The Venus Flytrap: Surrendering To Serendipities

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A dear friend of mine resigned from her job today to be with her toddler – and see where life takes her next.

This is no small step for my freespirited friend, someone widely acknowledged as the blithely charming PR queen of her country, someone who has chased eclipses in Iran, honeymooned in Iceland and worn a dress of orange and blue to her wedding.

“I will honour my promise to you,” she said. “But I will be a humble stay-at-home mum from now on.” She had told me some time before that she was considering taking up an artform, an idea I had applauded. The truth is, other than her beautiful house décor and uncanny ability to pick the perfect present for anyone, I have no idea what her creative talents might be. But what I do know, and what I told her, is this: if she does art, she is an artist. No gallery, committee or critic needs to sanction her – or anyone – as such.

I wanted to be an author since I was seven years old. By my late teens, thanks to a series of serendipities catalyzing around my discovery of the magic of spoken word, I already had some semblance of a cult following. But I kept dreaming of having a book – a book would be evidence. A book would make my writing real.

I had the good sense, however, to not jump at the first fishes that bit. I rejected at least two offers to publish a collection because where they came from didn’t sit well with me: a print-on-demand run by a communist with a fetish for hijab-ed women in high heels, and a representative of a multinational that packages spirituality with pyramid schemes.

When I finally found the combination of people and promises that suited me best, I thought the rest would be quick and easy. Little did I know I had more to learn: three months ago, the funding for the book was abruptly withdrawn.

There was the brief, requisite shock at this bad fortune, but what alarmed me most was my surprising ambivalence. The ground had given away not because I’d lost my long-cherished dream, but because I was forced to acknowledge that it was no longer my dream. Other people wanted to see this book much more than I did – I was more infatuated with the process than the project. “You wanted to be a writer, right?” I asked myself. “Well, you already are. Book or no book.”

But this story doesn’t end with an excuse. When I finally, wholeheartedly, accepted that my book wasn’t going to happen (at least, not the way I wanted it to), the miraculous happened: a new investor showed up. Just like that. I hadn’t looked. I had asked only in the silence of my own heart. Most of all, I hadn’t expected.

And this is what I think holds me in good stead as I prepare to leave familiar waters. Whatever happens to this book, I am what I am. What I wanted in the first place was not fame or wealth. It was to write. I will do just that, and trust that all else will follow. I am humbled by this journey enough to see that I do not control it at all.

In Om Shanti Om, Shah Rukh Khan says that when you want something enough, the whole universe conspires to give it to you. What I’ve found to be truer still is that if you are something enough, if you own and inhabit that skin in a way that doesn’t fixate on its outcome, the universe aligns itself in equally serendipitous ways.

An edited version appeared in The New Indian Express. “The Venus Flytrap” is my weekly column in the Zeitgeist supplement. Previous columns can be found here.

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9 responses »

  1. remains a famous quote from Goethe — “the moment you definitely commit yourself, providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help you that would not otherwise have occurred. whole stream of events issue from the decision, bringing all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance your way.”

    I am not sure about this. but if its true then it should— everybody has to play their part. meaning you will probably need do something which will have some impact on others life. and with law of 6degree seperation- cycle continues and reaches you back.

    Best Wishes.

    [/btw: a follow madrasi now in distance greenland, accidentally landed here while searching for a book to notice a nice blog.
    Onwards & Upwards.

  2. “if you are something enough, if you own and inhabit that skin in a way that doesn’t fixate on its outcome” – the most difficult thing to do, I think. But thanks for this – it kind of re-iterated what I keep needing to hear.

  3. u hv kind of inspired me…
    i hv similar thoughts…i luv to write but not a typical writer material that i am..
    but after reading this, i hope to publish a book in future nd will do so :)

  4. Kenny, Maceo — *Hugs*

    Yuva — Welcome here. I don’t think that these things can happen if one’s motives are purely selfish. There has to be some greater sphere of influence, I believe, upon which to cause a ripple effect.

    StarchedBrown, Smalltalk — Thanks, and you’re welcome.

    Sharanya — :) Thanks. I wonder what you thought of the column from the week before this one?

  5. The Bride — In my columns, I make references not only to works of literature, philosophy and history, but also to pop culture. Mainly to pop culture, I think. Simple metaphors and comparisons convey things best at times.

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