It’s about 5:42 AM now as I type this post. I am feeling a little groggy, a mild headache. A dryness in my mouth too. I have been feeling mildly under the weather, a bug that Ram and I have. It’s not strong enough to stop me from my regular activities but one that makes me want to slow down every now and then, here and there. I hear chirping from outside. Chirping of different kinds. I wish I could identify what birds they belong to. Like how I wish I could name the different flowers I love. For now, this is enough though. Listening to the sounds around me is the form of meditation I love. It is the closest I feel to Being. I don’t hold on to the sounds. I just listen, one sound after the other, or sometimes, all the sounds in unison. The experience brings a quality of lightness and peace. The restless mind rests a little. Wouldn’t it be great if we applied the same experience with our thoughts? We can do that too, it comes with practice and perseverance. And the beauty is, every moment is a chance to practice. We just need to be believe that the pursuit is worth it and be willing to try, again and again.
I can hear the vibration of the washing machine, the tumbling of the clothes in the drier, the white noise from the refrigerator, the sound of my tapping on the keyboard, and Hari sneezing as he is waking up. Sans that, the house is quiet. Ha, solitude, sweet solitude!
- My mind is wandering to the past and the future even as I train it to stay in the present. To be HERE and NOW, the simplest, the most logical, and perhaps the hardest thing to do. It is worth striving, I tell myself. Make room for what you feel, don’t get lost in the stories in your head, I remind myself.
- Last week, I drove irresponsibly and got reprimanded by a complete stranger. As much as I felt ashamed and embarrassed, and wanted the earth to split open and swallow me, I felt a certain calmness in realizing that sometimes it takes a knock on our heads from a stranger to get us grounded in HERE and NOW.
- A friend posted a video of her sweet family on the second death anniversary of her husband. My heart sank. Why does it always take tragedies and hardships that are bigger than what we face to remind us to make the most of HERE and NOW?
- Have you ever noticed that when the big picture of our lives get shaky, we don’t sweat the small stuff. The everyday annoyances and frustrations are dwarfed and we are more tolerant and accepting of them. On the other hand, when the big picture is gleaming, the small stuff takes monumental proportions, they are so hard in the moment, and we are intolerant. The HERE and NOW is a tricky place to be in although that is the only place we all should be in.
Gotta go, my HERE and NOW beckons!
I am sitting in the home office, the pendant lamps giving the much needed focused lighting on my laptop, the orangish brown accent wall providing a vibrant contrast to the wooden bench that was built so all of us can huddle together, sans any distractions, for some productive time.
Next to me, is an empty Ninja Turtle cup and a green straw, the one from which Ram was sipping his Bournvita as he worked on his comic book – Adventures of The Star Man. Apparently, he is going to write sequels to this book. So he is calling it, Adventures of The Star Man – Book 1. He has drawn stars and many speech bubbles. I am tempted to ask for the story line but he has lost himself in the world of Dragonbreath. May be later? Just before pivoting to reading, he and I had a discussion around arranging the books in his room. He wanted to order them in a series, I want him to focus on books he will read often so he will have easy access. The child put the discussion to an end by declaring that he reads all his books many times over so it doesn’t matter. Sigh! 13 years of parenting has taught me to sense a losing battle a mile away and to gracefully let it go before it escalates and swallows your morning.
Hari is sitting next to me working on his english assignment. He is required to write a 450-550 words personal narrative. I quite like what he has written. He has chosen a small moment from our visit to the Arkansas zoo when a lion pee splashed on his ipad and has expanded on it. The essay needs some fine tuning and he is suffering from a severe case of writer’s’ block. “Amma, can you help me?” he asked. “Of course, tell me what can I do?” “Just sit next to me and do some work so I will get motivated” And that’s exactly why this post came to be.
The child is doing all sorts of antics – pulling his hair out, checking out thesaurus, lovingly glance at his younger brother… looks like the mojo will return in its sweet time..!
The kids are on the last week of summer vacation. The past 6 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. Another milepost in the passage of time. Barring a couple of weeks, the boys have been attending summer camps. Between my dance productions and all the construction work, that seemed to be the fair thing to do.
It gladdens my heart to see Hari rested and relaxed. He has had his fill of cricket, baseball and books for the summer. The poor child has been suffering from allergies this month, must be a combination of pollen and all the dust floating around with the construction work. It must be frustrating to have fragmented sleep but the child has been taking it in stride – “I sneeze and have runny nose, but I end up slowly drifting off to sleep. So don’t worry about it amma”
Ram has been fervently working on Perler beads, teaching himself from google images and youtube videos. As I write this post, he is trying his hands on 3D designs. When he is not working on fuse beads, he is lost to the written word. The child sure knows to enjoy his own company. We have read so little together this summer. Our reading during breakfast is currently non-existent. Partly because I have not made the time and partly because there is very little eating going on at breakfast when reading is involved. We just need to find a way to sneak in some reading time together. I am not ready to let go of that yet.
We still have not figured out the extra activities for the school year. For Hari, we have a rough sense. For Ram, some homework is still in order.
I am not ready for back to school yet. I have neither spent quality nor quantity time with my rambunctious bundles of joy. No matter what else I may have accomplished, the summer still feels incomplete.
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I console myself in an act of self-compassion. I cannot have it all. But the bigger truth is, even when I may have been clueless about their days, I have been quietly soaking in the finer things that parenting entails. Enjoying the glint of naughtiness in their eyes, swelling with pride when they save treats for each other, loving them all over as they peacefully drift to dreamland, taking in the sight of them deeply engrossed in their books, and watching them devour cookie dough ice cream with anticipation although they have had it a million times.
This summer has not been a summer of going away, beach trips, bike rides or even play dates. It has been a time of quiet presence, simple living, and glorious nothingness in our household.
For 2015, the word of the year was Discipline. The year taught me that I have a hard time being disciplined because I am an inherently indisciplined person. And I realized that striving for Discipline is a lifelong ongoing effort for me rather than something I can master in a year. So the quest continues.
For 2016, the word of the year was Detox. Relative to 2015, I did much better in terms of sticking to the intention. But I was unable to keep up the momentum in spite of having practiced it aggressively for the first six months. I knew I was slipping, I kept telling myself that I need to pick myself up. But somehow the mind has a mind of it’s own and it sabotaged my voice of reason. And that’s ok. It just means that I need to work a lot harder than what I thought.
For 2017, I am choosing Mindfulness. I want to know my mind and if feasible, befriend it so I can help it to help me. I want to be aware when the mind is running helter skelter and gently bring it back to the present moment and to the current task. I am also choosing this word because I am a big picture person, which has its pros and cons. Pros being I am generally easy going, I can take a step back from a situation with some effort and I do not sweat the small stuff for the most part. Cons being I do not pay close attention to details, I can be blissfully clueless about so many things, and most importantly, I am not living life in all its richness. So I am going to give a shot at beginning the practice of living a mindful life.
If you are reading this and if you feel up to it, I would love to know your intentions for the new year. Here is to new beginnings, opportunities, experiences and intentions.
As I was hastily loading the dishwasher this evening, Hari called out for me extending his hands. For a second, I was puzzled. What is this kid up to? Why this unusual unsolicited expression of affection? And then it dawned on me.
Of late we have been following the habit of setting intentions to anchor ourselves to our true selves and to keep us grounded in the big picture. Sometimes we do this on sunday nights to get us into work week mode. At other times, we do it before exams and games. We hold each other’s’ hands, take a deep breath, close our eyes, and articulate our intentions. Like today, Hari said, “I want to strike out the hitters from the other team. Whether we win or we lose, I want to keep the right attitude and give it my all. And I want to have fun.” While how much of it translates into action is moot point, the heart of the matter is it is our way of practicing mindfulness and our attempt to look at things in perspective.
On a related note, Hari was at his personal best in his game this evening – he pitched all 6 innings- 79 pitches, at least 6 strikeouts, and gave away 2 runs. He couldn’t stop smiling. Tomorrow we will give him lessons on humility and about how success and failures are part of the game, but today he is soaring and that’s ok. Go Hari!
The fan is humming along, making more noise than breeze. Hari and Ram are fast asleep. Da is tying loose ends – sending emails, catching up on housekeeping items. It has been a long day for all of us.
Like all Thursdays, today was half a day for Hari. He has been craving for more freedom, to be treated like a grown up. To go around the neighborhood on his bike, and check on his friends to play soccer, football and what not. I let him go, he is ready for it and I trust him to be responsible. We go through the drill of dos and don’ts before he steps out. He reminds me of me when I was his age. I don’t recall a day that I was not itching to be on my own.
Ram is signed up for Little League baseball. Tuesday was photo day. The hall was a parade of cuteness with five year olds and six year olds wearing oversized jerseys and baseball hats. Hari and Ram have been “practicing” at home. Hari has grand dreams for Ram. Poor Ram, he not only has to measure up to his parent’s expectations but has to live upto his anna’s dreams. Da is coaching Ram’s team. It is his way of giving back to the community while being involved in Ram’s activities.
As for me, I am just glad to be home this week after travelling for the past two consecutive weeks.
When the mind is running hither and thither,
When it’s telling the same story again and again,
When it’s tempting me to check Whatsapp and FaceBook every other minute,
When it’s pushing me for all the tasty treats,
When it acts with a sense of entitlement,
It’s about time I focus on the NOW. This moment. This breath. This task
It’s a quiet Friday evening here. We are in bedtime mode as I write this post. Ram is thumbing through his bedtime books. Hari is meddling with his ipad. I love our setting here. All three of us are inches away from each other, nicely wrapped in our individual cosy comforters, a single reading lamp shedding just the right amount of light. The ticking of the clock and my typing on the keyboard are the only accompanying sounds. A nice way to wind down a mind stretching, back breaking day.
Hari’s travel hockey team won the second place in the divisional finals. It was an incredible experience seeing the team go from being seventh seeded all the way up to finals. There were tears when they lost the finals, but there was unmistakable pride, “We came storming back amma, I am so proud of our team,” rejoiced Hari.
Hari was the goalie this season, and he gave it his all especially during the playoffs. “One save at a time”, that has been Hari’s mantra. It was hard for the child to not take it personally whenever the team lost but that’s what you sign up for when you are the goalie. The games helped hone his resilience. When you miss a goal, no matter how bad you feel, you just have to get up on your feet and not let your disappointment come in the way. The story would be incomplete if I don’t mention how much a goalie gets pampered. My most favorite part is how all his teammates rush to Hari once the game ends, giving a fist pump and affectionately knocking on his helmet or sometimes even piling on him…!
It is not hockey that I enjoyed the most this season though, but the frills that came with it. All the action in the locker room – girls giggling, boys goofing, the camerdiship, helping each other out, and expressing admiration for each other. The cherry on the cake is of course the talk by the coaches prior to the game – it’s not IF we win, but WHEN we win. And that’s not enough, we have to PLAY to WIN. A lot of what we can or cannot do is in our minds.
As much as I resented the time that hockey took away from us, I turned around somewhere along the way. I struggled with trying to understand where hockey was leading Hari to? I think I found my answer – it didn’t have to lead him anywhere because it made him a better player and person today. What he learnt this season was more than just hockey!