Author Archives: Dipika Kohli
The Second Half of the Forth
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’.
An anniversary: 37 years after the death of Air India Flight 182
June 23. It’s this day in 1985. That we lost the people who were on board Flight 182 of Air India. A plane called Kanishka.
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.
Of childhood grief
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.
Making new things, with #spacethezine
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.
‘Who do you write for?’
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?
Awareness is where it begins
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.
The people who show up are the right people
So I started a Note. It’s http://note.com/16z.
Why did I do this? It’s easy and simple. It’s not like keeping up the eight Tumblr accounts plus two twitters plus trying to ‘feed the machine’ that I was up to in the 2010s because, I guess, I thought that was important. (It was, in a way, because of SEO).
But so what.
Who needs long-tail search marketing to work. Who needs work. (Well.)
But Note. Is easy.
And so it begins, again.
This week, in the writing project online with the people I do that with, every Tuesday and Wednesday, something came up that surprised me. The cojournal is taking an interesting turn. I want to share more in the conversation space for that, in email threads and in the protected forums, but here, for now, this little note. Inspired by something that MK wrote Sharing that it’s too hard to make friends that are high-quality but not overburdensome. Emotional labor, et al.
I really couldn’t believe how much there is to say about this topic, and some people have said it, insisting in lists of the kind of things that indicate that you are truly showing up for friends what is required now for someone to ‘show up for a friend.’ Really?
Discussing it. In The Cojournal Project.
‘How can I best support you right now?’
Since 2017, I have been making a weekly e-mag, S P A C E.
The idea used to be way bigger, but due to the realities of situations, circumstances, and misunderstandings as I ventured through Northern Europe and around Southeast Asia, so many things changed in shape. I put pictures of the Atelier S P A C E travels at this page: http://behance.net/dipikakohli.
This year, I’d like to keep it very simple and low-key. No more traveling around. For reasons we all can probably relate to. But yeah. If you want to travel through the process of zinemaking with S P A C E now, I won’t be going to your city, but instead, offer a virtual opportunity.
Be a star of your own issue of S P A C E. Apply here: http://designkompany.com/apply. Fees apply. Scholarships available. Made possible through crowdfunding. Thanks.
‘If you are protecting yourself the whole time…’
A few excerpts today.
From The Atlantic…
‘Psychotherapist and Atlantic contributing writer Lori Gottlieb demystifies one of the vital components of a happy life: enjoyment. Gottlieb believes that we not only find it challenging to make time for day-to-day enjoyment, but also struggle to identify what it should feel like.’
There’s a part where older people in their 80s who are happy are described as having had rough times in their younger years. Gottlieb says, ‘I think that the reason that they’ve been through so much is because they engaged in life. So the people who want to protect themselves from pain or discomfort are the people who never really engage in life because they’re so busy protecting themselves to make sure that they’re not going to experience anything that feels bad, right? And so then they never put themselves out there. They never take any risks.
‘And when you take risks, sometimes, you know, there’s going to be pain involved. And sometimes there’s going to be great joy involved. But if you are protecting yourself the whole time you didn’t really live; you’re not fully alive. And so maybe you think you protected yourself, but you end up feeling very unsatisfied, very kind of empty and lonely.’
‘I think it needs to be specific, not just “have fun.” It’s getting in touch with how you have fun. A lot of people don’t even know how they have fun anymore. As adults, they grow up. They forget what fun looks like, because they’re so busy with all of their responsibilities and then all of the things they think they need to be doing. And they don’t realize, first of all, how they’re spending their time.’
I am blogging at protected page posts at this site, occasionally. That’s because there are some conversations that are not so suited for blogging publicly. I send passwords and updates to a very small set of people in something called S P A C E. It’s a thing now.
Started S P A C E in 2017. That was after the Cojournal Project at this site, which took place in email circles from 2014-2015 and then the more ambitious real-life ‘big blind date’ project, 16N. Gathering people for small, interknit circles of conversations. In different ways. Is what I do. I can elaborate. It’s fun.
Topics vary. Naturally.
More to say. More to send. Membership[$] info is here.
Today I read a few things by Anna LeMind who made this website about self-improvement and things related to that. It’s fun browsing the article titles and seeing what people think about as what’s going on with them, and how the authors of the site address those things. Not scientific or anything, it seems, but here are some things I found curious.
‘What our materialistic society doesn’t want us to remember,’ writes LeMind, ‘is that genuine happiness is in simple pleasures*. It doesn’t matter how many stars your hotel has or how expensive your outfits are if your life is unfulfilling and dull… The need to own stuff is based on our natural tendency to compare ourselves with others. We don’t want to be worse and less accomplished than those around us, and society skillfully uses our insecurities to encourage us to make unnecessary expenses.’ Says who, exactly?
Qualms and other things
Ex-journalist’s qualms with the fact-stating of opinions aside, I rather liked some of the things I found on this post. For example, I do believe that people get overinvested in what other people think. Narcissists, looking at all of youuuuu.
Elsewhere on LeMind’s blog, the same author writes, ‘We often throw a monkey wrench into our own progress in life.’ Do we, now? ‘We create obstacles and frames in our own minds. Sometimes it happens as a result of social conditioning or a lack of self-belief, but the rigidity of our thinking can also be to blame. I’m talking about people who perceive life in extremes; as if there are only black and white sides to everything. They will usually have a very fixed mindset about work, success, relationships, and life in general… [but] when you never re-evaluate your views and refuse to learn from your mistakes, you don’t evolve.’ Needs citation here.
What’s true for you isn’t true for all
Sure, I know plenty of people who just follow the treadmills without questioning anything are kind of like, ‘Huh?’ when I ask them why they don’t design the life they want. I mean, I get it. It’s hard. It’s hard to look inside and see what’s there and suddenly have to do something about it if it’s not right. I mean, there was this girl once who said, when I told her I make SELF the workshop online, ‘I don’t want to ask myself those hard questions because I’m just going to get stressed!’ So, there it is. The way I moved away from workshop-making began with that reaction. Who cares if she doesn’t want to improve herself or her life? Not me. That was 2014.
Here’s what happened next.
Hint: Lá lá lá…
The rest of this post is in the mailing list for S P A C E. It costs. Subscribe here.