Recently I learned of The Camel Story, one about the nomads in the deserts and how they tie up their camels whenever the night arrives. They do this to ensure that the camels do not leave in the middle of their sleep, a form of keeping their camels close to them. The camels are hence tied to a tree every night, and untied from the tree as the sky awakens. In this seemingly harmless cycle, you observe that the camels are conditioned to stay near the tree even when it has been left untied—the same way people remember the scars and hurt inflicted upon us, the camels do so because they can’t forget.
Somewhere last year, I wrote about The Knots in Our Hearts, those we fail to untie because we can’t let go of the unhappiness or pain that people and events have caused us. The very difficult process of untying these knots, though, allows us to escape the terror of growing up with a heavy heart. It’s so difficult a process because of our tendency to form patterns with our experiences, trying to make sense of the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ around us and form generalisations that help us achieve certainty in the decisions that we make (when regardless of how we try, I believe that there is little, if not none). But we are 15 days into the year-end holidays—I’ve met primary schoolmates, current schoolmates and spent a tremendous amount of time with my family; these people, together with the reminiscence and experiences of revisiting places of my interest have brought back memories that I, today, take in a different light from when I first experienced them.
There’s something about experiencing or meeting people again, doing something more than once and revisiting a feeling, thought or idea. I suppose we change more frequently than we prefer to think and sometimes we fail to realize it because it happens silently, subtly and with little tangible indications. And so when we look at the same thing through a new set of lens, it sheds new light on it—this powerful experience sometimes makes it easier to untie the knots, or at least identify them. I like to think that the habits embedded in us are derived from our experiences: a lot more about nurture than nature, which leads me to believe that being aware of who we are begins with revisiting our past and understanding how we’ve been shaped by the people we’ve crossed paths with or the things we have been through.
I remember having a strong aversion towards repetition, especially when I was younger. The most common complaint I made as a child was “Again?!”—it was my intuitive response to my parents’ constant reminders or urging to do things once more, when my tutor assigned me homework to redo or corrections to repeat. Even now, when my brother makes the same mistakes, when beneficiaries I volunteer with repeat their requests and rantings; I inadvertently exclaim Again?! in my head. But with the above said, I begin to recognize that no two times are exactly the same and with greater mindfulness I’d see just how different things are done. In other words, there might just be more value in doing things more than once than I once thought.