You begin with an empty bowl.
This was the writing prompt.
I had hit the writer’s block, and I was going through the chores, thinking of the ‘empty bowl’. It was not until late that evening as I emptied the garbage bowl in the recycling bin that I got that ‘aha’ moment.
You cannot fill a bowl which is full. You need to empty it, to fill it with what you want. This sentence I heard first when I turned towards spirituality. At the time, I did not fully understand it. I got the words, yes. But the depth of the meaning hit me only after some time. Easier said than done, though, and we need to put in constant efforts.
Coming back to the bowl. I collect kitchen waste in a bowl. Around evenings, or when the bowl is full, I transfer the contents into a bigger bin on my terrace. I have some good manure this way. And I am saved from the tantrums of the garbage collector in the mornings (you will be nodding your head in agreement if you live in Bangalore). And as a bonus, I get some tiny saplings now and then that spring forth to life, from that heap of waste. I had a few tomatoes recently. There is a small plant that looks like some gourd. So it is a win-win situation all the way.
So, as I emptied that bowl today, the thought came to me that our minds are similar to this bowl. We collect garbage as we go about our lives. What others said or did, or did not do. And the anger, resentment, sadness, and all the other negativities that go with it, get collected in our ‘bowl’. And then the mind is a place of filth. We need to empty the mind of all the garbage, for us to fill it with new things. When the garbage finds a right direction, new life springs forth.
As we empty the mind’s bowl, we make space for fresh and productive thoughts. And thus a new day starts, with an empty bowl.
They popped up from nowhere, these little ugly gremlins. The minute I was about to start, up sprang one. He came from somewhere in the head region, a place I did not know existed until now. It is called the land of doubts and fears, I believe. He had the most convincing list of doubts and fears. As I tackled and finished him off, the next one was ready. This fellow had a totally different set of thoughts that made me wonder if he were right? Oh! The torture! No sooner than I had put this one to rest, there were a couple more that had appeared. This went on for quite some time. I was totally exhausted by the time I had demolished the thousand-something-th one. Heavens! I finally confided in a friend who suggested I use the spray ‘self-talk’.
This seemed to work and I was inspired again. I was full of bright ideas. They were brimming, no, spilling and overflowing out of the head like a river in full spate.
Fully inspired, I now sit down to write. Yes! I have loads of topics! I have the most wonderful words coming up in the brain space, straining to be let out and spill themselves on to the paper, or rather my word file on the computer. Yes! I have got it all planned out. I spray a generous dose of gremlicide, called confidence. I sit down in front of my laptop. And I start. What? Well, these words seem shy now. They were doing such a jig in the brain just a while ago, and now they are shy and reluctant to come out. They seem to hide for cover behind other words. ‘You go first’, ‘no, you go’, they seem to say. So I sit for hours in front of the system, trying to coax them out onto the word file. Then after quite a long wait, I log off, as I have other things to do and I’ve got to feed myself!
Ah, these wicked torturous words!! You just wait till I catch you all! Just you wait! And until then, I will try and pass this experience for my Day1 of the thirty-day challenge! I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and hoping they’ll be kind to me soon … and I’m ready for Day2
It has been raining cats and dogs since the past so many weeks. I read the news about Kerala limping back to normalcy from devastating floods, and that Coorg is now on the road to recovery.
As I sip my morning tea, I look outside to see a bright sun. Ah! The sunshine lights me up, as I look at the mounting pile of laundry. Finally, today I can wash the clothes and put them out to dry! I hate the smell of shade-dried clothes.
Happily, I go about my day’s work and put the washing machine to task. The washing machine goes on with its work. And just fifteen minutes later, I see clouds gathering. The clothes are merrily getting a wash. And soon, there is a heavy downpour. It continues well past the the evening. And after the rains have stopped, the clouds show their presence. I look up at the skies and feel as though they had a good laugh at my expense.
Now, did I say anything about shade-dried clothes?
How many times have we heard women say ‘I want to work from home!’ with such a longing? Visions of sitting with a cup of steaming hot chai, after everyone has left home. Finish cooking. Supervise the maid. Sit in front of the computer for a while, and work. And then around the month end, feel that sense of pride with the paycheck. Oh yes, quite dreamy. But what is the reality?
The negatives first. At least what I went through. Initially when I started working from home, I realized that I was sleeping at about 3 a.m. And at times I had to get out of bed at 4 a.m. (not after sleeping at 3… I would be dead by now if I did that!), and straight away log in to the system. Because I had a deadline to meet. ‘Pure inefficiency’, someone commented. Oh yes. I was so inefficient that I could not complete my work on time. That was because there were so many other things that came up during my ‘office time’. Like the maid who went missing, the loving phone calls from bored friends, or the sweet lady in the neighbourhood who dropped in for a long chat – ‘I was just passing by, so I thought I’d say hello to you!’ ‘Oh! Hello! So sweet of you! But dahling, this is my work time!!’ I could not say that to her face. And the sweet lady remembered me almost every day! And then there was the young neighbor who was at my door with her year-old baby in tow. And before I could say anything, she thrust the kid into my arms and said, ‘I’ll be back…I need to go somewhere urgently and can’t take the kid!’ Sigh. Inefficiency it was. Until I started telling people clearly that it was my work hours and I would not like to be disturbed. Rude? Not really. I would call that efficiency now. But yes. The odd jobs (could be anything at all that requires your time and attention) that come your way, because ‘anyway you will be at home, right?’ cannot be avoided. Sometimes the totally lonely feeling, if you know what I mean. I miss the crowd, noise, and chatter of an office.
Now for the plus points. I can log in to the system in my night gown. No one to see. I don’t have to worry about what to wear. About which shoes and bag would match my outfit. No worries about transport. Rains? No worries! And yes, there is that small beep that comes at the end of the month to say that your salary is credited.
Thank God for the blessings!
I know that you are far better now than you were in your twenties. Wiser and smarter with all the experiences and lessons that life has bestowed you with. But there is more, my dear. From where I see things. Pay attention to what I say, so that you will be the happier for it when you reach where I am now.
First: Get rid of all the clutter. The physical, mental, and the emotional. I know you have started doing it. Keep at it. You can’t stop and say ‘I am done’. It is an ongoing process. You like to travel light. It applies to life too. Less clutter will make the journey of life easier.
Second: Forgive. I know you will say I am trying my best. Yes. Even that “…..”. YES. Those people first. Difficult, but not impossible. Forgiving clears your own soul.
Third: Love. Love with all your heart. Even those who you feel are not worthy of your affection.
Fourth: Accept people as they are. We can’t change others. Their qualities are what makes them unique. Just as you are, with all your quirks. We can only change ourselves.
Fifth: And the last, but definitely the most important. Pray. Pray for all the people that touch your life. And for those you don’t know, either. Pray for the upliftment for all living beings.
At eighty, this is what I want you to have achieved. The rest would have fallen in place if you did this.
All my love,
You, at eighty. (If you live till then!)
It has been raining cats and dogs in the past few days. As I sit sipping my evening tea looking out of the window, I see this fruit on the citrus plant outside.
The plant belongs to my neighbor. He is as sour as the fruit, minus the health/medicinal benefits. The couple loves plants. There is a very small stretch of land between our houses, and I can see so many plants there in that little space. They grow the seasonal vegetable or pulse which can be grown on a creeper. The creeper is then made to go up the terrace where it spreads out into a canopy on two clotheslines. And I get to see green outside the window. And every time I look out of the window and see the greenery outside, I thank God, and ask God to bless this man who chose to grow plants instead of extending his abode. Surly people need not be totally bad, huh?
I heard a saying that goes, ‘three things you can never choose: your parents, your neighbors and your boss’. Guess we got a good bargain.
What’s this new change in today’s world? Well, it is this app. Whatsapp. Now there must seldom be a person that exists, who has not heard of whatsapp. Today’s rage. The viral fever of the century…or is it the millennium? If I had to expand this word, it would be ‘what’s-this-appendage-that-grew-on-me-without-my realizing-it’. What the heck, the morning begins with the eyes opening to the mobile screen. Gone are the days of rubbing the palms in front of the eyes and chanting ‘karagre vasate…’. Those are obsolete now. Replaced by whatsapp.
A day starts with around 50-80 messages on an average. How can you not say ‘good morning’ to all those people who bothered to spam…errr… remember you, first thing in the morning!? And invariably, one starts replying. Then there are the well-wishers forwarding all the warning messages on what to eat and what not to eat, videos that expose the dangers of most of the things we eat or use in today’s world. Can’t begin the day without knowing so many things! And then there are some innocent people who believe that something bad would happen if they didn’t forward a message or a picture to that specified number of people, and lasso in all their acquaintances into it. Next come the humorous jokes that MUST be forwarded immediately to all people and groups in one’s own list. New in the market, hurry! Then the words of wisdom. By now, most of the population must have got their own halos. So much wisdom that trickles into the phone each day! Oh, did I mention the puzzles? Answer if you are smart. How can you let that pass? As one triumphantly figures out the answer, there are a few others who have already posted the answer … not so smart after all, huh?
And that reminds me… I am yet to use the most important app (appliance, not application) – the toothbrush!!
I recently took yoga classes for a bunch of kids at a playschool. This was a new experience for me – teaching yoga to kids. However, I was in for a pleasant shock on my first day at the playschool.
My classes were on alternate days for a month. The kids were of an assorted age group. The youngest was three-and-a-half, and the oldest was ten. I must have been a sight to see there, trying to make them stand still for even a minute! It was like trying to collect a brood of chicken into an open basket – by the time you got one into the basket, two others got out!
“Ma’am, I’m hurt!” (The kid wants to play outside)
“Ma’am, my stomach aches!” (The previous class was an experiment with ‘food’ and ice-creams!)
“Ma’am, I want to go to the wash room” (the same kid, every five minutes)
“Ma’am … look, I’m wounded!” (Shows the ‘wound’ – a fading mehandi design on the foot!)
I stood there a la Hamlet, in my typical Libran dilemma – to be or not to be. Strict with them, I mean. Then I thought, these were kids trying to ‘enjoy’ their summer vacations, while the parents were at work. How could I be strict with them? But on the other hand, I was there to teach them. It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t!
Finally, I decided. I cannot change them. I had to be the change. I started asking them about animals, and taught them some breathing exercises like rabbit breathing, dog breathing, and tiger breathing. I spoke about a park and showed them the vrikshasana and the butterfly asana. And the month flew by.
On the last day of the class, there was a get-together where the kids enacted a play, and the parents came to watch. I was not there. They were asked a question – which was the class they liked the most? And do you believe they said ‘yoga class’?