The daily grind has this ability to stealthily wean you off the core attributes that define you. Your inner calling. Some of us have just about enough silence to hear the faint inner voices. The rest of us create a din in which the inner voice slowly dwindles away.
There was a time when I relished solitude and every single opportunity for solitude that I stumbled upon. I would rush to seize a book and read as much of it as possible, even though I may have a read it a bazillion times in all the years gone by.
I saw some of the subtle changes coming and I missed seeing some. My library membership going unused for months. My diminishing usage of flavorful words in conversations :). I started finding a spare hour unsettling as there was so much to be done. The spare hour fuelled a need to prioritize long pending work tasks or home chores, and thereby to friction. Tussle. Working mother guilt added lot more layers to this – my urge to spend every waking hour outside work with S. It depleted the person in me. The days became longer and the nights became shorter. I was with S, but I was not. While she was wholly with me. There were other signs. The signals my body gave. Tantrums of me and my loved ones.
And then the numerous thoughts of quitting. Conflicting with dreams built up over the years. The determination, the sweat. The feeling of void in the stomach when I had decided to move out of my career. These made it difficult to jump to either side and I kept sitting on top of the fence.
The real call came when I started running out of stories for S. I embarked on a month off to slip into nothingness. To experience the sound of silence, just as I had, three years ago during my sabbatical. To make amends with my oldest paperback friends once again. To just experience the passing by of a day, in all its hues. The simple charm of routine. The comfort that nothing (other than S) can wreck havoc on your unhurried schedule. Rambling meals. The heaviness of a 9 hour drugged sleep without the shrill of an alarm waking you up. Meandering books. Offbeat movies. Stumbling conversations. Art exhibitions. Puppet shows. The month was planned across a Srilankan visit, Bangalore laziness in all its glory at parents’ place and the final stint at home – comforting Pune sunshine in the biting cold.
It takes time to mend old ways. So I started my break with a to-do list which went like this –
1. Bring back health on track
4. Plan terrace garden
5. Complete art projects
6. Catch up on ‘movie to watch’ pile
7. Organize photos repository
8. Give away old clothes and toys of S
At the end of the month which is today, I am glad to say that I didn’t do any of the above except walk everyday and just spending time with S, K and my parents. The days just slipped through the cracks. Which is exactly how I realized I had wanted it. Yes time was peppered by a couple of books and movies here and there, but nothing concerted and planned. Nothing to break the monotony. No SOS calls or a problem dying to be solved. Nothing on rush mode. Yes there were distractions. Social media. Yet it co-existed in an unobtrusive manner. A companion when I needed it. Though I may not have wanted to resort to it as much.
That is probably what this year is going to be all about. Of imperfections and of the raw beauty hidden in it. More vulnerable moments. Allowing myself to open up more before I ones I care for. Going with the flow, but not hesitating to break into a slow rivulet rather than moving with the speedy current. More respect for the body. More early mornings. More aimless long walks. More awkward silences. Not wanting to be the best in every single thing, every single time. It requires numerous inner demons to be conquered and its definitely not easy to erode years of mental conditioning. More unknown answers to questions asked by S. And more struggle to find the same. More often than not, she and I are not looking for answers; we are just trying to hold simple moments together with some meaning. More attempt in some ways to create a sense of differentiation between the individual, parent, spouse and the worker. To bottle up and seal off work sometime during the day. So that you are eagerly waiting to open and lap it up the next day. More distinguishing lines between days and nights. More moon gazing. More random recipes that appear ridiculous to all but me and S. She surrenders completely and unconsciously for things I have loved all my life. Raw Maggi and sago vadaam maavu. Fried Mor Molaga stems. More train journeys and lesser flights. And to regain the ability to sleep on a train. More Tamil music. More books finished cover to cover in a single sitting.
Such resolutions have been made umpteen times. However there is a difference now. All the above without pressure or compulsion to achieve the same. A resolution, if only, to be imperfect. Sounds like a mirage but we shall see. That will be another post at the end of 2016 🙂