Wednesday, February 7, 2018

February is here

It's been a long break from blogging this time; more than two months. Two whole months of not penning down thoughts or sharing any photos here. Why? I really don't know. 

I've been in a confused state lately--unsure, muddled, questioning every thing, not finding my heart in anything I do. I do it all but there is a part of me that seems to be watching me doing it, like I'm not in the act of living my day to day, like I'm a spectator of my own life, like everything around me is an illusion and I'm supposed to be somewhere else, like my days are happening under water, submerged, unclear, unsure--I can see and hear it all like a scene from a film in a theater, but I'm not part of it, like there's a distance between my senses and what's going on around me, like there's wool filling the gap between life and me, like I'm sort of removed from it all.

Why?

I'm not sure.

All is well. The children are well and healthy. The husband and I are happy and healthy. 

Do you, dear reader, go through cycles of doubt and woolliness when there is no apparent reason for it?

A lot of astronomical phenomenons are keeping the skies busy this week. So perhaps, it's the celestial cycles that are responsible. Or perhaps, it's the useless pandering of a person who has too much time on their hands. 

"Your life has to be bigger than you." an old school friend who I was seeing after more than 25 years last week, said to me.

His words got me thinking even more haphazardly.  What does it mean to live life bigger than me?  

Is keeping a loving home where children grow up to be good human beings enough to qualify me as someone who's lived her life well? Should I have invented something unique, written a great novel, painted a masterpiece, managed a business or saved a life to call my life 'successful'?

Did my grandmother ever feel like I do? Did she ever question if she was doing enough? Did their generation feel lost every now and then?

"Only when you're lost, can you find the way." A wise saying I'd read a while ago pops into my head.

So is feeling lost a good thing?

Do people who feel lost find their way or do they end up getting even more lost?

I look at my husband who works hard to provide for his family every day. He is so clear with what he wants from life and how he's going to do it. I wish I was more like him. But I'm not. 

I'm not sure how long this phase of mine will last, maybe it's already coming to an end--I'm sitting down at my kitchen table and writing today.
I look through old photos I've yet to sort through and the one above catches my eye and makes me laugh. Sometimes, the cows of creativity just don't budge. They have other plans.

So, what does one do when such a phase impales you in its icy grip? One steps out. 

I decide to make friends with this woolliness and invite her to sip  tulsi and adrak wali chai with me.

Open kitchen door.
Step out.
Nip tips of holy basil.
Wash its tender leaves in sink.
Water in  pan is almost coming up to a boil.
Plonk leaves in.
Scrape ginger and grate it on a palm sized grater while the water starts bubbling.
(hands feel the heat of the stove)
Oh! forgot pepper...
scramble cupboard door open, pour out a few pepper corns into wooden mortar, crush the corns in a hurry as water is boiling angrily by now and threatening to become vapour if I don't get my act together.
In go the crushed pepper,
followed by tea leaves
add milk
add sugar.
Ah! 
Life is beautiful.

I take my cuppa with me to the front of the house where the morning sun lights up petunias and nasturtiums and the asparagus fern. House and garden sparrows chime their songs in the neem tree. Blooms of Frangipani bob their heads with the breeze. I sit and sip. And wonder if life is already bigger than me.

What more can I ask for?

February, my favorite month of the year, is here. So what if January ended with a flu. So what if this stubborn cough refuses to bid adieu. So what if my plans to write a book are still just plans. February is here and look what promises it brings:

Tomatoes will soon start to blush and before long, they'll drape scarlet dupattas to let us know they're ready to be picked.
We've already eaten aaloo-methi (methi from the garden) twice this fortnight. Fenugreek greens show off their white blooms. 
Calendula sprinkle sunshine wherever they bloom
Soil and sun fill these beauties with fire. I've used a couple to make coriander chutney (Coriander Chutney Recipe) which goes amazingly well with methi ki roti (fenugreek bread).
Baby figs flatter my gardening ego:)
Life is beautiful indeed.

And just like that, the woolliness of January dissipates.

I'm not looking for a bigger-than-me-life at the  moment. Life: normal, ordinary and mundane will do me fine.

No, this is not an excuse to be lazy. Or at least I don't think so. It's like tuning into my rhythm. I would like to write that book. And I will. There--I've said it. My first February confession. I'm owning up to my dreams and saying it out loud. I reckon it's the first step in the right direction. 

It's not easy to bring discipline into something that one does which is not satisfying the ego, or making money or being noticed. Walking, practising yoga, meditation, writing and gardening  all fall by the way side when woolliness sets in. The funny thing is that those are the very things. i.e. walking, writing, yoga, gardening  and meditation that help clear out the cob webs of self-doubt.
There's never just one way of looking at things. Right?

Your way of dealing with your doubts will be different from mine. But, I'll share what works for me anyway--when self-doubt raises its tentacles to trap me, I fight it back by simply saying 'well done' to myself for accomplishing day to day chores: a pat for each job done with love --lunches packed for husband and son, dishes washed, kitchen cleaned, laundry sorted, a few pictures clicked, a few chapters read, a cupboard shelf/drawer re-organised--basically any task. No task or act is too small or too insignificant to be noticed and appreciated. 

By the time noon bells chime, I've collected so many well dones for myself that I'm beaming again--ready to welcome my men back from school and office with a hot meal and a ready ear to listen to how their day went by.

This is important. This self-help is essential. 

A friend posted this recently--
"The deep roots never doubt spring will come,"
Marty Rubin.
I try to cobble together this post and promise myself that however loud the voice of resistance is, I will sit and write everyday--a few lines, a page, a poem or perhaps a story, but I will live my life fully by doing things that make me me. I will write and harvest the greens and plant more seeds, and go for long walks and listen to Sufi songs and while I'm doing all this, I'll pat my back and tell myself--"well done for living your ordinary well."


And wherever you are and whatever you're doing or planing to do, do take half an hour out of your busy day to sip a cup of tea/coffee/hot water and sit and stare. Doubts and certainties, pauses and starts are tides of life. They come and they go. 
Sonia (above) sells tea on top of this stunning canyon near Shillong (Meghalaya). It's called Laitlum. A couple of other photos in this post are from there too, clicked in October 2017.

Wishing you all a fabulous February:)

8 comments:

  1. Oh my dear Arti, so heartening to read from you today. I too have been wandering in quietude for what seems like ages. Your words today echoed my footfall through these past months. I too am beginning to stir from this resting time - well that's what I'm calling it! Sometimes we just need to step back from head and heart on engagement with the world, take a time out to watch, listen and rest.
    Welcome back, Arti. Thank you for stepping into my kitchen on this snowy cold February morning.
    Hugs xxx
    April

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    1. My dear April. I'm so happy to see your comment here. 'Resting time' sounds perfect. Yes, you're absolutely right about stepping back. Looking forward to reading your writing:)
      Sending you sunny hugs Doha.
      xx

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  2. So free-flowing river of doubt,where i got immersed because as i swam along i could hear my own thoughts being echoed. Just as i was diving in the cold,deep waters of my doubts and questions,in your river,you poured soothing gungune drops of beautiful pictures,little things that keep you warm........your writing warmed me too

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    1. Wow Jyotica! you paint a beautifully fluid picture with your words. I like the river analogy very much. Yes, life is ebb and flow. cool and warm but it's never static--always moving, sometimes fast and sometimes slow and sometimes even backwards but it moves. Happy to have warmed you:) xx

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  3. I'm afraid I'm going to have to steal the "cows of creativity"...
    I like the idea of living in a life that's bigger than I am, but I think I'm going to settle for just stumbling through the one I've got without knocking myself out. ;-D

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  4. Steal away my lovely:)
    I hear you loud AND clear--sometimes, even stumbling through can seem tricky.
    Thank you for visiting Jz.

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  5. i'm SO glad your blogs are back Arti ! And what you describe, especially the "wooliness" are what we are all go through-but don't articulate it half as perfectly as you do-you'vecertainly got the flair and the book shall certainly happen my dear !
    Reeling from what we've just been through, the body claims fatigue, the mind exhaustion-but your adrawali-chai -laced blog certainly perked my day .
    Shukriya mere dost-khushamuddeen .

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    1. Found this comment in spam today so un-spammed it:) Hope you're well Sharmila. xx

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