Hope, Love, and Alekhya
And a dash of poetry
I’m writing this to you sitting in an Apple Orchard tucked away on a mountain in Parvati Valley in Himachal Pradesh. Almost 8000 feet above sea level. Those who know me, know this is where we host the Alekhya Writers Retreat. I talk about it nonstop to everyone I meet. It’s the place where I’ve had many life changing moments, realisations, discoveries and found the precious of all things: a love for dogs.
This is my fifth Alekhya. As a writer it’s quite crucial to step away from your daily life, the everyday self, that person who wakes up and thinks about their to-do lists, that person who worries about restocking things at home, that person who struggles with maintaining the few friendships they still have, that person who works out of habit and not out of sheer joy. You leave these selves behind and retreat into the core of who you really are. Rediscover them, that person who found squiggly lines on a page fascinating, that person who sat up all night and afternoon reading a book with a rare abandon, that person who knows the world can’t intrude into the little bubble of space and time they’ve created, albeit briefly, to sit within and take a long deep breath. A calming breath.
Like Spider-man would say as he swung across the midnight skyline of New York City, “time to clear the cobwebs.” And cleared they have been. I haven’t seen myself in such crystal clarity in what feels like years (though it’s just been a wild few months, to be honest).
I’ll return to the madness of my daily existence far sooner than I would like to. As you read this, I’m probably on my way home (or home already), but within me I’m carrying the calm of the mountains, the dogs, the silences that stretch between us humans, the good kind, the light kind, the comfortable kind. It’s within this silence that we’ll find all the words we need, and realise that we never needed any to begin with.
If I’m making no sense, I get it. And if I’m making a lot of sense, I get that too. This juxtaposition is what I thrive in most where everything we know and don’t know exists at the same time, quantum bodies of thought, held within our marvellous brain, assisted by the soul, cheered on by our heart, all while the stomach calls the shots.
Maybe I’ll be a little more clearer in the next newsletter. Talk about what I’ve been alluding to and why these moments of self discovery are taking place at such high frequency. Or maybe I won’t. I don’t plan out these things. A younger me used to; he used to worry about the plan, the list of initial ideas, stay married to them. But the me now only says what needs to be said. When it needs to be said.
And You, dear reader, who give me your time and your attention, the highest currency there is, I thank you for sticking around. And being.
Alongside recommending things, I’m starting a new section I’m calling collections.
Much of my thought process is cynical — I’m almost convinced that humans will forever take us down a path of dystopia. #ThanosWasRight. Just look at all that’s happening in the world. Yet I keep returning to the words of Sam Gamgee.
Frodo: What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
For me, I find the good in this world at Alekhya. A place worth fighting for. Whenever I’m here, I’m filled with an irreplaceable feeling of hope. That the world is and can be a better place.
In my experience, nothing captures hope like a poem. So here is a small collection of poems distilled with hope.
Words to leave behind
One of the best things about being at a writers retreat is that you can spend days talking about books, writing and all the other worldly philosophical topics that don’t get enough wriggle room in our daily conversations. I asked my fellow writers at the retreat what hope means to them. Here is what they had to say.
Hope is the absence of doubt; the flower of faith; faith in oneself or one’s God; the flower that knows that it will survive, survive the weather, the pests, the lightning and one day ripen into fruit.
- Tony Xavier (follow him here)
Hope is like the warmth of the sun after weeks of rain. Hope is surrendering to the ‘what is’ yet being open to new possibilities.
- Gayatri Aptekar (follow her here)
Nasha koi bhi ho, usse yaad humari he aaye.
- Shreya Sikka (follow her here)
Hope is a place of rest in the present.
- Shalvi Shah (follow her here)
Hope is remembering how to love again.
- Akshay Gajria (follow me here)
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