Drive

The mountains or beaches question always felt like not enough options for me. What about forests? Woods? Jungles? Treelands? I’m mildly obsessed with this forest, and the drive through it. That’s probably a good chunk of the reason I was prompted to drive back on a lark last week. Something about the birdsong, the animals calling, the rustle of the trees, gently dropping dry leaves, a subtle breeze, the drone of nature vibes filling the air has a tremendous capacity to fill my being up, reset my energy and bring me back to the here and now.

Eternally, eternally grateful for these opportunities. 

Two years ago: Slice of life
Three years ago: Fields of gold
Five years ago: January

The heart wants what it wants

I clearly didn’t get enough of the forest this time around. Or the family time. Or the extended holiday. So this morning, I did a mildly loony thing. I woke up at the crack of dawn, packed a bag and drove out all the way back to Wayanad at 5 30 am. Just this time, all by myself.

I have journeyed alone before. By air, by bus, by train. Explored places and spaces on my own. I’m very well-versed with travelling alone and being in my own company. But I’ve not done a solo trip in a long while now. And I’ve never done a road trip all by myself. Perhaps with good reason — it isn’t the safest thing to imagine myself doing. And yet this morning, I weighed the pros and cons and even the prospect of any of the cons striking suddenly seemed very manageable. And so I went, grabbing a moment of spontaneity with an energy and vibrance I haven’t felt before. I’m usually very quickly rationalising, being logical and moving to “doing it right”, focusing on efficiency and sensibility of any impulse or desire that shows up. But also, this has been shifting lately. There’s a lot more give for me to play with, room in my mind to expand and relax into, and move towards such impulses quickly.

And so I went. When it was still dark out, but with signs of life creeping out. Morning walkers bustling about quietly, street dogs still splayed across the middle of the streets, headlights on. And here’s the best part: a full goddamned, bright as hell moon hanging low, kissing the horizon. Illuminating the highway for me.

I was practically high on having set out by myself. My car was as light as I felt inside of me. One little tote bag with two days worth of clothes, a packed lunch, bottle of water. It felt like a picture of agility, lightness, play. All the things I wish for more of this year.

For the next 5.5 hours it was just me, eyes on the highway, hands on the wheel, foot on the pedal, music in my ears. Being alone, without having to think about a single other soul has its advantages. You get the be the boss of your own time and agenda. And so I drove at a steady speed enough to reduce my drive time from previous trips home by nearly 2 hours. I got to listen to entire playlists of my choice, and I got to just be free.

I surprised my folks and family already there, by walking through the door at 11 am. I’d said goodbye just 4 days before and driven back to Bangalore with VC, with not the slightest intention or hint that I’d be back there all over again.

The look on all of their faces made it all worth it.

***

This felt like a culmination of a series of events that have led to it. From weeks and months of learning to listen in, keenly. Making space for true desires. Understanding what I need in order to listen to my heart. Giving myself priority. Allowing my intuition to guide the way. Choosing from a place of strength and autonomy. Being in the driver’s seat of my own life.

My heart feels wide open and full, because of it.

Some things I want to do more of, to facilitate joyful, heartful experiences like this:

  • Listening to my heart more often than my head
  • Nourishing my heart’s wants, even when I have to choose what my head says
  • Ask myself “so what?” more often

One year ago: The body keeps the score
Two years ago: On duality
Three years ago: I’ve been reading books of old
Five years ago: Emptying my cup

This past week

I’m hanging out with my extended family this week. And it’s been an interesting study in how love doesnt always have to hurt.

I am giving myself 100% credtcredit for shifting whatever it was that needed to shift within me, to feel this way. To be able to see my family for who they are — with their individual idisyncrasies, our collective dysfunction — and receive all the love they have to give, to bask in it, to enjoy it.

It is in seeing and accepting all of the above in myself, in seeing me as imperfectly human, that I am able to see and accept the same in people around me. This has made an astounding difference to how I can relate to my family, and in finding ease, comfort and love without a struggle.

One year ago: As within, so without
Two years ago: Little pieces of magic
Three years ago: Pretty lights
Four years ago: Because I want to remember
Five years ago: Saaru-anna

I am small

I have been so, so, so lucky to have so much opportunity for safe retreat while much of the world is still indoors, and our country is outdoors, but dangerously so. An oddly soothing message that I have been getting over and over these past two months (not surprisingly) always while being amidst nature:

I am small. The world is big.

It has been humbling, fulfilling and very, very comforting to thaw out and find my own place, shape and size in the world, in this gentle way. And in doing that, to acknowledge the place of the larger natural world I inhabit.

I cherish the pockets of quiet and nourishment that I’ve had in the latter part of 2020, going into 2021. I’m so grateful for how much I am able to be in the natural world. And I am so amazed at how much that regulates and brings in to balance everything within me.

One year ago: Fitness in 2020
Two years ago: An inalienable joy of meeting grief
Five years ago: Bengloor-life banter

Off colour

Still no laptop. No idea when or how I’ll have one again. Still very much in this tug of war between what I can’t and can (hah, I wish!) control. STL trying to not give a shit. Still kind of not always winning at it. Still getting on. Somehow.

The silver lining, and what has made it a touch easier? Many, many days at the beach.

One year ago: I’ve had enough
Two years ago: Getaway, you know it’s now or never
Three years ago: Postcards from Pondicherry
Four years ago: Book quandary

The rain, has come again

Like half the country and their mom burdening the rural health care system here, I am in Goa. It’s been pissing down so much more than I anticipated (or would have liked). And I’m wishing for some sunshine so I can at least get to the beach and sit (socially distant) in the sun. It took us a full day to get the home back to normal from typically Goan monsoon mildew. This morning I thrilled in visiting the neighbourhood supermarket I love and stocking up. We’re already having our first home-cooked meal. Home, so quick. It’s a small joy I’m super duper glad for.

One year ago: Like hitting reset
Four years ago: New eyes

Refresh

We have to dust things off every once in a while, let fresh air in, change the water in the flower vases

— Haruki Murakami

(Thankful for what little opportunity I have for “travel”)

One year ago: Where love and wonder meet
Four years ago: Silver linings

That neck of the woods

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world.

— Mary Oliver

There was something very different about the way in which I observed, enjoyed and engaged with nature this time away. It wasn’t conscious, didn’t inspire any effort and not something that came from a place of deliberation. It simply happened, and I noticed it in retrospect.

There is something very richly moving about being amidst overwhelming nature — whether in the size and stature, or the saturated hues, or simply the awe and power — when it towers over and shelters you. Perspective shifting. Life giving. Steady making. Love inducing.

After years of being drawn inwards, within myself, working on and learning to love myself, I feel a distinct draw outwards. A very real and specific desire to be in love with the world again.

One year ago: On ordinariness
Three years ago: A good life is a life of goodness
Four years ago: A picture

Enough (and then some)

That old familiar wordlessness has returned. I’m beginning to see that it coincides with times when internal processes take over and/or a deep sense of contentment has arrived.

The past eight days has been a mix of both. What words I had, I directed to my family with whom I share this space. And it was enough.

It’s been hard to put in words the mix of feelings that have brimmed over for me. But if I were to be honest, I haven’t even tried. I’ve just been going with it.

Everything has felt just enough lately.

Find a way to be adrift and uncertain, pray your surroundings are beautiful, and hope that someone emerges who offers you some fruit.

— Helen Rosner

I’m getting so used to this cycle of things coming together and falling apart as a part of the very process of life itself. There is less alarm when things go askew, but there is great joy in the moments when they come together. Being with and experiencing my family this past month has been like that. Something came together, even as we coexist in our uniquely different ways, each with our idiosyncratic best sides that get served up only when we are with each other. To have room that allows for that, I realise, is a blessing.

I’m learning that the uncertain times, many times, precede the times when things come together. And so I take it when it comes around. I am grateful, and accepting of it all.

One year ago: Fries before guys
Two years ago: Say, say, say, hey, hey, now, baby
Four years ago: I had to talk about Coke Studio, just a little bit

Seeing upside down, inside out

The stillest waters have the freshest perspectives.

One year ago: Free
Two years ago: One night to speed up the truth
Four years ago: Control issues, part 2

Greens

All the different kinds of greens I’ve seen.

This was lunch one afternoon. Everything on my plate was home grown.

Evening walk pitstop. So green. So chill.

Morning walk abandoned quarry explorations with these two.

Kind of ridiculous that this is our backyard. Alternating between pinching myself to come back to reality and feeling very, very grateful.

One year ago: Mediocre
Two years ago: Take a deep breath
Four years ago: Control issues

Slowly now

Just sitting here, amidst water again, with time passing slower than it has in a long, long time. There is nowhere to go. Nothing imperative to do. Nowhere to be.

Getting my hands dirty in more ways than one. Farming, some. Building, some. Cooking, some. Napping, some. Working, some.

Tasting the thrill of eating off the land.

Having days that begin at 630 am.

In bewilderment that there is a literal crocodile on property that we all seem to have reached a state of happy coexistence with.

Still a little awestruck and disbelieving, from time to time, that my parents made this — a dream — happen. For themselves. And us.

One year ago: Morning joy
Two years ago: Warm shadow, won’t you cast yourself on me

Golden yesterday

Daybreak.

Day’s end.

One year ago: Special 
Two years ago: Fickle and changeable

Returning

My sleep cycle is totally and fully back to normal. I have hesitated to accept this sooner, because I was so sure it was just another blip in this up and down year, and that it wasn’t going to last. But it has been about 7 weeks now, of having a more or less consistent (but loose) daily routine that involves sleeping at a decent time (read: pre-midnight haha) and waking up at a time that allows me to get in a morning workout of some kind, and still have time to tend to chores and have a full day, if I so choose to.

Some return to “normal” since everything went upside down in March. And it feels good. For many of us, daily habits and routines are essential keepers of rhythm for life. Making sure there are enough nourishing elements to every day has always been important for me, but when I began to approach this with a consciousness that was previously missing, I have gone full circle from being a slave to routine, to breaking it completely, going very very off-track, and coming back to some normalcy, but with balance.

You know habits have changed in a deeper way when they remain, without much effort, even when you’re on a break.

One year ago: True
Two years ago: You’re still young and that’s your fault
Four years ago: Moarrrr books

Be water, my friend

Clearly, there’s a theme emerging this week.

And I love it when this happens — all roads pointing to affirming one thing, one message. Reinforcing something new that has just found its way to me.

Two years ago: My heart is abloom
Three years ago: Joyful
Four years ago: Off the saddle