Life these days

In truth, my everyday life isn’t altered very much by social distancing. I do stay home for much of the time. And since VC moved back here, he does too — working out of his home office in our second bedroom. Life has fallen into a neat little rhythm. There is routine and I know it keeps me grounded to have this baseline of some method to the day. Even when I allow myself the odd day of freewheeling out-of-schedule meandering, and do wild things like or sleep in till noon and order-in a burger for lunch, I know that days like that are the exception not the norm. I take solace in some routine, and I have finally, after an entire lifetime of being a slave to routine, learned to acknowledge it’s place and purpose in my life, and make it fluid so I can move, rather than rigid so I feel caught.

Anyhow though, I’ve noticed that when things are spiralling around me, I take extra pleasure in taking my time to do the little things. Like making my bed every morning. This morning, as I folded up our blanket, stacked the pillows, stretched out and de-wrinkled the sheets, I realised I have really grown to like being at home again. Full circle.

The simplicity of this life suits me a lot. And I felt glad we have a life that hasn’t faced much disruption, where work can and has continued for the both of us, where the comforts of home with home cooked food are easily had. It makes a huge difference.

So, I’m listing down the simplest pleasures in my daily routine that I have enjoyed these past few weeks (and months) of uncertain and trying times, when what has been happening in the world has had an impact on me and my mind, and the one thing that has kept me sane has been my routine and the comfort of my home.

  1. A full nights restful sleep, waking up, turning off the alarm and going back to sleep
  2. A good home workout or a run in the park
  3. Slow, mindfully cooked lunch, most every single day
  4. Eating lunch at the dining table with VC, sharing that window of time together before we go back to our respective work/activities
  5. Sometimes catching a nap
  6. Being actively involved in doing the laundry, folding it when it’s dried and putting things away
  7. Thinking about what to make for dinner
  8. Making, or should out to VC to make us our evening tea or coffee
  9. Enjoying it in bed with a snack plate of sponge cake and sweet rusk (this has become something of a ritual in recent weeks, since we have found the ultimate source for both)
  10. Sitting in my living room at sunset, looking out the windows at my plants and beyond, it’s become my little window of absolute nothingness, where I do nothing, no phone, no laptop, no book
  11. Smelling the rain as it has threatened to come, watching glimmers of lightning in broad daylight
  12. Taking client readings and sessions (online and off), different times of day, it’s been an unexpectedly satisfying thrill
  13. Cooking up imagined recipes that have formulated from nowhere in my brain, and having them turn out well
  14. Eating fruit in bed before turning in
  15. Lying on my massage ball
  16. Regaining my lost sleep again

I have certainly been cooking with a lot more involvement than I usually do. And I have taken way more interest in home chores that I otherwise find quite tedious and just like ugh-this-needs-to-get-done. I suppose this is is the difference between staying in and having to stay in with nowhere to go, maybe? Because I know I have been doing all of this with a quiet, but furious energy like my life depends on it.

Maybe, deep down, it does.

One year ago: It’s been a long time coming   
Two years ago: Let’s talk about love   
Four years ago: On un-learning and relearning order

Soft, rested, easy

A softness and ease that I was missing since the start of the year, seems to be slowly returning.

Easy. Relaxed. Unwound. Rested. Calm. Happy. All things that felt like they needed effort, are now within reach again.

A good night’s sleep, that has been really hard to come by (to the point where it was beginning to worry me), has made a comeback. Consequently waking up — that I was also struggling with — has become easy again. Which in turn means I’ve been very good with getting exercise at the best time of the day for me. And that soft, good beginning that really sets me up for a day of ease and flow, is possible again.

I had decided I want to get 5 days of exercise per week, as far as possible. Because this number had dwindled in the last 3 months of 2019, and the effects of it were showing. I have had way too many fits and starts since then. But as of last week, I think I may have made a real comeback, without having to struggle for it.

Mid way through last month, my gym membership expired. It was around then that I realised it was time to listen to my body that was asking for the usual change I crave every now and then, and I didn’t renew it. I’ve also been feeling a very strong urge to run, outdoors, more seriously, more frequently. And so I began. I just began, without thinking about it. Running outdoors and working out at home on alternate days.

Summer is also upon us. The days are getting longer, mornings warmer. Waking up and wanting to head out has been easier. And so, I’ve had an unbroken streak so far — 5 days last week. Everyday so far, this week.

The green outdoors, running amidst freshly flowering trees, morning glow all around, my current music OBSESSION in my ears — on two occasions I teared up while running just from the sheer goodness of the endorphin rush combined with the perfection of the moment.

I managed to get out and have some fun, to balance out all the heady work I’ve been doing. The heaviness that has made me constantly choose the bed as my only respite when I wasn’t working, has lifted.

Solo outings that I so, so, so need are happening again. I’ve also been enjoying cooking good, wholesome meals for us at home again. Minus the drudgery. And even allowed myself take out on the days I most needed it. Minus the guilt.

I’ve been taking naps when I needed them, given the bad night sleep I’ve been having. I have been in a consistent fog of sadness through the last few weeks. Even when things have been good, happy and uplifted even, there has been this fog lingering at the back of my mind. It sometimes felt so physical, like my vision has been hazy at times and seeing clearly was difficult. But, I feel rested, eyes open and I feel clear again.

VC and I have been enjoying relaxed time together — something we strangely haven’t done very much of since the start of the year because we’ve both dived headlong into our respective new work areas and it’s been very, very preoccupying for the both of us. So the past week or so we’ve had relaxed evenings just sitting together, chatting, sharing a drink of wine and I realised it’s something so simple, but has been missing, even though we’re both working from home, and are together all the time!

My energy has changed, and I know getting sleep and exercise back on track has everything to do with it. But I also feel it was an energy shift from the weekend of workshops. Not just from facilitating, but also from being in a healing circle and receiving gifts even when I am not there to work on myself. That has been such a gift.

I didn’t know that what I was missing during these confusing, heavy, sad last few weeks was softness. But now that I feel it — in my body and in my mind — I realise there was something clenched up, hard, about the way I have been lately. Maybe it’s the constant onslaught of the political situation, plus the hyper-focus on making work work and a serious reduction of all my rejuvenating practices that actually ought to double or triple at a time like this.

I’m enjoying this return to me.

One year ago: As Goa as it gets
Four years ago: Because I want to remember

Shit on toast kind of day

It’s been a strange day. I could blame on having got my period, but the truth is it’s been building all week and I have done many of the things I mentioned here, in distracting myself and keeping it at bay. I’ve spent a major part of the week fighting the constant urge to just veg-out and binge-watch Netflix. The only thing I’ve been very pumped and motivated to do is the readings I had booked thru this time, and sorting some things out for Instagram. It’s been a challenge waking up early. It’s taken a LOT of effort to go for a run and I only managed three days. I’ve dragged myself into the kitchen to have meals cooked in time. If it were just VC and me I’d have taken the liberty to eat eggs and toast or order in, but it’s not just us and I just don’t have that luxury right now.

I’ve kind of floated through in this strange twilight zone between getting by, staying just on top, but also knowing that there is something bubbling beneath the surface that I am avoiding getting in touch with.

My absolute telltale sign is the need for sloth. When I want to do nothing else but sleep, stay in bed, that’s usually my being shutting down and telling me to shut up and go with it. But this week, I have not listened. I have guilt-tripped myself, beaten myself up over it and cumulatively felt shittier still, by trying to stay active as one “should”.

Avoidance rarely gets me very far anymore. It only works for this long and this morning it bubbled over. I was inexplicably sad, that sinking feeling of not knowing what’s come over me, but feeling distinctly like something has. The cluelessness is because I have done everything in my power to avoid it up till now — boo. There is also that old familiar loneliness whenever I hit a phase like this. It’s what N and I call the “Empty Elevator Phase” whenever we talk about it. It’s like the elevator emptying out naturally, when you level up, emotionally. Leaving you either alone in the elevator, or finding yourself at a new level looking at an empty space when the elevator arrives and the doors open. There is always a sense of going through this alone. I am not feeling particularly social, and yet I do wish for some company to share this with. Company that is not VC alone. But the usual suspects I can share this with are travelling or live in a different country.

Anyhow, I don’t know what I am processing. I’ve passed off the lingering blues as everything else but what it is. I keep thinking it’s this or that — maybe I’m recovering from the weekend of animal flow, maybe I need to ground more after all the readings, maybe I need to push through and get that exercise, maybe it’s PMS, maybe I need to watch less TV before bed and sleep early.

Maybe it’s a little bit of all of that, but it is also some overwhelm (from a lot happening all at once), some loneliness (from not having anyone to really share this with), some anger (at some of the events that have transpired), some grief (at the change and inevitable moving on and loss that comes with it), some disappointment (at some specific events), some abandonment (from a combination of the disappointment and loneliness). From various things that have happened in the short span of just five days, but also from some things that happened a couple months ago that I have just been waiting and watching from a distance.

***

This morning, the exact feeling was of doom. Impending doom. Like things are poised to go downhill and like I am wholly responsible for it.

The only thing that got me through this morning was exchanging some laughs over whatsapp with amma and Niyu, who are both in Bombay at the moment, and the spontaneous decision to ditch my self-made responsibilities in favour of just being by myself. I went to Koshy’s and sat at my favourite table by the window. Originally, I planned to take my work along, but later decided against it, and instead just sat there for an hour journalling what I was feeling. No coherence, just freewheeling words. Not even full sentences, sometimes.

Then I had a masala omelette, buttered toast, two cups of tea. Slowly. Listening to a playlist I love. After over an hour, suddenly the penny dropped. I realised what was festering — a combination of many disconnected things that at can all be summarised as having demands/pressures on me and my time, when all I want right now is to just be left alone, to do my thing, in my time, as I will.

Allowing — actually even just articulating this need — myself has brought up a LOT of guilt and shame today. I’ve been better with this guilt and shame in recent times, but this is an old part of my brain that kicks in if I am not watching closely, and with kindness.

When the penny dropped, it came with a gush of tears. And I surprised myself by just sitting there, looking out of the window, wiping the continuous stream away. I dialled VC and did what I can only do with him, word-vomit of everything I was feeling. Said okay thanks, I feel better, I’ll see you at home and hung up.

I felt lighter. A little.

***

I often forget that feelings don’t always come up as an indication of something that needs to be fixed. Feelings are just feelings. They just need to be felt.

I don’t give myself that option all the time. I think I need to be able to catch myself more often, that I should understand, that I ought to have the answers.

Why? (Because I think I’m a goddamned knowitall hahaha.)

Jokes apart, it’s just too much pressure on myself. Again, an old, old trait. Of having to ace things, be good, stay on top of it.

I’ve been feeling like there’s a lot of demands on my time lately, time that I really just want to spend on myself. I’m doing things I don’t want to do and it is really gnawing away at my time and my space and that sense of ease I had so carefully cultivated. And because I have been “selfishly” spending so much time and attention on myself for so long now, my old brain tries to guilt me about it from time to time, bringing back old notions of what is selfish, what isn’t, what my “responsibility” should be, etc etc.

I forget that there is no need to make sense of feelings. Not immediately at least. That feeling them is usually all that is needed. Sometimes the feeling asking to be felt is shitty, or overwhelm, or loneliness.

I forget that I am allowed to feel those things too.

One year ago: Like coming home
Two years ago: I hope you’re not lonely without me

Here’s to getting old

Another revolution around the sun, VC.

Another milestone. Another year on walking this planet.

Another year obsessing about all the things that you do. Another year living in that fully committed single-mindedly focused way that you do.

Another year of simultaneously infuriating me with our polar opposites and softening me with our fundamental likeness.

Another year of inconveniencing me with unnecessarily heavy luggage all for another year of stunning pictures and memories from our travels.

And yet, I suspect this year will be a touch different. So as you step into the new, I wish for you a year of just enough surprise of magic and just enough comforting familiarity. A balance of enough challenges and the right amount of easy wins, too. A year of flow and ease, peppered with opportunities to stretch yourself. I wish for solidity and harmony as you continue to take life by the horns and grow from strength to strength like you have this past year.

Something tells me you have only just begun.

Happy birthday, old man :D

One year ago: Would you rewind it all the time
Three years ago: Redemption reading

Life goes easy

Somehow, spontaneous Monday lunch has become an unplanned thing. Yesterday, when VC and I realised that Vidyarthi Bhavan is just a 17 minute direct metro ride away from us we decided to go there for lunch. Spontaneously. They have such odd timings, so this was also a great tactic to beat the crowds — reaching there at 2 pm which is opening time.

It’s supposedly the Mecca of doseys in Bangalore and I was going back after over a decade. The place looks exactly like I remember it from my last visit which was so far back I don’t know when it was. It’s just spruced up and cleaner, I think. The doseys, on the other hand, were a bit underwhelming. I know I could spark off a potential South versus North Bangalore war, but really, I think CTR wins this round for me. And it will probably stay at the top of my dosey list as a clear winner for a very long time to come, by the looks of it. I was happy for the outing though. For the metro ride. For the spontaneity.

***

I’m revelling in my home again, like I said yesterday. However today, I realised I need to also get out and find a space of my own from where to get work done. It’s becoming exceedingly difficult to do it from home. Especially since VCs return, the new adjustment and excitement of having him home all day long, and the added element of having to now adjust my space around his. He did something in one week that I hadn’t done in the two years since we moved here — turned the extra bedroom into an office/work space. I’m glad he did because finally that room is being used, and not feeling like that ghosty isolated, pointless room that it used to. The house feels filled out and lived in. And yet it’s left me feeling a bit displaced. Sitting at the dining table is not working for me. Lying in bed, impossible.

I feel the need to not only separate my workspace from his, but also my own workspace from life-space. Nothing confirmed it more than what happened earlier today. After procrastinating on an important task all week, simply because I haven’t had the mind-space to work from feeling so displaced, I sat at Koshys for half an hour today and banged it out like it was waiting to come out of me. A cup of hot tea, music in my ears and a desk of my own is all it took.

I realised I need a space of my own. A space that’s not at home. Even if it’s not a fixed space, I need to take myself out of what is essentially a domestic area now, and get going with all these things I’ve been brewing up inside of me.

***

Meanwhile, the waves of grief continue to come. I’ve almost got it down pat now. The cues, the coming of the wave, I ride it and it and it ebbs and flows, and leaves. I wonder how much more there is to feel so much about. I know everything I changing and I feel so deeply unsettled already. In addition I can also already see how my reactions to so many things are changing. So now, in addition to lamenting the changes itself, I also feel a pang for the fact that my stock responses are changing too. It’s like letting go of parts that I have held close to me, parts that I have known to be me. And in their place there is, once again, emptiness. A new emptiness waiting to take life again. But that is a slow process of its own making. I cannot rush it.

I feel naked like a baby. And it’s a very vulnerable and exposed state to be in. I feel sensitive and touchy and just a lot of wanting to be on my own. It’s not going down well with folks around me hahaha. Oh well, c’est la vie.

One year ago: Anyway, I should be doing alright

Just chill

Life is finally slipping back to some form of normalcy. It’s hard for me to explain what I mean really, because to anyone who has been reading this blog often/regularly, it might seem like nothing was…abnormal?…to begin with. But ever since class (semi)finishing this past weekend(I have a long break until March next year during which I go out into the world to put what I’ve learned into practice), I’ve been slipping back to normalcy. VC has been in Goa since yesterday, and so I even had the last two days by myself, which gave me a lot of time to catch up on some stuff that I’ve been ignoring for months on end because I’ve been mostly mentally too preoccupied to do much else.

I’ve been hitting the gym every morning, cooking myself meals, spending some down time by myself, figuring out some work prospects and generally decluttering my mind.

Anyhow, the chill (the relaxation sort, not the temperature sort) has seeped into my bones today. I spent the evening with P who came over, and then I decided to have a glass of wine (which is rare for me, and which turned into two glasses) while I video-chatted with N for over an hour just catching each other up on life, and then while I was at it I video called VC, and had the privilege of catching this unimpressed pupper too. Clearly, I was more excited than he is!

It’s been a good day, and I can’t believe the week is nearly done.

One year ago: Shoot high, break low
Three years ago: Toast

<3

It has been a good, good week. And the highlight, quite easily, is having VC back home. We’ve been like stuck records repeating to each other, umpteen times, over the last week: This last year, living apart, was the best thing we could have done. Because from time to time, we realise the little things that have changed about us, within us, and the way in which we’re being different around and with each other.

Just a week since we’ve returned, VC has already flown off to Bombay today for a bunch of meetings, and I suddenly found myself with a day to myself.  It sparked so many thoughts.

On how living apart unconsciously made us experience individuating in this relationship too. How that has somehow brought us closer. How I think this might be a good thing to do every few years, if the need arises. But I’ll save that for another day. But for now, just gratitude for this here. For going full circle. For love.

One year ago: One day in Bangkok (or day one in Bangkok)
Two years ago: Acceptance is a small, quiet room
Three years ago: Guess I’ll have to leave some stuff behind

To new Mondays like these

I’m home.

And so just like that we are cohabiting again. Which means we have to both adjust to the rhythms and routines of living with one other human being around us. The added detail this time is that VC is probably going to be working out of home for the foreseeable future.

It’s exciting as hell, because everything is suddenly different, shiny and new and I love all the extra time we get together thanks to the fluidity that comes with having complete control over our schedules. But it’s also been a touch unsettling, as much as it was unsettling when VC moved away. Because it means getting through a bunch of suitcases once again, finding space for all our expanded belongings again. And until that happens, especially over the weekend, the home felt a bit like an obstacle course. I’ve noticed that this tends to happen very quickly when VC is around — things never find their way back to where they belong, they hang around, scattered and misplaced — and our tiny home begins to feel cluttered very quickly. But I’m also observing how this time I am less perturbed. Aware, and observant of the mess, but more realistically accepting, not annoyed as yet. Also allowing for ease, time and space before we get to unpacking fully.

It means that I have to temper my excitement of having VC around a lot more. It curbing allllllll the random things I want to say to him over the course f the day, because unlike me, he can’t compartmentalise his brain and chat while working. So I have to save it up for break time.

It means I have someone to outsource the chasing away of stray lizards that makes it into the home, rather than brave the horrendous task myself.

It means replacing the long-drawn facetime calls of the last year with actual facetime, everyday. More togetherness, more conversation.

It means twice the laundry, twice the cooking, twice the planning, yes.

It means realising once again that it’s possible to feel wistful and nostalgic about the time I had living by myself, simultaneously as I feel an overwhelming excitement about the days to come. The two can coexist. Like with most other dualities, I find myself no longer trying to choose and pick a side. Accepting one doesn’t make the opposing force less true.

It means spontaneous Monday afternoon jaunts to eat things we randomly crave, without having to plan or schedule them. Like we did today, with the intention to eat a really good burger — our last real binge and the end of the holiday life before we get back to regular programming and eating healthy, home food again — which turned into us eating really good steaks at an old Bangalore favourite. It did not disappoint.

It gave me special thrills to take an auto back and forth, to walk down the streets of CBD together on a typically Bangalore November afternoon with a slight nip in the air, a distinct breeze with the sun shining down too.

For now, I’m definitely home.

***

Gratitude today for the twists and turns of the last year. And like VC said to me yesterday, ever so grateful for whatever it is outside of us that has shaped and enabled the way in which our relationship has evolved and brought us to where we are today.

One year ago: And yesterday becomes tomorrow
Three years ago: That’s how the light gets in

Into the wide open

We left a blisteringly hot and sunshiney Goa yesterday, and have entered overcast, grey sky weather in Karnataka today. It stormed all night with scary thunder and lightning. But it means a more comfortable drive today. For VC more than me, who is happier riding when the sun is playing hide and seek.

Today, I’m grateful for the way in which VC and I can see eye to eye and make good travel buddies. It makes even tedious journeys like this one a touch more fun.

One year ago: While the world plays for our pleasure
Three years ago: Midweek blues

Where love and wonder meet

Grateful for the (travel)partner I have in VC. As interested in the world as I am, but in a wholly different way, with a very different outlook and eye with which he sees things. Eager but rooted, curious and childlike, he is the steady to my floaty and the sense to my whimsy.

It’s only in recent times that I’ve discovered the need and place for both and the deeper need to find a balance. And I’m only just learning to make space for the two to coexist.

In VC, and in being and journeying with VC I have learned where (and how) love and wonder can meet. I have learned of the spaces between us, the give and take, the push and pull. And how love ebbs and flows inbetween, not in the evenness and the plateaus. This is a feeling I have sensed and known for many years now but have resisted, holding on tightly to my very limited knowledge and sense of self that sought comfort in sameness.

It’s only now, as I have loosened my grip on myself, and I’m learning to live a little, am I able to see the unbound joys of flowing where life and love take me. And I’ve only just found the words to articulate this old, old feeling that has always bubbled just beneath the surface, guiding me on silently, even when I wasn’t ready to pay it any heed.

Three year ago: Silver linings

Cold but happy

It’s the strangest thing, but I — with absolutely no threshold to bear cold weather — have been more than okay on this trip. My pitiable capacity to brave cold weather has kept me from going anywhere in the North of India. For ten years we’ve nursed plans to go to Ladakh but I literally chicken out every time they materialise.

I don’t know what actually pushed me to do this. But obviously something has changed. BecauseI’m usually the one with absolutely no threshold. Even with multiple layers on it takes some braving on my part to get out in a cold place and see the sights and enjoy myself. The experiences I’ve had so far, as amazing in their own way as they have been, have always been tinged with some level of misery from the cold. This time around, I came well prepared with the right clothes. Lots of options and layers and many manners of warmies have been involved in keeping me comfortable. And yet, I don’t think it’s just that.

Within me, I feel an easing up and a settling in that’s making a difference. I feel this has a lot to do with my state of mind, and this utterly new place I am in where everything is easy and nothing feels like a burden.

Especially on holiday, I’m finding space to take in everything slowly, to be present and to be in the here and now in its fullest. Even if that means braving a 7-degree morning. I don’t know if it makes sense but I think this is about an inner alignment of some sort. Maybe I’m wildly wrong in making this direct connection but in a long, slightly convoluted way, I’ve been noticing how much more at ease I have been on this holiday, than most others. All the usual suspects like the bitter cold (with crazy winds and rain to boot yesterday), unplanned lazy days, last minute cancellations of our agenda, sleeping in beyond sunset have not phased me the way they usually do.

Driving up here was a long and arduous trek in a new, unfamiliar car. We left Chandigarh at 4.30 am on day 1 of my period. I was also fasting as per usual. I was uncomfortable, yes. But nothing life-changing. It was the strangest sense of ease. There were no loos for miles and the lone toilet stop we made had me holding my breath and gagging by the time I was done. There were some roadblocks and the journey that was originally expected to take 8.5 hours took nearly 12. But we made it. And I was largely alright. This is not who I used to be.

In another strange reversal of roles, VC is the one struggling a bit in the cold. Despite his thermals and three layers over, he’s visibly uncomfortable. Whereas I’m in two layers and actually, enjoying the chill, I’m almost afraid to admit.

We were thinking back to Brugge one year ago and how we arrived on a rainy, bitterly cold morning, stranded on a bus terminus with nowhere to go. I was distraught to say the least and I couldn’t wait to get indoors.

This trip, just one year on has been drastically different. I feel easy going and a bit unstoppable, like little can get in my way. I think I might just be ready for that Ladakh trip after all.

***

Gratitude today for my body, it’s resilience and adaptability. And how much of that’s stretch it just takes on and manages without my knowing.

One year ago: Wandering through life will love come home to you
Three years ago: Escape

Come rain or shine

In an interesting role reversal, VC has been pottering about busily since we arrived while I have mostly been lying flat in bed under the blankets that are as thick as mini mattresses, reading.

VC had three alarms on last night. One for 12.30 am to check if the skies were clear enough to shoot the stars. Another at 5 am to check the light. And finally at 6 am when he woke up to actually shoot. Since then he has been in and out of our room, doing this and that, connecting cameras, switching lenses, setting up tripods and shooting, then back in again to transfer pictures, drink some chai, then out again to shoot some more, back again to eat breakfast. And I’ve just been horizontal and unperturbed, observing his restless excited energy.

It used to be quite the opposite. When we’d visit a new place I’d be the one wanting to get out and about, exploring, eating out and walking around while he’d want to lie around lazily.

I am enjoying the turn of events.

This is the view from my bed. Why would I want to leave?

We’ve woken up to rain this morning, which also means we’ll have to slightly improvise and things may not go to the plan we had. I’m strangely okay with that.

To be surrounded by silver tipped, shiny edged snow sprinkled peaks that stand so tall is as humbling and perspective altering as walking into the great wide ocean. While I’ve done that easily a thousand times before, this is the first time I’m within what feels like touching reach of snow capped peaks of this size and stature.

Since I arrived here last evening I’ve been feeling the age of these ranges around me. There is something extremely old, a sense of wisdom and so many things known that I have been feeling like I am sinking into.

***

I’m grateful for the sun today. For the light, the warmth and for the capacity to fuel life itself. I don’t stop to think about this everyday but since coming here it hit me just what a force the sun actually is and how much it matters.

One year ago: Try to remember the good times
Two years ago: What coming home feels like: revisiting old haunts II

On alone time

I’m slowly re-learning what it means to take time. To make time for myself. It’s taken a slowly easing into, a dropping further below the previously held notions of what “alone time” has meant. I’ve watched my comfort levels with this waver, go up and down, observing when I am comfortable and when I am not.

It’s all so telling.

Beyond the obvious lessons in putting myself first and setting clearer, healthier boundaries, I’m also now seeing how this learning has its roots in the deeper process of individuation and growing closer to the needs of my inner self — the broader arc that has defined my journey so far. I’m learning to move beyond outward behaviour that is often loud and fond of making statements, to listening in to the voice that doesn’t always have a loud, expressive voice to say what it wants, and when I listen, sometimes the ask is of a quiet, non-exhibitionist solitude.

This is the first time that despite having VC visiting, a rather full weekend for ourselves and the usual temptation to abandon everything and be with him that overrides all other motivations, I got out willingly and easily, to make it to a movement workshop I’d signed up for weeks ago. And instead of rushing home after, I went over to Koshy’s and had lunch by myself. Because I wanted to stay with what I had experienced at the workshop, I wanted to sink in, I wanted to tend to that sense of oneness with myself for a little bit longer.

I’ve been doing this solo thing for literally years now. Long before solitude and activities-for-one were hashtaggable digital vignettes made cool by millennials. I’ve watched movies and had meals alone since my early twenties. Later, being self-employed and largely deprived of my kind of friends in Goa, doing things by myself really became a way of life without much thought, choice or coolth attached to it, even.

I have spoken many, many times of the proven benefits of embracing and getting comfortable with solitude and stillness. For years, this was just life for me in Goa. Not something I had to cull-out time for and cultivate outside of regular life.

This feels different. Like an outcome of a deliberate choosing. Not from rebellion, minus any guilt, not as a fall out or to compensate for rejection or any of the other usual suspects that sometimes precede an outing like this for me.

Today, this really feels like it is coming from a place of a deep and simple need to honour myself. A need that has shown up, simply asking to be seen.

I am glad I am beginning to catch these cues. And I finally have the ability to act on them selflessly. The gifts of solitude, whether in an indulgent, luxurious getaway of some kind or simply enjoyed bowl of rasam-rice eaten alone in bed — you do you and choose what you will — are seriously underrated. Somewhat lost, and just diluted in what has become the predominant narrative around self-care these days, I’ve realised how much alone time can be done easily and affordably. It isn’t about buying stuff and experiences and consuming more to feed the capitalist machine that’s profiting from our angst and collective efforts to discover ourselves. Although if sometimes you want to indulge that, go right ahead.

It has only now become about truly, simply, feeling enough in my own company. Of feeling safe, held and sufficient. Of having my own back. Of feeling steady, still and solid in and of myself.

As someone who has long lamented the lingering loneliness that always lurks in my life, this feels different.

This feels new.

On my way to Koshy’s, zipping through traffic on MG Road, thinking these thoughts, I was gobsmacked my a bright blue butterfly that flew right through the auto I was riding! In through one side, fluttered around attacking my face, and out through the other, all while we were scramming through moving traffic in the middle of the city.

If that isn’t a sign, of new growth, of flight, of lightness, I don’t know what is.

***

Happy and grateful to be in a good streak, physically. Waking up early, feeling energetic, feeling the urge to use my body for more than just getting around, challenging and stretching myself outside the limits I am comfortable with. I said to D this morning, that something has clicked into place for me as far as understanding exercise and what it does for my body goes. And he put it perfectly by saying maybe I have pivoted. Haha.

I think it’s true, though. And it’s what I am grateful for that shift in understanding, because this time around it seems to have come from deep within. Not motivated by only fitness performance alone, or only aesthetics alone. There has been minimal deprivation, plenty nourishment in a mind-body kind of way.

This time around it feels like the outcome of a deeper connection with myself. I’m grateful for this.

Three years ago: Too many words, so here’s a copy out

All heart

23 kilometres run this week.

An important, excellent therapy session.

A morning dipping my toes into authentic movement and expressive arts to explore what’s held in the body.

Ten hours of extremely satisfying practice and study with S and V.

A day spent with S.

VC is home.

An afternoon at Koshy’s by myself, writing letters.

It’s left me feeling fresh and pulpy perfect as a greener than green slice of avocado. Light as a balloon ready to set off floating aimlessly into the clueless sky. Open like a just bloomed sunflower chasing the sun obediently.

Happy, like me.

***

Happy and so grateful for the metro today. I know I’ve said this a lot lately, and S joked saying I should be the poster child for the Bangalore Metro, but it has been a truly life-changing shift for me. To go from thoughtlessly jumping into a cab, to now always making sure I have fifteen minutes extra to make it to the Metro, more often than not, has altered a lot for me these past few months.

One year ago: It’s just another ordinary miracle
Three years ago: Sticky trash

Wander

It’s been many, many days of the good homebound life. Lots of home-based things, so much so that even the odd urge to go out midday hasn’t seen itself to fruition. In a week, it’ll be a month of this. I am quite loving it. Falling into a good routine of exercise, cooking, and going the extra mile in the kitchen on many days, nesting and resting, basically, has been very timely and very good for me this past month.

You can tell things have been so slow, and so good, when you find the time to make slow-rise pesto rolls. Of two kinds.

But that’s about to change. Four days to see this face.

And eight days to go off on vacation. We haven’t taken one in a while now. Benaras feels like it was yonks ago. And since it was a quick getaway, not the kind of leisurely holiday we try and have at least a couple of times a year, I’m not even counting it as a “vacation”.

Our last one was exactly at this time last year, in Europe. I was reading through the entire set of posts from them a couple of nights ago and even though I had a longing for that time and place and the friendship and camaraderie, I realised that over the course of this year, I have frankly not felt the need for a holiday like this.

What with the umpteen trips to Goa which, even though like going back home, have been like multiple excellent holidays. They really satisfied what little itch to roam that I have had.

These two fools video called me completely by surprise last weekend, totally turning my otherwise mellow day around, making me so very happy. They reminded me of the plans we’d made last year, sitting around S’s dinette on our last day in Paris. Vague plans to meet again this summer, in a new country with some talk of me staying on in Paris for a month after. But when summer came, I didn’t move on those plans at all. For an assortment of logistical and practical reasons, but mostly because more than anything else , life has been so challenging and satisfying that I’ve been feeling so full. It has minimised the need for escape, the need for more discovery and excitement from it.

If anything, I have felt the need to stay a while, and contain it. Things have been so slow, and so good.

VC is probably the one that needed the holiday this year, but somehow between everything that was going on and just trying to keep it together — him at work, and me with life — the year has just passed us by.

But, this time last year after that whirlwind of a holiday in Europe, we embarked on a whirlwind of a time in October, which ended with VC moving cities and beginning a new life in November. Serendipitously, we’re going to be going through the same motions this year too. Going from vacation to a busy October — wrapping up his life in Goa and moving back to Bangalore — and beginning yet another chapter in November. Full circle and all that.

However, there is a decided and noticeable difference in my being and in the way I am feeling, with the prospect of another relocation (with zero planning so far) looming large. This slowness has changed my internal rhythm and pace to such a great degree. There seems to be little rush, and utmost confidence and peace in taking things slow and one day at a time.

If this is what slowing down to grow up is, I’ll take it, thankyouverymuch. And I’m pretty sure it’s going to trickle into how we wander and travel too. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

Three years ago: For every down, there is an up