The Dreamer by Navina Anand

I took the bus home using my ‘bus pass’. It was a 15-minute bus ride home. Typical crowded state transport bus where you barely have space to stand. People are elbowing you and jostling you. It is terribly hot, sweaty, and smelly. Riding in a PTC bus ( Pallavan transport corporation) is not a pleasant experience. It is an experience that people suffer out of necessity. I had been taking the bus home from school since the 5th grade. Thankfully we used to carpool to school(or should I say ‘motorbike pool’ )with a neighbour in the mornings. As I entered home I remembered that I had been gifted a bicycle the previous week for my birthday and I had ridden it to school that morning. And I had taken the bus back home. 

My childhood is filled with stories like these. Starting from Kindergarten when I exasperated my parents by losing a water bottle a week until my dad threatened to send me to school with water in an empty milk packet sealed with a rubber band. He also used to cut pencils into three pieces and send a piece a day with me to school because I never returned home with them. Ever. Countless pieces of lost property, lost but never ever found again, filled the museum of lost property of Navina Ramakrishnan. Countless occasions of forgetfulness. Today when I reflect back on it, I wonder… was I a Dreamer? or is that just a fancy word I am using for ‘Scatterbrained’?  

Today I am reading a book on how to become good at meditation. Elaborate methods are devised on how to float into a state of being unaware of your self and your surroundings. I giggle to myself as I read this – ” Hey.. this has been pretty much my life”. My brain has always one that has been running on some distracted track a lot of times. I completely related to a meme I saw recently ” My mind is like a browser with a hundred windows open all the time, and I have no idea where the music is coming from”.  I have joked to my mom that if I were to be born in the developed world today, I would probably be put on ADHD drugs. 

So is it a good thing or a bad thing. To be a dreamer? I wish I could say that I am a dreamer like Elon Musk dreaming up a voyage into space and making history or a dreamer like Mozart who creates symphonies or a Picasso. But no. I am just a distracted dreamer. No fancy rhyme or reason. The inability to hold oneself in the present for extended periods of time. In fact, an incredible ability to float away from the present for periods of time. Is that such a bad thing?

Just like how you can find at least 4 results if you search the web for ” What makes Trump the most incredible president America has ever had”, I have also found results like “Scatterbrained people are more intelligent than others”; “Why disorganized people thrive in chaos”  or the ultimate feel-good article-I kid you not - I feel happy to read such articles and get on with life, ready to move on to the next thing my brain has latched on to think about. 

I have also noticed another thing about my brain. I would have been really worried about something. That gnawing fear we all have when we are really fearful about something. And suddenly, my mind would switch off that worry and move on to something else. “Ahhh look….. vanilla essence – Maybe I should make that cupcake I have been wanting to”. I would suddenly realize that the knot in my stomach has been released and my shoulders are not hurting any more from hunching. ” Wait, I was uncomfortable about something.. what the hell was it ! “. Many a time, my feelings of sadness, pain, or worry are alleviated simply because my brain does not have the ability to keep itself focussed on it for an extended period of time. Maybe there is some benefit to being flighty 🙂

I guess I am a dreamer. I dreamed of being a better dancer. So I joined Kathak classes. I dreamed of being capable of mending my own clothes, so I joined sewing classes. I dreamed of getting good at Carnatic music, so I joined a community of singers. I dreamed of being a baker and signed up for a baking workshop. I dreamed of being great on the dance floor and signed up for Bollywood dancing…… got good at some, made some progress on some, did not get off the diving board on some. Happens. 

I would like to believe that enthusiastic people are dreamers. Maybe not at the level of a Musk or a Picasso, but even a simple dream as to bake one’s own bread from scratch and not buy chemical-laden store-bought bread ( ‘Bake your own bread’ workshop signed up for tomorrow!!). At the end of one amazing trek, I am already dreaming of what is the next exciting trek to do! 

I do catch flak for being involved in too many things at a time. I like to pack my days with different activities that when I fall into bed at night, I am out like a light. I think it makes my life interesting. It makes it colourful. It makes me a learner. It makes me happy. I may drop a few balls juggling all of this. But overall I am the kind of person who is happy being a ‘Jack of all – even if master of none’. True to my name,” new” ness excites me. Helps me feel alive. Makes me look forward to the next fun thing to do.

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