Campus life by Zuni Chopra: The metaphorical mind
Your mind is like a bus...a little battered, a little loud, in need of a few repairsUpdated: Sep 13, 2020 07:39 IST
You’re on the bus, trundling along home, and the seat beside you is empty. You’re holding huge bouquets of flowers, enough to fill several bathtubs, and some are spilling out of your hands. But that’s why you bought them, of course. To fill things up with. You look at the seat next to you and consider putting your flowers there, so that you can put some down and turn your head to look out into the monsoon rain. But you worry. There are thorns on these flowers, and they might prick you if you move, and you don’t like moving anyway, so you don’t.
And then a large dog boards the bus, rabid and growling with spit splattering all over his front paws. His eyes burn with some kind of bitter fury, and he snaps with a savage snarl at everything he passes. He stops at the seat beside you and hoists himself up. The rest of the ride is spent in your desperate attempts to block out his violent barking with the drooping petals of your deflated roses.
But that’s all right. That’s what happens on buses. Can’t control who sits next to you. Might not be someone you like. Right?
This is a long metaphor, and it seems more like a fever dream than reality, but bear with me.
That bus is your mind. A little battered, a little loud, in need of a few repairs. Those flowers are every bit of joy you’ve ever known, and every hope you’ve ever had for joy still to come.
And that dog is what you let in when you refuse to fill up your days with the joy you already possess.
The empty mind has a tendency to call to the worst in us, and to the worst in our lives. It is this emptiness that beckons savage dogs, everything from anxiety to depression to obsession to soullessness. It’s an unfortunate truth of human nature that we often gravitate to what will ruin us; and this is never more true than when we feel we have nothing else to move towards. It isn’t easy, once we’ve grown used to habitual emptiness, to escape it, or even to recognise it. But we can brush it away, one rosebud at a time.
Invest in the little things. Invest in the happy things. Not with money; but with time. With love. With care. Feed on things that fill the soul; on music, and muffins, and starry skies, and ugly sweaters, and dripping paint, and quiet quilts, and nonsensical poetry. Find something that nourishes you and magnify it to fill the forgettable hours. Believe in things. Who dares to say you can’t? Believe in the magic of storm clouds and the mystery of misty forests and the adventure of roaring oceans. Believe, above all, that life is beautiful. Inherently so.
So, fill the empty seats with flowers. Push out the scrambling dogs with waves of gentle blossoms. Weave them through the broken windows, pile them through the well-worn aisle, press them up against the windshield until they burst from every opening, until they bloom from the sagging roof, until the bus no longer looks like a bus but like some floating cerulean meadow dotted with cherry and lavender, easing through the morning breeze; until finally, it slows to a gentle roll, for yes, there are roads to chase before the close of day, but in its own enchantment, it could almost forget that it isn’t already where it’s always wanted to go.
Zuni Chopra is currently a freshman at Stanford university where she’s studying the creative arts. She has authored three books of poetry and one novel. Through this column, she chronicles her journey as an international student leaving home for the first time to study abroad.
From HT Brunch, September 13, 2020
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