Long drives have a compelling way of taking your thoughts on uncharted pathways that form a complicated mesh you find yourself helplessly entrapped. That is my mind at work, usually on my long commute to and from work where the heavy thought traffic easily beats the busy roads outside any given day!
So queer are the ways of the human mind that ‘living in the moment’ is a state that is not yet mastered. I often muse if this is an unconquerable feat for human mind, this state of being in the present, where you don’t wallow in the self-inflicted suffering from your past or angst for the future. Come to think of it, a high percentage of our thought process is rather futile than productive. Our brain is effectively a rerun of mindless thoughts of situations that threaten to destroy our ego, security, reputation, power to name a few. We are yet to imbibe the true essence of mindful meditation that offers space to accept any situation the way it is and find solutions for problems with a clear mind. Evolution has rendered us a far superior species at the loss of the art of simple living. What seems like an immeasurable leap from the stone age for human beings in terms of civilization is a battle lost in the areas of conscious living.
As a stroke of relief, my thoughts are interrupted at the sight of the placid lake beneath the bridge that my car moved at snail’s pace on. I spot a few ducks wading peacefully as if to put my over-thinking existence to shame. My mind is now in reverse gear in an attempt to undo the inconsequential thought process, to reclaim the energy wasted on the unplanned detours. These simple creatures teach me a thing or two by modeling the ‘living in the moment’ mantra. There is a sudden wave of stillness and contentment that inevitably strikes me at the daily sight of this natural wonder, it is almost humbling. I look forward to those moments of quietness inside with great diligence and regularity that I find myself craning out of my car window onto the vast water body below for my daily dose of sanity. Thank goodness for such lovely creations in nature, there is respite from the craziness of our over-driven mind. If only we could have such duck-like moments in our lives more often, if only we realized the need to slow down and really see and feel what is around us, the word ‘stress’ would never have existed in our vocabulary!
When I was approaching middle age, it was quite an unsettling feeling to deal with. It was like having a tug-of-war with time. After all, who is ready for the dreaded down hill ride?! They call it mid-life crisis for no reason.
It is with an air of convenient gullibility that we tend to deny the irrefutable truth of growing old. It is alarming to see, especially in the present generation the yearning to be in an immortal state of youthfulness. That brings us to the question: Isn’t there an existence for us beyond the superficial assurance of young/good looks through external means. Are we so rooted for the constant search of youngevity that so many of us would go to any extent to achieve it? If only the media and the proponents of happy-healthy life, were not to put so much stress on the external looks or age as a detrimental factor in a person’s productivity or worth, things could be much different. What we need is more campaigns on staying young through right choice of healthy food, an active life-style through holistic workout and involvement in meaningful pursuits that eventually help aging gracefully.
Lets accept aging not as a bane, but as a boon and put our wisdom gained from the wealth of worldly experience to good use than spend our time whiling away in Botox clinics and facelift centers. What do we lose if a fraction of that time is rather devoted in uplifting and enlightening the youth on life’s lessons learned? When you see the silver lining in the cloud of hair and the wrinkly smile that is gifted by time alone, when you embrace age with all its graciousness, it is true liberation.
As for me, to my surprise, there is now a renewed sense of awareness and purpose, and a child-like curiosity like never before. It is true revelation, that you see life through a lens that only gets clearer with every passing decade. What you thought you knew before were only blurred images of what really is now! And for that I am happy to grow older and embrace the course of nature’s action.
Mother’s day is around the corner and I muse about the true essence of motherhood. Do you become a mom just by virtue of giving birth? You are a mother but not ‘mom’, necessarily. The essence of momness is earned, not bestowed. Mom is not just another role that you perform in ways of feeding or dressing or educating your children, it is nourishing and enriching the young minds in emotional and spiritual levels!
Momness, if you think about it is not a qualification due to maternity itself. It is in fact, an abode of sanctity; it is a testimony that love, care and kindness still exist on earth. As far as there is flavor of motherhood on earth, there is still hope! You see subtleties of it in nature, in trees, in animals and all things living. It is owned solely by those who give birth – to goodness, to strength, to peace and above all, life. I see it in my own mother, who is momness personified. I also see it in my dad’s eyes and feel it in my brothers’ voice, as well as in random acts of kindness from near and dear ones, or a neighbor or sometimes even a stranger.
If I were to take even one-millionth of an ounce of pride in being a mother, let it not be for the lives that my womb delivered but for their journey thereafter! How would I come close to qualifying for a mom, if I weren’t to exhibit an iota of humaneness from the standpoint of another human, if it’s not my shoulder that my daughters choose to cry on, if I couldn’t read the angst in their troubled minds, or know the meaning of unspoken words? Motherhood is not a right, but a privilege that has to be earned from mutual love and respect, by letting go and not clinging on!! Needless to say, it is not in the untouched souls, the crass creatures, or the ruthless ruler. It is rather a light breeze that smells of jasmine, and brings music to your heart as you feel the gentle hands that lay on your shoulder. Hail the existence of momness!
“Today I have grown taller from walking with the trees.”
-Karle Wilson Baker.
It is the umpteenth time I put on my sweatpants and T-shirt, all set for my morning walk. Every day is a new day as I look forward to my tryst with nature. I find myself reaching for my walking shoes with a childlike joy. This habit of mine started as leisure strolls in the neighborhood with my 2 year old strapped in a stroller. That was some 15 years ago. Since then I have been on a roll, thanks to my walking partners – friends, and family and above all love for nature.
There is nothing more healing than going for a walk/jog or hike. You always come home with a sense of well-being than you started in the first place. Swift walk not only burns calories, it also improves metabolism and keeps you active for the rest of the day. It is quite therapeutic and could serve as a great antidote for mental and physical ailments. Nature is a true problem solver. It is a silent listener that reminds you to tread with thoughtfulness and care, to tackle all problems of the day.
It is sad that people are so caught up in the daily rut they forget to acknowledge simple gifts of life. More and more people are walking away from nature than walking in it. Studies have proved that walking outdoors is a big stress-buster. Thirty minutes of daily walk is said to have immense effect on people’s stress and increases their productivity.
Here are some tips that can help you find your primitive self:
Set aside at least 15 minutes a day to be out in nature, mornings if possible. It helps to breathe in fresh, unpolluted air.
If walking is not your forte, engage in other outdoor activities like jogging, biking, or swimming.
Utilize the break time at work to go on a walk, either alone or with a partner.
Give yourself a treat (not food) for completing your target. It is a big achievement for those who can’t unhook from their gadgets and take time off for simple things.
Keep a monthly or weekly goal of walking certain miles. Maintain a log to keep track of your progress. Pull in a group of like-minded people who would like to join, so you can check on each other.
Find friends or walking buddies who are ready rain or shine!
Try to be mindful while walking, feel the earth, enjoy the breeze, observe life around you and smile.
Everything and everyone matters; do care.
My walking explorations that started as short walks around the neighborhood streets led to more detours into the wooded trails and eventually to the walking and hiking trails in and around the city parks and lakes. Every out door endeavor got only more varied and enjoyable! I can vouch on the benefits of this lifelong indulgence in walking, to my good health and cheerful disposition (well, most of the time)!! Today, as I am walking with my two teenage daughters, I think to myself – it’s been a delightful journey from their stroller days to their youthful strides.