Of Choices and More…

8:00 AM: I left for Trader Joe’s to buy cucumber as instructed. Fire sounded very serious about picnic plans and I wanted to prove my support. We left for the hike soon after the successful purchase of every item from the list. P.S: None wants to play with Fire.

11:30 AM: The Baby (read: Fire’s niece), Fire and I reached the trailhead after having fought with traffic and found a parking spot (#theStruggleIsAlwaysReal). We started the ascent.

11:45 AM: The name of the trail had rung a bell before but I decided not to jog my memory.  20 minutes into the hike and we reached a bridge. Everything came rushing back to me. I had already 2 of my facebook display pictures clicked here in two different outfits with two different group of people. This was going to be a hattrick for me – 3 consecutive years to the same place with 3 different groups of people. Not cool. Should take this as a signal and try different hikes.

1:00 PM: Fire led the troupe as usual. Baby followed her and I was at the tail-end. The hike got busier as the day and hike progressed. Dogs of all sizes made a point to annoy me. I tried to distract myself by eavesdropping.

Two friends/colleagues, both probably in their late twenties, walked a few feet behind us. The conversation was about the risks they had taken in their lives and relationships. And then something one of them said caught my attention –

Friend 1: But then, I can’t even imagine how my life would have been had I stayed back and continued my job…you know…

Friend 2: Yeah, me too. And I think it is wrong to think like that. When you doubt your life choices and decisions you are in a way disrespecting yourself.

4:00 PM: We reached the trailhead, drank hot coffee and drove back to Seattle.

That sentence about doubting life choices ran in infinite loops in my brain. I had been doubting my decisions for a while now. Every time I saw the numbers on my credit card bills, salary account and student loan account I doubted my decision of coming to the US to pursue my dreams. Dreams are expensive. I could have avoided the debts and the hassles and tension. Every time my grandparents were sick and hospitalized I questioned my choice of leaving India. I wasn’t around when my grandfather passed away. I shall be forever guilty about that. Guaranteed, I would not have been in the position I am at had I not taken the risks. There is no way I could have achieved what I have had I not taken the risks. But still, I do try and imagine how my life would have been had I not taken the steps I did. Maybe life would have been better… or maybe not.

That made me realize… when I doubt my own decisions I am disrespecting myself. Whatever path you chose to walk on was your choice. Just because you had hiccups does not mean you made the wrong one. You gotta walk till you reach the destination. In the end… whatever the deal is… you gotta face the consequences and own up to it. Period.



Wiser on the run…

June 6, 2015.

10:00 AM: It was a sunny Seattle morning and was going to be my last one in Seattle for a while. I was on my way Portland- 3 months at the Nike headquarters. I was excited. I boarded the train. It was going to be a scenic ride.

I noticed her while still struggling with my carry-on luggage. She was pretty and old; her eyes spoke volumes about her suffering; her body language screamed fear, yet her elegance stood out. I know I am no psychologist, but she was an easy read. She looked at me and said ‘Hi’ with a broad yet faded smile. We started talking.

We spoke at length about how we make decisions in life, our relationships (failed and current) and her marriage and mine. She lived the life I fantasized (for a vacation) and I lived hers. She lived in a shell, having an alcoholic for a husband. And I always lived in mine. She never had kids and asked me about mine. I said ‘sure’! I didn’t know why I said that. I quickly calculated her age and mine and realized she was old enough to be my mother!

I had been soul-searching recently and she answered some of my ‘should I? should I not?’ questions. She asked me to wait. We take a lot of decisions to achieve (emotional, physical, financial or mental) stability in life and parking decisions may not be an option in a lot of situations. But she asked me to wait. And I found that to be a better idea than jumping guns. The conversation made me ponder about all the pressing concerns of mine.

What if I decide to stay single all my life? What if I decide to live by myself all my life and not care about what the world had to say about it? What if I gave up the job I disliked? What if I give up on relationships that have been hurting me?  What if I could just say no?

Every word of hers made me wiser. Her voice deepened as she spoke. She regretted her decisions in life and so did I. I am sure all of us have regrets. What is a life without regrets?

Time flew. We reached Portland. She was walking back into her unnerving life and her disappointment was evident. I was sad to let her go. We hoped our paths would cross again. It was a goodbye. How I wish I could keep her with me.

I felt privileged to have had such an impactful conversation with a stranger. It’s funny that we find answers at the most unexpected places. It’s almost as if every person you meet has a purpose. We actually learn something from every person in our life. Maybe ‘meant to be’ has more than one meaning. Maybe some paths are meant to be crossed and some journeys are meant to be taken. That’s how we grow.

Until next train ride…