” Nothing has any meaning other than the meaning Ive assigned to it. “
Seems a simple enough concept to understand and accept, until you realise that it applies to everything and….everyone.
To say that a spoon or a picture means nothing, other than the meaning Ive assigned to it, is easy enough to accept and understand.
Today, with a sudden flash of understanding though, I realised that this principle also applied to my aspirations, my relationships as well as, my ultimate dreams.
Like the “House in the hills.”
I have thought, that ever since I could remember, Ive wanted to ‘own’ my dream house in the hills.
A house that was perfect in every way.
Had all of my perfect rooms, reading nooks , fireplaces, huge kitchen, cosy living rooms etc etc.
I realise now, that with every other little dream that crashed and burnt, my dream house became a little more ‘perfect’.
Every relationship that hurt, every loved one that I lost, atleast I still had my dream house.
Nobody could take that away from me.
My ‘ House in the Hills ‘ , my dream home, would make up for ALL the hurt, the loss and the let downs along the way and all would be ultimately well, when I finally got to it. I WOULD have my ” Happily ever after”. There was no two ways about that.
The egoic mind attaches itself to various anchors and builds fortresses to keep safe. The anchor can be relationships , people, jobs , bank balances, name and fame…the list is literally endless.
The soul almost always gets buried under all of this clutter. Almost.
It never stops shining through the clutter. Never stops calling out to you. Never stops urging and nudging you. When you feel invested in something you feel ought to give you joy and it doesn’t – the soul is responsible. When you feel a sudden spurt of joy in something totally unexpected and against your conditioning, thats your soul again.
A lot has led up to this moment today, when Ive realised completely and irrevocably that the ” House in the hills” has no other meaning other than what Ive assigned to it, over all these years.
Today I forced myself to look at when this ” House in the Hills ” was born.
It was born the day that my grandfather died. I grew up in Dehra Dun in a home that my mom and nanaji built when I was very little and my sister “littler ” still.
My first memories are of running up and down the little ‘ hills’ of stones and cement and sand that were piled up at the building site of our home. Nanaji sitting in a folding chair in the sun, reading his newspaper, taking turns with mommy in supervising the workers. Im not even sure if that is a real memory.
My mind plays tricks on me Ive realised, to get me even more emotionally invested than I am.
I do not remember the day the house was finally complete, I do not remember moving in. I do not remember our first moments there.
This is what I DO remember –
I remember waking to the sounds of the clear, crisp mornings, to nanaji doing the japuji sahib in our prayer room, to the sounds of naniji busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen or cribbing at the jamadar bhaiya for not cleaning properly, to the feeling of pure joy on being cuddled by mommy , nani and nanaji.
I remember mornings when I used to run into nanaji’s room to climb into his arms as he listened to his radio- the feel of his open beard as it tickled me- the wonderful smile that crinkled up his face and beamed out of his beautiful eyes. The feeling that we were the most precious things in the world- most loved, most cherished – my sister and I.
I remember nani singing ” oh oontha walia ” in her sweet lilting voice at my prodding. Me jiggling the sweet flab under her arms whilst she told us bedtime stories. Her cooking in that beautiful kitchen which felt as if it was always filled with light. Making simple meals now that I look back, but the taste of which I have never found again, except in my little sisters cooking.
I remember laying out the table for naniji , helping her and mommy clear up, and putting plates in the sink which my sister and me had to step on a wooden stool to reach.
I remember watching nani dress up every evening for tea…putting on her pearls and a hint of lipstick. Tea felt like an important and lovely tradition, even if there was no one coming to it except us.
I remember mommy braiding my hair whilst trying to get both me and my sister ready for school. I remember nanaji and mommy playing taash in the afternoons whilst Archu and me sat at either end of the radiogramme with our ears glued to each speaker and singing along with our favourite songs.
I remember each room of that house , the pride naniji took in it, the pride that rubbed off on me. I remember the bead curtain that mommy suddenly decided to make separating the living room and the dining room. I remember her collection of Russian dolls in the display cabinets that I longed to hold.
Most of all, I remember the lime, litchi and mango trees in our backyard, the hedges and plants that for some reason , I would speak to, the Christmas trees outside that were planted and were shorter than me but soon became my height and then way way taller than me.
I remember playing oonch- neech , ghar ghar with my hapless cousin who we gave no choice in the matter ( 2 girls against 1 boy), Ramu Ramu , wrapping mommys dupattas around our heads, pretending to have long hair.
I remember the sheer beauty of it raining outside whilst we were all cosy inside- wrapped up in love.
The peace , the tranquility, the nature, the weather , the cold water from the taps but most of all , the love. The family. The togetherness. The feeling of being loved and protected, the feeling that all was well in my world.
That is what I felt that house represented.
And when nanaji died, with it that feeling did too. I tried desperately to find that feeling in other things and people. In every house I moved to, I tried to recreate that feeling. Maybe I even did, for my children. I don’t really know.
I know I did not find it the way I remembered it.
Thats when I started to build the ” House in the Hills ” in my heart. Where that feeling would finally be.
Like I said, every hurt, every disappointment, just made me look forward to that house more, made that house more desirable, more appealing.
But my wretched soul. It knows the truth and will not allow me to turn my face away from it.
The ” House in the Hills ” only has meaning because Ive assigned that meaning to it.
My soul knows that the attaining of it, will not bring me the ultimate joy Im seeking. That joy lies in my world right now, right under my nose. In the little moments that make up my day now with my loved ones. In the shared cups of coffee with my husband, first thing in the morning. The little jokes that only the two of us understand, in the ” together huggies ” we all give eachother. In the precious time we spend with our families, friends…. our loved ones.
As my realisation grows that love is right here, right now, Im happy to let my ” House in the Hills ” fade away. Its rooms are pretty wonderful but they do not hold the key of my happiness.
That key is right here in my hand now.