Lovely is a lovely word that should be used more often.
from All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Last night I called on an acquaintance to whom I had last spoken to maybe an year back. I was just thinking of him earlier in the day and dropped him a message saying I would like to catch up.
He called later in the night and we were 3 minutes into our talking when he said, was there anything specific I wanted to talk about. He was teary eyed when I told him I just called to ask ‘How are you? Nothing more, nothing less.’ Not only was he touched (given the unprecedentedly tough times) but he did the same to someone else.
Just looking at his reaction (and following action), it made me ask the question we find difficult to answer. Why have we stopped doing it or why aren’t we doing it more often?
Side Note: Is it difficult to meaningfully say: I love you You are awesome Thanks for being there Call me if you need to talk You did a great job, etc.
It’s not that he’s the first guy that I read about and felt sad for taking such a decision.
It’s not that I haven’t moved on after a couple of hours of grief shared with a couple of close friends over a couple of drinks.
Sushanth’s decision to end his life moved me beyond grief and a hangover. I don’t know if it’s because I could relate to him. His being an outsider, being emotionally connected with his loved ones, being a performer par excellence without much success (as defined by society and its circles or himself) – I am not sure what drove him to his end. I guess, that’s a question that only he had an answer to. I want to believe for my own good health, that it was an unfortunate momentary moment (that a lot of us experience) where he gave in.
This time around, I am not sad or angry but in a state of pity. I pity myself more than anyone else today. It made me question my own decisions – to move up the ladder, to ring in more money, to invest in the next big startup ideas, to build my personal brand equity, to make me more desirable by everyone. None of which would miss me for more than a couple of hours if I am gone.
Grief that will pour in, tagging my social profiles, will be pointless and its because my life is pointless in their lives after a point. Yet, I continue to live for everyone except me and in the process alienating myself from people who loved me for who I am and not for what I can be.
I fear that when time comes, I will be alone with a voice unheard and craving for an audience any audience. Have I built walls so big that I have shut everyone (including myself)? What have I become that it’s no more okay to show I am vulnerable, to show who I truly am? Why is ‘being human’ nothing beyond a brand and as a value restricted to words on your office posters?
Even as I come to terms with the re-discovered reality, I still pity those thousands of Sushanths and Rahuls: “Some of whom are contemplating to leave the unhappy themselves and some of whom are living with their unhappy themselves.”
Side Note:I kept telling my kids that talking (no matter what the situation) brings you closer to the other person. Never realized the deeper impact I was creating for all of us.
I moved away from Whatsapp, reduced my time on Instagram and Facebook (my job doesn’t allow me to move away completely), and pretty much became non-existent on other social networks and groups.
Some of my friends said, I have taken social distancing to an extreme level. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I realized that being connected (or so we assume) digitally was distancing me from my loved ones. Here goes the story of social distancing. – Birthday calls (and these were so important to me), that used to last for a couple of mins of fun and chatter, suddenly turned into dropping messages on a WhatsApp group and Facebook accounts (and eventually belated birthday messages). – Random calls to check in on how my friends and family were doing turned in to random ‘Hi, how have you been?’ messages with the delusion of staying in touch and of caring for their existence. – The extreme level of social distancing was actually replying to an incoming call with a template message ‘Can’t talk right now. Can I call you later?’
No matter what situation we are in, the world doesn’t need this kind of social distancing.
I will not treat my loved ones this way (even if they have come to terms with the new norm).
Want to know the withdrawal symptoms of this behavior? – I call – I meet (not now given the situation) – Yes, I do message but not template messages – I respond not like I am obliged to, but like I care
Side Note: There’s definitely merit in all the social networks, but don’t get to a stage where you WhatsApp your loved one (in the next room) for dinner.