’t know if I want to accept the futility of any resistance and roll with this viscous flow, that threatens to pull me under sometimes, or if I want to emerge, fight, dig deep, determine what would be the right next move, one that wouldn’t leave me wishing for a return of what I had before.  One where I won’t discover brown, desiccated grass again.

This stuff I am writing today is all about me.  I am whining,  trying to come to terms with the parameters of my existence.  But as I do it I know that I enjoy writing.  I like it because it probably releases some endorphins within.  It makes me feel good for some fleeting moments.  But do I like it enough to make a living out of it?  I have no ambitions of being published.  Or, if I do harbor such thoughts, they are tainted with consternation.  I could invent a story that may or may not sell but I don’t have what it takes to push my finished work, to submit manuscripts to people, to deal with rejection.  I balk at the idea of any self-promotion.  Then I tell myself I won’t be able to support myself or my family during the phase where I can’t sell my work or when I am busy facing rejection.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained they say but can things be ventured with a real danger of tampering with the well being of my family?

So what of acceptance? Contentment with what I have? Those ideas don’t lack merit.  Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with total surrender.  The choices I made have led me here, to this point where I can’t find any pleasurable moments during the day.  If I accepted this as my fate, if I told myself how much I like having a house, a car, a family that loves me, my freedom to explore a frequent, binge like indulgence in gemstones, or clothes, or books, or…egg cups on eBay… would it really be so bad?

I smile at strangers, I make small talk in elevators, I kid around with friends and family.  I pretend for fourteen hours, because pretense has a way of morphing into reality.  I am waiting for this morphing to reach completion.  Then I go home and have a couple of hours of untainted and genuine fun and frolic with a daughter who is growing up too fast.

This should be enough.  It feels right for this to be enough.  It might be too late to build something out of this yearning to live a life that’s drenched in the succulence of art, music and literature.  A beautiful life where money is meaningless and the commute takes one from one’s bedroom to one’s sun drenched kitchen for breakfast with the family. It might be too late for that and the yearning only causes dissonance.

There is a world of meaning in this message from a friend who embraced Buddhism – Nam Myoho Renge Kyo – which essentially refers to the flow of life and to take a cue from the lotus flower that flourishes even in a swamp.  I cannot find any fault with this message even if I abhor any membership in any organized religion. But this message is indeed flawless.

Perhaps the next words I need to cut out of a magazine and place on my incomplete vision board are – Accept.  Surrender.  Think of the Lotus (not lotus eating).

That should go up on the vision board along with a detailed picture of the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that I want in my living room.  I am desperate enough to visualize and achieve the construction of these bookshelves, along with a library like ladder that helps one reach for the books on the highest shelf.


  1. This made me feel only one thing–love you you for the way you think,you write,you express,you just say it all out so simply..why it rings true for me is because i think like you too(vision,acceptance,being content and almost all of it) that it seems like you are expressing exactly what i feel sure you get what i mean.Reading your post then becomes a delight..some parts of what you wrote (fog bit( brought to my mind Murakamis book the wind-up bird chronicle :)I wish you would be a published writer have it in you.

  2. Completely and without reservation endorse everything J has said. She has spoken for all your myriad admirers, and I express the same wish: that one reads you between the covers of a book under a famous imprint soon.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Follow Curlicues's Weblog on