Why cant we ‘just chill’? Hoping to reign in the restlessness in 2012
For the last couple of years, I have been terribly restless. A large portion of my mindspace has been occupied trying to understand the reasons behind this restlessness and trying to find ‘solutions’. Initially, I assumed this was a stage-in-life kind of thing, exarcebated by a need to re-pursue the career of my choice–urban planning, as opposed to writing that I had ended up pursuing. All this was further compounded by the usual angst associated with motherhood and the constant pull and push between wanting to do motherly things and trying to be yourself (to me, these two can be complete contrasts!).
Earlier this year, I took the decision to follow my heart, stop worrying about expectations, most of all my own and just DO stuff I want to. For starters, I cut down on commissioned writing assignments and stepped back into the sphere of urban planning. Here, I discovered (thanks to the sheer luck of finding wonderful employers at micro Home Solutions) that the skills I had developed as a writer, research skills learnt at grad school in the US, my training as an urban planner and a keen interest in issues of urbanism and poverty could all be brought together to add value in a variety of projects. I restarted music, which I had given up on for several years and I truly believe this could feed my soul like nothing else can. Recently, I have taken up kathak too, quite a challenge since my guru spends quite a bit of time getting my body to unlearn the bharatnatyam i learnt as a kid! In the mommy role, there are the usual outings (some exciting ones as well!), birthday parties and other social dos, kiddie-choice meals to rustle, pushing the limits of my imagination composing and adapting stories, etc.
In a nutshell, life’s pretty full. But this isn’t about wanting you guys to pat my back and say, well done!! I realized this morning that this restlessness is coming, not from within me, but from the environment around me. ( I must confess this line of thought was brought on when I realized I couldnt write a new blog entry because I hadn’t done anything ‘new’, gone anywhere exciting,etc. I didnt has pics to put on on FB this week, nothing to boast about….my life was dull!!) We live in a society that is constantly in a state of restlessness. Our attention spans are small, we get bored easily and we need constant novelty and excitement to keep our energies high and motivate us. Nothing overtly wrong with that, except that we also tend to burn out! Last week, a friend had a blackout, just like that, at the end of an ordinary work day. Another someone I know suspects she is depressed and she can’t figure out why, she leads a normal, reasonably fulfilling life. All around me, I see talented, capable and wonderful people worrying about their self-worth, success, the future and most of all, worry about whether they are fulfilling their potential.
We have lost the art of just living our lives, taking pleasure in day to day things. I feel the urgent need (there, I used the wrong word!) to slow down the pace in my life, to savor the passing moments, to relish the now rather than constantly plan ahead! As a child, I watched my grandmother (Ajji) stitch endlessly, make papad, wicks from raw cotton, vermicelli (sivai) and a whole host of other stuff at home. She had led a hard life, brought up 4 kids as a widow, always earned some money, kept house for a large joint family, etc. But I never sensed in her the hurry of finishing things up. There was a certain pride in what she did, a meditative sort of calm is the atmosphere I remember she created around her. Of course, my memories are biased. I am her grandchild after all. I am sure she had her share of frustrations, but it didn’t show in they way she led her life. My other grandmother (amamma) immersed herself in housework. She managed a mean kitchen garden in Bangalore, full of fresh, healthy fruits and veggies. She produced three excellent meals everyday for my rather fussy grandpa (vava), kept her house impeccably clean and pretty, etc etc. What I’m trying to say is that they were satisfied doing what they did. They had aspirations too, but those didn’t take away from the pleasure of the present.
So this is my new year resolution. Finding the balance between excitement and calm. Pursuing my desires without becoming competitive (with myself) about them. Not living to show others, but for myself. This is essentially for me continuing into 2012 the journey I began in 2011. It’s an experiment, right or wrong we shall see….. In all this, I do keep having self-doubt about whether this attitude will serve me well (i do recognize the merits of restlessness and ambition) when I look back a decade later….what if I don’t have ‘achievements’ to show, will I have regrets., blah blah…. But I also have a strong sense of comfort, of knowing I am onto something good. Like I said, we shall see!