I went to the general store the other day and decided, on an impulse, to get a different brand of tooth paste for myself. It was weird and at the same time exciting to add it to my cart, after all, for as long as I can remember, I have been using the same brand of toothpaste, the same red color, the same taste. This morning while finally opening the new tube of shiny yellow green paste with cooling crystals, I felt like an adventurer out on her maiden voyage into the unknown..
Hilarious as it may sound, most of us don’t venture out of our habits and comfort zones even for something as mundane as a new kind of toothpaste. It’s not brand fixation that keeps us tied up, atleast not in my case. It is just the comfort of the familiar.
Sadly enough, consumer products are just an example of what we are doing with our lives. I cannot speak for everyone, neither can I generalise (I hate to generalise, as it is). But I have to write about what sparked this seemingly unremarkable or ordinary sounding thought process.
I read quotes like – “Life isn’t supposed to be lived in one place.” – and being a thinking person I understand how right that is, both geographically and intellectually. One has to travel, one has to explore, gain new experiences, let go of the things and people gone by.. One has to grow.. And people don’t grow while being confined to their comfort zones.
One has to try different things, be different people in order to find what one actually is. Experimenting, juggling choices, failing, learning in the process- Everything is important.
While I know all this theoretically, I have never dared to try my luck outside the protective cocoon of my family. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t told what to do and how to do it. A set of instructions were always provided no matter what I decided to do. I understood quite early in my life that simply following the instructions provided, would save a lot of bad blood and complications. I did not know any other way to live.
I had never learnt to live without my support structure. I had never been to a bank till I was forced to do that, at the age of 27 when I joined a job outside my hometown. I had never travelled alone, never taken a bus on my own, never even purchased my own clothing. Everything I needed was taken care of by my parents and the support structure that they had ready for me. I never thought I could have a say in my own life. I was meek, indecisive and confused all at the same time- a recipe for disaster.
Eventually, I rebelled. Because it is crippling, too much love. It is suffocating. It feels like a leash. It leaves too less breathing space for us to grow. It breeds fear, distrust and some degree of lying and manipulating too. I developed a coping mechanism where I didn’t have to share everything I did, at home. I found new confidantes. I found solace in books. Sometimes my coping mechanism bordered on escapism.
I once told my therapist (actually just a medical practitioner, I was talking to) that I am indecisive. I don’t know what to buy, what to wear, what to eat. I am left flabbergasted when provided with choices. That’s the reason I never order at a restaurant. I simply don’t know what to pick. I never learned to choose. He simply asked me, “Do you drive?” I said yes I do. “Do you ask the one sitting shotgun where to turn and which route to take to reach your destination?” I said, ‘mostly no’. “Then you are not indecisive” he said, ” you have to just convert that ‘mostly no’ to a resounding never”.
Simple as that. So I started with the small things, case in point, my new toothpaste. I find a deep seated pleasure, now, in breaking stereotypes, the bigger things, none of that silly toothpaste stuff. I dream of taking it further. Life is too short to be left with regrets at the end.