Written Jan 30, 2012
(Published in Courageous Creativity, a Flying Chickadee publication, March 2012)
I had always felt right-brained, even from the early years. Recognizing my natural inclinations, my father had suggested that I pursue the arts and languages as a primary course of study, but being a straight A-s student growing up in the competitive, Indian middle-class environment of the 80s, I succumbed to implicit pressures, and chose to pursue degrees in electronics and computer science instead. For the last decade, I have had fun writing and designing software, but through the years, my right-brained-ness has sought to express itself through travelogues, photography, cooking, nutrition, music, dance, theater, poetry and an ongoing and evolving curiosity in all of these areas. Believing that my path to fulfillment lay in pursuing one or two of these interests and turning them into a career, I have toyed many a time with the idea of making a 180 degree shift professionally.
Snowed in on this wintry day in early 2012, I reminisce about the fall of 2010, when, in response to a brewing creative urge, I turned in my application for Seattle’s Yoni Ki Baat (YKB), a South Asian show case of original narratives inspired by The Vagina Monologues. I had wanted to return to stage for a while, something I had immensely enjoyed in school and college. The authentic expression and bonding facilitated by YKB gave me a space to connect with kindred spirits, and inspired me to create and share at a deeper level than I had expected to. I remember vividly the evening in my living room, when I was bantering with a friend about alternative forms of love, being that we were both single and in our mid-thirties. It was a couple of days before the deadline to turn in the first draft of my YKB story, and I did not have the faintest clue yet, what I was going to write about! Egged on by what I’d shared with my friend that evening, I brought up the idea with the YKB Creative Director, joking that a piece on ménage-trois might push the YKB envelope. When she came back with “Bring it on!”, a unique idea for a piece on spirituality, balance and sexuality enabling freedom in love, was born! In spite of that initial inspiration, I did have some reservations about presenting an unconventional and bold stance on love that transcends gender and societal stereotypes, because I was unsure about audience receptivity and perceptions. But soon, armed with encouragement from my family and close friends and the resonance from some of the women I met at YKB, I decided to go forth with my idea. A thousand words literally flowed out in a matter of two hours!
The ripples of energy triggered from the performance and which lasted well after the show, blew me away. This experience made me see the beauty and power in just being courageous and authentic, even very vulnerable in an audience’s witness. During the months preceding the show, I also found myself emotionally relating to and invested in the stories the other women brought forth. Soon my mission with YKB subtly changed from just a creative outlet or stage experience to my larger spiritual purpose, enabling me to focus on the sisterhood that had been created, and provide help, encouragement and positive energy wherever needed. In the end, along with creative satisfaction, I walked away from YKB with renewed confidence and a beautiful community, which continues to be a source of joy and inspiration long after the show.
My YKB experience was beautiful because I chose to expend creative energy by being, writing performing and providing support through emotional and editorial input within a larger collective, and the choice was propelled by my love for stage, expression, emotion and humanity. This return to stage opened doors within me, and inspired me to perform at various other local cultural events. These forays were energizing because I chose to express my dormant talents in the art forms that I knew and loved. In the end, we preserve what we love, we love what we understand and we understand what we study. So eventually, love itself is really a choice. I can choose to love something.
The large software conglomerate I work in employs people of myriad backgrounds, skill-sets, and perspectives. My role of Program Manager is like that of a movie director. It is about creating a synergy across all the individual experts, each of whom speaks a different language, and leading their talents to converge into a vision for our products, which ultimately, add value in the lives of our customers.
YKB’s execution into a synergistic, collective and connected experience of growth and evolution showed me parallels between the two worlds, and I realized how they were, though apparently different, actually governed by the same principles. In the pursuit of feeding my hungry right brain, I understood some truths about love, choice and taking creative action, and have now chosen to apply them into the left-brained world that I work in. Or perhaps I have stopped distinguishing between left and right altogether! Rather than relinquish my “left-brained” training and experience or abandon my scientific and analytical acumen, I have chosen to find connectedness, beauty and love in the world of technology, steering my career in a direction that involves end-user experiences and collaborative work – work that forges connections and that creates beauty. I now choose to see it and act on it differently, I choose to love it, and I choose to see its beauty.
I want to leave you with my musings on beauty. Notice how beauty or its magnetism is something you feel and never something you think about. Beauty stems from emotion. What is emotion after all? No matter what kind it is – attraction, grief, regret, pride, fear, anger, stress…or even “a creative urge,” emotion is energy that is built up due to an unresolved idea or an issue that is not fully understood, which blocks free energy flow through our existence. In the process of understanding and seeking resolution, should one choose to, one builds pathways and solutions, and therefore creates. Creating is the act of changing the state-of-the-art for the better and thereby eventually unlocking mysteries of the world and of the mind. Creating is thence a way of finding purpose to our existence. So, it is important that we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, even the negative ones, and address them. We will then find ourselves building pathways and connections. These, in turn, become conduits for energy flow, and when energy flows freely within and through, what it radiates is called beauty. And in that state, the only remaining emotion is bliss, which is the bedrock of authentic strength and power.