Time to Slow Down
Our bodies need to be heard, by us. Not outsourced to trainers, cooks, salons, and yoga instructors.
A tiny bird flew in to make her nest on my verandah yesterday. She started with a few scraps of leaves and bits of straw, that magically grew to be her home over the course of the day. I don’t remember the last time I saw something like that.
Just a few weeks ago, we were all busy. Jobs demanded time, goals were high, we were dropping kids to school, meeting deadlines, wooing clients, picking up kids, braving traffic, and coordinating with pest control and the plumber. Weekends too had a predictable pattern - entertainment was chalked out - meet friends, have a party, video call parents, clean the house, stock the fridge, watch movies, eat ice-cream and the like. We spun around on our little axis with a plethora of stars, whizzing around us to make it all happen. Cooks, drivers, helpers, teachers, yoga instructors, hairdressers, everyone chipped in to build a life as we know it. And now, suddenly there is no one. Newspapers have disappeared from our doorsteps, cars are slowly collecting dust, and in most houses, there is no outside assistance to help with daily tasks. India is in a lockdown mode, and life is on hold.
It’s an unfamiliar state of affairs, especially in a country like ours. If you go by conversations on social media, it sounds like a period of trial and hardship, that is not necessarily only because of the threat from the virus.
WhatsApp groups are buzzing with suggestions on easy recipes, home fitness routines, curated list of ‘must-see’ films, how to keep our children busy and how to keep ourselves positive. It is as though we are desperately reaching out to each other, reminding ourselves on how to survive.
But why do we need reminding for something as basic as looking after our own selves and our families? It should be a natural state of being. Like all the other beasts in the world, we should take the onus for feeding and grooming ourselves.
Our bodies need to be heard, by us. No pilates or Zumba instructor should be passionately pushing us for 'one more’. Our grandmothers talked about cooking with love for our families, but we have comfortably given the task to an outsider who chops vegetables and makes rotis, with an eye on the clock. Our prayers have been outsourced to a priest or a modern age guru, who tells us how to ‘connect’ with our own inner selves. We raise our little ones, by herding them from school to maths tuitions, to music teachers, to football coaches, to ballet, robotics and the like. We stretch out for a pedicure, instead of bending over and scrubbing our toes on our own. But not anymore.
Millions of us are confined to our homes. The doors are closed. Our backs hurt from the swabbing and mopping. Cooking is not much fun if it is to be done every day. And try doing an official conference on Zoom with a toddler howling in the next room. Of course, it's not easy. Life has changed.
We are creatures of habit. Finding comfort in day to day routines, familiar food, friends and so on. Change is hard, and more so when it is not by choice. It is natural to want to complain about the present and be concerned about the future. These are difficult times. We keep telling each other that this is temporary. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that, it is also an opportunity.
In the modern world, we are defined by our careers, and what we do. How busy we are is a big part of our perceived identity. Days have accelerated. We are so used to streamlining objectives, being productive, paying back loans, mastering yoga poses, chasing our dreams and constantly competing to beat the odds. Now is the time to slow down.
This brief interlude in our lives gives us a chance to live in a simple way, the way we are meant to. If health is not an issue, then laziness cannot be an excuse. So look after yourself and your loved ones. Be in tune with your body and mind. Hear music, find time to talk, make love, listen to children, and if you are lucky, perhaps you will get to hear the birds as well.