I did not write the end-of-the-year note for 2016; which is what I normally do when a year comes to an end. 2016 was the straw that nearly broke the camel’s back. I have rarely been this out of touch with what is going on within; nor have I felt this lack of gratefulness for all the good that is there in life.

2016 was expected to be a year of big welcome changes, before it turned into a nightmare of a loss that hit really hard. Failing health of ones close soon followed. Meanwhile, volatility or chaos in nearly everything else continues to be a difficult shadow to dodge.

The lack of gratefulness hits particularly hard. On one hand, I am acutely aware of the privilege I have, while, on the other, the recent difficulties prompts various convoluted coping strategies to kick in and drains out all the appreciation for the privilege I have.

Somewhere along the way, I swapped the freedom, of knowing that it is only the present I have to count on, with the fear of a future peppered with more losses. How can the exact same thing turn around and evoke a totally different reaction compared to what was there earlier?

It is not a lack of awareness, strangely. In fact, it is more acute than ever. I can pinpoint the evolution of my coping strategies and how differently I react compared to my younger years. There is more resilience and responsible behaviour, but it provides scant relief from the unexpected episodes of gutting that happens ever so often.

There are so many other puzzling aspects too. For someone who used to be really comfortable hiding in a crowd, I am now really not able to handle crowded places, people and a lot of noise. Perhaps, it is that peace, quiet and silence are hard things to chase down these days for me.

The is also little urge left to charge at anything anymore. Both mind and matter feel weary. Familiarity pushes things on, but the plunge through the depths of an endless mourning continues. I am not sure if it is the darkness that is refusing to let go or if I am refusing to let go of the darkness.

Travel continues to save the day. We left behind a beautiful home to live out of a suitcase for a month. We met nobody that we knew in that period of time and felt the happiest we have been in recent times.

There is something deeply comforting about seeking asylum in the familiarity of strangers.