Sep 13, 2010

Everything once

"I'll try everything once," I said to a team of hairdressers, PR persons and journalists sitting around a round lunch table at Yorks & Albany, London.

My comment left quite a few faces frozen in various stages of wicked giggling. "Everything?" someone asked. "Everything," I confirmed.

We had just had a conversation about how glue and hairsprays can give you a 'high', and intrigued, I had said: "Now that's something I need to try then." Of course, they had all shaken their heads in disapproval – that is, before I made my scandalous point (scandalous only to those who have dirty minds!).

But after the giggles had died down and the eyebrows had stayed up, I internally debated my inadvertent self-disclosure. "Even if it is unhealthy?" "Even if it is illegal?" "Even if it is morally unethical?" The questions shot themselves at me.

I am no saint, not yet. But I do believe I am a better person mostly because I have allowed myself to experiment with both wrongs and rights whenever they crossed my path.

In fact, after having tried them out, I feel there isn't any wrong or right at all. It's all about the context, the perspective of who is doing it, and the intention. Something that seems wrong or unethical or illegal or unhealthy at a certain point, may be the opposite in some other situation. And something that seemed like the right thing to do in the past, may become your biggest regret in the future.

So getting a 'high' from a hairspray is not even worthy of a naughty giggle from me. It is a discovery, an education – as long as I just do it ONCE.

The one-time rule gives me control: If the experience serves me in my quest towards self-growth and spiritual independence, I try to make it a habit. If it takes me towards dependence, ill-health or a sense of false identity, I never repeat it.

The trick lies in knowing WHO YOU ARE. I may have once had blonde highlights and still have a tattoo, but it does not define me. I tried it out – just like I tried out coloured contact lenses, bungee jumping, crazy food, intoxicants, failures, various kinds of meditation and all forms of love. They have added masala to my experiences and depth to my character. I am able to understand others who have been there, or empathise with those who are trapped. I am able to stay non-judgemental. I am even able to advise better – and everyone knows how fond I am of sharing gyan. :)

And most important of all, I have had fun.

It is perfectly possible to give up on the material world, its pleasures and its pains, and achieve enlightenment. That is what the sages do. But I am a mere woman, full of desires and yearnings and dreams. I find it is as effective to define and surpass myself by allowing myself a taste of all of them.

Just once.