With two little warm bodies curled up on my side, I woke up with a startle early yesterday morning to a room that was shining bright with all the lights turned on. What’s going on? And why is Da puttering in the kitchen so early in the morning? It only took a fraction of a second for the annoyance to turn into jubilation. After two days of darkness, the power supply was finally back. And Da, being the dutiful and responsible family man he is, was transferring the cartons of milk from the icebox to the refrigerator.
My state was spared the worst of Hurricane Sandy. Not much of devastation as some of the other places. But there were fallen trees and damaged properties. Our neighborhood was victim of one such fallen tree which caused the power supply to cease abruptly for two whole days. Thanks to a cooking range that is fueled by gas, and unseasonably warm weather, our household didn’t feel the pinch that we would have otherwise felt. I also think growing up in India where power cuts is a common occurrence has made us resilient to these temporary setbacks. Not that we were not looking forward to getting back electricity, just that we didn’t moan and groan as if it was the end of the world.
Hari was ecstatic. Two days of off from school. Three nights of sleepover with appa and amma. No keyboard practice. Now what more could a seven year old ask for? This child who sprints a marathon at the very mention of the word shower, sorely missed taking a nice hot shower. “Taking bath from a bucket is not as much fun amma.” Ram was unperturbed for the most part carrying on with business as usual. He missed the “big lights” when playing with the puzzles the most. Da, who is a happy man with a laptop in front of him, missed the internet the most. As for me, the battery powered toothbrush that was running out of juice, was what I itched the most. That and the dishwasher and the microwave… So as the power turned on, we all eagerly went back to the little comforts we are so used to and we take for granted with a new found appreciation.
As we went through the storm, we received calls from friends and family wanting to know about our well being. And somehow the fact that we were being thought of so fondly felt like a safety net. That we mattered. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to them. The calls and mails meant more than what they think.
All in all we have had an eventful week, a week that will help us see things in perspective and be thankful for the normal boring routine. To those readers who weathered the storm, I hope things are limping back to routine for you and that you and your family are keeping safe. To those who were unaffected, hope all is well at your end as well.
Overwhelmed after a long day of catching up with routine activities, I lay next to Hari for a super abbreviated version of his bed time ritual. “No reading kannamma today”, I muttered with a trace of apology. “How about some cricket”, he asked with hope lingering in his eyes. “Illa ma rajathi, amma has work to do and it is already past your bed time”, with this closing statement I fast forwarded to the fag end of our routine. Recited our routine slokam and asked him, “How was your day? what made you happy? what made you sad?”. He talked a bit about soccer, recess, and snacks, and shot the questions back at me. Little did he realise that the questions would unleash a pity party. “I had a hectic day Hari. First, it was shoveling the snow, then getting reading for the day. It was busy at work. Then had to pick Ram, drop him at home and then pick you from swim class. Then I had to make dinner. I have a terrible terrible tooth ache and head ache. I wish I could sleep now. But I have to work for atleast another hour.”
It didn’t matter that he was only a first grader. All I wanted was a willing shoulder to lean on. And yesterday it happened to be his tiny shoulders. He listened patiently, and asked, “Do you want me to help you with the cleaning?” Somehow that casual offer seemed like the perfect soothing balm for my tired soul. I came downstairs to tackle my sink full of dishes and a house littered with toys with renewed energy knowing that I was heard and someone cared.
Sometimes the difference between empathy and indifference is only a few words, isn’t it?
From awareness comes acceptance. From acceptance comes action. For the past few days, the three A’s – Awareness, Acceptance and Action – has been a recurrent theme as I meander my way through the everyday maze of life.
Lately, I have been trying to practice living in the now, particularly when the now is unpleasant. For instance in moments of anger, irritability, frustration, and stress. Instead of having knee jerk reactions and erupting like a volcano, which is nothing but disruptive, I am teaching myself to feel and acknowledge the emotion. The few times I have been able to put this philosophy to practice, I realize that when I become aware of what I feel, I am able to move from a position of denial to that of acceptance. I am able to distance myself from the emotion and gain clarity around what’s causing it, making it easier to act on it.
This awareness, acceptance and action philosophy is humbling and empowering at the same time. It makes me realize that as a human I am susceptible to these emotions, and that as a human I am also capable of handling these emotions with grace.
The inspiration to practice this comes from Shubha, who lucidly writes about her journey to living in the present. Thank you for sharing your experiences Shubha.
Drafted on Dec 08
Amma at home to receive him after half a day at school. Steaming spaghetti topped with melted cheese and baby carrots on the side to satiate his monstrous appetite. A time table that allows ample unstructured time to unwind and do things that holds his fancy while taking care of the must do items. Catching up on some cricket news with appa on the phone and briefing him on how the day was. Lying on the ground with the yellow crayon box and doodling away to glory. The anticipation of playing cricket with amma before heading to swimming class. Ordinary but priceless moments to Hari and I.
I work from home on Thursdays when my work commitments allow me to. If I am not working from home, Hari is off to after school program, which he looks forward to with equal relish. Since this seemingly ordinary Thursday is not necessarily a every Thursday affair, I am thankful whenever it materializes. I am greatful to my company for understanding that there is life beyond work that needs to be nourished and nurtured.
Hope all of you had a rested, relaxed, and meaningful Thanksgiving like I did. I spent the day in my most favorite place, in the company of my most favorite people , doing some of my favorite things. That is, at home soaking in the company of Da, Hari, and Ram doing ordinary everyday things. And for that I am immensely grateful from the bottom of my heart.
A friend had posted the following quote by Melody Beattie on her FB status update, which I wanted to share with you folks – “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
How very true, isn’t it? Tell me, how was your Thanksgiving? what are some of the things you are thankful for?