Recap: Last July, I gave up my flat in Bombay – home to me for over two years – to hit the road and make my little films. I made Side A Side B, polished two other scripts and came up with at least four other films I want to make, in these last seven months on the road. I travelled. A lot. I clocked in over 20,000 kms around India – About 3500 kms by motorcycle and an equal number of kilometres by bus. I learnt quite a bit, especially, over the last two months. (In fact, there’s a whole series called Suitcase Tales on Wishberry that lead up to this post.)
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Tonight, I turn 40.
I love to take stock of my life at every milestone.
Movies have endings. TV shows have season finales. And life has these milestones.
When it’s time to say Goodbye to a few things… you have to kill off a few people and jaded sub-plots so that you can focus on the larger theme and characters you want to focus on for the next part of your larger-than-movie and more-twists-than-TV franchise of everyday life.
A lot of things happened over the last couple of decades – all part of growing up and coming of age.
The good stuff was great. I fell in love. I fell in love with movies more. And managed to make them out of nothing but love and support from friends and family. I found friends for life who stood by me no matter whether or not I was of any use to them. I travelled the world… and more recently, discovered parts of India I never knew existed.
The bad stuff was good too. I quit the job that fed me for over a decade and a half. Got out of my comfort zone. I left home. Chennai. I met people without a moral bone in their body and then some who made me trust again. Mumbai. I got ripped off; I hit back. I had to give up my flat. Because, I didn’t have a choice. But at least, I could make an adventure out of it.
At some level, I knew that the road would be a great place to find myself.
Was I happy being this drifter? Or was I just like everybody else who wanted a normal life.
Today, I’ve realised I’m both. There’s no changing that.
I am going to be this person who will want to pack my bags and leave to discover another part of the world and meet people I have never met but also, want to be home when I’m out.
I will probably be this person who tries hard not to get attached but also crave to love and be loved again.
I will continue to believe in the feel-good I sell through my films during the day and also, embrace the underlying drama on nights I am wide awake because as a filmmaker, I know that it’s these moments of killing sadness that gives those bursts of happiness a lot more meaning and glory.
I have also been that person who moves on but often looks back to see, remember and celebrate what I have left behind.
Unfortunately though, life isn’t always a straight road. More often than not, we hit a wall.
Bang in the middle of your life, the present becomes that wall between the past and the future. We sit on it as long as possible procrastinating because we are afraid of missing what we would leave behind forever.
Progress, however, will only happen when you do make the jump, turn back and see nothing but the wall. Because now, there’s no reason to look back anymore. There’s nothing there.
I have miles to go, dreams to chase and films to make. In the first 20 years of my working life, I’ve done some very ordinary work with sparks of promise.
The good part is that I know I can do a lot better. I know my best is yet to come. I know because I learn something every day. I know because my mistakes remind me of what not to do.
One of the mistakes I have done all my life is that I have looked back.
I’d take two steps and then take a step back to revisit the past.
This year, I learnt that the time is non-linear. Which is why our thoughts alternate between past, present and future. We stay up when we scan all at the same time.
At 40, I am not sure if the past excites me as much.
Nostalgia is that charming wistful feeling of suddenly, unexpectedly, finding a torn page from a long lost book. For it to be charming, we need to lose the book. Not read it till we get bored of it. I sense that off late, my fascination with the past has become quite that. A tiring re-reading of the same old contents, even if it’s my favourite book.
For the longest time, I thought my constant was a person even if the relationship itself evolved with time. Be it Mom. A girlfriend. Or a best friend.
Today, I know my constant isn’t the person but that feeling I am capable of – the power to love unconditionally. It’s a treasure I truly cherish, one of my greatest strengths, in a world that’s forgotten to love. It’s a superpower I intend sharing again. Life’s too short to not use a superpower.
We live in a world of clutter. We are connected, yet lonely. It’s easy to get distracted, confused and lost in the sea of opinions online. Before we know it, we lose focus on what’s important and what’s not. Who’s important and who’s not. Something that shouldn’t be taking up our mind-space takes over our life.
A fight with a troll. The addiction to phones, our compulsive need to read or reply to every tweet or mention. Memes. Forwards. Outrage. Low battery. And the struggle to get the phone charged so that we can go back to the prison of social networks – the sea of emptiness with trillions of fish you can bait.
Sometimes, you bait. Sometimes, you are the fish.
But the point is – none of this matters. The people, the fights or the jibber-jabber of the online world.
If dwelling in the past was a mistake, spending time sitting on that wall of the present, checking out all this nothingness around at five am feels like a crime. Let’s face it. We live in uninspiring times. There’s nothing exciting about the present. It’s not a gift. We have shitty leaders. Bad news. And some more. Every single day.
I guess that the only way we can make a difference is by looking at what we can do to make our lives more meaningful in the context – of not the world, not the society, not even the family – but ourselves. How can I be a better me tomorrow – to the only people who genuinely care and love?
There are just a handful of people who matter. The rest will make for great nostalgia, some day.
To the ones I’ve been an asshole to. I’m truly sorry. I did a few things that I believed were right at that point in time. Hope you are able to discard all of it as the doings of a self-righteous prick when you sit down to de-clutter and remember just the good times. A lot of you have helped me and I am not the kind to forget that. No matter what our differences may have been. I remain grateful.
If travelling with a backpack has taught me anything, it’s this. Lose everything you can and take only what you need – makes the journey a lot more comfortable. And you can go further than most people can with their baggage.
I’m starting the post interval part of my life tonight. As the second half begins, I’m just glad that real life does not require resolutions. You can just decide – “OK, this is it. We’re done with this. Let’s go some place else.”
As Moira said in Good Night Good Morning: “People change. All it takes is a moment for them to start doing something. All it takes is a moment for them to stop.”
With that wall behind, I’m starting again.
From square one. So many places left to see, so many people to meet, a home to come back to somewhere along the way, a dream factory that will go on forever… and so little time.
So, I’m done looking back.
I’m going to cut down on looking around.
At 40, I’m looking forward.