A Parched Soul

Somewhere between the smoldering heat of California’s Central Valley and Los Angeles, when driving down the Interstate, you see perfectly plowed fields, fighting to stay relevant between the parched land, pockmarked with sinking earth and dried, almost black vegetation. There are no birds. Inside the very thing that is responsible for wrecking the fine balance of nature’s perfection, the sun feels like a baker’s oven. 

Outside, the heat even in late March is unbearable. It reflects in the distance. But as the car zip-zap-zooms, the sun, like a lazy pasha, moves a little bit. The perfectly plowed rows in fields which will play host to seeds of California’s dystopian future become bands that are an oscillation of light and color. The dust bowl looks bright one moment and dark for the next three. It’s an appropriate reflection of my state of mind.

During the past three weeks, I have oscillated between depths of despondency and brief moments of clarity. It is the worst feeling in the world. And yet somewhere deep down I know that with every end, comes a new beginning. But for now I feel what no founder should ever have to feel – the pain of burying what is essentially that one thing you have loved more than anything, anyone including yourself and even your life.

This loss, isn’t like a throbbing pain you feel at ten below when you have a femur broken in ten places and reset with help of metal. Instead it is like that moment when hot oil jumps from the frying pan, falls on your arm and it takes a few seconds to singe your skin. Loss sneaks up on you – late at night, when you are watching a 2003 episode of Top Gear for the 150th time on Netflix. Except you are not – you hear muffled noises, shape shifting colors but nothing quite makes sense. 

It shows up as the memory of a colleague’s child coming to visit you backstage and calling you Mr.Om! The feeling of loss arrives, unannounced when you click on a link. that moment when you woke up in the hospital to the smiling yet petrified faces of two true believers. 

I have been running from one place to another — San Francisco to New York to San Francisco to Los Angeles to San Francisco to now Seattle, hoping that new people and new places and a packed schedule would let me avoid what is inevitable. I am taking photos of other people smiling, for it is easier to hide behind their smiles. I am running from the reaper man of the soul, desperately trying to avoid that moment of quiet when everything comes into sharp focus. That moment when I have to face what is the reality. The reality of what was is gone and perhaps will be forever.

That moment came last night – sitting alone in a hotel room overlooking Seattle’s waterfront. A great meal at home of two of my dearest friends, playing with their 10 year old, I came back to an empty room. I thought I would fall asleep, but a call jostled me out of the half-sleep state. Later, lying on the bed, I could hear the rain, but I didn’t see it. Much like my heart which cries but the eyes have no tears. They are just tired of seeing the movie that started over 13 years ago, again and again. And like those freshly plowed fields – oscillating between dark and light, light and dark.

Nick Bilton, who lost his mother to a quick fight with cancer send me a quote from her favorite book, Alice in Wonderland: “Don’t worry, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” This drought of the mind and soul will end – eventually.