Stress, mess and the rest

The pandemic turned the world as we know it, upside down. Many artists and writers used this time of upheaval to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Perhaps I should have followed suit, but I was not sure what I would have found.

Plus, we were busy trying to cope with the intense lockdown during the second wave, and the fact that our community was declared a containment zone and sealed for 3 weeks.

When I shared the distressing news of our containment with mom over a poor connection, she replied, “Yes, you should live in contentment.” Wait, what?

But she was right, and I didn’t have the heart to correct her. So I asked her glumly, “How can I be content when everything I know and understood has changed?” Change is great while settling the bill, but not otherwise (too bulky), definitely not so much, and never all at once.

Anyway, she tried her best to pep me up and my husband joined in. “If you want continuity, you have loads of pending housework, as usual,” he added gently. “That is a constant I don’t need,” I replied sweetly and hung up.

But, sigh, he was right too, (and was surprised to hear me say it out loud), so I started doing the chores by taking a short break, scrolling through funny cat videos on Insta.

“No point doing them now, when they will pile up again,” I explained logically when I saw him shaking his head. “Anyway, everything’s a mess—emotions, economy, grief-stricken families, sleep patterns,weight problems etc.”

“You can’t think like that. Even the virus is changing, so why can’t you?” he countered.

I did want to change a few things, and decided to improve my fitness quotient. But declined his offer of weighing myself and said dramatically, “If I want horror, I will watch the news.

And as soon as the containment lifted, I started going for morning walks with a couple of friends.

It’s been a few months now but we don’t take it for granted. We know this precious time with friends andthe freedom to step out is possible only till the third wave begins.

It may sound privileged to worry about these small things when the world is struggling with much bigger issues. But this is the only thing in our hands right now—taking care of ourselves, our loved ones and anyone else we can help.

Grappling with the daily issues, managing them and coming up stronger is our way of making sense of the changing world and to cope with its uncertainty and instability. Strangely, we are fed up of change and the sameness of it all.

But we have to make peace with them both, however good or bad they may be. And we need to find the peace inside, rather than search for it outside.

I suddenly remembered my last purchase and headed straight to the fridge. Saw a piece of chocolate calling out to me. It was a different kind of peace, but hey, no complaints.

It certainly gave me a lot to chew on. And helped me come to the conclusion that change or constants, upside world or not, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for these unprecedented times. We need to find what works for us individually—whether it is a journey of self-discovery or a quest for inner peace, do our best and leave the rest.

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Richa Tilokani

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