Picture clicked on Tuesday, 12th April 2016, at Margaret Island, Budapest.
'Life is not a pony farm.' My daughter and her friend used these words so many times over the last few days that when I sat down today to write about L, the phrase jumped out of my fingers and settled on the computer screen.
The girls spent their Easter break volunteering on a farm in Hungary run by a young Swiss German couple. Apparently, the man was extremely fond of this idiom. Like them, I'd never heard of it before and like them, I liked the sound of it.
It's the German equivalent of 'life's not a bed of roses', or simply put- suck it up and carry on.
The question is: Do we have to suck it up? Can we not let go? And then maybe, we can dance with the ponies we raise or smell the roses we plant?
These are the things I let go of (some as recently as this year and some not too long ago):
1. Expecting my husband to make me a cup of tea in the morning. It ain't happening. And his tea doesn't come close to mine anyway. The way I make it with freshly grated ginger and crushed cinnamon- aah! you gotta taste it. So I've stopped comparing him to my friends' husbands who do. He's happy and I'm really pleased to sip tea just the way I like it, first thing in the morning.
2. Hiding behind Vitiligo.
'Why do you wear long sleeves to practise? I feel hot just looking at you.' said my yoga teacher almost three years ago.
I wore my first short sleeve t-shirt in more than ten years to class the next day. When I first went out in public with my patches on display, I kept waiting for people to react with disgust or curiosity. No one did. Slowly, little by little, the rope that I'd tethered myself with to this rock of Vitiligo, disentangled. I set myself free. Yoga helped and so did the speed with which the rest of my pigment vanished. These days, I can be spotted in a sleeveless summer dress.
3. Being the prefect host. I used to get so wound up when I organised dinner parties or lunches or hosted my in-laws that extreme exhaustion would plead me to cancel the plans all together and curl up in bed. Not anymore. I do what I can, when I can. I cook what I feel like with love and care to nourish family and friends, not to impress them. Life's easier this way.
4. Believing that I'm the sum total of the labels I wear: mother, wife, sister, daughter-in-law, teacher, student. I'm not. These labels are mere parts in a play (like Shakespeare said). I have to play my part and recite my lines. But one day, the curtain will fall. I have this life to find my true self, for only my true self will leave the stage with me. The rest will stay here. Only I will move on, on my own, just like I came here. The more attached I get to these labels, the further I go away from the true me.
"Know then that the body is merely a garment.
Go seek the wearer,
not the cloak."
The list of things that I have yet to let go is longer. Rome wasn't built in a day and a lot has piled up over the years in my baggage compartment. It will take time. Life may not be a pony farm, but I hadn't expected it to be. It's okay the way it is. In fact, it's good and keeps getting better as I keep lightning the load.
Pictures taken at Buttermere, the Lake District- Summer 2015.
If the dandelion doesn't let go
how will she grow?
If the boat blames the rope
and stands at the edge of the lake
sighing what ifs,
how will it know
the limitless expanse,
that lies beyond
the pole it's attached itself to.