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I AM A CREATURE FIRST
When I cannot sleep at night and my dark imagination is doing its work to produce night narratives, horrible scenarios of illness, suffering, death, I am reminded of how I am a tiny creature first, no more significant than a cockroach to frightened, slipper wielding females. Those that kill will be killed and we are all killers. To eat is to kill; to breathe, to be, is to kill. There are times in your life when you have to get into some self-definition – no, not just times, but self-definition is important to gain clarity about your life. These self definitions can and do change often like all changing things in this changing world. When I cannot sleep I realize and take comfort in the fact that I am a creature first, a frightened (though hardly admitting it to myself and never to others) being, no different from cockroaches and spiders, that suffer, have appetites, and fears their demise. Next, I am a human (huwoman?) that reflects on her creatureliness and needs all sorts of things to feel gratified; third, a writer who reflects on both her creatureliness and her huwomanness; fourth I am a Sikh, since for my peace of mind and need for ecstasy I follow the path prescribed in the Granth Sahib.
There was a time I thought of myself as a writer first, then a God-oriented person, and my creaturely humanness was just a pit I fell into occasionally, by accident. It wasn’t a fundamental truth of my being.
Oddly, the thought of myself as a creature first is very comforting now. It allows me to be everything I am, freely. It helps me function on a level that is less stressful than thinking of myself as, say, an enlightened (which I am not) or evolved being. There is no striving here: nothing to achieve, nothing to struggle for and become, just an experience of existence as it has been given to me to experience. There is something sweet and expansive about it. Yes. When I think of myself as an institutional Sikh (which I am not), or something more, on the other end of the spectrum, I feel I have to be and do all sorts of things to feel good about myself. It puts me in the tourniquet of ‘shoulds,’ trips me up ever so often and makes me quite unhappy. But if I think of myself as a Sikh whose only task is to think of the matrix of existence, wonder at it, praise it, and be as good a person as I can be (in terms of interaction with others, no matter who or of what status in life) considering I also have a bad, shadow side, then being a Sikh gives me a path in the frightening forest of life that I rather enjoy treading. It is a lovely, winding path, perhaps a path like the ones I hike upon near our Kullu home, lined with ancient deodars, their roots jutting out to provide steps on steep inclines, and moss and lichen matted boulders. Much beauty, here.
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