Live life more!

Taking time off from the daily rut of life is enlightening and enriching

"Life is like topography, Hobbes. There are summits of happiness and success, flat stretches of boring routine and valleys of frustration and failure"—from the pen of Bill Watterson, through the voice of Calvin. Wise words, from a wise kid, that succinctly sum up the essence of life as we know it through our daily routines.

In our mad, mad world we are always rushing—be it home, work, school, umpteen errands, malls, calls, meetings or the one hundred and fifty channels that keep us glued. We hardly ever sit back to assimilate, ruminate or process our life experiences. Sometimes, however, if you are lucky and listening closely, life will surprise you, just as these people found out…

Growing up as a child in the ‘80s, Sundays were made to idle just as God intended it to be. Television had not hypnotised us as a nation and people were open to discovering new things, first hand. What started as an attempt to break away from the languor that had set into Avani’s family gradually became a Sunday ritual, i.e., a trek to the Kanheri Caves during the rainy season. Not only did it make her Sundays fun-filled, but the memories of bonding with various members of the extended family, right from little kids to elders, is something she cherishes even today. In a bid to recreate the fun for her kids, she has been taking them on Sunday treks in the rain!

If you’ve been lucky enough to travel in Maharashtra during the rains, you’ve probably been astounded by Nature’s lush green avatar. Jayashree has been enjoying her monsoon safari with her family for the past seven years. What entices them to it year after year? It is the fact that they have no agenda and no pressure to visit the prominent attractions as every safari is a voyage of discovery. All they need is a four-wheel drive, a picnic hamper, music and a sense of adventure and frolic.

For Sindhu and her family, the lure of authentic coastal food has been the navigator for their bi-annual road trips to Goa. Over the years, they have discovered quaint little chai shops and fresh local eateries, which make them go back every six months. Who amongst us can resist the combination of sea, sand, food, beer and chai!

Manoj Nayak was shy, diffident, and not-growing-younger when he found his manna in Salsa! What started out as an avenue to meet people soon became a ritual he couldn’t do without. Learning the moves of this sensuous and intimate dance form was such a heady experience that he kept going back for more. As anyone who has ever enjoyed running, swimming, dancing, meditating, or any sport, will tell you—it is addictive. It takes you to a level where you discover strengths you didn’t know you possess. It not only helped Manoj make inroads into the world of Salsa dancing but also helped him attain flexibility and overcome his inhibitions to become a more confident, mature being. He now manages a website that tells you everything you want to know about Salsa but didn’t know whom to ask!

So, as you can see, free your mind—the rest will follow. [Lyrics from En Vogue]

For Shraboni, it’s a simple weekend breakfast or brunch with her husband and daughter that has become a sacred routine over the years. It’s also the time to recap, talk, discuss and bond as a family. Arti and Suvidha, on the other hand, prefer to stay indoors with their kids as they cook up a storm in the kitchen! The plethora of food shows on television has exposed them to so many cuisines that they are veritable MasterChefs-in-the-making!

Before you start believing that good things will happen only if you are willing to spend money, think again. Very often, the best things in life are absolutely free!

Books are my first love; but sadly, I discovered that only when the second and the third broke my heart. They crept back into my life and resuscitated me! Fortunately for me, I have accumulated enough friends who feel the same way. The joy of losing yourself in a parallel world, created with the magic of words and imagination, is nonpareil. If reading is a ritual, then books would have to be a religion. I’m sure all parents reading this can relate to the words of  Louise Brown [academic at Birmingham University in England and the author of several books on Asia]: ‘Those children’s bedtime rituals of supper, bath, stories, and sleep have been a staple of my life and some of the best, most special times I can remember.’

While some may find the elixir of life in books, others have discovered their weekend ritual in movies or board games with family and friends at home. Throw in some popcorn and a couple of beers [or chai if it’s the end of the month!] and you have the formula for a cosy funfest!

Interestingly [and this is worth mentioning], Neerja has turned Friday nights into an open house, where the family gathers to discuss the highlights of the week at the dinner table. Channels of communication are open, no one is being judged, secrets are revealed, issues are resolved, blunders laughed at and everyone goes to bed dreaming sweet dreams. If we could all practise this communication ritual with our kids, parents, friends and colleagues, we’d be much more relaxed.

In the constant churning of life, our day to day activities make us clock-work mechanisms. It is only when we take time off to smell the roses that we truly begin to live. A new activity, a spontaneous excursion, a random rendezvous or a forgotten hobby, are all we need to rejuvenate our lives and fill it with that spark that differentiates between existing and living. For, it is when we stop seeking reasons, and learn to let go, that doors of wonder open to us. To sum it up in the words of the poet William Blake:

“To see a World in a grain of sand,

And a heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,

And eternity in an hour.’’

This was first published in the September 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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