Life is like a poem.
I discovered that, a few months ago. I say that because I realised life has been unfolding itself to me in layers, in much the same way as the lines of a poem do, with each new reading. So, between my first encounter with a poem and my nth, I’ve experienced an epiphany of sorts as new interpretations have left me with a fresh new understanding of the poem, beyond what I would have ever expected.
Incidentally, life too has drawn me to a similar realisation, lately. I’ve found that with every new challenge, a unique opportunity has presented itself, urging me to arrive at my own interpretations of it, followed by new learning with every reflection. In fact, I’m no longer thwarted by these run-ins with life any more but have now begun to appreciate the process of making sense of it.
In the past six months, everything has gone haywire in our lives. Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, we’ve come to find ourselves at the receiving end of an irrevocable cycle of fear and uncertainty, that has completely altered how we live out our everyday lives. Nothing is the same anymore.
Some days, it seems that we are all passing through a perpetual nightmare that threatens to leave us bewildered and terrified. At other times, it seems we are busy gathering nuggets of profound wisdom, whilst we grapple with new challenges and accept what comes our way with grace and new-found gratitude in our hearts. All this, whilst forging out new paths to move into what we now know as the new normal. Our very survival as a human race has never been so precarious, ever!
Like everyone else, I’ve often found myself struggling to make sense of the times, and sometimes even to make sense of my own life and where I’m heading in the coming days. Unsure of everything, I’ve started to see how my every day attempts to keep afloat mentally, spiritually and emotionally have begun to take on a whole new significance. It has never been so important to focus on one’s own well-being while being responsible for the rest of the family. Stressed, angst-ridden, worried beyond measure, my writer’s life gone for a toss, I’ve been through it all, the entire roller coaster emotional rides, day after day, only to realise that I’m just a tiny peg in the giant wheel of life.
It was one such day, that I, caught in the throes of despondency, chanced upon a poetry anthology, that I decided to read to myself after a long time. The same old poems, that I had read many moons ago, now felt different, as they struck me with new meanings, that I hadn’t noticed earlier. The more I read, the more the layers that got uncovered.
While reading those poems, it dawned on me that it was primarily my suffering that had become my access point to poetry. Ironically enough, it was again that suffering that had opened me up to experience each poem as it were, and draw my own understanding from it. Sometimes it would be a turn of phrase, at other times, a word, a simile or a metaphor, or even an allegorical reference to something, that would catch my attention, make me sit up and realise how closely human lives parallel one another, across time and place, sometimes running across a chasm between a world that was existing 200 years ago—far removed as could be, from my own immediate reality! It is this basic spiritual sameness of our existence that I realised, has been running through all humanity, from where the poem has emerged—the reason behind the universality of poetry as we know it. This, to me, has been such a remarkable eye-opener.
It taught me many things, but one thing most of all—whether it is poetry or life itself, when we are ready to open our hearts, minds and ears, we begin to understand the underlying meaning behind the apparent, and this is when new understanding takes place.
Life unfolds itself, replete with lessons, learnings and experiences that shapes us and makes us who we are. We can only understand little at that moment itself, but a lot of our learning in life happens in hindsight. Just like the re-readings of the poem enlighten us, so does life, as we reflect upon the events, the situations and the little everyday encounters.
Bit by bit, they enlighten us, inform us, teach us and make us evolve into the person we eventually become. We are no longer the same person that we were, prior to experiencing that particular moment, because something new has entered our consciousness and left us with a unique understanding, so much so that when we leave our chair, we’re a few inches taller than what we were a few minutes ago.
That to me, is how we evolve and grow, one step at a time.