I stand on the edge of the balcony, gripping the railing tight and looking up at a sky that has begun bleeding into a million colours. In the last few months, this has been my only contact with the outside world. Had it been any other year, this sentence would have sounded overly dramatic. Unbelievable even. But in the times we live in today? Not so much.
And I am not complaining. I enjoy these little moments when I peer down on the roads, spotting a solitary pedestrian and offering them an internal thumbs up when I’ve made sure they are wearing a mask. For someone who enjoys spending time alone a little too much, a few minutes by the window are more than I can ask for. Taking the world in at my own leisurely pace while offering few words in return has always been the way I have conversed.
A little selfish of me, I know.
I once joked with a friend that my sensitivity threshold is supremely low, the smallest of things move me into pits of deep emotions. “Hence”, I explained with great sincerity, “I don’t think I’d be able to attend your party. It will be too much to take in, you know? I’ll become overstimulated and then I won’t be able to move for weeks.”
“Be done with your excuses, Kavana, ” she snapped.
But there must be some truth to what I said. All it takes is an evening in the balcony, the wind delightfully mischievous and tea brewed just right, and I cross over into some other realm altogether. One so delicious, my heart feels sweet and it beats a fragrant rhythm, as I almost converse with the gods.
And then it falls short
It always falls short.
Like rapping on a wooden door, but only hearing the echo of your knock.
In these moments I am reminded of a homesickness I have always felt. Ironically, this homesickness persists even when I am lounging in the home I have always lounged in. It’s an odd feeling. Being superbly comfortable yet yearning for more. A longing to return.
To return back home.
The other day I sat drawing. Doodling is perhaps a more accurate definition of what I was actually doing, but it doesn’t capture my sentiment. At the very least, I was making shaky shapes, my lines all awkward and clumsy. For some reason, I really, really enjoy making illustrations with eyes that look like they haven’t ever heard of sleep. They are really easy to make — draw a vertical oval, a bracket on either side and a big dot in between. They look so tired, it’s almost hilarious. Try it.
As I sat there, drawing these eyes over and over again, I realised, that if I ever hoped to go beyond sketching tired eyes and make something more intricate, I’ll have to practise. A lot. And honestly, that’s a little scary to conceive.
What if I never have the time? What if I don’t feel like it? What if get too busy with work, with life? What if?
All I have about the future are hunches. Some of them hit the bull’s eye and some just loiter away into another dimension. So it becomes difficult sometimes, to reassure my anxious inner monologue — repeating all shall be well just doesn’t cut it. So then, before I can spiral down another web of anxieties, I remind myself, that I need to do just one thing –
ri-ˈtərn — Come back again.
It is the root of habits, the heart of love and the promise of commitment. Returning. Coming back over and over again.
A simple agreement to always reach out, no matter the tides or the storms, To always come back. To honour a word that was perhaps made in a distant age and will survive the ages to come.
Every time I return to my sketchpad, my hands will become steadier and my lines will become smoother. Every time I return to my pen, the lines will pour through faster and the words will sound sweeter. Every time I return to a friend, our conversations will get deeper and our understanding will become stronger.
And each time I return to myself, I will know myself better.
Someone I deeply adore said that when things are left in peace, they return to their own natural state. This thought keeps returning to me, especially in the evenings, when the birds fly back home and the sun dips back into the arms of the horizon, as the world stands on the cusp of change. The transition from day to dark, from light to night, is a marvel. A miracle. The sky is especially beautiful then, with the clouds strolling along without a care for the world. They know where to go. They know their path back home and they beckon me to come along.
Life is cyclic. So too is my longing. Sometimes sorely intense, piercing in its ferocity. Sometimes, mild and gentle, too easy to ignore, too easily forgotten. But if I want the door to open, I will have to knock a few more times. Rap the door louder. I will have to return to the porch and keeping drumming my knuckles against the wooden frame until someone finally lets me in.
Or maybe the door is already open and I just don’t know it yet
There is only one way I can know for sure.
“Perhaps we only leave
So we may once again arrive,
To get a bird’s eye view
Of what it means to be alive.
For there is beauty in returning,
Oh how wonderful, how strange,
To see that everything is different
But know it’s only you who’s changed.”
— Eric Hanson
Life does seem like a great returning.