Tag Archives: vulnerability

Grief and Love : Two sides of the same coin

Have you felt a sense of sadness as you turn the last page of a compelling book? Long after you have finished reading the last page, you find yourself  staring at a blank wall for a while or flipping the pages to re-read some of the passages. For a moment you might just even hold the book closer to your chest and gasp!  This could also happen while watching an engaging movie.  As it comes to an end, you are not ready to leave the characters. You stay back marinating over your emotions as the post scripts start rolling. Most recently this happened to me with “Koode”. I wasn’t quite ready to leave  Joshua, Alozhy, Sophy, Jenny, Brownie and the rest.

There is a momentary grief over losing the fictional characters . But then don’t we do it all over again – get engrossed in another wonderful book that will eventually make us feel sad as the characters leave us. These characters probably touch us in some way and that’s why it gets hard to part. If you have been touched by someone, parting becomes painful. If there is love, there is grief. But to avoid grief , should we avoid love?

We could opt to stay away from this pain. What if nothing touches us or we stay away from being genuinely close to anyone? What if we guard ourselves against grief, pain and failure? We can numb ourselves with busy schedules, shopping, non stop scrolling on our phones and so on.  Life will still go on and when asked “How are you?” we could still auto respond “good” or “fine”. We can be proud of being emotionally strong, un-wavered and  toughened up – protecting ourselves from being hurt. The courage to feel pain is something that most of us are never taught. Instead, we learn to distract ourselves from it, to insulate, and hide. Like Ingmar Bergman says – we are emotional illiterates.

We’re emotional illiterates. And not only you and I-practically everybody, that’s the depressing thing. We’re taught everything about the body and about agriculture in Madagascar and about the square root of pi, or whatever the hell it’s called, but not a word about the soul.

– Ingmar Bergman

Grief, sorrow, anger are all difficult emotions. Is there any value going through it, doesn’t it make logical sense to avoid it? Well feeling these difficult emotions —  gives us depth as human beings. Else we are living a life of shallowness. These emotions represents our humanness.

“I want to celebrate the sadness that makes you feel everything so deeply.
I want to throw a party for the wounds that make you so unabashedly human.”

  -Danielle Antoinette Foy

If we totally insulate our lives from grief, loss, pain and failure , we are also in effect insulating it from passion, love, creativity and exploration. Grief and love come through the same door – if we shut it for one, we are shutting it for both. Now take a moment and think about how we constantly make choices in our lives.

Blessed are those who grieve the loss of someone, for they have experienced love in their life, blessed are those who have experienced failure, for they have pushed themselves beyond their own limits.

As Amy  our cafe mate at SoulCafe puts it in one of the forum conversations  – if you opt to approach a relationship with love there is an equal chance to be hurt as well but then what is the alternative?  Never giving yourself a chance to experiencing love?

amy-best pick.jpg 

Thankfully in Koode, Joshua and Sophy gave themselves the chance to experience love – took the risk of getting broken again. Gosh! Koode hasn’t left me I suppose 🙂

Shameless Plug: SoulCafe : A soulful platform for the soulful ones to connect over conversations.

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Heart Break is real after all

I remember a little framed quote that I always used to keep at my desk. It read “If your heart was really broken, you would die.”

It was a constant reminder to my no-nonsense cynical self that a heartbreak was not that painful. Heartbroken to me was nothing but a theatrical misconception that a stoned poet conjured.

How can someone “break” your heart? It had no physical connotation what-so-ever. At least, that is what I thought.

So, when do you realize that a heart-break is very real?

What does it take to realize that a “heart-break” actually has a very tangible physical connotation to it?

It takes waking up one morning, suddenly stripped off your denial and realizing that your life has changed a great deal.

It takes coming to terms with the fact that your house will smell of yesterday’s breakfast and that you are going to smell of freshly dried tears for a while.

It takes sleeping with frizzy hair and puffed eyes in your old clothes that were supposed to be in the washing machine, a week ago.

It takes a sink full of undone dishes, untouched homework and a heavy heart.

It takes waking up to the smell of Nutella and banana pancakes and grasping that you still don’t have an appetite.

What does it take to realize that a “heart-break” actually means that you are broken?

You slowly start to realize that you don’t make plans for “We”.

You realize that suddenly you have no one to tell the most unimportant details of your life to. You smile when someone says how being single feels great even though every time you think about the fact that you are single, it feels like someone just punched you in the gut.

It is normal to panic at the very sight of emptiness. When an important person leaves our life, it creates a void. We hate emptiness and we immediately fill that void with something, no matter how meaningless it might be.  

That is why he becomes a box of chocolates. He becomes a new hair-cut. He becomes a new job, a new city.  He becomes a gold fish you cannot take care of.  He becomes a new hobby or a garden.

And slowly, he becomes everything that you try to thrust in to fill the void that he left behind.

What does it take to realize that a “heart-break” takes its own time to heal?

It takes days when you are smiling because it seems like there is finally a new beginning.  That feeling lasts only until memories of a seemingly sweeter yesterday pushes you back to the corner of your bed where you cannot even stand the thought of your own blanket touching you.

It takes days when you feel that life is downright unfair. It takes days when you plead with destiny to give you just another first time with the familiar. It takes sleepless nights and days when you just live to oversleep.

And then it takes those most important days. The worst days. The days when somewhere in between a busy meeting, an excel file, a meaningful book, a funny movie or just before you drink a sip of water on a random afternoon, you wonder.

You wonder, however did I let something so perfect be ruined?

And it is on those days that you realize that a heart-break is very real after all.  

Love as a way of Life

We all have our notions, our definitions or even a vague picture of how love is supposed to be. Come February and this sickness suddenly spreads and heightens it’s fold. It’s like somebody from above opens a can of “Love,” air freshener and sprays it all on us … Long enough to last a month, I guess.

For me, love isn’t just an emotion or a mere feeling, its a way of life. It’s not just those moments that blow my mind away or that time when he cuddles next to me , after a long, dreary day.

Love is the universe for me … I experience it in the smallest and the most infinite forms , separately and yet intertwined. For when my mother cooks my favorite food to when I help an elderly person to their car . It’s the call my child would rant across the house with, in order to get my attention or the time my boss calls me in the middle of my holidays to ask me something that slipped his mind . It’s all love.

Myriad forms, varied temperaments but yet making you feel so close , so inherently important in this vast world.

People call me vain, because I love myself so much. Little do they know that self-love is the start of every form of love that exists. If you cannot appreciate your own existence, your vices & your uniqueness, you will never be able to expand your horizons to others and see the love in them .

My friends often also have this notion that love only stands for togetherness .

Baahhh Humbug!!!

Fear, Anger, Anxiety, Surprise, Shock, Sadness, they are all… all an amalgamation which form the crux of this 4 letter word. For me, the most important being sadness. If you’ve laid your hands on the movie, “Inside Out,” you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Sadness is the most vulnerable part of love. It brings out the beauty within our hearts & exposes our innermost desires in the most simple way possible. But not through words, if that’s what you’re thinking. Sadness leads to love, you can say….at-least self-love. You decipher your self , you understand, you experience & you further envision . If you are fully able to open your heart & accept melancholy as a part of yourself, love isn’t far away.

If you are fully able to open your heart & accept melancholy as a part of yourself, love isn’t far away

One day my friend Lalit asked me, “Who is that one person I can go to when all I need is love & maybe some support.”

I just showed him the mirror. 😊

Always remember that love will never knock at your door, you have to keep those doors wide open & love will gently sway within. The best feeling is when you don’t realize you’re falling for someone. It’s the most beautiful phase so please, please live it to the fullest.

Lastly, not every love ends at marriage, some begin with it too.
Let’s stop relating love & marriage together…. They might be important but they are not meant to be together always.

I pray that we all are always in love. No matter with what, but in love & in all purity.

THE SECOND TIME YOU FALL IN LOVE

“Because love is not instagram to always show you in the best possible light. It is messy and ugly like the unfiltered snap chats you send your best friend”

The first thing you should know about the second time you fall in love is that it will be very different.

The first time you fell in love, you were innocent, untouched and hopelessly optimistic. When you got your heart broken, you decided that you would never fall in love again. You now know that “forever” is a gamble and that “promises” are more often than not made to be broken.

The second time you fall in love, your heart will beat a little faster. There is bubbling apprehension, restless guilt, unmasked fear, unresolved emotions and all of this is still delicately laced with the most basic need to be loved.

 You will surprise yourself because the day you believed will never come, has finally arrived.

It is not easy to let someone else in. It was effortless the first time because love just gilded into a place which you never knew existed. Now it just feels like you are pushing someone else out to let another one in and killing yourself in the process.

Second love could be more voluntary and less vivid because you are determined to not let your emotions get the better of you. First love may have taught you how to love and fly, but second love will help you unlearn and humble you in a very earthy way.

Second first times are always complicated. First dates are not first dates in the real sense, but they are first dates nevertheless.You are torn in between the butterflies in your stomach moment when you are getting to know someone new while at the same time missing the comfort of eating out of a jar in your night clothes.

The second time you fall in love, you foolishly try to surpass imperceptible benchmarks. You remember that his forehead didn’t crinkle like that. He used to hold hands a lot more. He never wore bright colors.

Remind yourself that it will never be the same. And it most certainly should not be. You are trying to find love, not a replacement.

The second time you fall in love, you will hear a voice in your head that repeatedly asks you to “RUN”.

It is natural because we are taught to survive based on acquired learning. Even a child knows not to play with fire twice.

The second time you fall in love, no matter how hard it tries to sweep you off your feet, you will be adamant to keep your feet on the ground. You are passionate about how much love can give but scared stiff of how much it can take back when it wants to.

The second time you fall in love it might be more accepting and selfless. Second love wants to write pages and pages of your life together but it lacks the ugly selfishness of first love which expects the whole book to be about it.  You deal with the fact that everyone has songs that remind them of someone else and places where they made some unblemished memories.

You know that poets lied when they said that every kiss will be like your first kiss. You are mature enough to accept that burning lust always comes with an expiry date.

Second love is difficult. Tearing down the walls that you built around yourself is not easy when you constantly question the effort involved. When you eventually find someone who is willing to accept the mess that you are, don’t be afraid.

Fall in love for the second time. Life mostly begins here.

The Best Gift this V Day – “Your Presence”

 

V Day is around the corner – and there is no way we would miss it. Each retail outlet, each ad on Facebook, each e-commerce campaign thrust upon us will remind us of this every second, paint us with a little bit of guilt, pep us up with a little bit of anticipation, stress us out on getting it right. Or let’s assume for a moment that we hardly care for this retail driven gimmick. Fact is, V Day is one of the top three spending events in India – so the drama is definitely on.

But why are we doing it even more than ever before? Do we want to believe that we express our emotions a lot more now (which is for sure good), or are we compensating for our inability of being fully present in a relationship with a day of splurging?

Being fully present in a relationship – how hard is that? Is it too much of an ask for a generation that boasts about being busy, being multi-taskers and virtually connected all the time? We take pride in “being busy” so much so that being busy has become a confirmation of our worthiness. Relationships sometime gets lost in our long “to-do” list – even when it’s in the list, it’s multi-tasked with many other items on the list. It’s like our email box cluttered with ads and offers we signed up (or never signed up) for and an important email that’s lost in this clutter. Unless this email is marked as “important”, and the useless clutter marked as “spam” – it’s easy to miss that one email that you were supposed to read and respond on priority.

Busyness is the new age anesthesia.  (Anesthesia is defined as a temporary state consisting of unconsciousness, loss of memory, lack of pain, and muscle relaxation.) But let’s remind ourselves that anesthesia needs to be a temporary state.

Busyness shouldn’t numb us from our moments of love, self-realization and sense of everyday wonder. Our worth is not defined by our “busyness”, but our lives are defined by the quality of those moments that we truly “live” and cherish. Our relationships are less defined by the materialistic splurge, and more by the attention we give to the relationship.

We are a generation of “technologically connected” – it keeps us connected with a multitude of people like never before. But, is it always about mindful connections?  May be not – and that’s because even when technology celebrates connectedness, it encourages retreat, it makes it easier to avoid the emotional work of “being present”. So “emoticons” when you really need a hug, an LOL when you actually want to hear a burst of laughter. As a “digital migrant” I might be over exaggerating this phenomenon of being connected far less emotionally. May be digital migrants are still adjusting to the digital way of life. The “digital natives” would be way more comfortable living constantly digitally connected. They would be probably more “settled” in the digitally connected world, and would learn where to draw the lines.

Like the feeling of worthiness, an equally contributing factor to “created busyness” is the “fear of vulnerability”. We try to numb our vulnerabilities by being busy. When people say “I’m too busy for a relationship” – unconsciously are we trying to numb some of our vulnerabilities? As research professor Brene Brown beautifully puts it as part of her extensive research on vulnerability and what we need to understand is that  – “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” 

We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions; we also numb the positive emotions. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path. Our strength is in our acceptance of our vulnerability.

If you close your eyes and recall times that are very clear in your memory without the aid of photographs, videos, checking old Facebook posts – you would clearly recall each and every bit of the moments when you were fully present, the moments you were vulnerable and the moment of mindfulness.

This my friend, is the greatest treasure each one of us would ultimately have. So, in the midst of the clutter let the V Day remind us to – Pause, Feel, Savor and be Present!

Breakupology: The 7 Stages

Undressed my heart

Baring the labyrinth of pain,

Of memories that wash-up

To the shores of my conscious mind

A dagger with a poison tip

Dripping venom of prisoned time,

Making me wander in my own soul

Lost in my thoughts

On a treasure hunt

To find a reason that makes sense,

To wrap myself back again

In the faith of new tidings

That soul love exists,

And doesn’t concede to eclipses

It will outshine the best of me

And it will be mine, someday soon!

Well, this is not typically a topic most people are comfortable talking about. Betrayal and abandonment. Well, the truth is there are more stories of heartbreak in this world and more lost wanderers than there are happy couples. I wish to someday start a social network just for heartbroken souls – just to hear their stories and be their sounding boards. Breakups are hard. Extremely devastating for many. Break-ups are most often synonymous to ice-cream-hogging, pajama-lounging, tear-jerking, lone-living, pity –sulking affair!  It hurts like nothing else does – well, some prefer a root canal treatment with mild anesthesia to a heartbreak. What happens during a break-up? Someone you trusted, loved and cared for suddenly disappears from your life. It crushes all your dreams and expectations. It is like an earthquake shaking and bringing down your tower of faith.

One goes through these 7 stages of coming to terms with a heartbreak.

Phase1: “This is really not happening to me”

You have been let go from someone you considered important! Phew! Like thrown off of a roller-coaster maybe! You might have seen it coming, or perhaps not, or maybe you told yourself you are being paranoid. Anyhow, it has happened but your mind doesn’t believe it yet! You can’t believe it. Your mind will try to convince that there is something wrong about the whole thing and your partner will come around soon enough.

You will sincerely hope that he/she will not last a day without you and come back crawling to you with apologies. No, this is not happening to me – how can it be?  You go through a period of disbelief. Sometimes, comebacks happen but it is never the same again. Most of times, the ones who leave, leave for good!

Phase2: “Damn it, I can’t take this”

You are broken, shrinking down in pain, wallowing in self-pity and crouching under a pile of dirty sheets and a mountain of tissues and sulking in the same pajamas for days together. Not to forget your only appetite is filled with ice-creams and alcohol (for a few). Ouch! You will try hard to cope with the emotional roller coaster you are in and the physical weakness that is engulfing you. Oh well, you want the earth to swallow you alive. Everything you see, everything you do will go and hook up to the thoughts of the one you have lost.

Phase3: “Perhaps, it was all my fault anyway”

You are now trying to rationalize and come up with a logical explanation. You first put yourself under the axe. The one who left you has been successful with gas lighting. You are coming up with a million whys it happened to you and what you could have done differently. Really, not warranted but that’s exactly what you do! Your self-esteem is rocking and everything you thought you are is now standing as a question in front of you. It is like wandering in a room full of wacky mirrors – convex and concave. And you don’t know your way out yet!

Phase4: “To hell with you!”

Now, you have transitioned into a full-stage angry Hulk. You are mad with rage and you are sure you are better off without the one who dumped you. Your mind has now given you a bucket list of all the personality flaws of your ex and start ranking them and tracing them to past events in your life that could have turned for the best otherwise. Your ex is the devil in all forms and fashion. Punching pillows and kicking a ball non-stop becomes your steam-off chore. Gritting your teeth, clenching your fists and screaming swear words on the top of your lungs will be a regular affair for a while

Phase5: “I won’t let go; never!”

You are now trying to do all the stupid things you should never do. You are trying to be the saint and trying to patch things. You write sweet long emails asking the person to come, drunk texting, dialing the number again and again, stalking your ex on all social media platform, trying all kinds of gimmicks to grab their attention and even sometimes trying to false-portray your happy self to make them jealous and come back. You resort to extracting information from your ex’s friends and social circle, try to behave in a way that you think would make your ex come back to you and what not!

Phase6: “It’s truly over”

You are at a point to know it’s really over by now. You miss all the good moments of the past. Pain still haunts you but you are out of the “Maybe someday down the line…” phase. You know that the breakup is real and your ex has moved on. It’s time for you to embrace reality and get ahead too. You have anger, urges to get even, prove you’re a bigger person and all the varied thoughts and emotions that come along with dealing with life’s murkiness!

Phase7: “I love me again!”

You are now healing and coming out of the hell of an experience you have gone through the past few days. You start engaging with friends and begin to read, listen to cheerful music and hang out with family and well wishers. You still miss your ex but you are slowly coming out of the pain. You are now keeping yourself busy and constantly trying to turn the heartbreak into a lesson. You will soon start sharing your new found wisdom with others trying to caution them and you will be a different person on some levels. You are in a new normal. Some get on a new ship; others just stay docked on the shore for a while. But you are back to giving your own self all the importance and you value yourself more to endure any more of mental trauma.

 

These are the typical seven phases of going through a break-up. It’s important for us to give us enough time to get over it. Don’t try to escape reality. Accept, accept and accept – cry your heart out but be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself, your ex and the entire relationship. Be thankful for good times and the lessons learnt and with a whole heart, let go as if you are releasing a balloon. Feel light like a feather and feel a liberation and cherish it!

letgo

The best relationships happen when you are with someone in front of whom you can bare yourself – heart, mind and soul and your partner can do the same with you. When you do not feel shame, fear of judgement, and uncertainty of intentions, when you can be your true self with each other, then you are always in a comfortable space where both of you can lean on one another while standing on your own! You can be independent in a beautiful symbiotic relationship of understanding. You truly care for each other and the well-being of one another becomes important.  In hard times, like a ball against a wall, you will bounce back and come back together stronger. That is the beauty of a soul relationship between both of you. In the end, even if you don’t end up together for whatever reason, you both will be enough comfortable to remain friends without any hard feelings and you would have already made peace with the parting of ways.

 

The importance of being vulnerable

Vulnerability in this world is avoided like plague. We so detest revealing ourselves to the world and more so to our partners. The idea of holding back hinges on a primal fear of getting hurt in the process of baring oneself. Fear of judgment and perception makes us create cocoons of our inner secrets, original thoughts, honest opinions, strengths and weakness. Baring oneself flesh, bones and soul is not something many can conjure up to for they always fear how if someone saw them for who they are might wreak havoc in their lives.

When it comes to relationships, it is especially important to be vulnerable. Vulnerability has proven to increase attraction and has proven to strengthen the bonds between people. Meaningful relationships stem out of our ability to open up and be completely honest with ourselves and be vulnerable with our significant others. Yes, wearing our hearts on our sleeves seems pretty unsettling and think about exposing ourselves to that extent to our loved ones and letting them know how they mean to us while constantly feeling repressed with the anxiety of uncertainties – anxiety of losing the loved one, being rejected, betrayed and what not.  We might wonder how to share our thoughts, open up the windows to our souls without being laughed at, dismissed as silly or being countered or misunderstood.

vulnerability

A surprising psychological fact, not recognized by many, is the ability for people to pick on other people’s “essence” and act accordingly. If we pay close attention to two people and the way they interact, it is easy to note that one will pick on the other’s fears, sensitivities, opinions, values etc., and will behave likewise. If we are comfortable in our skin with something about ourselves, people generally get comfortable with it too. And will actually see perfection in our ability to bare ourselves and yet be so in tune with our own inner angels and demons. Being vulnerable doesn’t give others powers over us. It rather gives others an insight into the light of our soul. They have a choice to take that light or wander away. And many times, we hold back and withdraw for the fear of giving others power. We think vulnerability is weakness! This is one of the biggest myths. Not letting our inside bloom and being who we are truly is a sad lonely affair. If we can’t let our walls down and open up our hearts, we can never empower the togetherness with our partners in the truest sense. Vulnerability is courage and strength. It takes a lot of guts to tell our partners what they mean to us. Perhaps even admit that our worlds revolve around them. Think of the guts we need to let our partners know what we think of them, how we feel about ourselves and the relationship. Many of us will shudder at the thought of even expressing affections out loud let alone showcase the inner plumbing of our heart and soul. But being vulnerable takes us closer to our partners, connects us in a unique manner that is only fortified by truth, openness, honesty and most importantly the idea of ourselves in our most original form. The most important element to long lasting intimate relationship is our ability to expose ourselves to experiences that bring joy and meaning to our lives and being able to not give in to the prospect of fears.

Will vulnerable people get hurt? Yes. As much as people who are not vulnerable get hurt. The same amount.  But if we are truly open and embrace our complexities, we also gain strength of mind, the virtue of being kind and compassionate, be empathetic to others and thereby always helps us get a perspective around the situation that causes us hurt. We can then move on embracing the ugly truth and the sweet lies alike.

Take any emotion—love for a woman, or grief for a loved one, or what I’m going through, fear and pain from a deadly illness. If you hold back on the emotions—if you don’t allow yourself to go all the way through them—you can never get to being detached, you’re too busy being afraid. You’re afraid of the pain, you’re afraid of the grief. You’re afraid of the vulnerability that loving entails. But by throwing yourself into these emotions, by allowing yourself to dive in, all the way, over your head even, you experience them fully and completely. You know what pain is. You know what love is. You know what grief is. And only then can you say, ‘All right. I have experienced that emotion. I recognize that emotion. Now I need to detach from that emotion for a moment’.”
― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie

In order to be vulnerable, we need to first fall in love with ourselves. If we love ourselves, then there is a very thin line of difference between who we are and what we could be. Being in love with our own selves means we are then guided by our truest selves. Once we love everything about us, we become the true authentic version of ourselves and we always tend to give that to our partners and the rest of the world.  Once we are aware of the power of the true connections, we continue to seek more and more opportunities to be open and we begin to attract people and the ability to connect with anyone and everyone

Vulnerability doesn’t require us to share our deepest secrets with just about anyone. It is about being open to the extent the other person deserves that openness. If we open ourselves to any Tom, Dick and Harry we come across, the chances of us becoming victims are pretty high. We need to show our deepest core to the ones who have earned that privilege.  Like our family and our best friends, close neighbors and trusted colleagues, we can be a good judge as to whom deserves what level of openness. We can also be vulnerable to some extent to strangers, acquaintances and extended family. That helps build courage to traverse unexplored waters. It helps become more and more in tune with ourselves and give up on fears of judgment and getting resented.

I recommend reading the book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead by Brené Brown, Ph.D, LMSW and to quote her:

“And, without question, putting ourselves out there means there’s a far greater risk of feeling hurt. But as I look back on my own life and what Daring Greatly has meant to me, I can honestly say that nothing is as uncomfortable, dangerous, and hurtful as believing that I’m standing on the outside of my life looking in and wondering what it would be like if I had the courage to show up and let myself be seen.”

And another to sum it all up:

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light. We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves. Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”