I am stuck creatively, so I’m writing in my blog.
And I drew this:
(with a pen. At SCA last night. Where I was paying attention, but found myself doodling because I was listening and didn’t have anything to say.)
The one thing it does do is keep me from listening to ghazals or watching bharat natayam videos on YouTube or any of a number of things that are not actually constructive exercises in removing creative blocks. If somebody figures out what a constructive exercise as pertains to this looks like, please share. I have been making thumbnails. I have been reading. I went outside and drew little tiny pictures of web pages for an hour. I made diagrams. I labeled the diagrams.
And still nothing.
And so then I remembered this blog, and how sometimes it helps to just regurgitate the random stuff in my head. Here’s hoping I’m not wrong.
The main thing distracting me at the moment was my recent discovery of the White Hindu blog, which has made me sort of giddy all day since finding it, because before I was this random person who is also inexplicably obsessed with India, and now I know there are other people out there like me, and while I’m still very strange, I’m the same kind of strange as somebody else, and that comforts me. (As does the use of long run-on sentences coupled with long sentence fragments.)
This is fairly normal for me. My mom and dad are culture nuts, and they were very open and accepting of different beliefs, cultures, people, etc. My mother worked for the Minority Affairs office at the University of Kansas before I was born, and has wonderful stories of the people she knew through that job – the Potawatamie Indian with whom she went to pow-wows; the man from Gabon; the dances and dinners she attended. We have portraits of great Native American chiefs in our den. We listened to world music. We ate all kinds of non-American foods. My mother, previously a devout and strict Catholic, became a student of spirituality after leaving the MaryKnoll order (the Catholic missionary order, of which she was a novice for 6 months) and because of this I am a firm believer in reincarnation and karma and dharma, even if those things were never described to me in that way (she’s now an Episcopalian, and I realize I just outed her weird). I usually don’t mention this in the same conversation as what it means to me to be Episcopalian, because these things are not exactly the same.
When I started to think about where this obsession with India came from, I started to remember these things about my childhood, primarily the fact that I went to a Montessori school with the Patel sisters and Shyamal Brambhatt (I don’t recall if this is the exact spelling; I was four when I knew him) and Matthew Pannikar and, most notably Jaydeep Desai. My parents were friends with Jaydeep’s parents. They owned a small motel in town (as many Gujarati immigrants do) and we were at their house fairly regularly from the time I was four until they moved away when I was 13 or so. We visited them in Texas (Houston, I think) a couple of times in my teenage years, but they were a big part of my more formative childhood years. I remember the fiery chutney Mrs. Desai made, and how their house smelled, and the Ganesh on their home mandir, under the bindi-ed portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Desai’s grandparents, and the box of assorted mukhwas that I totally upended onto the carpet in their living room. I really remember Jaydeep’s Nintendo system. We didn’t have a Nintendo. This made him Very Cool. In the 7th grade, Mrs. Desai dressed me in a sari for our Geography lesson on India. I wore the bangles and the bindi and the jewelry and I felt like a princess for 45 minutes.
And then I sort of forgot about these things during high school. In the 12th grade, I took a sort of spiritual journey, and also classes on Paganism (more specifically Wicca). I practiced that for about 6 months before I decided that it wasn’t really speaking to me, and came back to the Episcopal church.
Now it’s sort of 10 years after that, but this is a bit different. I think the things that didn’t connect me to the Pagan path are things that are drawing me to India and Hinduism. Modern pagans are creating their own history and culture, something that is a little too close to the American experience for me (which, for some unknown and inexplicable reason, is not something I relate to easily); India is an ancient place with a rich history and tradition, and Hinduism is a big part of that. I don’t know where this puts the Episcopal church and that tradition. That has been in my family for generations, and it’s still very important. It still may be. I don’t know that yet. If I’m honest with myself, there’s a chance that I will go through this with an even stranger set of mismatched beliefs, but I feel that each journey is part of the path to God, and I am not the one to say that one is more valuable than the other. My own journey is the one that is right for me.