I have been putting off this 2016 memoir of sorts for weeks now. Because somehow, I am edging towards the belief that counting your life in years – both age and year – is probably the most pointless thing we have been taught to do. Like most things you’re taught to do, this plays on your self esteem sometimes because some things that you go through are inevitable. Some delays, some failures, some change of plans. And the only thing that really comes in the way of happily going with the flow is measuring achievements in days and years. Which is why one of the things I hate most about corporate jobs of our day and age is the annual review cycle. Not because it makes me feel like a failure (oh never! I usually have a good one and it is either because I am really good or the person on the other side of the table is just afraid of what I might do if I don’t like what I hear. Could be either one, really) but because growing and learning is an ongoing process. Putting it into 1 year size boxes is pretty pointless. But I digress. The point I was trying to make is that even as I try to move away from measuring myself in months and years, 2016 has been one hell of a year. It’s been the kind of year that truly needs documenting. More so because it felt like I have come a full circle. In more ways than one.
Most of this year had a recurring theme. The big move back. The excitement, the madness, the getting overwhelmed, the little bits of disappointment. The homecoming. The full circle.
Living away had me romanticising about home a whole lot more than I was used to when I lived here. In the middle of some of the conversations I had and some of things I heard, I was astounded with the sheer amount of disappointment I felt. When the hell did gender, colour, nationality become so important in my world? Why didn’t I remember it? Or does nostalgia really come with rose-tinted glasses? And yet, it was always easy to find reassurance. A conversation here, a tweet there, a road trip somewhere else. That is just as easy to find here at home. You just know where to look.
And that is pretty much the end of the bad part of 2016 :)
In the good parts, I wrote more than I had in the last few years. Because. The feels. I read a whole lot more. I moved to e-books late last year. And suddenly, in the absence of the middle man (bookstore), there was just so MUCH to read. I literally flowed from fiction to business to memoirs to everything else. Very few blogs though. Strangely refreshing.
I also travelled a lot. Let us see. 3 countries. 3 islands. 16 cities/ towns. 3 road trips. 4 buses. 11 flights. And with one last road trip and one more town left to go. Also, 3 temporary and 3 somewhat permanent homes. It’s truly been a year of being on the road. Of seeing things I didn’t expect to see in the places I did. Of meat chawal in the mountains. Of riding motorcycle in the Himalayas and feeling the cliched wind in my hair and crossing borders in a car in South East Asia. Of rediscovering Coorg. And adding a little Coonoor to the mix. Of even crossing the story high seas on a wooden boat. Of many, many trips home. To parents, baby sister, friends. To cousins, nieces and a lone nephew. It was a year of reconnecting, rediscovering, taking it all in. It was a year of finding my roots AND my wings – both at the same time.
It was also the year of finding my restlessness, my game again. It was about moving on, more than once. It was about knowing the perfect time and the perfect state of mind to really move on in the hunt for something new, something fresh, something good. It was the year of remembering that restlessness is what defines me. The more I run away from it, the more it takes me in. And it was, in many many ways, about accepting it along with the borderline neurosis it can cause me.
And while a lot of this year has been about being overwhelmed by the constant din of discontent and questions that we didn’t know we’d need to ask – both close home and places far far away – most of it also ended in a tiny sliver of hope. Of a little clarity just seeping through the haze and flurry I had surrounded myself with all of this year.
I can definitely say that 2016 was probably the year I achieved (?) practically nothing useful and what I did “achieve”, in the traditional sense of the word (you know.. Career and work wise) didn’t have much use for me anymore. And yet, I was brave. And sometimes, that’s all you really need to be.
I had missed posts that read the way this one does as much as I had missed feeling like I was on to something new. On to something not as easy or comfortable as predictability but something that seems to me a whole lot better right now.
Yet again, 2016 was the year of wondering and wandering. More than ever before. It was the year of moving forward and yet, retracing some of those old tracks. And finding out, eventually, that this didn’t mean I was moving backwards. It just meant I was coming a full circle. That life was coming a full circle. And it has. And if I have learned one thing in my 30+ years of seeing life turn out the way it always does, it is knowing when to be grateful. Or full of hope. And December this year has been all about that.
So here you go – thank you, 2016.