Quench My Toska

I don't know what I'm doing with my life.
Toska? A spiritual anguish? I don't know what it is my soul wants. I don't know what I want to do with my life.

This is an age old question. The purpose of life. What is our soul here for? What does our soul crave for the most? There is an indecisiveness in us and we wander around - lost.

It's good that you're clear about your life, you know what you want. No, that isn't true. I wasn't always sure about everything in my life. In still am not sure about everything.

Life is a process.
We are a work in progress,
then why must we chase after
getting all the meanings
rather than knowing what one knows
and working, unraveling mysteries
along with nurturing, growing ourselves.

This is how I found my Toska.

Since I was in my single digits, I've been fascinated by the handsome Sadko and have read it numerous times, mooning over him for more than a decade now. I knew what Toska meant for me when I felt envy seeing him, sitting by the river that flowed by Novgorod, playing his dulcimer without a care in the world. The story of Sadko, a Russian folk tale, goes this way :


Long ago, in Novgorod, there was the son of a rich merchant, who lost all money and died, leaving Sadko alone and poor. He didn't have much except for what little he earned from playing his dulcimer for their dancing. He had blue eyes, curly hair, and he was strong. He didn't dare look at the dancing young women for he had no money to marry and didn't want to be chased away as a beggar. And the young women of Novgorod didn't notice the charming man for they had eyes for the ones they were dancing with.

So Sadko lived alone with his dulcimer and didn't mind the kind of life he had as long as he got to play his dulcimer along the banks of the river Volkhov.

"There is no girl in all Novgorod as pretty as my little river" he mused to himself as he played by his river every night, singing to himself.

Sometimes he helped fishermen  and they gave him a little fish for supper in payment for his strong young arms.

One evening he sat there, watching their nets, sweetly singing of the fair lake and the lovely river : the one he thought prettier than all the girls of Novgorod. And while he was singing, a whirlwind came and appeared a huge figure, a great man with blue hair and a gold crown. Sadko knew the huge man was the Tzar of the Sea. He told Sadko how much his daughters love his music and how much he is pleased by it too. He asked him to throw a net into the water and draw it in to find a payment for his singing.

"And if you are satisfied with the payment, you must come and play to us down in the green palace of the sea."

And so Sadko finds a treasure chest. He sold few precious stones, two at a time, small things led to great and he soon became one of the richest traders in Novgorod. Now there was no girl in the town who wouldn't look sweetly at Sadko. A little eyes, you see, opens everybody's eyes.

But Sadko was unchanged, he still said "There is no girl in all Novgorod as pretty as my little river." For twelve years he remained unmarried, going on voyages and returning richer every time. He always brought presents for his river and threw it in the waves. Many were the mothers in Novgorod who would see him married to their daughters. Many were the pillows that were wet with the tears of the young girls, as they thought of the blue eyes of Sadko and his golden hair.

In the twelfth year, as he was sailing the waters of Caspian Sea, the ship suddenly stopped in the middle of the sea, far from the land, as if she were held by a big hand.

The sailors believed there was magic involved in this and that there was an unlucky one aboard. They decided to draw lots and find him only to throw him overboard.

The sailors cut pieces of string of one length as many as there were souls on the ship and one they cut in half. They made it into a bundle and each man plucked one. Sadko plucked the string cut in half.

He remembered of his promise and willingly jumped into the sea taking his dulcimer with him. He reached down into the palace and played for the Tzar and his daughters. The Tzar danced in joy and so great was his dancing that the sea boiled and the ships went down. The waves rolled as big as houses. The sea overflowed its shores, and whole town went under water as the Tzar danced mightily.

He danced till he was tired and now, pleased, he offered him one of his thirty daughters to marry and be a Prince of the Sea.

"Better than all maidens I love my little river" said Sadko and the Tzar of the Sea laughed. Soon all the daughters came but all twenty nine of them passed and Sadko had his fingers on his dulcimer and thought about his little river.

Then came the thirtieth and Sadko cried out loud that she is the only maiden as pretty as his little river. He saw the necklace around her neck and knew it was the necklace he threw in the river. Turned out that the girl's name was Volkhov. She was his river.

He found her and still lives in the palace of the bottom of the sea. When there is a big storm, you may know that Sadko is playing on his dulcimer and singing, and that the Tzar of the Sea is dancing his trememdous dance down there on the bottom, under the waves.

//Abridged Version of Sadko as published in 'Timeless Tales From Many Lands' by Reader's Digest

This story has stayed with me forever, but it wasn't until very recently that I thought seriously about this.

“There is a mystery about rivers that draws us to them, for they rise from hidden places and travel by routes that are not always tomorrow where they might be today,” Olivia Laing wrote in her stunning meditation on life, loss, and the meaning of rivers after she walked the River Ouse from source to sea. (brainpickings)

A dull ache in my soul, a dull ache in our souls - it's for an escape from our immediate reality. The grass looks greener on the other side and we want to run there. I wasn't always sure, but whatever I knew to be true, I held onto it with everything I have. I held onto it tightly, and moved on fearlessly, confidently. And little by little, things fell into place and I am still discovering things I want everyday, things to quench my Toska.


[Image and the article I read is from here.]

I read another article on brainpickings and listening, quietly, to what my little brook wanted to tell me. What my brook wanted me to do. I thought about what made me happy when there was sadness all around. What was it that I could turn to when no one seemed to be there for me. That one thing that could bring a smile onto my face. What I would do when money wasn't in question and I could do this for all my life? What is it that I could dedicate myself to and be the happiest?

As Parker J. Palmer, founder of the Centre for Courage & Renewal, says, "We listen for guidance everywhere except from within, we shouldn't stop our lives to find our purpose instead of doing what feels right, nor should we mull over what our purpose is and so halt ourselves. The river I love, my river, the ever-flowing river of ideas and love is anguish of my soul and it knows what could fulfill it. My little river I can rely on and can turn to anytime I want.

I envied Sadko for having a little river he could go to every time he needed someone and played on his dulcimer. After days of wondering what my little stream is called as... after reading this story on wattpad "The Alpha Agreement"... calling my little stream Ana after the protagonist feels right to me. It just feels right.

Ana. Meaning grace.

Even without knowing the meaning, it just felt right... I assumed it meant femininity or gracefulness just like my sweet brook. The female character is blind and so strong, kind and truly fit to be the Luna that she is. Blessed by the Moon Goddess. Despite not even having a life, my Ana is so full of life and gives everyone the gift of life. So kind, so generous, so graceful, so pretty.

My heart screams for a little stream,

Yearning loud to quietly listen to it flow
Gracefully rushing  into chaotic swirls
Of beauty and everything serene.

Oh how I'd love to give up living here
And just run. Run. Run.

To my dear little stream.

My little stream, Ana.

All I want to do is write all day long, sitting by my little Ana and play my Kalimba occasionally.

Featured Image is from here.
//Listening to Deja Vu by Justin Bieber
//Namya, thanks for asking me to do this.

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