Monday, December 27, 2010

The journey is everything

On this day, a year ago my Dad passed away from a single, and his first, cardiac arrest. From the time we broke down his door to the time I immersed his ashes, I tweeted just about everything. Since the past three years, almost my entire life is on Twitter. From my son’s birth to my dad’s death, I’ve tweeted everything. Why? Why do I share intimate details about my life with strangers? I don’t know. I wish there was a single sentence answer to that. There isn’t.

I’d like to believe my real life is boring. And that Twitter, with all its noise and chaos, is my real life. But it’s all the same. I don’t know if there is such a big difference between your real life and your online life. Time is a constant. You choose the places and the people you like. And sometimes they choose you. I got so much warmth and support from Twitter, through that period last year, that it overwhelmed me. Even today, my Dad’s first death anniversary, I got a beautiful, sensitive and supportive email from someone I’ve come to know through Twitter. It has also overwhelmed me with its warmth.

When I was going through hell last year, I got support. Absolute strangers helping me to deal with my loss. In my anger, in my grief, in my rage against things I couldn’t understand, they were there. Even at the prayer ceremony to remember my Dad, they were there. Strangers who didn’t know me beyond my daily, aimless 140-character blurts were there to be with me and give me a hug. It moved me then, it moves me now. Makes me wonder about that saying “smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone”. I cried and it seemed like the world cried with me.

I don’t know why sharing with strangers worked for me. Maybe because I’m not good at being alone, at being quiet, at being pensive. I like talking. About myself, about my very boring and ordinary life that I love and enjoy. About my mediocrity. I can also go on and on. Thankfully, I remember someone even hauling me up on Twitter last year when I became too depressive. I’m glad he did. I did slip into a depression that I’m still not sure I’ve come out of. My grief was still my own. The warmth and love and support help, but the loss is mine and I have to carry it. (Aside: This NewYorker article helped in a very big way because it questions our traditional idea of grieving).

So no, I don’t know what it is about Twitter that works. I’d be daft if I started to talk with strangers in the local train. Or roll down my windows in a traffic jam and tell people that I’m sad and depressed. They won’t care. They don’t need to. But I guess Twitter is different in how it gets us together. All of us together in a journey. Friendships and relationships can get made in journeys. We laugh and cry in journeys. We unite and fight in journeys. We love and lose in journeys. You can choose to be alone in the journey. And you can see the train go by on its journey. All that’s left in the end is the journey. I think, and as the tag line of that very famous movie goes, the journey is everything.