Twist

I’ve been in a tizzy today. My otherwise lean daily existence that involves not doing more than 2 things on any given day was thrown off by an Instagram tag that sent a dozen folks into my inbox, ordering the coconut oil I have on offer. I’m happy for the flooding requests, but because they all came in at one go, I spent the morning fulfilling them all pronto. That’s all it took to throw my day askew — having to fulfil a bunch of orders that I had to organise and send off through Dunzo. I overshot my stipulated screen time by 3 hours because of it, and scrambled to do the other regular things I had to do like cook lunch, finish a submission, take two readings and catch a nap — in between it all.

There was another majorly development that caused massive disappointments for VC and me this morning, and I got my period, which also threw a spanner in the overall mood. I was in pain and in a tizzy, and sad all at once. At the end of the day though, said disappointment was reversed, and I momentarily felt the compressed collapse when your heart dives deep into your tummy, on a rollercoaster ride, and things were alright again in my head and in my world.

But I have ended the day overwhelmed. I’m glad days like this are the anomaly these days and not the norm. Because I cannot function like this anymore. I struggle to multi-task and I feel really stretched when there are too many asks of my time and attention.

Ended the day with this sweet cotton candy sunset, just as things were returning to happy around here.

One year ago: Satisfaction
Two years ago: I don’t know if it’s even in your mind at allI don’t know if it’s even in your mind at all

On trees and roots

Old-but-renewed fascination with watching age-old trees surfaced some weeks ago, aided by morning wanderings in parts of Bangalore that are beautifully shrouded in a tunnel of treetops. I recollected and shared Mary Oliver’s meditations on Tress some days ago on Instagram and D pointed me to a Larkin poem I have somehow never read before. I don’t know how I could have missed this absolute beauty through 5 years of studying English Literature, in which Larkin featured pretty frequently.

Better late than never, I suppose. Because this, today, speaks to me at so many levels. And maybe that’s why it’s stayed, the words dashing about in my head, playing a game of squash, ever since I read them two weeks ago. Making me look at trees longer, slower, and persuading me to listen in.

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In full-grown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

Delicious, no?

It’s hard not to see that my obsessive draw and deepening connection to all things green, to having and growing them, to enjoying their company and being surrounded by them has only grown over the last many months. It’s safe to say it very literally gives me a space to ground myself in, and to find real, dirty, hands-on parallels with my own emotional journey and process.

These days, I have my most calming epiphanies and those quiet life-changing aha-moments that make me smile stupidly to myself, when I am running/exercising or gardening. This is why it has also been important and easy to include these two activities into my daily routine, and not just for when I want to have some fun on a whim.

When something takes root, deep and strong, there is a space of anticipation, waiting, uncertainty that comes about. On the one hand, you cannot see what’s at work underground, and it’s also too soon to tell what will happen above. The only thing to do is wait, with faith, and continued dedication to nurturance.

Evocative possibilities can come to life in that space of nothingness. Promise of so many possible futures that can unfold, unravel, that will push through like literal life. Possibilities of thriving, surprises. Stories of death and resurrection. Literal cycles of life in full display within this microcosm.

It’s a place where dreams are real, and unreal all at once. Where possibility is both suspended and in-waiting, but also impending and somehow certain.

That space of seeming emptiness is potent, it is fertile. There is nothing to see, but I have felt it, when I have waited and let the emptiness touch me. And nowadays, when I listen closely, I feel the rootedness saying to me;

Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

This morning, I remembered something very sweet and powerful that S said to me in a casual whatsapp chat many, many moons ago. It was such a simple articulation of a very profound thought about leaving people behind as we grow into our own. A thought she had had but we were both beating around the bush trying to catch, pickle and put down in words — and failing.

Until she said;

And this leaving people behind that you talk about is how a tree leaves the ground behind.

Even in the profundity of the moment then, I didn’t see how eminently crucial roots are. In the process of growing. Of transforming. Of gathering wisdom and understanding. And of leaving. Of grasping opportunities to beginning afresh.

Three years ago: Grow
Four years ago: Morning moods

In-between lives

Every time that I think this one’s life is over, she shows me, almost defiantly, that it is not. Her leaves have been strangely compressed and perpetually curled up with no flowers to be seen for months now, and nothing I did seemed to help. Moved her around to a different spot in the balcony, loosened the soil as bougainvillea like, added fertiliser, reduced watering greatly — still nada.

I know bougainvillea much prefer bright, hot sunlight and don’t care much for the rain, and this is a problem in my home. I get adequate sunlight throughout the day, but it’s not direct and it’s not the fresh morning sun that flowering plants love. Also it’s been consistently rainy here in Bangalore for the last few weeks now. So that could be one reason she is seemingly not doing too well. However, this deduction wasn’t accurate because my other bougainvillea is doing fine. Great, even. With bushy, light and feathery, graceful fronds of white blossoms billowing in the monsoony winds, right next to this one.

Anyhow, last week I said out loud that maybe it’s time to just let this one go. Put her to rest, and use this large pot for something else. Almost immediately, within the next few days, she burst into this profusion of the salmon-est-salmony blooms, reminding me of the reason why I picked this plant from the nursery, in the first place. This exact shade of orange-salmon-blushing is what I imagine “the pink of life” is.

I’m growing to see more than meets the eye with my plants, and I’m revelling in how they respond to how much energy I direct towards them. And this whole episode spoke to me at so many levels.

One year ago: Stay and stay a while
Two years ago: I want the truth to be said
Three years ago: Finding life again
Four years ago: Lines and dreams

Upside down

There’s so much happening below. On the ground beneath my feet.

I’m seeing it all.

And more than occasionally, these days, I take time to look up.

And I soak that in too.

One year ago: Silent and still
Two years ago: Not invited, but I’m glad I made it

We’re going through changes

So it’s not just me. The Economist has this amazing piece on how Covid has changed lifestyles significantly. It’s safe to say this is not a mere passing trend, but change from within that is here to stay for a while longer than just the next fad. It was very comforting to read how the world over, we have turned to cooking, cleaning, DIY and home-making, craft and arts, gardening, pottery, baking, embroidery and knitting and the like to find some semblance of peace amidst the chaos, and our centres in the face of being thrown off kilter completely.

I realise that this too is global. Not just the destruction and chaos of the pandemic, but also the troubling churn that is also an opportunity for transformation that it is offered us all.

This impetus to find different ways to be has been triggered within us all partly from realising how undependable the current ways of the world are. How fragile and illusionary they are, how little support they offer. And most importantly, the gaping holes of inequity that have been exposed.

We were never meant to slave away like cogs in a relentless capitalist wheel in the way that we do. Running on the hamster wheel endlessly, chasing after one milestone after another, like mirages in a vast, desolate desert. But we were willing to cash in on whatever it offered, in the belief that it will somehow remain forever. This was the road to happiness. But how quickly all of that went to shit. And how quickly the discomfort struck each and every one of us, in some manner or another.

I wonder if the changes I am seeing — and I truly am seeing them in folks around me — are in a small manner coming from an awakening. A slow, slow return to the certain primal ways we were meant to exist in. Working with our hands, nourishing ourselves, finding pockets of rest, looking for joy in things other than making a living, doing the things that matter to our lives first, before feeding corporations became the only means to making a living.

Thinking about living and life first, and allowing the means to organically emerge from there. Rather than retrofitting the means to a living, to the kind of life we are then saddled with.

In my own space, I know that the slow down that this has caused has permeated more than just the pace at which I function. I have been more observant, more aware, I feel more in-tune with the world around me, I feel fiercely about certain tenets I now want to live my life by, I see the ways in which my internal and external worlds echo and mirror each other, and therefore the need to find balance, moderation and sustainability.

This didn’t just come out of nowhere. It came from getting down to the basics again. From literally getting down on my hands and knees to clean my home, chop veggies, grow plants, dig the soil, water fresh blooms, wash my loos, clean the dustbin, mindfully stock and store groceries amongst other things.

It made it impossible not to observing keenly what it takes to live life, and what (and how much!) I lost from dissociating from the acts of basic living completely. In outsourcing, I severed that connection to the very hands-on acts of living life. Putting food on the table, keeping a hygienic home, being curious about how much I consume.

Somehow, this made me aware of the plurality of life around me. The diversity in resources. And the pressing need to bring back balance to our relationship with it all. Watching nature, whether in my little balcony garden, or at the vegetable and fruit vendor, or in the millions of thought bombs I have read about these things (because everybody is talking about it now more than ever), has really made me realise the need to pause. Pause before I act.

Now that I am back to running outdoors, I catch myself literally watching, observing, looking up at the trees more, noticing blooms, catching unlight speckling through the leaves, smiling to see flocks of parakeets rushing from tree to tree, finding joy in withered, yellowed trees as much as lush, verdant ones. Watching, seeing keenly has shown me what natural resilience looks like.

Isn’t it amazing how it is the trees, birds, water, animals and insects that are thriving in the middle of a pandemic, while we are perishing faster than we can keep track of. We’re cowering into the corners of our homes, shrouded in masks and scarves to keep safe, while something else, something outdoor, stronger and more resilient than us is enduring.

There are lessons in survival in natural cycles. In balance and organic timing. In patience and timely growth.

The more I notice and become aware of these things, in the quiet moments when I am catching chai on the balcony, or running in the park, or simply watering my plants for the day, the more it percolates in some way into my life, my actions, my habits, my beliefs.

I cant unsee the glaring evidence that balance fuels survival, harmony breeds joy, equity births prosperity. So, in my own little way, working with my hands and doing the work has been an attempt at bringing balance back into our lives. A practice in adopting a more benevolent attitude, a slower rhythm that runs in respectful pace alongside my world, not trying to always get ahead.

And it is also impossible to ignore the joy that has come from it. You’ll know by now how much being involved in gardening has been the mirror I held up to my own internal processes. The clarity in thought, the ability to hold the murky days, keeping my head up even when inside I am going under, finding space to hold the sadness and pain that has come from all of this, working with a focus on what I want to do and why the work is important to me — I believe it is a function of returning to who I am. All thanks to stripping down to the bare necessities, and surprisingly finding inexplicable satisfaction in doing mundane chores.

The tide is turning.

***

Post title lifted from old favourite song that has an apt sounding line, but in totality has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

One year ago: Gratitude fix
Two years ago: August

The hidden life of trees

So, I decided to break my boredom with home workouts and desperate missing of the gym, by braving the outdoors and resuming running again.

It’s been three days and one whole day of severely sore legs, but I feel so good.

It’s more than what running does for my body, which in itself is a whole other story. But I’m also beginning to see why being outdoors in an enveloping tunnel of trees, that are overwhelmingly old and large, surrounded by eye-hurting green views, even as small and limited as they are in a city park, does for me.

It’s a reminder to keep growing. To keep going. Of how strong roots are the key to talk trees. Of age and wisdom. Of a silent judgement-free witnessing. Of the cradle of mother earth. Of the place that energy and the elements have in giving life. Of fertility even in times of destruction. Of survival and enduring.

On Sunday, practically my first real long run since March (because I’m not counting the two failed attempts in May and June), I had a mini cry behind my mask even as I had just entered the parking and started my run. I just felt overwhelmed to be outdoors, for one. But I was also just taken by these large, old trees. Just standing there, watching the world go by, as they have for years now. I also felt a surge of endorphins, and while they’re usually known to induce extreme highs interpreted as happiness I have noticed that they heighten whatever emotion I am allowing myself to feel. That day it was overwhelming gratitude and aliveness.

I have not appreciated trees enough in my life. And that day I realised I have probably not appreciated the trees in Bangalore enough in my life.

They’re becoming reminders for me. Of life and growth. Of swaying with lightness and tenderness, while being powerfully rooted. Of grounding. Of joy and life. Of air and breath.

In the inimitable words of Mary Oliver, who I have realised has woven beauty in words for every goddamn experience, it’s simple.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.
And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

Stay. Awhile.

One year ago: Brain noodles
Four years ago: Wandering, right here at home

Monday Tarot Message: Being true to yourself

Our capacity for authenticity as a cornerstone of how we live our lives begins with honesty with the self. And how we hold that authenticity towards ourselves and our own lives first. This defines being true to oneself.

The High Priestess represents that inner aspect of the Self that holds the authentic core, with all that we truly know and desire. A fulfilling life comes from listening to the voice of that self with confidence.

The voices on the outside — expectations, norms, benchmarks, values — can often drown the inner one which is clear and pure and needs no reasoning. This can be hard to do, especially in a world that holds so many ideals and values as aspirational, and teaches us to chase what structures and systems (such as capitalism, patriarchy, caste, nations) require of us. This can cause massive obscuring in the process of being in tune with the voice on the inside that may want otherwise.

Today’s message is a reminder that healing, growth, personal development — are all journeys that take us back to our inner selves. Healing offers a process through which we may examine and soothe all the parts of ourselves that choose to deviate or move away from that inner self, which is actually the only compass for living an authentic life. And it helps us return to ourselves. To our bodies and hearts the way we were always meant to be.

Our connection with the inner self is routinely disrupted by the machinations of our outer life and all that we encounter or engage with. We experience dilution of our intuition and may question or doubt that pure way in which we know things to be true without needing proof or validation. This causes confusion, anxiety or, in the long run, the inability to find meaning or deeper satisfaction in life.

The ego is largely motivated by external voices. Often the knowing or desires of the inner self are not in alignment with that of the ego. This can cause tension. For eg; the ego’s pursuit of what a “good” person is, may often cause one to go against ones true desires which maybe entirely different. Over time, this inauthenticity will feel insincere and disingenuous to the self and bring disconnection and unhappiness.

Re-establishing this connection is to rediscover the true self. To gradually strengthen the ability to listen and trust the inner self. To learn to parse out doubt, fear, shame or guilt or anything else that inhibits listening and leaning in. To examine our need for external sources of certainty (validation), or why the internal compass doesn’t feel trustworthy to begin with. To notice our patterns of abandoning our inner selves. And most importantly, to see the ways in which this sidelining of ourselves brings pain from disconnection in the long run.

This is what being true to oneself would look like.

One year ago: Forward
Two years ago: Closing walls and ticking clocks
Four years ago: Smoke and ashes, email trails and matters of the heart

Blissful

Just sitting here basking in the joy of an open heart and a clear mind after an excellent session of therapy.

Celebrating the high with the almost-rain backdrop, chai and the closest-to-Parisian croissant I’ve found in Bangalore.

increasingly, therapy has become a very quiet affair, for me. Far fewer words, working mostly with my body, movement and dreams (when I remember them), lots of quiet and noticing what happens in those quiet moments, really taking the time to soak that in before ticking off items from the mental list to move on to the next thing.

It has brought about a sense of expansiveness not just in the way that therapy is working to open me up, but also in the way that I am experiencing life itself. Open, quiet, slow and free.

Today was an important session. And I spent much of it in a haze of peace and oneness. Not having the words or even the urge to explain what I was feeling. It’s such a relief to have a therapist who works in this way, with whom I can spend the entire hour in mostly silence, without owing explanations and still feel held, safe and grounded. Today has left me feeling very present in the now. In today. In what my body is experiencing as this sense of peace and togetherness.

We always end with “so how are you feeling now?” and usually my answer is the woefully inadequate “good” or “not so good” (as the case may be). Today I burst into a beaming, heartful smile and said, Blissful.

One year ago: Two things
Two years ago: If you, if you could return
Four years ago: Gym rant

The unbearable pain and joy of being oneself

I’ve spoken so much about loneliness, and some (perhaps a little unintelligibly, for a reader to grasp) more about the changing face of loneliness as I have moved through discovering myself. What was once an acute loneliness for people, a tribe, bodies, a sense of being one among many, has shifted to a different kind of loneliness that is frankly a lot less worrying than it used to be.

The old loneliness used to get me so down, because I felt so helpless and not in control of the situations and circumstances I faced with people that led me to feeling that way. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong or how to prevent it from happening again. The new loneliness is very private, inward. And it is a loneliness for something else. Much less tangible than people, a crowd or a sense of wanting to be in the company of other human beings.

What’s different in recent times is a sort of distance I feel between myself that feels the loneliness, and the part of me that witnesses it. I no longer feel like I am being put through the wringer when loneliness comes. I see it, I feel it, I let it wash over me.

I don’t quite have a full grasp of what it is I am lonely for, and I am not in a rush to figure it out. I know it is taking shape slowly. This ease in letting it be, do it’s thing, is new. And liberating.

But what I do know for certain is what has changed. And that is a solid inner attitude and certainty about no longer abandoning myself. I’ve spent a lot of my life letting myself down, choosing everything else over myself, pleasing people to the greatest degree and practicing so many other such forms of abandoning myself. Routinely and continuously. It has taken a lot of introspection, slowly letting those old ways down, opening up to the consequent feeling of being exposed, and feeling lonely  yet again — just in an all new way — to get here.

I feel like the loneliness may never fully go away. It feels existential, treading a nebulous zone, while knowing in the pit of my stomach that in the end we’re all alone. So I am on the right path.

That I can have connection, intimacy, love, belonging and respect. That it cannot come at the expense of myself. And that this is the unbearable joy and pain of feeling truly and completely at one with myself.

One year ago: Second chances
Two years ago: Don’t worry about, don’t speak of doubt

Same same

Still here, finding the tiny silver lining in the midst of a pandemic that’s raging out of control and has our authorities foxed. Focusing on staying well, staying safe, staying indoors and staying positive.

And it’s a tough ask. I mean last week the health minister just threw his hands up and said only God can now save us from this message. Today he says he alone can’t be expected to do the work.

Then why for you became Health Minister, saar?

Even WHO videos are now pissing me off with how absolutely wishy washy, unreliable and ineffective they’re beginning to sound. Just so much hand-wringing and nothing more. Even seven months since this thing broke out. How is this a 2020 reality?

Virus aside, though, I’m still intermittently in awe of alllllllll the ramifications of the way in which life has been toppled over and all that we are having to contend with.

There’s so many things I hope I never take for granted again. Hugs, for one. Sunlight and fresh air. Just human presence, is what I miss the most I think. Poor VC is bearing the brunt of all my need for human contact, facing frequent assaults of love. But yeah, I can’t unsee some of the fundamental ways in which life has shifted for me. Fourth month of doing all home chores by ourselves and we’ve stacked up a whole load of lessons learned but also tricks and hacks to make this work. I don’t think I can go back to the old ways of waste and excess (in so many little things) in a hurry. Eating meals at the table has been such a joy. Working out at home has been a revelation. And I’m only just scratching the surface. A lot of the changes we have made are small and private and I don’t want to be virtue signalling by talking about them at length. Also, I know this has been the process for many, many people. Everyone has had their own set of learnings and have changed their lives in important ways.

So I’d be lying if I said this painful time hasn’t been without gifts.

It’s just taken me a while to assimilate, look back and acknowledge them. Despite feeling fully the privilege it speaks of to be even doing this. For too long I let the guilt of that privilege stop me. Until I recently realised privilege too is a gift and I’m wasting it by letting the guilt paralyse me. I can instead acknowledge it, own it and let it move me to actually do things.

I ranted about just wanting to go out on my Instagram the other day, and it took absolutely no time for someone to point out that staying in is a privilege! like I was ignorant about or hadn’t possibly considered that truth. That presumption aside, it reflected exactly my own thought process around this. How stuck I have felt from just acknowledging my privilege. And what a shift it has been to accept and own it and instead move on to thinking about how I can use my privilege positively and constructively. Even if just for my own life.

(Also, acknowledging and agreeing with an inherent privilege doesn’t make the feelings of wanting to leave, any less true. Why do we insist on existing in stark binaries so much? The two states can absolutely coexist!)

Heard this Pico Iyer quote the other day on a podcast, and it hit home why some times, some parts of this shit show begin to make sense. And some times it feels good too.

Going nowhere, as Leonard Cohen would later emphasize for me, isn’t about turning your back on the world; it’s about stepping away now and then so that you can see the world more clearly and love it more deeply.

Three years ago: In which I end up without a phone
Four years ago: Rainy day feels

200

More thoughts on growth learnt from watching my plants:

  1. Growth is so, so, so dependant on laying a nourishing, fertile foundation and cultivating a safe, healthy space for it to continue
  2. Growth is mostly small and subtle, miraculous in it’s shapeshifting subtlety
  3. Growth is beautifully silent
  4. Growth is bloody magical
  5. Growth, whatever kind, however it happens, is gorgeous. And absolutely worth working for

Casually hit the 200 post mark today, and felt all kinds of happy all over again, to have this space to journal, doodle, scribble the meandering growth curve that I am on.

Even though a lot goes un-articulated, undocumented (and that is fine) I am happy I have this space to note some of the surprising twists and turns, inflection points and important milestones of this journey because of the all-consuming way in which I have built it around my life itself. Not a side-project, not work, not a hobby. The very centre of my life itself.

One year ago: Retrospect
Two years ago: If everything could be this real forever
Three years ago: Perfect love
Four years ago: Barely moving

Riding the highs

I have just had such a full and satisfying day. Actually the week and most of last week has been this way. Full not in tasks and busyness but in satisfaction. In feeling filled up.

My work has definitely become lean during the lockdown. And I would take responsibility for that because given the all round situation, the grief and the uncertainty that was prevalent, I just didn’t feel enthusiastic to push it as aggressively as I have in the months before.

I was getting by with the bare minimum that came from small mentions and calls for work on Instagram. I stopped tracking numbers and following up. In fact I didn’t accept all requests that came because I have myself been in such an inward looking space.

Even so, work has come my way. Without me looking or pursuing it. Through referrals. Through random Instagram connections and it has reinstated my faith in not always having to hustle or labour to get my work out into the world. It has been lesser than normal, for sure. But it has been consistent and for that I’m grateful.

This month though, things have switched around somehow. I myself feel more outward and looking out into the world. I feel much more energetic to work. I feel a receptivity from the world around too.

Personally and professionally, I have had my head under water for the most part of the last three months, swimming difficult, choppy waters. But in the last 20 odd days, the tide has turned and I find myself coasting placid, pleasant waters. Swimming along happily, taking the sights and sounds if this new phase.

I’m getting more comfortable with accepting that perhaps this is just the way my energy is. I will operate in cycles. Especially with a life that is so heavily invested in my own inner work, I must make space for the underwater phases. When I will need to go inwards so much that it won’t leave me much energy or mindspace for external facing pursuits. Especially because the work I do and what I offer to the world depends so much on my own internal process. Keeping my mirrors clean and constantly working on myself.

I have been slowly trying to give up that expectation of uniformity from my energy and motivations towards “work”. The idea of that being “normal” has somehow receded. I’m open to riding the waves when the come and letting myself go under when that time comes. And to go lean with the work, when those phases hit.

All this to say, OMG I’ve had such a great work day today. I’ve done at least one reading every single day this month. Two on some days like today. And it feels good. I feel ready and able. But a day like today — that just knocked it out the park in terms of how challenging the readings were — give me life.

I had interesting, unique and very special clients today. Questions that came from a place of clarity and openness to listening. Sessions that demanded so much stretch from me, asking me to slow down and think differently, articulate specifically, not generically. To move away from the way I normally take a reading.

I have also been doing more video sessions. A big change from pre-COVID days. The more obvious reason is distance but the less obvious reason, and the thing I have noticed happily, is my own comfort with my offering that has given me new confidence to be seen. By strangers. To receive with love and grace the faith the put in me. Unapologetically. I notice that my body language in sessions has changed. And that I am able to access my own body and the cues it gives me.more easily.

It’s been hard won, this comfort. And on a day like today, I’m just so grateful for this twisting- turning journey and where it has taken me. But most importantly, where I am at today.

I’m here now and I feel so filled up. In my heart and in my life. My cup, it brims over.

PS: July sessions have been open all month, in case you didn’t gather. If you’ve been reading my Monday messages and find value in them, and if you’ve been hemming and hawing about trying out a session for yourself, may I encourage you to reach out? If it’s any added motivation, I can honestly say I am in an extra good headspace to do this work at the moment.

One year ago: New light
Two years ago: Oh my life, is changing every day
Four years ago: That’s all

The only journey is the one within

Things about keeping plants and growing things that I’ve said before, but I am going to say again:

  1. Five years ago, when I first gave growing anything a shot, it was already a process that gave me so much more than just produce. I was growing methi, pudina, palak, garlic chives and cucumbers at one point. It was a lot of good stuff to put in my food. I don’t remember a lot of the little details — like the cucumber plant — but the memories that remain are of the process. The wonder, the expectation, the excitement, the magic, the patience, the satisfaction. The wonder. The wonder.I don’t think I’ll ever forget the giant metaphor for life that tending for and growing things has taught me. I summed it up as patience, but really there was so much more. Lessons in nurturance, tenderness, beauty in rawness and imperfection, in taking time. And this is what has stayed for years on.
  2. Over a year and a half ago, the bug to garden came back. With a vengeance this time. And it has remained, steadfastly, since. And yet again, I found resonance in the what was happening in my garden, with what was happening within me.I wrote:
    It feels like my own experience of coming to (new)life, unfurling, stepping into a new seasongrowingflowering seems is reflected in my plants too.My plants have been life-giving and inspirational all through. A great way to get back to my roots, literally, and find observe and revel in life at the source.
  3. When VC moved back from Goa last year, the only thing we shipped back home were my plants. And it is a decision I rethink and feel extreme gratitude for almost every week.The number of pots we now have has significantly increased, and encroached multiple balconies, and indoor spaces. We now have enough plants to rotate and shuffle them around the place. And not all the plants that have been added on were bought. I have not just figured out how to multiply and propagate many of my plants but also figured out I can do it myself, contrary to prior belief about having a black thumb.My plants are the single biggest gifts that keep giving. I have received unending joy through them in these months gone by. Not just the green value they add to my home, but in the process of tending to them, nurturing and bonding with them. It is totally a trip to watch them grow, as closely obsessively as I do. Like they’re my literal babies.I now call my balcony full of pots a “garden” and it amuses Niyu and VC no end. But, it is what it is. Full and lush and happy making.
  4. I ended last year with the clear realisation that I was certainly feeling drawn back to the Earth, to roots, to more natural ways of living, in more ways than one. It’s a theme that has shown me many a parallel between the external reality and the internal landscape of my emotions and personal growth.
  5. And then this year, again and again, through observing nature abloom around me, as well as growth spurts within me — big and small — I have re-learned some old lessons about growth in a new way.These words I wrote here ring so true:
    Being in tune — whether it has been in taking to plants and dabbling in a bit of gardening, watching the moon and observing my mind and body through the cycle, running when I feel like it and lazing when I don’t — has affirmed in many a way again and again, that growth has it’s own pace. It’s own milestones. It cannot be rushed by an externally kept schedule.To ready yourself to bloom often requires long periods of inaction — whether you think of it as germination, autumnal period of your life, hibernation for self-care or whatever you will — it signals the necessary time of pause. Of stillness that is needed to first drop below. To peel. To shed. To let go and leave behind. In order to heal, nourish, nurture what lies beneath. And eventually to move on and about. To reach out. To evolve. To thrive. To bloom.

The other day, in a marathon session spent with my plants, I potted some spider plants that I had left to drop roots in bottles of water. If they were babies then, they had turned into literal toddlers by the time I got to potting them.

The bottles still had their labels on which meant that while I was topping up the water (often quite disinterestedly) every so often, I didn’t really have a view into what was going on within. Truth be told, there wasn’t much growth to show for on the outside either, which is actually why I hadn’t moved to do anything with them sooner. I was waiting to see some obvious signs of growth.

Externally.

Until that day, when I pulled the pesky little babies out the water.

It’s literally the most obvious things. Plants sprout shoots. We know this. And yet I couldn’t believe my eyes. Upon unentangling and loosening up the roots, I couldn’t get over how long and how lush it was.

All this beneath the surface, hidden from view, with nothing to show for it above the surface — I felt impossibly moved at the thought of how much action and activity happens in the quiet, hidden recesses of the internal world. With no real signs, no fan fare on the outside.

It felt resonant to my own therapeutic process, my journey the last so many years. Intensely private, quiet, only for me to see and know what I am chipping away at ever so subtly. Weeks and months go by with no visible change. And even when change comes, mostly I am the only one to know it, and hold it within me.

It reminded me of the personal, quiet, often lonesome and non-performative nature of true growth.

Not the first time I have cried over my plants, but the sight brought me to tears to see parts of my own life these past four months reflected in the plant. Being physically isolated, restricted, cut off has definitely cut away another layer of distractions for me, taking me deep within in a way that has been deeper and quieter than before.

I have shared little with friends and have mostly felt a lack of words to explain the nuances of my emotional state. It has seemed calm on the outside, but within, I have been through some extreme emotions, ups and downs and emerged from it all much more solid than before. I’ve witnessed the tiny roots and shoots nudging forward within me, forcing their way through my ribs and lungs, making my heart expand ever so slightly, a little bit more every day.

My therapeutic process too has been different lately. Few, almost no, words. More body work. Dream work. Art, movement, physical and other forms of expression. And through it all I have steadily noted how my movement has been inward. Going deeper within, even as I stretch out.

The lack of specificity, tangibility, the unseeness of the process I am currently in has been challenging. It has required of me a curiosity, patience and tenderness that I didn’t think I could ever extend to myself. It has been like falling in love with myself all over again.

It feels special, this privateness. I know it speaks of my capacity to hold my growth, and hold myself through it. Perhaps a day will come, when quite like a baby emerging out of a birth canal, or the spider plant being pulled out of the bottle, something will happen that will stun and astonish me at how much has changed, out of view.

How much growth happens beneath the surface. How much the roots matter. How much going within, is the key to growing tall. How much this silence and inwardness has made me feel rooted and centred.

How much growing outward requires the deep, difficult, yet essential journey within.

Right on cue, I found Rainer Maria Rilke put succinctly in simple words what I have stuttered along for too long here.

The only journey is the one within.

Everything else is noise.

Two years ago: Lost and found and turned around
Four years ago: Down and out

Happy in my belly

It’s been a little over a month of going over the edge, letting go fully and enjoying it fully for what it was. Eating all the things — and I mean allllll the things — guilt-free, without rules, without any restrictions; and allowing for little routine as far as exercise goes. It was great while it lasted, and I have fully recognised my need to go off the bandwagon every so often, as a very vital part of staying on it for the greater part. I can only sustain something, if I have the window to let go now and then.

But, now it has begun to show. On my skin. On my energy. On my sleep. And so quite naturally, as it always does, my body has brought me back to the middle path, by simply asking for what is needed. Cleaner food, a little discipline and regular exercise.

So, I have turned the corner again. Bringing back into moderation that which I had let run amok, quite deliberately for a while.

It’s been a week of just simple changes and returning to some old habits. I feel so rewarded, with the ability to listen to what my body is asking for — whether it is to let go the rules, fearlessly, knowing that I will be guided back when the time is right — and doing what’s needed, giving my body what it needs and is asking for, and watching it respond so quickly. With wellness, with balance, with centredness.

That I have been able to flow with this, in and out, without effort, just through listening in keenly and being in tune with my body and the cues it’s gives me all the time, is a true gift.

One year ago: Mush
Two years ago: Slowly drifting, wave after wave
Three years ago: What coming home feels like: Sunday lunch edition
Four years ago: Like Nike, but better

Rosé

In all my dreaming about being outdoors, for just a tiny bit (not even far, just out will do, for now) I have been having visions of being outdoors. I dreamt of being on a farm the other night, uprooting a gigantic cauliflower from the earth, satisfaction writ large on my face. I’ve been daydreaming of picnicking — recollecting intensely happy memories from my childhood when we’d go off on picnics a lot, without a plan or too much thinking. VC and I have considered driving out of the city, a flask of chai and some sandwiches in tow, just to go out to be amidst trees, take our masks off for a bit.

And then yesterday, I had this very deep ache in my chest, thinking about this afternoon in Paris from nearly two years ago.

Suddenly, this right here, perfectly captures what being outside has come to mean to me right now, in this moment. Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

This was a couple of hours we spent on the banks of the Seine, when we picked up wine, by the glass, at a bar whose very purpose seemed to make available wine by the glass for people to drink by the river. We walked in and everyone else got beers, but I asked for a rosé. It was that perfect weather for rosé. A crisp nip in the air, but the sun shining sharply, breeze from time to time — perfect 4 o clock wandering weather basically. I saw the bartender casually chuck a couple of ice cubes in my glass of wine.

I know absolutely nothing about wine. But for some reason I remember thinking I’m pretty sure that breaks some wine rule somewhere, but HOW COOL that he thought nothing of doing it.

Want chilled wine, but the wine isn’t chilled? No problem, here’s some ice.

Wine snobs everywhere might have turned their noses up at me. Rosé — that somehow always feels a touch finer and presents more delicacy than red or white wine — running dilute as the ice that keeps it cool also melts away into it.

But it was perfect.
Flexible. Chill. Improvising on the go.
Going with the flow, not letting warm wine get in the way of a delightful afternoon hang — just what the moment needed, really.

Quite like me, I remember thinking then.

And my God, how strongly that vision came back to me yesterday. That day, that afternoon, sitting by the river drinking my rosé from a non-plastic glass, ice cubes and all, I remember feeling so seen and understood by the moment. For giving me just what I needed.

And I am quite like this. Even more so these days. As I have leaned so much into the side of me that can roll with fewer plans, that’s okay to break some rules, that’s willing to do what’s needed to be happy.

Even if it is put ice cubes in wine.

It thrilled me no end to make that completely obscure, even contrived, connection. For a few moments there, looking at this picture, I lived vicariously. I imagined being outdoors. I saw iridescent greens from the treetops, pearly limpid blues of the river gently lapping by, and me sitting amidst it, wine glass in hand, feet dangling off the edge of the bund, along with literally scores of others doing the same.

Open, green, lush, fresh, cool. FREE.

The whole day dream made me curious about the rules around putting ice in wine, and so I googled it. I didn’t learn a thing about the “rules”, but guess what?

Ice in rosé? IT’S A THING!

La piscine, it’s called. A refreshing glass of rosé, made further refreshing by being poured over ice.

La piscine literally translates to “the swimming pool” — which I think is just the most exquisite description of a drink that was literally like swimming in a pool of freshness. I don’t think I have ever felt so thrilled, or found so much meaning in an alcoholic beverage (or any other beverage, for that matter) in my entire life.

I have to say this reverie soothed the impossibly itchy need to be outdoors quite a bit. But it set of a whole other spiral of missing this afternoon, and being with these peeps.

Soon, soon.

One year ago: Time out
Two years ago: What about sunrise, what about rain?
Three years ago: Books-shooks