‘Why do you do this, Dipika? What’s in it for you?’ After publishing 186 issues of my mini-mag S P A C E, I know now. I updated the crowdfunding campaign page for it, and there I have outlined my reason. This is why.
Some of us are growing. Some of us are changing.
It is easy to get lost in loss.
The feelings are there, and you don’t know what to do with them, and grief overtakes you. I’ve written about childhood grief, and I’ve written about pregnancy loss that wasn’t quite as simple as it sounds due to a genetic anomaly.
I’ve also written about the loss of community and culture, (owing to often moving, whole continental shifts at times). People change. You change. We drift; it’s natural.
So true, with internet taking over our mind space and people unable to distinguish what’s you according to you, and what they think of you being so it fits their ideas of you, ie, you according to them.
I was reading about this phenomenon today over here.
When someone labels you for you and then expects you to conform to their idea of you, it’s quite disrespectful. Right?
Questions, conversations. Comments, stories. Readings. All of this, digested, processed, reviewed.
This short eBook is a collection of what came, from there.
Reflections on a year of ‘thrashing,’ to come back to a quiet moment and find out where it was that one began, as far as what one had said at the beginning in youth, what is that, again?, and where one wants to take it, in the Second Half.
‘Life Part 2, is what this is about. I mean, not really. It’s more of getting into the mindset of starting that new thing. I think I’m just at the intermission right now. Sorting it out. Ha, as if that’s a thing you can do really easily. It’s fun, though, talking to people about this topic. It’s interesting and cool, and occasionally quite unimpressive. That, I think, is what this is. Life isn’t so extraordinary now, it’s just what it is. And next? I want to be careful about getting too caught up in goal-setting and forget to do some actual enjoying, for Life Part 2. But that’s just me.
‘A sharing. Unfiltered. In an era where the authentic and unedited isn’t as easy to find, so much, here I am.’ -Dipika Kohli
One of my favorite things to do is host an online writing workshop, called The Mirror.
It is a set of writing prompts, that also includes an interactive component.
There is a lot to say about the purpose of reflection, including the pandemic-related focuses on ‘what am I doing?’ and ‘what’s really important?’ bringing the importance of the big work of thinking clearly about one’s own self-knowledge into a sharper relief.
Learn more at my personal site, dipikakohli.com, and check ‘eWorkshops’.
My best friend was on that plane, along with her brother and her mother. It was the weirdest and most surreal feeling, ever, to see that story reported on national news. But we didn’t talk about it, out loud. We never did, at home. Emotional topics were not to be brought up, and ‘bad things’ cast aside, and ‘past is past’ invalidating anything close to an actual feeling. This is how childhood grief can solidify and stifle someone. I worked out some of that with people, years later. Another girl who, like me, was watching in horror as it all unfolded, us talking many years later, like the little kids still grappling with it that we, emotionally, still really were.
Many years later, I went to see the Air India Memorial in person and joined the service on this day that was held there, in Ahakista, with the kids playing their instruments and locals laying out foodstuffs on white tablecloths in the outdoor setting so we could all mark the moment together. What a story. I wound up living in Ireland not far from there. I wound up seeing the black-and-white, three-d reality of the memorial. It was the closest I had had, til then, of closure. Because we ‘don’t get emotional,’ at home. Because of that. Closedness to the heart. At age 10 I stuffed away this pain. At the memorial, I could open that box and see what was in it. And there I found a part of myself that had been set aside for so, so long. The part that was still crying.
I wrote the story Kanishka after visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar and talking to Salim Jiwa, the author of the book The Death of Air India Flight 182. I also did a writing residency at a place in northern India, in Preetnagar, with some very excellent people including Poonam Singh. Who understood the nature of my e-query, to their first-iteration version of the residency program back then. I sent a note through the form, in which I asked if I could come and stay and write and listen to their angle on the things that had happened, which affected them, too. ‘Operation Blue Star…’ Unhesitatingly I was invited. Then, Kanishka was published as a serial in Ms. Singh’s magazine, in 2015. As I learned at that time, it was to be the first-ever English-language series. That felt good, for this Punjabi-American, to hear.
It’s in my story, what I heard. It’s not a historical piece or a journalistic one, but it’s the story I could tell. As honestly and true and deeply as I could. The loss of my best friend, at age 10. In a terrorist attack on her airplane.
The question is, who do you write for. Let me think about this out loud a little. Someone once answered this question in the exact way that I would have, had I been asked it, in the interview, in which she was. This wasn’t a video, or a podcast, this was a magazine article I had read in the days when magazines were in print.
It was a common practice for me to wander down to the Seattle waterfront, meander around in Pike Place Market, pick up something nice for later in the day, and get magazines. Print ones. From the news stand there. Today? Hm. I wonder if people read anything longer than paragraph or a blunted bit of social media, these days. Honestly I think there is too much of too much altogether and I can’t really keep up with it.
Still, I do write. I write a lot. I write for a handful of people now, though, and I hardly share any of it, publicly. People used to ask me, when I left newspapers and moved into design, then switched again to writing (memoirs and now zines), these kinds of deeply intrusive questions (all of which I avoid) but the one that I will let them ask me is: Who do you write for? Is a massive question that, for me, hasn’t had a different answer for 20 years. I write, I would have said, as another author once did, for myself, and strangers.
After serious personal reflection during a 20-month stint in Vietnam for ‘solitude‘ and ‘waiting,’ it has become obvious to me what to do when you need to make some exemplary shifts in your life.
Choices, personal journeys, the states of being, and clean breaks are the topics of this 8- or 12-week series of prompts. Look forward to sharing snippets of golden nuggets from dozens of conversations and readings of psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists on the topic of ‘estrangement’. Why this topic?
It started for me with an awareness, a very particular one, that those who are already registering for the Mirror will be able to read as soon as Friday. That is when I will send out the orientation packets. The topic is ‘Awareness.’ Naturally. (Everyone everywhere says that’s the first step. So, too, ought it be, with Mirror.)
There is a fee to participate but no cost to apply.