TRACING TIME

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Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change. – Jim Rohn

The swelling days of post-monsoon are upon us. The cloudbursts have departed and left in their wake a sweltering sun that drips of drowsiness and nostalgia. Memories of iced teas, languorous weekend afternoons, sweat trails down sticky backs. And somewhere in those reminiscences lie deeper notions.

It dawned on me that last October, I was somebody else. We don’t notice it but when we do, we realize that the landscape has changed beyond recognition. Priorities with regards to health, work, self, others…everything is different. Some old friends I never expected to see again have brazenly reappeared and taken centre stage in my life. The ones who were always there, have disappeared. Perceptions have changed. Nuances have altered. And I gather that this is how life unfolds. It creeps up on you sneakily, surreptitiously.

Change is a constant, yes. But there comes a time when everything seems to be changing rapidly. It’s about the time you hit the ‘Big Four-O’. As you’re rambling along, you suddenly notice the post-it gathering dust under the London magnet on your refrigerator and realize that all the things you ever wanted to do are still un-ticked. So you square your shoulders, pull up your chin and decide it’s time.

The more you think about life, the less sense it makes. But I’m done with over-analysing things.  Joy trumps everything now. Our time and space are sacred. So if I feel like painting, why not just pick up the brush and play with colours. Does it matter if I’ve never painted before? If I can’t sing, it doesn’t mean I won’t sing. I go so far as to unapologetically record my amateurish vocals, share it with friends and have a little laugh over it.

At times when deep, dark thoughts peep at me, I try to make them a part of my narratives without brooding too much. It’s in dark, random cracks that brilliance often lies. The demons in your head will keep riling you, but you keep the power and they go away. This is how I’d like to embrace life. This is how I want to revel in the moments and spaces where I feel boundless and infinite. What else is there?

The banality of the world doesn’t leave you. But if you can take flight even for a few moments, it’s worth it. Once you experience that kind of joy, you can no longer look at the world the same. Because you know what life can feel like; you know what you are capable of being. In the words of Mooji, “The value of life will be determined by the value you place upon yourself which, in turn, depends on what or who you believe you are. Paradoxically, when you discover yourself to be beyond name, form and conditioning, life sparkles from the inside, like a celestial diamond”.

I have a friend who always says that it’s not the same for everyone. He thinks you need a privileged life and the luxury of time to live the life of your dreams. But there’s something to be said about choice. You can start small. There was a time when I cowed down to the pressure of being who the world wanted me to be. But the moment I decided to be content and started taking little steps towards my own vision, I noticed that they add up and take me forward.

Maybe it just comes down to the fact that some of us are ready to change and others are not. But when you feel like you’re ready, recognize it and don’t let anything stop you. Time won’t wait. And life will end. But don’t let your life end on a note of ‘what if?’ Remember… you get only so many trips round the sun.

WHEN LIFE THROWS YOU LEMONS

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It’s been a week of vicissitudes; enduring days without faces so far taken for granted, looking up old pictures and reliving moments, counting stars at night and birds in the evening sky, getting used to making just one cup of tea, chatting constantly with friends but all the time conversing with that one person in your head.

It could have been a dull time, but it didn’t have to be.  In times like these, you discover things; things that you would otherwise never think of. Like relationships – with that one person, with everyone else, with yourself. You realize that even though you wouldn’t choose to be alone, you are comfortable with yourself.  It’s an opportunity to pick up fallen leaves. Straighten crooked frames. Maybe write some songs. And then ruminate some more on the important things and the not so important ones.

I spent a couple of days with mom and we talked and talked until exhaustion made us fall into deep slumbers. She made me breakfast and I helped her pick new dinnerware. We lunched and slurped on ice-cream through a steady commentary on passers-by. We tried on clothes we didn’t really wanna buy, bought stuff we weren’t really gonna use, took pictures for posterity and played dress-up.  Mom is 68, but we still do that.

Things aren’t always perfect and they needn’t be.  It’s like rain and sunshine all at once. You think that and you are drenched in gratitude. You realize that acceptance is all that is needed. A great quietness descends and makes everything right. In this quietness, you find the grace and warmth to reach out to others. Even though there’s so much to do, you still find the time and inclination to send a message, make a call or drop in to say hello. The quietness makes you want to reach out and put a smile on someone’s face.

In the end, it has turned out to be a wonderful week; a week of healing hearts, fostering bonds, raising spirits and changing perceptions. Above all, it’s been enlightening to know that if life throws the proverbial lemons at me, I know now to accept them gratefully. Whether I make lemonade, grab a bottle of vodka or leave them to rot in the refrigerator can be decided later. The choice is mine.

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CAUGHT UP IN ROSTERS

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I stopped under a tree at the edge of the lane, juggling an umbrella and groceries, the rains lashing and soaking me. Out of nowhere, a sudden abstraction gripped me and I was floating to another place, another time, eons ago. An unreasonably warm afternoon and two gangly, pig-tailed adolescents walking back from school. In the distance, the ice cream vendor sees us coming and we discern his faint smile. As we get closer, he pulls out two milky cones of goodness and hands them to us with affection and the familiarity that comes from an almost daily ritual.

Sheryll and I have a box full of reminiscences, little golden nuggets of ordinariness. We used to spend most of our afternoons together. While the world around us snoozed, we happily went about our clandestine pursuits. As soon as we got home from school, I would hurriedly finish my lunch and pop over to her house next door. Little things gave us so much pleasure. Sheryll’s parents were both working, so they would leave her some money in a tin box. That patterned tin box absolutely fascinated me. It did not just hold coins; it signified a kind of autonomy that intrigued my little mind. We would pick a few coins and run to the neighbourhood store. The array of glass bottles filled with brightly wrapped toffees and sweets tantalized our senses. Sometimes we would pick dates over toffees. We would then run back home clutching the goodies, sit on the steps and savour every bit. Sometimes Sheryll would come up with quirky ideas. She would pull out some tamarind from the jar, place it on a piece of paper, cover it with sugar, wrap it up and leave it under something heavy. A while later, like a conjurer, she would unwrap the magic and offer it to me. The sweet tanginess of that tamarind could almost be a metaphor for the bond we shared.

Now why would memories like these come to me in the middle of the market place while I’m stuck in a downpour? Well, I have no idea. But they do. The mind is unfathomable. I’d love to scoop out moments in my day between doing the laundry to dusting out the cobwebs and just gaze endlessly into the deep nooks of my strange mind. But I get caught up in rosters. And in the process, maybe lose what could be ‘me’.  It’s a thought that bothered me until I staggered onto another tangent.

On my visits to see my grandparents every summer, I used to look forward to the end of the day. We would spend the whole day in mundane things; visiting people, doing chores, running errands. In the evening, when we got home, grandpa would have a huge cauldron of hot bath water waiting for us. The heady smell of burning firewood and the warmth of that water was enough to wash away the fatigue of several lifetimes. Rejuvenated from the bath and after polishing off grandma’s sumptuous dinner, we would lay around listening to grandpa’s ghost stories and how he had once brought a tiger cub home. The stories were repetitive but we hung on to every word as if we were hearing it for the first time.

So I reckon monotony is necessary. Maybe the tediousness is what leads us to where we want to go. A lot of times, it’s during those very unexciting moments that we stumble upon ourselves. That’s when life holds up a mirror and allows us a glimpse of our uniqueness.

Every evening now, when the family gathers around the table for tea and swaps stories from sometimes momentous and sometimes dull days, I realize that this is how our existence is made alive. We get to walk lurid plot lines, but only sometimes. Most times, we are just making boring stories. But somewhere in that boredom, lies the secret to a fulfilling life.

© Renica Rego

 

A LITTLE RANDOMNESS

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When I recently wrote about my rule of learning one new thing every year (you can read about that here: http://m.speakingtree.in/spiritual-articles/lifestyle/hey-aren-t-you-bored), a lot of people responded saying it inspired them to question their priorities and think about how they could do the same. It proves that we all have the desire to go beyond the mundane and experience our creative side. That’s where the passion lies.

Working hard and being ambitious is a good thing. But a little randomness is critical to your personal growth. Say hello to yourself every now and then. Go a little retrospective on yourself. When you are in touch with your inner self, you will gravitate towards things that interest you naturally. If something appeals to you, dig a little deeper. If it fascinates you enough, go ahead and try it.

Believe me, I was clueless myself.  Like most people, I did not even know what I wanted until much later in life.  Even when I did, I procrastinated. But one fine day, I woke up and decided that I did not want to feel like that anymore, or ever again. When I acknowledged who I was and what I was meant to do, it all fell together like a jigsaw puzzle.  The picture on the box was already there, all I had to do was pick up the pieces and fix them together. No one is going to fix you; you have to do it yourself. Sometimes one little step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life.  It doesn’t really matter if you’re going at snail’s pace, as long as you don’t stop. There is so much beauty and creativity out there. It’s crazy not to enjoy it.

This whole minimalism and mind declutter idea too is just a way to make sure that the inspiration has enough room to settle in.  All I’m doing is giving it a shot. Try and do the same.  See what touches your soul.  Feed your creativity. You will be surprised where it takes you. You put yourself out there, you explore the outer world, and slowly but surely you end up discovering your inner world.  That is where you are supposed to be. That is your destination. That is where you will feel alive!  Let things play out the way they’re meant to be.

Recently I was rummaging through some old books and found an old, dog-eared copy of ‘The Thorn Birds’ by Colleen McCollough.  That book had mesmerized me when I first read it. I leafed through the yellowed pages and it was like living the tale all over again. That’s how I feel about life.  I want to pick it up, brush off the dust, iron out the ends and recreate the magic.