Saturday, March 29, 2008

Together and Separate

We grow together and we grow separately.

Last year I attended an intense two week residential program, to find myself, so to speak, for I had lost the essences of my life in many ways. The set of ideals and values I lived by had taken a toss, and I was agitated, irritated, angry, unmoored, lost and thrashing against anything and everything that came my way, unable to accept or take anymore of life as it had been.

A suggestion by a friend whom I had recently met, and who is one of the initial change-makers in my life, led me to experience this workshop. It was a sudden, impulsive decision, and I am glad for it.

En route to this workshop, I made friends with a woman sitting next to me, and it turned out that she was traveling to the same place and the same workshop. The friend I spoke of earlier, who had suggested this workshop for me, turned out to be a close friend of hers. It turned out that during the workshop, we were sharing the same room in the hotel; this grouping had been done by the organizers. We also found out that we had known each other in another city, at another time, in our childhood days. She had held her face in astonishment and delight, her eyes wide with excitement, and kept repeating my name as if it was a mantra all of a sudden, the revelation was so great for her. It was she who placed me from those times. And then the excitement began to touch me as well, soon enough. We became comrades in arms, and she was a good room-mate, understanding, adjusting and fun to be with. Her thoughts and their expressions were clear and coherent, and her views openly radical in a society like ours. She heard a different drummer and was not averse to stating it. I refused to be shocked, and took her in my stride. Despite her tough stance, she had her own vulnerabilities, which made her human to the core. For me, she was sensitive and considerate and that was enough. She also gave me space. Her occasional unconscious and sometimes conscious attempts at trying to change my thinking failed, because I am stubborn to the core. What I considered worth taking, I did. She was stabilizing in her own way, making me see certain aspects of my behaviour in a clearer way. Needless to say, the relationship has strengthened quite rapidly ever since our return from the workshop. We are each other’s sounding boards, and our friendship is based on a great degree of openness.

This year I will attend the second phase of the workshop, and she will not be with me for this journey, for she will be away in another country with family and friends. And so this time my growth and evolution during the workshop will happen without her. We grew together the last time, this time we will grow separately. She will be in another country; I will be in the workshop.

So it is with people in life, we grow together sometime, and we grow separately sometime. And both are required for individuals to flourish on their own, and for them to flourish with those they consider their friends and compatriots in life.