STAINS ON MY HEART

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It was around early May. A light breeze caressed the countryside and the day was fragrant with the sweet smell of summer bounties. We decided to explore the moorland and took the most twisted path there was. I was about 12 at the time, a city-bred child, but carrying around a rural soul. My young aunt led the way through thorny bushes and slippery trails. A couple of the neighbourhood kids, whom I’d befriended, followed us regaling me with stories from here and there. We reached the top an hour later, panting for breath, hungry and thirsty.

For a while then, we flopped on the yellowing grass, a steady banter making us break into breathless giggles every now and then. When we were all fagged out, we just lay there, silence covering us like a blanket. And just like that, I looked up at the sky and my soul stilled. I cannot really describe what went through my juvenile heart, but I was completely riveted. I lost all sense of time and can’t recall how long I stayed there; but to this day, I rate that as my most sacrosanct moment.

Later, we had devoured freshly picked wild mangoes, the juice running down our hands, creating almost permanent stains on our clothes. But looking back, the stains of memory left on my heart were clearly much more permanent. I wanted to stay up there longer, but the sun was dipping westwards and my aunt was afraid we wouldn’t make it home before dark.  So we hurried back. Even as I stumbled along behind the others, my mind was still in a trance.

Sometime during February of this year, when I was grappling with one of my dark days, the above incident popped into my head. I closed my eyes, trying to relive the peace I had felt on that hilltop. And sure enough, I felt it.  From that day onwards, I have been looking for and finding joy and sanctity in the most inconceivable places. It’s funny how we get caught up in the drama of daily life and overlook the central theme completely. If we look hard enough though, we always find what we need.

Last week, when I was visiting mom for a couple of days, I made the most of the lovely parks in her neighbourhood. I pretended I was 12 again, lay down on the grass and gazed at the sky, taking in the vastness and beauty of the heavens. It was beautiful. In moments like these, the mind empties itself of the clutter we carry around needlessly and all that’s left is peace and gratitude.

Some wild mangoes afterwards would have been perfect, but the store bought ones did just fine. : )

© Renica Rego

 

SWITCH YOUR FOCUS

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I have always loathed summers.  But this year, I’ve decided to pay as little attention to the heat as possible.  I cannot afford to run the air-conditioner all the time (besides it isn’t healthy), so I am trying to figure out ways to remain cool, especially in the kitchen.  A couple of days ago, I got a small wall fan fixed over the sink.  Okay, that’s only a wee bit helpful, but what’s actually proving to be precious is random chats with friends and some peppy music.  And before I know it, I’m through with the day’s cooking.

De-cluttering the mind isn’t as daunting as it first seemed.  It’s a good thing that little things enthuse me, so all I need to do is learn to focus on those and ignore the rest.  Just watching the birds in the morning, humming a song and appreciating the view from my window brighten up my mornings.

The little things are way more important than we are willing to concede.  Reading a good book, writing (of course), a good movie or TV show, random conversations, a day out with friends, walking barefoot on grass, bird-gazing, star-gazing (nature-gazing, actually), getting creative in the kitchen, giggling at silly things, laughing uncontrollably until my cheeks are flushed and my stomach aches, dressing up even if it’s just to pick up groceries, hugging people, cuddling with loved ones….my list is long.  If I’m happy, the world around me looks happy.

This past weekend I conducted a small survey.  I asked my friends this simple question:  What are the top 5 things that excite you?  Some of them replied promptly, some took their time and the rest seemed floored by the question.  Maybe some even dismissed it thinking: ‘She’s got nothing better to do!’

But hey, think about it.  If you do not know what excites you anymore, it means that you have taken the focus away from you.  And it’s not a good thing.  It’s a new-age trend to splurge on expensive vacations or frequent mini holidays just to de-stress, but most people ignore the little things that can actually dilute the stresses of their daily lives.

In the words of Rhonda Byrne, author of ‘The Secret’, “Switch your focus to the things you love, the things that excite you, and then you’ll be on track to a really good life”.

Go on, give it a try.  ; )