The grass on the other side

Looks greener.

Whoever first said this little cliche wasn’t a garderner. Or wasnt wearing his glasses. Or both. Probably both.

The strawberry sellers in both India and California put the biggest, reddest, prettiest strawberries on top, while underneath there are little ones and funny shaped ones maybe some green ones and god forbid, fungus ones. So maybe the greenest layer of grass is the closest to the eye. But in reality, both sides have plenty of patches of green and yellow and brown when you take a closer look.

Have I lost you yet?

I went to Chennai last weekend to stay at our meditation ashram. Meditation in the morning, meditation at the noon-time, meditation as the sun goes down. Really does something interesting to your mind and makes you realize things.

And did you know that I actually have glasses that I should be wearing all the time? Oh yea, those are somewhere…

Back to my story.

The white American people want to be tan. They tan slowly, burn quickly, go fake tanning, and envy people like me. We Indians tan in seconds and never burn – We just get re- fried :). Since I’ve been brought up in this culture of bathing suits, constant sunlight, hours at the beach under those UV rays, I also enjoy being tan. I always win the “Whose the darkest” contests. And I’m the darkest member of my family, I think. (Jonathan may be tied with me, but I think his tan could just be hippie dust :)). Granted, I spend the most time out in the sun, in as little clothing as culturally allowed. I love the sun, mmm vitamin D.

But here, the beautifully tanned Indian people want to be fair and white. Sunscreen with SPF 100, covered sleeves and faces, face whitening cream, umbrellas and scarves to avoid sun exposure.

Fairness is very much a sign of beauty and well-off-ness. Everyone works so hard at their fairness. Only the poor and working class people are super dark it seems. My granny always shakes her head at me and says, “we really must take care of this sun tan,” meaning my tanned arms and shoulders and legs.” Another person commented on all the freckles on my face (which I personally like). As if this is some sort of serious problem! And I worked so hard at my Goa tan too.

So now i’m confused on what color to try to be. Hmmm. Should I work extremely hard to reverse my tan here, only to most likely go get it back on the beach the first day I land back in California? Hmmm. Where is Michael Jackson when I need him.

By the way, everyone wants to dance like MJ in India. They always ask me about him, haha.

So “Want” seems to be such a fleeting emotion. Based both on the culture around you and what is missing from your immediate life. It’s like peer pressure or something. This just makes me wonder why we allow this temporary “want” to take over our lives?

One of my re-discoveries in Chennai was that “want” leads to this cyclical chain of discontentment. Like my mini dilemma over the color of my skin. Yeesh. It’s like we are creating our own problems.

BUT, if “want” is pushed aside, if it is not the main focus, then we have time to be gardeners. We can water our side of the lawn, plant seeds, grow flowers, pick the dandelions and blow them into the dust (dont you love doing that?).

What I mean is, we can create our own contentment from within. That is a beautiful and powerful thing.

Just a suggestion to myself to stop running in the circles. Go fix the sprinklers. Love the grass. Make it happy and green.

Thanks for reading.

Much love,
More later,

SONIA

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