Things Have Changed: The Year of Burning

Pooja on the Ganga, Rishikesh.

Pooja on the Ganga, Rishikesh.

Oh 2016. The Internet claims it was the “worst year ever.” It seemed like there was a heart-wrenching disaster, attack, or political catastrophe every other day. Every time, we quaked, quivered, hid, and re-emerged. The un-ending assault on our hearts and senses made us wonder what the heck was going on. Indiscriminate killing of black people, Nice, Brock Turner, Orlando, Aleppo, Brussels, our own military blowing off an arm in the peaceful Dakota pipeline protests, Brexit. A satire of a U.S. election so excruciatingly painful, resulting in the election of the sort of person you’d normally wish dead or in jail: a media-hungry, human-rights-destroying, accused rapist that elicits you to vomit every time you hear him try to form a coherent sentence. The death of any sort of respect for intellectualism or morality – false equivalence taken as fact, to the point that you start to wonder about the twisted human psyche. A sort of nose-dive into a world that seemed to respect neither facts nor ideals nor basic human life and dignity. Basic, utter, chaos.

Is the catastrophe real or a result of the immediacy of our news via social media, the increased perception of proximity of global events that used to seem far away, and the increased polarization of our News Feeds? Are things dark? Are we all delusional for believing so? Are we all naïve for not thinking so? Should we build bridges or stand our ground? Should we fight or heal? Should we act or withdraw? No one seems to know anymore. No one seems to have an anchor from which to draw our opinions or make sense of the world. Everything is spinning. And now, 2016 is ending, just like that. No elaboration, no closure, no straight lines. Americans, especially, aren’t used to this.

What’s happening is that things – everything, to be specific – are cracking. The economic and political structures we have grown so used to over the last century are cracking. Different countries and different types of people are assuming power. Priorities are changing to be more about the welfare of the world, and less about the welfare of the individual. A lot of the people are becoming global citizens. A lot of people are not happy with all of these changes.

A few weeks ago, I and a group of friends did a fantastic “future-lining” activity where we predicted how the rest of our lives would pan out. In short, we predicted that that the next couple of decades portend a lot of strife as every ideal, every power structure, every way of life comes under question as people fight for their small little bit of space and recognition in the new emerging, interconnected, global world.

After that, we’ll have peace. A new world will emerge, a new economy, and a new cultural paradigm – one friend predicted that the next global superpower will not be a country, but a set of technologically inter-connected “hubs”/spaces of innovation based in every country around the world. Another friend talked about the universal energy “shift,” where we are all evolving into a higher realm of spiritual consciousness (this and THIS.) Whatever it is, the path is going to be difficult and uncertain and it’s going to take up most of our adult lives.

I believe the world is changing because we are changing (see links again.) The night of Election Day (and the day after the demonetization announcement in India,) I noticed an air of fragmentation, depression, chaos. One of my friends described it perfectly: “It feels like there’s been a crack in The Force.”

Cracks allow new things to grow from between them.

I know you were waiting till I went all positive on you. But it’s true.

This blog post is just as fragmented as the era that we are living through. I no longer write flowery pieces with precise closure. I, as a human being, as a personality and energy force, have changed in 2016. Let me tell you how:

  • I learned to be skeptical, build a hard exterior, and draw boundaries. This has empowered me to better manage projects and personal relationships without getting taken advantage of (a hard learning, after having gotten stepped on, taking advantage of, and scammed many times this year!). I learned to accept that most people’s motivations are often self-seeking or self-preserving, and how to work within those constraints.
  • I learned to let go of a choking need for control and perfectionism, and be loose and experiment by starting small. (This learning followed a significant mental/emotional/physical exhaustion tipping point in mid-June.)
  • I learned that any goal compounds into a much, much bigger set of tasks and a longer timeline than ever imagined – the trick is to have ONE goal, which is the simplest, smallest goal that you can come up with, and move straight toward it.
  • Small is beautiful, small is authentic, small is impactful. Scale is far overrated and driven by ego and unrealistic/hyperbolic values propagated by the startup sector.
  • I used Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” to completely revamp my space over 12 months of hard work – I purged at least 25% of my current belongings, re-organized things, and even changed my room colors to be minimal and focused. When I went home, I purged about 80% of my old belongings and packed the rest into boxes. For the first time in my life, I feel at peace with my belongings and don’t feel distracted/burdened by them.
  • In between, I became a TV star by starring in the world’s first reality show on social enterprise, The Real Deal, which reached about 10 million viewers in India and may be adopted by a British channel sometime soon. This irreversibly boosted by inner confidence to a new level.
  • After a tough and intense year of inner growth, I had some mystical experiences which culminated in my learning Reiki in Rishikesh, in the beautiful foothills of the Himalayas!

In 2016, life was extremely fast – most of the time, my head was down and I was working like a machine. Through that process, I burned through all of the old foliage that was taking up space inside me that needed to go. I made lots of mistakes and learned from them. And in between the forest fires, there were the parts that felt weird and surreal: winning a few awards, appearing in a copy of fashion magazine Grazia.

Finally, the year ended in a state of complete and total ambiguity and a blank, blank slate for the future. I should have been scared. But I wasn’t. Everything had burned…and I was happy. Amped, even.

It’s only after you leave every stone unturned and put into action everything you ever wanted to try, that the things that don’t serve you, leave you forever. The person who’s left behind can sometimes seem unrecognizable. But she’s the one who’s fit to lead.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jess
    Dec 29, 2016 @ 20:14:23

    I love this. Thanks for sharing :-*


  2. Nilima
    Dec 29, 2016 @ 20:20:17

    Awww thankss!!! :-*


  3. willworkremotely
    Jan 02, 2017 @ 13:31:05

    It’s been a huge year! Stay true to your energy, and welcome 2017 with open arms 😀


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