Who would have thought 2020 would be a year of masked and unmasked existences. Literally speaking, too.
We all set forth into a new decade with towering aspirations and renewed goals. We had steely hopes and flagging faith that 2020, with a new decade to boot would spearhead our dreams and aspirations, encompassed with it’s new goodness.
I sometimes wonder why do we pin our hopes on a new year? Bank on it to be our new dawn? I guess it’s a human thing to do; to help us hold on to sweet hope, to start afresh and re-create our new realities, going forward.
“Hope is the beginning”, someone said.
The pandemic arrived in India in March changing our lives, if not forever, but for a long time to come. Some of us embraced the ‘new normal” reluctantly, some with an open heart, and some without a choice. The world came to a grinding halt. Offices were shut, so were schools, market places, transportation, travel, entertainment, eating out, meetings and greetings.
The only thing that did not shut down was our outer world. Mother Nature continued to go about business as usual. While we continued to live in our homes, or confined spaces and adapt to the changes and responsibilities that had been entrusted upon us. The responsibilities of social distancing, of hygiene and hand-washing, of masking and protecting our inner well-being and of managing our homes and families on our own steam.
Covid 19 arrived with a purpose. A purpose to mask and unmask our existences.
The pandemic unmasked:
Existences which had been blurred by the break-neck scramble of our lives.
Existences which we had taken for granted and that which had been offered to us on a platter.
Existences which had lost touch with oneself and one another.
Existences which had succumbed to living a robotic and mechanical life.
For some people like me who are basically ambiverts, and have worked out of home on most occasion, this new existence did not feel earth shatteringly different. On the contrary it helped me unmask my being and connect with my true self.
To do the things that I had been meaning to do for a while. I In the recent past, had been tied for time. And I must say I’m grateful to this phase for helping me re-connect with myself, my surroundings and even my family and pets, in unique ways. I consider myself domesticated (a homebody so to speak), while being a free-spirt at the same time. And this phase has been a revelation of sorts.
The Journey Within: In the last 3 month, I’ve loved practising Yoga on my own everyday, going for solo cycle rides and walks. I was the kind-of person who liked going for classes or doing exercises as a group activity. I felt far more motivated in a group set-up, or with a friend or two. I’m glad I have learned to become more self reliant and connect with my body and soul independently. Grateful to the practise of Sivananda Yoga’s Ekagrata that helped me revive my long lost love for yoga and establish that deep calming sense of connection with the self. I was able to put to practise what I had learned their and the journey with yoga in my 20s.
I’ve also been treading on the path of healing, meditation and self discovery. Doing a Personal Energy management workshop with my dear friend, Sridhar of many years, equipped and helped me stay stay connected on this healing path.
I also have myself to thank for, as I so far I have continued this resolute resolve to keep growing, which has a larger purpose in my life’s scheme of things.
Gardening: I had wished to be invested in gardening for a long time and that wish was granted. My DH (Darling Husband) has company now, even if he likes it or not! He has been our official green thumb holder for years now. I’ve invested this time tending to and showering TLC to our plants, like never before. We have managed to create a haven of flowering and fruiting plants. I speak lovingly to my plants every day and thank them for their blessed presence.
Sustainable Living and Eating: I also have long drawn conversations with my girls on how we can give back to the planet. And they teach me some more every single day. And we put all of that to practise now by living more sustainably. I make face washes at home with dried orange peels, besan (gram flour) and turmeric, hair oils and hair packs too. We are composting like never before, running the tap slow, recycling water, cutting back on single use plastic, taking bucket baths, re-using and re-purposing containers, fabrics, and food and eating a more plant based diet. This is how you can prevent a pandemic of this scale when you switch to such diets says an article in Gaurdian.
My older daughter has turned vegan and gluten free. I have followed suit, but I do take my days off to sometimes enjoy the meals I used to like. Our meat consumption drastically dropped during these three months. Imagine a Bengali giving up on her fish. It could spell sacrilege in my community, but it feels good internally to eat plant based. Yes, occasionally this Bengali does relish her fish. We’ve been eating farm-to table mostly for a while now. Our terrace kitchen garden also yields a humble harvest which is a blessing.
We all grew up living sustainably, and continued to do some bits in the past too. But I believe somewhere it got lost to the blur of urbanisation and modernisation. I’m so glad we have brought sustainability back into our lives. Thank you Corona, for these lessons learned anew.
Thanking Nature: We’ve spent a lot of time sky gazing, and engaging in a communion with nature. Hugging trees, and observing the changing colours of nature. We’ve been thanking nature around us every single day, for it’s unconditional love. And for teaching us lessons aplenty.
Giving Back: We as a family have been doing this as an ongoing process and we hope to continue doing so. I wish not to speak about it, as it takes away from the act.
On the other hand, we now live in the sweet comfort of our masks. The other day while on my walk, I could not recognise a friend who drove past, waving at me. And then on another day an acquaintance who greeted me and who I recognised thanks to the voice.
Unmasking Ourselves: Sometimes I wonder the physical masks that we wear now, will they add another layer to the masks we were used to donning earlier? Going about our days, putting up a facade that all is well in our worlds, even when it isn’t. Sometimes it’s okay to be one with our brokenness, sometimes its okay to break away from our masked existences, and be vulnerable. And to reach out to our loves ones, or people we know who will genuinely have our back.
So, let not this new layer of mask that we wear now, force us lose touch with our real selves. May we continue to acknowledge the tough days, and the not so tough days. It’s sometimes brave to accept defeat. It’s brave to even smile, or communicate, or cry through those eyes that will now going forward do the speaking.
A Caring Heart:
How do your lives feel now without the warm embrace of parents who live miles away, and you haven’t seen them since the pandemic arrived? Or that tight, warm hug from a close friend, even if you would meet them after a few days? Or the silly evenings rallying with a bunch of friends, over mindless banter, huddled together in candid conversations?Let not this new layer of mask that we wear now, force us lose touch with our real selves. Click To Tweet
In this era of masked existence, let’s take time to hug and hold on tight to the loved ones who are by our side.
If you live alone, give yourself reassuring hugs everyday. Tell yourself you’ve got it, going. Don’t give up. Talk to your pet dog, cat, hamster or fish.
Talk to family you live with, reach out to them, and re-build your connections, especially when it gets busier than usual. You need them, as much as they need you now. Don’t let the days pass by.
We are blessed to have technology in this era of another pandemic. In 1918, when the Spanish Flu struck, people had nothing else to do, then stay confined to their four walls.
So pick up the phone, and yes; make a video call. Call all those who you have lost touch with, or even those who you are in touch with. You can light up a spark of hope to these lives with that short call. And to yours too. Or send a message telling them that they are loved, or an email if that works. Good old letter writing is fun too. And do get on to those video conferencing calls with your friends, and family over a weekend game night maybe. Believe you me, they are a boon in these times.
Check on your neighbours and the elderly in your neighbourhood or family. A kind word can make a world of difference. And don’t forget your ‘armour of wit’. It makes the tough days lighter.
Lend a hearing ear to someone you barely know, who you may meet at the market place when you are running errands. Everyone is struggling to stay afloat these days and every kind word counts.
And believe you me, when you make someone else smile, your heart glows with this fuzzy warmth.
Let’s together mask and unmask these existences, and spread the cheer. We know how much we all need it, as does the world at large.
Have you considered masking and unmasking yourself during this pandemic?
What is it that has kept you afloat?
‘THE PANDEMIC THAT CHANGED OUR LIFE UPSIDE DOWN’ is a blog train has been initiated by blogger Ila Varma to bring bloggers together to share numerous experiences of their #pandemiclockdown2020.
I’d like to thank Neha for introducing me and handing me the baton for the #pandemiclockdown2020 blog train where a bunch of bloggers have come together to share their quarantine experiences. You can read Neha’s post here – ‘Pandemics helped families adapt and evolve”
I now pass the baton to Sudha Krishnan. You can read her post at Sukris blog.