A few months ago, I was intrigued by the new lifestyle mantra, ‘Hygge’ --the Danish term meaning an introverted state of existence involving sheltered cosiness. Soon enough, by a stroke of divine conspiracy, I met an ardent proponent of ‘slow living’. Had I read the signs; I would have known that my crammed lifestyle was heading for a downsizing detox.
With March began the march of the virulent enemy and the world outside started shutting down until eventually, it shrank to the size of my home.
Initial days of disbelief and endless doom-scrolling gradually gave way to surrendered understanding and quiet adjustments till changes within crept in slowly but surely. I started to notice sights and sounds which were unseen and unheard of. Cheerful bird songs rouse me every morning and as I sit at the window with fingers curled around my mug of tea, I am surprised by the Semal tree, which is dramatically changing its foliage.
In a far cry from the now distant memory of using Google maps to save a few precious minutes, I now own all the minutes of my day. I am realising that whatever I do, ‘being’ in the moment is much more absorbing than ‘doing’. Mundane chores like scrubbing and mopping seem to teach me mindfulness and are becoming therapeutic.
I am adapting fast and learning new skills. I now know how to complete my daily constitutional of 4 km within the house. I make sure that nothing in the house is wasted, learning not only ethical consumption but also culinary innovations. I have pushed aside the stacks of ironed sarees that adorn my wardrobe to fork out the old kurtas kept behind. I discover a sense of peace as I cut and stitch them up to make masks.
I feel grateful for many more things in life. Like the milk delivered on time or home-delivered groceries. It’s an immersive experience to even wash the fresh vegetables coming in. I have set aside an hour of the day to read Gita. For some reason, this reading is turning out to be a much more intense one compared to my previous readings. As I sit to read, the waft of the sandal incense also adds to the experience, perhaps there is an enhanced consciousness of sensory profusion.
As I become the owner of my time and my space, I feel that time is gradually shifting from a linear dimension that would forever be ticking away to a circular pattern with my days being comfortingly predictable. Surprisingly, while my physical space is reduced to my house, my life has somehow become more spacious as I accommodate more of myself in it and less of the irrelevant.
Unknowingly, over the past days, there has been a recalibration of my energies. From a rushed, often distracted state of doing to a more joyfully occupied state of being. I know that soon life will again overwhelm me with its pace and challenges. While I’m waiting to embrace life with the same zest, I pray that the lessons of these weeks give lasting wisdom to sift out the essential from the non-essential.
(The author is an IRS officer. Views expressed are personal.)