Notes to Self on a Late Winter's Night
by Pavi Mehta, Sep 4, 2022
A journal entry written only a matter of months ago, but I don't remember writing it - written as it was on the doorsill of sleep in that silver sliver between waking life and slumber - in a winter of heightened uncertainty. I feel myself in a different place now, but recognize in my body, the truthfulness of what this stretch of the road felt like. Am grateful for its imprint.
What do I want to say to myself in this silent time of the night when birdsong has stilled and nighttime cars roll by?
I’m not sure where I’ve been, or where I’m going. My memories are slipping away and I haven’t the heart to chase after them. I’m in a state of suspension - hanging, unsure whether to begin dreaming and doing again. It is an odd state to be in because usually I’m impatient, full of hope and fury.
But right now I am quiet and ready to stretch like a cat in the sun. I want to spend time outside - and on the ground. Nothing feels urgent except living inside my body, feeling the feeling of being inside this skin and looking out through these eyes, hearing with these ears. Everything I touch is touched by these fingers that I know so well, and yet also, not at all. This is the curiosity of these days. I’m filled with very quiet quests. I’m satisfied with the small scope of my life. I don’t want to think about what-ifs. No grand plans, no reaching for the stars. I am happy to look out the window at the reflection of the full moon in the distant water.
I feel far away from much of the world. My words falter when I try to voice what’s in my heart. My heart falters, too. I'm unsure, not so steady in my gaze. Not so certain of what I am feeling.I am more certain of what I do not feel: I do not feel social. I do not feel brimful of goodwill, or very friendly. I am not thrilling, the way I used to, at the beauty and sincerity of other lives. I feel like I am on a narrow street. And I am curiously satisfied with its width and the limits of what’s on offer. I am not interested in broader promenades. Other people can mingle and make merry. Right now I feel content to be in this perfect, paradoxical solitude of two - on the night walk of my husband's long healing. I know this time will pass and my heart will open to the greater world again. I am not in a hurry for that to happen. I want it to arrive in its own time, in its own readiness.
I do not want to belong to any big groups no matter how congenial they are. I do not want to match my thoughts or my feelings to others. I want to be as I am and allowed to unfold in my own way, without the spur of guilt or the tug of inspiration. Let me not be buffeted by other people’s energies. I have moved that way for so long, and now I’d rather not move at all than move in the old way. It isn’t resentment or regret that makes me feel this way; it’s an inkling of rapture - the rapture that’s eluded me all this while because I’ve been listening to someone else’s song instead of my own. I may not be very musically gifted, but that’s beside the point. Better my own humble beat, and raggedy tune than someone else’s grand orchestra twirling me endlessly around.
Why has it taken me so long to value my inner sovereignty? I do not say this with total disregard for other people’s influence. I love the ways in which we are capable of mobilizing one another, but right now I do not particularly want to be put in motion. It’s alright to sit this one out. The dance floor will not miss me. I am sure I will slip back in at some point, but for now I want to take my own turns - follow deep interior impulses and not be beholden to anyone else. There is something luxurious about this renunciation. It makes me feel more myself than I have felt in awhile.
I do not have an image of myself to maintain, and there is a freedom in that. There is no need for me to try and convince either of us that I am service-hearted, compassionate, deeply empathic - or any kind of good. I can be who I am. Full of one thing and then another - unapologetic in my contradictions, and joyfully curious about what comes next.
About the Author
Pavithra Mehta is a writer and poet, coordinator of DailyGood, and a contributing editor for works & conversations.