November Notes: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

Sharing words of wisdom and beautiful quotes with you in this newsletter for November, which has been a month of many joys and celebrations ...

November Notes: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar

Hello, Dreamer!

The first snow flurries of the season are drifting down from the skies as I write this on this Friday morning, thinking of the month gone by and what unexpected blessings it brought my way.

November has been a month of celebrations. First came Diwali. There were days of lighting diyas and sparklers, feasting on mouthwatering barfis and gulab jamuns, dressing up in sarees and kurta-pyjamas, and regaling little D with tales of our childhood Diwalis.

Shortly after that came my birthday. For three days, every meal included a portion of Black Forest cake and a serving of Lay's Classic Potato Chips, a combination of sweet and salty that sounds utterly incongruous but turned out to be everyone's favourite at home.

Now it's Thanksgiving Weekend in the US, and even though Canadian Thanksgiving came and went in early October, it's fun to join in the celebrations all over again. Any excuse to count our blessings is a good one.

And the first thing that came to mind was the numerous responses I received to my newsletter last month.

October Odyssey: Monthly Missives from The Dream Pedlar
Pondering the contradictions of life…

Many of you wrote to me after reading about my aunt and one of my last memories of her, a painful one marked by my own fears and parsimony.

I am very grateful for every one of your messages, and I am overjoyed that you took the time to read, reflect and respond. Thank you for giving me your precious time and attention. I'm sharing below a couple of the beautiful messages I received.

Long-time reader and supporter of my writings, my dear friend M, shared these wise words and kindly agreed to me sharing her wisdom with you:

Do I feel the way you feel, that there isn’t enough, absolutely do.
But that’s where I surround myself with people older and wiser than me, who have been on this journey and remind me we don’t need a lot to get through life.
It is a learning process.

Dear M, thank you for sharing these words. Ever since you wrote to me, I kept coming back to your words often in moments of doubt and despair, and they've always served as a useful reminder of what really matters.

Another long-time reader and dear friend, Kiten, wrote to me:

Sometimes, especially to loved ones or special ones in your life, even for community, you may want to give away some (not all), just enough to fill your heart and be content.

Thank you for saying this, Kitty. Your words made me realize that giving can truly make our hearts sing! It is a wonderful feeling indeed, to be to able to give, however little or much, and rejoice in our ability to do so.

And when we don't feel like giving, it's quite likely a sign that we're not feeling secure in ourselves or in our life circumstances. The closing of our hearts serves as a useful pointer to the fear or anxiety that underlies the inability to give.

I'm so touched by these words of empathy and encouragement I received that I wanted to share a few more thoughtful lines with you all.

For years, I've maintained a diary of sorts, noting down beautiful and thought-provoking lines, words that inspired or moved or encouraged me in some way.

In recent years, I've come across many words and lines of wisdom in works of fiction as well as non-fiction. So I thought how wonderful it would be to fill up this newsletter with some of those writings of wisdom! I hope you love the lines below too.

pink flowers on long grass
stepping into time for contemplation | Photo by Kien Do on Unsplash

Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times.

~ Aeschylus

I first read this in The Running Grave: A Cormoran Strike novel by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling), which was an excellent read!

To provide a bit more context in which Strike quoted the above line from Aeschylus, he's in a conversation with Amelia, the sister of his ex-wife, Charlotte, who is the subject of their discussion.

Once they were alone again, Amelia said, 'She was always so ... unhappy.'
'Yeah,' said Strike. 'I know.'
'But she wouldn't ever ... there was a — a darkness in her.'
'Yeah,' said Strike, 'and she was in love with it. It's dangerous to make a cult of your own unhappiness. Hard to get out, once you've been in there too long. You forget how.'
He drank some more of his rapidly diminishing pint before saying, 'I once quoted Aeschylus at her. "Happiness is a choice that requires effort at times." Didn't go down well.'

We meet our destiny on the road we take to avoid it.
~ The Sea Elephants by Shastri Akella

"It's frightening to come right up to the thing you've spent your life desiring. What if it doesn't solve all the problems you thought it would?"

~ Sally in The Stolen Book of Evelyn Aubrey by Serena Burdick

Very little is needed to make a happy life.
~ Marcus Aurelius

I have always treated my life like a chess game—focusing on right or wrong moves and what I believed to be their attendant outcomes—when it turns out a poker game is a much more useful analogy.
"Wrap your arms around the uncertainty," Duke said. "Accept it. Know that the way things turn out has a lot of luck involved so don't be so hard on yourself when things go badly and don't be proud of yourself when they go well." 

And Then We Grew Up by Rachel Friedman

"But I do know we can only live by the light we're given, and some of us are given no light at all. What else can we do except learn to see in the dark?"
~ The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

I'm sure our lives will continue to get more complex. Noise will find new ways to distract us. Heartaches and stresses will present themselves time and time again. These things will never stop. 
That is why we must always return to what we know to be true: our relationship with ourselves and our relationship with the universe. 
Everything else is a distraction. And when those distractions lead us astray, we can be creative and design a path back home to ourselves. 

~ Be A Triangle by Lilly Singh

"Krishna means love," she said. "But Radha means longing. Longing is older than love. I am older than he. Did you know that, Sita?"
~ Thirst No. 1 by Christopher Pike

We think that when we are not doing anything we are wasting our time, that is not true.
Our time is first of all for us to be.
To be, to be what? To be alive, to be peace, to be joy, to be loving.
And that is what the world needs the most. So we train ourself in order to be.
And if you know the art of being peace, of being solid, then you have the ground for every action ... because the ground for action is to be.
And the quality of being determines the quality of doing.
Action must be based on non-action.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

It is the mynd, that maketh good or ill,
That maketh wretch or happie, rich or poore:
For some, that hath abundance at his will,
Hath not enough, but wants in greatest store;
And other, that hath litle, askes no more,
But in that litle is both rich and wise.
~ The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser

Becuase there's such an unbelievable amount that we're all supposed to be able to cope with these days. You're supposed to have a job, and somwhere to live, and a family, and you're supposed to pay taxes and have clean underwear and remember the password to your damn Wi-Fi. Some of us never manage to get the chaos under control, so our lives simply carry on, the world spinning through space at two million miles an hour while we bounce about on its surface like so many lost socks. Our hearts are bars of soap that we keep losing hold of; the moment we relax, they drift off and fall in love and get broken, all in the wink of an eye. We're not in control. 
So we learn to pretend, all the time, about our jobs and our marriages and our children and everything else. We pretend we're normal, that we're reasonably well educated, and that we understand "amortization levels" and "inflation rates". That we know how sex works. In truth, we known as much about sex as we do about USB leads, and it always takes us four tries to get those little buggers in. (Wrong way round, wrong way round, wrong way round, there! In!) 
We pretend to be good parents when all we really do is provide our kids with food and clothing and tell them off when they put chewing gum they find on the ground in their mouths. We tried keeping tropical fish once and they all died. And we really don't know more about children than tropical fish, so the responsibility frightens the life out of us each morning. We don't have a plan, we just do our best to get through the day, because there'll be another one coming along tomorrow.
Sometimes it hurts, it really hurts, for no other reason than the fact that our skin doesn't feel like it's ours. Sometimes we panic, because the bills need paying and we have to be grown-up and we don't know how, becuase it's so horribly, desperately easy to fail at being grown-up.

~ Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Backman really gets it, how hard it is to be a grown-up!

Unlike what its name would suggest, this book had many moments of hilarity alongside poignancy. I haven't had the opportunity to read more of Backman's works since then, but it's on top of my list!

I hope these lines have given you something to reflect upon, new titles to explore, and words that stirred something in you, something vulnerable, even if only to let you know it's ok to feel that way.

Do you have any favourite quotes of your own? Words that soothe and heal you in your times of doubt and despair? Write to me and let me know!

Tales for Dreamers

reindeer on strike

This one's an oldie. I took this picture a decade ago when we were living in Singapore. The sight of Santa Claus inside that capsule sparked this fun tale. I hope you enjoy reading it.

tales for dreamers: reindeer on strike
Uh, oh! All the reindeer are on strike. How will Santa deliver his presents to you now?

Books You May Love

It's been a long time since I read a book and loved it so much that I had to go and blog about it. The Sea Elephants by Shastri Akella was one such piece of wonder.

The Sea Elephants by Shastri Akella
‘We meet our destiny on the road we avoid to take it.’ ~ The Sea Elephants by Shastri Akella

Set in 1990s India (when homosexuality was still deemed illegal), it is a coming-of-age tale of a boy, Shagun Mathur, who is conflicted about his sexuality. His father wants to 'fix' him by sending him to a conversion therapy centre.

When his twin sisters die in an accident, he decides to move away from home by enrolling in an all-boys boarding school, but there too he finds himself ostracized. He runs away from school and joins a traveling theatre troupe performing plays based on Hindu myths, the kind of stories his mother used to narrate to him and his sisters when they were younger. Then he meets and falls in love with a gay man named Marc Singer, and is forced to confront his fears and trauma.

The story was both brutal and just as breathtakingly beautiful, and the author narrates it with such tenderness I was very sad when the story came to its heartwarming end.

I also finished reading The Running Grave, the latest in the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling). It was an excellent read. Strike's detective partner, Robin, goes undercover and joins a cult to help free a client's son.

Such a thrilling and entertaining read! It was a nearly 1,000-page tome, and I love humungous books for the immersive reading experience they provide. I can't wait for the next book in the series!

Well, that brings us to the end of this edition of Monthly Missives, dear Dreamer.

This year ends on a Sunday, which means next month's newsletter will arrive in your inbox on New Year's Eve!

Time just seems to hurtle forward mercilessly these days. Or maybe it was always like that and I'm only just beginning to notice it with each year, each birthday that passes by.

So here's to spending the remaining days of 2023 more intentionally, focused on the here and now, grateful for all that has transpired, and curious about all that is yet to come.

~ Anitha