(***I do not, obviously, wish for COVID to linger around. By quarantine, I am referring solely to the altered state of life that the pandemic has brought about for me, not the illness itself.)
I’m out for a walk with my husband and daughter. They race down a grassy hill. I balance on a thin strip of concrete. As I steady myself, the ground below emerges into slow focus. I see crushed beer cans, cigarette stubs, a bright pink baby sock… urban detritus, yet each a silent accomplice to a real, lived moment. I contemplate their fate; a pivotal role…
Early this year, I saw my hopes for a better, healthier 2021 mercilessly crushed into the ground as Covid wantonly blazed through America, especially California, where I live.
In contrast, India, my homeland, seemed to be faring much better. Case counts were well below the 10k mark, people were able to socialize and life was pretty much returning to a pre-pandemic normal.
It felt a bit odd, this stark difference after nearly a year of shared fears and restrained lifestyles. Yet, I took comfort in knowing my family and friends there were doing well, and everyone was healthy and safe.
The first week of January brings a flurry of reflections about the preceding year. But, when that preceding year is 2020, you need more than your regular arsenal of retrospective understanding to achieve ‘annual closure’!
There’s just no way to say this with finesse: 2020 was a crapfest of epic proportions. It blindsided us, messed with our hearts and heads, and dashed just about every expectation of normalcy we had from it.
What does 2021 hold? Some believe this will be the year to redeem 2020’s havoc, others feel it just might be a continuation of the same. Me? I’m…
Every time I hear the word ‘meditation’, my mind conjures up a tranquil setting, all neutrals and whites, a silhouette framed against the dewy morning light, sitting up tall in a restful meditative stance, eyes closed in blissful harmony, the whole image radiating serenity.
My own meditation practice couldn’t be more different.
It typically goes like this:
I sit cross-legged on my bed. Not straight enough, I think. So I sit up taller. My back protests. I try ignore it.
I focus on nothingness. My mind laughs in response, and throws a quick thought at me.
I forgot to add…
I started this year with a sense of purpose.
For far too long, I’d been selling a story to myself — that I can only become a writer if I write something truly transformative. What this fallacy did not take into account was the yawning gap between effort and result. I did not associate creating a work of art with such plebeian tasks as writing daily, editing meticulously and publishing often.
No more, I told myself in January of this year.
This would be the year my writing would become something beyond a mere figment of my overstimulated imagination, into…
I tend to be a perfectionist when it comes to my work.
I’m not proud of it.
I visualize my goals as idealized dreams. I place these dreams on gilded pedestals and worship them reverentially as divine indicators of a self-articulated success.
Trouble is, raising dreams to this lofty status moves them out of reach for me. All I’m left with, then, is a hazy vision that has no immediate manifestation in the real world.
Let me give you an example. I have always wanted to be a writer. A prolifically published and (somewhat) successful writer.
So far, I have…
I logged on to a work call yesterday.
How are you, I was asked.
Pretty simple question, requiring a one word response.
That expected one-word response felt strangely blasphemous to me. A single word utterance that would effectively camouflage a highly convoluted state of mind.
I was clearly overthinking this.
It had been a particularly taxing day. I was worn out soothing the toddler, sorting loads of laundry (marveling at the ever-growing pile of ‘orphan’ socks), and wearing down the keyboard trying to get that elusive grocery delivery slot while planning a meal with five mismatched ingredients.
I was frazzled.
My phone buzzes at 5 pm sharp. A WhatsApp message from my mother, who’s just waking up at 530 am in India.
Mom: Hi… all okay?
Me: Yes. There?
Mom: Okay here too. Going to make tea. Talk in a bit.
In these seemingly terse words is hidden an ocean of fathomless love and concern.
As our opposite time zones lead us in different directions (she makes breakfast while I get dinner ready), this twice-a-day ritual is a lifeline that keeps us going through our respective days.
Sometimes we get to chat for longer. Many days, these hurried messages are…
You want to be a writer, you need to write every day.
Pretty straightforward advice, right?
But, it just didn’t seem like something I could manage.
Sure, I wrote daily when I was working on my PhD or way back, when I had an advertising job. But that was different. I knew what to write about, it was my job to write and I had deadlines to meet.
Writing, in fact, has been an integral part of every job I‘ve ever had but never before had I experimented with making it a full-time endeavor external to my work life.
On a particularly stifling summer day last August, I lay on my bed, propped up by pillows, staring out the window. I had just returned home from a wisdom tooth surgery and was still foggy from the anasthesia.
The first siren didn’t faze me, even though it sounded ominously close. But when, sirens shrieking and tires screeching, fire engines began whizzing past my front door after what seemed like every couple minutes, I couldn’t hold back my curiosity (or concern) any longer. …
Mom. Writer. Designer. Professional day-dreamer.