Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Balancing Doing and Being

(Confessions of a tired soul )

Today I sat still. I have lost count of how many weeks I have spent living from one day to another. I get up in the morning and before I realize anything, like a machine, I start running the race . Whatever I do, I am regulated by clock. I get up, get ready , work at office, get back, work at home, watch TV, make lists and go for sleep. I look around people of my age and find their lives are equally ‘busy’ . We have busy weekdays, busy weekends and even busy vacations . Why is it so? Is it because we try to pack too many things in the limited time available? Is it because we tend to be greedy in picking things we want- or that we are scared to unclutter our lives dreading we might miss something important ?OR may be it is just a curse of Generation Y ? We start the race of life just too early. We have rat races to win in schools, at work places, even as parents and friends! But I wonder how many of us are sensible enough to find whether this is what we want from life. I, for one, hate such an existence. I know if you go down to brass tacks, I do not care much for a big house, a swanky car or a designer handbag. For me life was always finding joy in small (rather insignificant) things . But still I too end up following the circle of routine- mindlessly. Underneath , there is a fear , of losing , of being insignificant ,of not doing well at work, as a spause /friend /daughter but God knows for what. I mean, with this speed, there is a good chance that I will end up spending prime of my life without living it at all. Even when I can afford to be free , I find occupation for my mind . I go out, sit in a park and I start making mental list of things to do . I succumb to this race of routine…I am not destined to win. None of us win this race anyways.

I enjoy doing ‘nothing’. As a poet famously said ‘ just stand and stare’. Believe me, it is a very calming state of life when you are not concerned about your office, your home or even about your world. The other day , a colleague gave me a lovely metaphor for this. In some context she mentioned that thoughts in our mind are like vehicles on a busy route . At times there is traffic jam, but if vehicles keep on moving…it sorts out eventually. She suggested that if you look at your thoughts as a traffic jam situation and get involved , it only leads to road rage . So, just be the spectator from the window who is looking down on a busy street. Traffic jam will take care of itself. I noticed that off late, I’m not very good at sitting still; even if I’m watching television I’m very busy watching television, or I’m reading or eating at the same time. I crave having nothing to do, but the problem is that there are always so many things that need doing that I rarely feel I can justify a prolonged period of inactivity. However much I love my inactivity- filled leisure, I end up spending most of my waking hours resigning to the demand s of routine. No time to stand and stare , No time to cry , No time to analyse where life s taking me , No time to stop and redo or remake , No time to make a new path , still treading the rough old path , still doing the tasks situations demand and priding myself at achieving the results of the preset tasks...Perhaps time is ripe for balancing doing with being!

Its strange how lives of young people follow a series of activities . Get a degree- get a job- get married- buy a house – produce a kid (or two) – start setting similar tasks for your kids . I look around I hardly find anyone who has successfully broken this trap of routine. Still worse, those who for some reason fail to get into the orbit of routine, feel miserable....incomplete and sulk. With half our mind always on the moving fingers of our watch, we hardly give our 100% to the work and we hardly ever do things we like. Most of us also develop such loathsome disinterest in all things that they almost sound mechanical in doing things they do. Even when we read good books or watch cinema, the dominant thought is to somehow squeeze this too in the day’s schedule, lest we miss it…rather than the simple joy of experiencing it. I noticed something the other day that almost everyone I knew was aware about a meaningless statement by a minister but no one noticed this really huge moon this weekend – which was in fact the brightest full moon on the year. So even in TV and newspapers we hunt for news which matter- in a very worldly sense of the term. I know colleagues who deliberately pick up hobbies which are ‘in’ these days . But who am I to judge others when it is now ages since I have done something, I feel strongly about. It so happened that I was reading a book on Mathematics and it occurred to me that all the great mathematicians, like great philosophers or great musicians had the luxury of time. Of concentrating things they were working on. They were not engaged in multitasking (with petty routine things) like me. They come up with such original ideas, such beautiful concepts and changed the course of world.

Today I sat still all by myself in a busy marketplace café for almost two hours . I watched people. I observed how people walk, how many young girls seemed to talk endlessly on their mobiles , the difference in movement and expression between people with a purpose and people killing time. I unnerved people out by making unsolicited eye contact and I quietly noted shop assistants going about their business unaware that they were being scrutinized didn’t buy a paper, read a book or pretend to do things with my mobile, I just looked out of the window. At first I felt faintly awkward, worrying that I might look like a Norma No-Mates, , but gradually I relaxed into it. After that it was me looking out to the world from a distance. The world carried on at its own spped and I, the observer just noticed its preserce. It was bliss. Very meaningful 'living' moments ...the taste of which lingered on for long. I strongly recommend this treatment to all other tired souls like mine. Just rebel against the routine. Believe me- all important, urgent and immediate things can wait .

Yes, WH Davies was right –“What is this life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare./No time to see, in broad daylight,/Streams full of stars, like skies at night./No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,/And watch her feet, how they can dance./No time to wait till her mouth can/ Enrich that smile her eyes began.”

1 comment:

alice said...

This I had not read. Beautiful post. In bangalore we had a kinda boulevard on M G Road. It got destroyed for Metro. Anyways, when I was working in private sector we used go often there and sit and watch. We used to call those sessions 'watching the world pass by'. I mean, it used to be so much fun and stress busting thing to do. Your post reminded me of that.