Committing to what we want in the moment is simple, not easy.
It is far easier (not simpler) to make plans in advance, hold ourselves accountable, use guilt as a means to “do the right thing,” frighten ourselves a little (“If I don’t do ___, then ___”), and so on. I think we feel that we are our own worst enemy, and that it’s supremely important to protect ourselves… from ourselves. What if we succumbed to the wish (ooh, desire) of the moment, and did something terribly unsafe or unhealthy or irresponsible or stupid?
Committing to the moment means being fully present and attentive to whatever it is that arises, including our own response. This requires us to keep aside the previous plan, maybe ditch it altogether, make a new one? This requires a certain devotion to the moment, coupled with trust in our individual ability to respond correctly. In the absence of either, it is far easier to refer back to previous plans, ideas and concepts, notions, etc.
And yet, the truth is that we are dynamic beings, fully capable of making excellent plans, dumping them for better ones, and accomplishing fun, creative, meaningful results.
The lockdown is s-l-o-w-l-y lifting, and I have been feeling strangely untethered. I have a tenuous grip on most matters practical/realistic, and Corona has released me (somewhat) from all/any pretenses of being a “responsible adult,” thinking about the future, et al. I wasn’t much of a planner to begin with, and presently I feel absolved of whatever responsibility I may have taken on (out of guilt, or anything else) to make a plan, think ahead, figure out the future, etc.
I dreamed of a slow life where my schedule was entirely my own, and I wouldn’t be answerable to anyone ― not a boss, a manager, or a supervisor. Well, be careful what you wish for because you rarely know what it entails in its entirety. I’d say, don’t wish for a thing, and you will have no one to blame. Or be prepared for a fullness of experience that will include some (or many) uncomfortable, awkward parts. I enjoyed silence and blank spaces, and now I have them aplenty. And some evenings, they turn vaguely terrifying, ungrounding. And I am happy/relieved that there are only a few hours to go before bed.
For some of us, the lockdown has made lives busier, fuller. For some others, it has magnified the emptiness that peeks out amid events and activities. In pre-Corona times, we had figured out ways to deal with these blank spaces, and now we cannot avoid them any more. Some of us love this lockdown life where you can spend the day wearing comfortable clothing, avoid traffic and long commutes, potter around the house. Some of us would love to go back to pre-Corona times, when life was busy and there were things to do, people to meet, hugs and kisses to share.
I wonder if all that we can take from this surreal phase is that we can only meet Life wherever it chooses to meet us, and we can only meet it EXACTLY as we are. There is no real prep, or any level of action readiness to be better at any of this.
“There is no means of testing which decision is better, because there is no basis for comparison. We live everything as it comes, without warning, like an actor going on cold. And what can life be worth if the first rehearsal for life is life itself? That is why life is always like a sketch. No, “sketch” is not quite a word, because a sketch is an outline of something, the groundwork for a picture, whereas the sketch that is our life is a sketch for nothing, an outline with no picture.”
― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
So many trips to the motherland and back… Yet the magic is intact. Maybe it is the glaring contrast between my land of residence and my land of birth. Or maybe it is the infinite shades of color that India hosts – parched dull brown, bursting-with-healthy-vibrance green and everything else in between. Maybe it is the staggering appetite of Indians for love, music, food, heroes and meaning.
In India, my emotions reside right beneath the skin, threatening to burst forth any time. My intellect and emotions are constantly at war with each other. My heart craves comfort, family and coziness. It cares scant for the right/wrong of things. My head desperately tries to stay afloat… on “top of things,” so to speak. “Does it matter? You are on vacation,” a voice inside chants repeatedly. Where do I find my balance?
In the moment? Yes, perhaps. It is easiest to be in the moment – a space of no judgment or bias. Here, in this moment, I can be whoever I want. Wisdom and balance, good sense and right action, intelligence and emotional richness – they all emerge in the right proportions, perfectly timed. In this moment, I need fear nothing. I only need to be. I only need to be available. Like a crystal that simply reflects light as clearly as it can.
So, I continue to polish this crystal, day after day, so that it need fight no emotional/intellectual battles any more. So that it is free to express all colors and shades of the rainbow without fear or labeling or being labeled. Because it is the path of least resistance… to simply be, breathing and present.