It’s been over a week of mostly staying in, except for the odd grocery run. In truth, and as I’ve said before, my life hasn’t changed or been disrupted at all, but I have been thinking (and feeling) a lot about what this is potentially doing for us as a community. That has caused a fair bit of mental disruption. I am feeling many feelings, to the point of wishing I could turn the feelings off.
There was a spot of joy right at the start of the week. This flower bloomed seemingly out of nowhere. After a full year of having this plant and not knowing what colour the flower would eventually be!
Some lockdown thoughts:
- One thing’s for sure — I’ve really had to re-examine control, in every single aspect of my life. To relinquish the idea that I am in control. Or that we are as a people and a race. Control in every aspect — internal, external, outwardly exerted, self imposed, has been challenged these past few days. And with it I’ve had plenty thoughts about nature vs nurture. About doing vs being. About capitalism and what is the way forward. About finding new ways to exist and operate. About society and the place for empathy. About truth, and our inability to see it, and how far we will go to hide from it.
About how we’ll go from here on. What is “normal”? Will we have to find a new normal? And what will we differently? And through it all there is also a voice in the back of my head, a constant low hum, telling me that it’s okay NOT TO KNOW. To take it one day, heck, one hour at a time, to trust that the new will emerge. Most times that is a process of unfurling, not a mere switched turning on on a new day and time. And we have so little control over any of it.
- I’ve been super grateful for this mostly stay-at-home life that I’ve had for oh so many years now. This staying in has made me realise how good I have it and how much I take this existence for granted. So many people are struggling with being home, being around their families, not being able to run away from so much that we do on a daily basis. I’m mostly okay. I am not bored. I have gotten used to long periods of solitude that often feel like isolation. I am okay with the boredom if it comes. I also have had experience in not filling every free moment with some activity. In letting stillness come when it does, and enjoying it even. I have given stillness, solitude and staying-in a place in my life already, so this doesn’t really feel out of the ordinary. But I certainly do take it for granted, and don’t realise that this isn’t “normal” for so many people. I am glad I have learnt to love my own company, so this period isn’t feeling out of the ordinary or particularly testing.
- It’s been equal parts overwhelming to see the outpouring of kindness online and around me, and disheartening to see how some very fundamental and core essence of our humanity has been slowly numbed. For every piece of ghastly news (much of it hidden away from mainstream media) I’ve seen instances of surprising compassion. For every display of unbelievable selfishness that has come up, I have been humbled by several acts of unbelievable goodness. I feel overwhelmed to think that the two polarities co-exist, and in such close proximity sometimes.
I know for sure that the way we go from here depends a lot on how quickly we understand that this is not just about our safety as individuals. Now and going forward. I hope it’s making us think beyond the pandemic and notice how much of our lives, our ways of existence, the systems we have come to accept unquestioningly have become insular, small, narrow, divisive and completely without heart. That, fundamentally, is being challenged, I think. And that, fundamentally, will have to go through a massive re-haul if we are to collectively overcome and heal from this experience.
- Aside from that I’ve also wondered why we aren’t taught to cut our own hair and wax our own legs like we are taught to cook and clean toilets. Because by the end of this I’m going to be long-haired — in EVERY department. I was about two weeks overdue for a haircut even before we went into lockdown. My hairdresser was already stuck in Manipur back then, and now it looks like it’s easily going to be a month before I can even try and venture out. I am anyway quite lax about waxing my legs, so I’m not even equipped with backups like a razor — boohoo — but summer is here, and that kind of changes everything.
- How much more extra can I be in the kitchen, I wonder. I have made a big, I mean BIG, batch of granola. I have baked a wholesome buckwheat flour chocolate cake, with icing. I made two batches of banana bread — one for me and one for my help’s kids since they’re all stuck at home too. And this morning I did the unthinkable. I churned about a month and a half’s worth of milk cream that I’d collected in the freezer. It’s a task I never do, because my help otherwise gets it done when I’m not looking. I wasn’t even sure if I could do it. But with text instructions from amma, I managed! And I churned a massive lump of butter that was made into a batch of ghee. And the buttermilk will either be lightly spiced and consumed, or turned into kadhi. Fully extra, no?
Four years ago: Fitter and stronger than before