He just sat there receiving all the arrows I was unleashing at him.
“I don’t like you,” I said, in no uncertain terms.
I had been feeling such distaste, such dislike for him that I would not even look at him at the dining table. After a few days of receiving this treatment, he asked me directly, “Why are you avoiding me? Why are you not even looking at me?” That itself was an act of Durga. It’s not easy to approach a person who seems to wish you didn’t even exist.
He approached me, he didn’t confront me as an adversary. It’s not as if he was all calm, compassion and composure. He is human. However, he is also home to Durga, just as all humans are.
So here I was, sitting on the bed, resting my back against the wall, and there he was, sitting on the chair, a little distance away — and I wasn’t mincing words. I was saying exactly what came to my mind. He did not budge. He just sat there receiving all the arrows of pain I threw at him. Even in the middle of pain, even in the middle of saying all kinds of unkind things, I was grateful to him — for receiving all that I had to say that day, in that manner. It was a different kind of valor he demonstrated.
My brother runs one of the foremost forex risk management companies in India. Serve the country, unto Him our best, serve The Guru – these mantras power him every day. Productivity is on my brother’s mind and tongue almost all the time. You can often hear him talking of achievers who inspire him, “That person works so many hours a day! Amazing. How does he do it?”
I, on the other hand, find all this talk of productivity totally disenchanting. It prevents me from being productive. I need lots of easy breezy air to caress my mind, for me to produce something of worth. The actual produce, be it words or lines of code, may take only 15 minutes, but my mind needs to be fertilized by hours of just-be.
I was working for my brother those days, helping him with his website — and I was hating it. Also, my self-esteem was sobbing in the dungeons. I had been searching for what work to do, and again and again, as much as I tried, I failed. Frustrated with myself, and with my head hissing, “Achieve! Achieve!” every time I saw my brother go to office, I felt shitty. He was innocently doing his jig, but it made me feel lousy. “Perform!” my inside would say, “See, he is going to office. You are doing nothing.”
Now over the last few months I’ve reached a place where I sit at my desk every day. In those morning hours when I’m at the writing desk, I feel so totally at home and me. I write, or I read — deriving pleasure from it in the same manner I used to when I was a child, when I did not have to make anything of myself. I know something worthwhile will come out of this.
Recognizing, accepting, and honoring my personality also helped me unravel some knots in my relationship with my brother. He is an action-oriented person successful in his business. That makes conventional sense in the world. I used to try to perform, in his manner and in the ways of other achievers, and it was a constant struggle. Now I know that the nature of my doing is different — slow, meditative, like a tree, where the bulk of action is happening invisibly.
In recognizing my strength, initially I was all virtuous, self-righteous, and indignant about it, thinking ‘This is the truly wise way to be’. I thought my brother is not adequately wise. Now I understand, that is his natural self – action-driven. There is no reason for me to be intimidated by action-driven people and by the achieve talk. I can be my way. He can be his way. I’m now able to accept him and his way to be, I’m able honor it, just like I wish myself to be honored.
I don’t know what that Durga did that evening, by not fighting back, by just receiving arrows from the depressed and frustrated Mahishasur in me — but he did something. Maybe he opened up just the slightest possibility for this Mahishasur to find her Durga within.
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