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  • Writer's picturejohnny b

kolkata: finding my truth.

sure, i have a voice, quite sexy if i may say so myself.  i had a voice, have a voice, and as long as no one rips out my vocal cords will always have a voice.  i am a social human being who tends to get along with people fairly well, fairly quickly.  but because my vocal cords are vibrating, does that mean i am speaking my truth?

over the past few years i began to understand that in order to answer this question, i had to begin the journey of self discovery and fully realize what my truth is. the further i dive into my inner being, the answer becomes more and more clearly.  the words that i have spoken in the past were words of protection, for myself, for others.  i carried myself in a way that was rather pleasant to be around, but was very non-confrontational. at times allowing others to be insanely comfortable around me, in spite of the fact that i was extremely uncomfortable, existing with constant anxiety.

so the challenge here is, "can i still carry on a life of compassion for others, love for others, respecting the needs of others, while being compassionate to myself, loving myself, and respecting my needs?  can i balance the two in a way that provides there to be a constant flow of love for all?"

before leaving on my journey i requested friends to provide reading recommendations of

any and every genre.  ekhart tolle, mitch albom, mark manson, angie thomas were some of the authors recommended.  to start, ekhart tolle was an easy grab since it came recommended by everyone under the sun "the power of now", and of course i was running off to buddha land for a new perspective on life.  i decided to pop that as my audio book cherry and downloaded "the hate u give" by angie thomas on my kindle, which was recommended by a solid, open minded, yearning for learning teacher friend.

eckhart tolle will take some time to get through as he is attempting to help you rewire your mind.  guiding us to literally rethink how we process life, and practice changing the wiring upstairs.  

"one day you may catch yourself smiling at the voice in your head, as you would smile at the antics of a child.  this means that you no longer take the content of your mind all that seriously, as your sense of self does not depend on it."

it takes time, but in order to discover your own personal truth, that you once were embodied by as a child, you must go through the trenches. whether you are a part of the LGBTQQIP2SAA, or are a member of the third A that is sometimes added (ally), we all have a lot of distractions, weeds, cyclical thought processes in our minds that have been built over time, that get in the way of living in the moment.  through meditation, awareness, guidance from a professional such as a therapist, you can and will be able to overcome these recurring thoughts that lack compassion and are heavy in judgement upon yourself and others.  being able to laugh at one's own thoughts, there's a lot of available power here, power that will create an everlasting happiness and ability to enjoy the power of now. 

as i listened to tolle through my earbuds, and read the words of thomas while on the plane/in kolkata during down time, i remembered the importance of this trip was for me to be aware of my own thoughts.  to acknowledge when i'm not in the now and understand what track was currently playing like a broken record.

if it is "hey jude" by the beatles, great, double down on that track. hit repeat, smile, laugh, dance it up like no one friend or foe is watching. if it is "mad world" by michael andrews...why is it playing? what are you thinking about? do these thoughts serve you well? if not, how do we break it? place less judgement on yourself and others, know that it is going to be ok, and rewire how you approach this potential run-in from the past. locate the silver lining, how can you learn from this. learn from it, and repeat. create a new habit that will allow you to find joy in life and allow you to be indestructable if this situation ever, happens, again.

as these two books were guiding the journey of my thoughts, there were many times when i actually wasn't thinking about anything else but what was hitting my senses, because don't forget...i was in kolkata!

kolkata was a very overwhelming stop for me, and as i look back, glad it was my first.  kolkata is populated by almost 4.5 million people and is situated on the east side of india.  the little i knew about kolkata, it was where the selfless mother teresa vowed to serve the poor of the city and gave up everything to do so.  from a spiritual level, an interest into tuning more into the compassionate side of me, a side i was scared to show most of my life because it is not as masculine as i was given the impression was ok growing up, i sought out her residence and site of work.  from her simple room with a twin size bed, situated above the kitchen, and

without air conditioning, it was obvious that worldly matters did not matter.  at this site, the areas that were open to the public contained a museum which provided knowledge of her upbringing and her personal journey to kolkata, periodicals of her selfless work, and other rich history detailing out the amazing individual she was.  

by far, i enjoyed reading excerpts from speeches she had given, words she had lived by.  "intense love does not measure it just gives."  to give and not be concerned how the receiver will react, to not expect any action or words of appreciation, to not expect to receive absolutely anything in give just to give, that is intense love. 

after receiving insight on how to better myself, i prayed and paid my respects at her grave which was now in the chapel of the facility.  i visited kolkata because it was one of a few options to connect through to get to bhutan and i took it as an opportunity to feel india.  visiting mother teresa gave this visit purpose i did not see coming.

between the victoria memorial, st. paul's cathedral, eating some gulab jamun and rasgulla, and mother teresa's home, the most stimulating aspect of the city were the streets of the commoners.  kolkata does have a dense poor population, sparking an unbelievable calling for mother teresa.  having reception on my phone in order to view maps was very helpful as the city was constantly busy.

from a variety of smells from the thousands of street vendors and constant traffic, to colors of clothing and architecture reaching every nook and cranny of the rainbow, people bathing in areas of a side street here and there, farm animals brought to the city for eventual slaughter roaming around certain neighborhoods, to each and every automobile on the streets honking their dam horn like it was a third pedal...stimulation overload.  it also didn't help that it was constantly borderline 100°F and so humid i looked like i was constantly jumping in and out of a pool. nonetheless, culture shock is the bast way to put this visit.  i shook hands, kissed babies, and only said no to anyone asking me to go on a stroll down the alley.  everyone in kolkata was pleasantly nice, some seeking me to buy a "cheap" suit and others purely interested in where i was roaming from in order to trade stories to pass the time. 

angie thomas was a pleasant voice in my head for this trip.  "the hate u give" is a young adult novel which follows the journey of a high school student named starr who witnesses the police shooting of her unarmed friend.  it takes an approach to understand and display how this type of incident affects anyone and everyone involved on the victims side (which is typically not highlighted or if it is, simply and utterly misunderstood by most), and goes deeper by exposing other aspects of their lives as in the community, school, gang life, etc.  i am not interested in discussing the politics of this issue, but did find a common thread in the novel which i was able to relate with and came as a surprise.  starr, the teenage girl who witnesses the police shooting of her friend, has a lot of thoughts running through her head. identity issues which come up with her white friends at her school outside the majority african american community she lives in, stories from her childhood which was not always the safest which starr does not want to discuss with her white boyfriend, and relationships she has with her white friends that she does not acknowledge or speak to her black friends about.  these are all forms of starr silencing herself, affects of her community being marginalized.  she silences herself out of fear for having to deal with actually discussing the truth and the confrontation which will ensue.  she is afraid to be seen and be judged.  she is afraid to be seen and not understood.  she has been brought up with the understanding that being herself may not be good enough.  

this thought process i know of all to well. not wanting to be seen out of fear of being judged, hated, rejected. therefore silencing myself in order to protect myself and keep others comfortable.  as starr began to confront these walls she created throughout her childhood in response to the police brutality of her friend, she began to develop her true voice, speak her true being. 

so, to answer the questions from above, can i be compassionate for myself and compassionate for others, while still providing love to both sides? of course the answer is yes. we must remember though that when you are silenced, anger, angst, saddness, has built up in ways that your mind is overflowing. your attempt to unsilence yourself may come with unwanted attitude, frustration, confusion, struggle. you are not only changing the script you have with yourself but also with every single person that you have a relationship with. you are becoming more you, something others have not seen. so place as little judgement on yourself as possible, practice speaking your truth as much as possible so the anger, angst, sadness will go away and it will be replaced by your true being.

do not measure the love you give, just give. patiently unsilence yourself with compassion and unconditional love for all. never forget.

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