Just a Little?

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I’ve written before about how one of the best gifts of growing up in a different world from the one I inhabit as an adult is the marvelous gifts of literature that keeps on giving. For instance, this week, I am contending with my love for Anne of Green Gables and its TV show, Anne with an E, juggling the arrival of our in-laws from India, Greek myths that ebbs and flows like the tides with the children and their interests, a full Navarathri season, a pile of books begging to be read, a craving for some quiet, and a few entirely new Dr Seuss books.

All of these things seemed to reiterate the one thing that Virginia Woolf said,

“As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world.”

Virginia Woolf

The children thought it might be a good idea for me to watch Anne with an E. Seeing that I am not much of a Television person, a profile was created for me on Netflix. Every one else’s profile was given their own names. Mine was touchingly called ‘Amma’, and it had one entry in the ‘Continue Watching’: Anne with an E.

This tickled the son every time, and he showed it off to his friends, who all shared a chuckle with him.  The series is beautifully rewritten by Moira Walley Becket, and is based on the original series

Ever since my first acquaintance with Anne of Green Gables, I have a yearning for the Canadian countryside. I would love to visit Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island one day ‘with kindred spirits’ to take in the October beauty. 

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

– Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery

I must admit Anne with an E rekindled the love for the series, and I started reading the series again. Accordingly I went to library to look up Anne of Windy Poplars, and found the rest of the series on the shelves, but the one I was looking for. I asked one of the librarians putting some books away nearby and went to ask her if she knew whether there was another copy somewhere else. Her eyes seem to light up when I asked after the Anne of Green Gables series, and I smiled inside my mask. She acknowledged that the Windy Poplars one was not there, and I thanked her, and went my way. 

I meandered around the library and when finally I washed up at the checkout desk, she came up breathlessly, and handed me a well-loved copy of Anne of Windy Poplars. “I knew there was another copy for you somewhere!” 

I thanked her profusely. I cannot tell you the joy I had in curling up with Anne that night, reveling in the quiet way in which the old rivalries between Anne and Gilbert blossomed into a companionable friendship, and then into love.

I said so to the daughter late that night when she found me reading well past midnight. Her eyes crinkled with laughter, and she said,”Amma! Look at you. Aren’t you just a little bit embarrassed to be fan-girling like this?”

“Well…since you ask, Just A Little Bit!” I said, but found myself laughing. “I can’t help it, I seem to like it, and well, makes me think of Appa & me a long time ago.”

“All right – TMI!” she said. (TMI for oldies as I was lovingly enlightened means Too Much Information)

But she nodded approvingly before adding, “I like that you are reading and watching Anne of Green Gables ma! Gilbert Blythe indeed!” Her back registered indulgence as she turned and left me to my reading. I chuckled, and became a little girl enjoying the twist of the trees, and the way the moonlight danced on the waters, till the mystical realms of dreams claimed me.

When a Tree Laughs

We have had slightly colder days the past few days. The clouds seem to be making an appearance and the wind rustles and bustles through the precocious maple trees starting to turn crimson. I have been looking happier and more wind-swept than ever before after my little walks, and I said so to the folks I met.

“I hope you are pulling my leg somehow.” said one of them with a smile when I confessed how much I love windy cold days after the placid hot days of summer sunshine. But I was not. Californian summers are marvelous, and glorious no doubt. But they do have a tendency to go on for just that extra bit of time. If they got on their horses and rode off with the autumnal equinox, it would be marvelous, but they don’t. They linger and surprise us with hot, hotter and even hotter days well into October. 

One afternoon, I had come back from an impulsive afternoon walk, in which the strong breeze was billowing everywhere. One of the best places to take in the beauty of a strong breeze on a sunny day is near a pine tree. Every pinecone delights, every sliver of pine shines a different color, and every whiff of breeze sends a contented sigh that ripples through the trees. It is like watching the tree laugh – great hearty laughs in waves. 

How can one feel anything but joy when a tree laughs: slowly, deliberately and wholly?

“No,” I said with conviction. The most mesmerizing delightful sight is there for those who brave the breeze. The crunch parties are here, the purpling of the skies is magical, the visit of clouds is beautiful, the gingko trees have their rich parties changing from their robes of green to golden. ” I do love Autumn!”

I am so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers

– Anne of Green Gables, Lucy M Montgomery

I whole heartedly agree with Anne of Green Gables. I believe autumn does trigger warmth of the soul even as the world around us starts getting colder. We roll through Octobers and arrive at Thanksgiving in November with the beauty of the world surrounding us. 

Rose Smellers & Cloud Seekers

California has been enduring a particularly dry summer. The past few days, however, have ushered in the clouds, and my heart has been lolling up amidst the soft fluffy beds of moisture. Soaring high over the hills and dales; idly drifting past rivers and lakes; taking in the sights of a parched Earth, with summer flowers fading; and the more precocious among the maples starting to turn color. 

This week, however, there seemed to a slight turn towards autumn. I stepped out into the nippy morning and felt the keen clean air fill the lungs. “Oh! The bliss of a fresh morning!” I cried as I sniffed the roses in bloom. The daughter tcha-tcha-ed  her way past me, and said something to effect of rose-smelling not being an excuse for being late to school. 

I demurred. “Rose-smelling seems like a far better excuse than traffic. Where is the romance in traffic? “

She gave me a critical look, and said, “Don’t you have work to do?”  

This little tete-a-tete done, we each proceeded to our call of duty but the morning scene stuck with me. 

I took my cuppa out to peek at the clouds, and had clouds had ears, they would have heard the divinely song bursting forth from the deep bowels of my soul. Even the withering roses bravely held on to their freshness for another day. 

As Anne of Green Gables used to say, Isn’t it marvelous that we live in a world with Octobers in them. In California, that resplendent autumn arrives in November, so I suppose I will have to change my sayings to: Don’t you love an Earth with Novembers in them, but the sentiment still holds. 

As I merged into the screen, throughout the day, the early morning effervescence waned somewhat. The incessant humming of work related business drummed out the quiet of the morning. I marched and wrestled with my to-do lists and all the calls of business and duty. By evening, I resolved to catch the evening sunshine, and snapped the laptop shut.

Nephophile ( A lover of clouds) & Opacarophile ( A lover of sunsets)

lThe beautiful day had morphed into a beautiful evening, and I was reminded of the saying by Cavin Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson,

“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.”

Bill Watterson, Created of Calvin & Hobbes

The clouds were here, and the flowers were too. The leaves fluttered in the gentle breezes of the day, the birds went about their business, each enjoying their present. 

The grayish clouds now had tantalizing streaks of pink. The evening wanderers, Venus and Jupiter, danced through the parting clouds. I gasped when I noticed a tiny sliver of moon doing the same.

I am satisfied. I see, dance, laugh, sing.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

It is why I was late arriving at the evening’s appointment.

Am I Duck?

The lakes shimmered in the early evening light, the rivers glistened in the beautiful spirit of Kawaakari (River glistening in the setting rays of the sun, or the moonlight) and I was trying to get the children to come on a marvelous trail for a bike ride. But the children would have none of that. They wanted ice-cream and no physical exertion.

“Aww…come on kids! It’ll be fun – we can do that!” I said in my sing-song child-like voice.  

“Amma! Stop that! You are doing that thing again where you think you are imitating us as kids, but actually you sound like Donald Duck!”

“Well in this case, y’all are like Scrooges, so …eh!” I said. Clever repartees when they do come need to be crystallized in sea-salt, dipped in coats of honey, and preserved in the Museum of Family Quips (The blog) I received an eye-roll for this one, but still.

“Okay…since you kids are not indulging me I am off on my walk. Maybe I’ll talk to the ducks, they might be more receptive…” I mumbled.

Off I went, swinging my hands and marching purposefully towards the trail by the river. There is something in the evening air that makes the world around us come alive. The crows were flying home, bluebirds swooped and swallows tittered, cats prowled, and I saw a large water rat slink into the river bed. The river was more like a stream just then, but this scene was life was welcome.

After some time, when clouds were flitting here and there, wondering how to place themselves just-so for the sunset, I sat myself down on a rock, watching a flock of ducks 🦆 (what are the flocks of ducks called? A chime of wrens, pod of pelicans? It turns out they are called a raft or paddling of ducks). The scene was a calm one. I was taking in the peaceful scene, feeling a sense of hope and a prayer bubble up inside.

 If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. 

Anne of Green Gables

I closed my eyes to send a vague prayer of sorts into the Universe. A prayer of hope, joy, unity, elevation, and what-not. I opened my eyes slowly and the whole paddling of ducks rose together in one coordinated flight. The grace, beauty and their obvious comfort with one another made let out a yelp of joy and I clapped at the scene.

I live in a suburban area, and am not always alone. I hadn’t noticed the family ambling along in the distance. They were closer to me now, and they gave me puzzled looks. I looked sheepish, but the joy of the ducks taking flight must’ve lit up my face, and they gave me cautious looks. I looked harmless enough, and was obviously caught up in the rapture of nature. Their children smiled, and joined me in clapping and cheering for the ducks. 

The ducks did not quite see the joy they had sparked off when they flew as one. If we are all happy together, do we exude the same joy to fellow bings? I wish we do.

I headed back and narrated this to the family.

“This! This is exactly why I said I wouldn’t go! People assume that we are like her when she does stuff like this!” Said the teenager to her father.

“Well – I am duck. Duck! Not cuckoo! Get it? Get it?” 

The moans of feeble laughter was worth that, and I quacked happily upstairs.

A Dip into another Dimension

The July 4th long week-end is always a special one. It comes panting along after the first half of the year has whizzed past in a blur of life. The northern hemisphere goes on as it always has with winter transforming into glorious spring that gradually melts into summer haze.

School finishes with a flurry for the children and their long, luxurious summer holidays are there to stay, while those of who belong to the sterner corporate world have no such long, idle, ideal, vacations to look forward to. But the infectious joy of doing nothing is catching, and by the time this long week-end rolls around in the summer, there is an itch for the magical that is too strong to ignore.

So, we gave in. Going in to the long week-end, I took a long resolute sigh to not work over the weekend, and what was more, I kept my word. I only worried about the deadlines, and the nagging problems  a few times. For instance, I firmly pushed away worries about work when I was trying to be an otter, when I was gazing marvelously at the anchovies swimming beautifully in the forests of kelp, and while taking a long deep sigh at the deer grazing by a pod of pelicans in a lake nearby. 

We started the week-end to a marvelous romp to the library in which I picked out books like a hungry child at the candy store. I sat that evening looking contented and happy after a long-ish bath and read one children’s book after another. I admired Maya Lin’s Vietnam War Memorial, I sat up and had a couple of mind-blowing life’s lessons from Seussisms by Dr Seuss, while admiring the grit and tenacity of Helen Keller and her marvelous life with her teacher, Anne Sullivan. 

Helen Keller’s writings about absorbing the life around her was truly fascinating.

The next day, we set off to peek into another dimension altogether. It has been almost 2 years since we visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium thanks to the pandemic. But this week-end, in our resolve to make it magical, we went over there. You do have to get an appointment slot now, but once inside, all of the old magic stirs in your heart, and you feel lost without fins and scales.

I remember harking back to the book, Flatland by Edwin Abbott. Technically, watching the sea creatures in an aquarium setting does not constitute traveling to another dimension, but it feels like it. Every time. The tentacles of the octopus, the slow mesmerizing motion of the jellyfish, the all-encompassing tales of the ocean whisper and roar with every peek.

One instant, I remember looking at the manta-rays and the hammer-head sharks scattering the schools of fish as they lazed around their huge tank, and wondering where the turtles were, when a large one swept past me. Turtles aren’t particularly fast, but the wonder and excitement of seeing one swimming that close is enough to get your adventurous heart all a-swishing. 

Reading the assorted jumble of books this week-end, combined with the therapeutic effect of a peek into oceanic life, constitutes a dip into another dimension in my book, and I wish it with all my heart for all of you.

For as Helen Keller says:

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.

Helen Keller

Books:

Shhrama Pariharam – respite from the strenuous

T’was the day we had whipped up a feast fit for the eyes, and insisted the whole family climb out of pajamas and yoga pants to sit themselves down at the fancy table (this fancy table is usually overrun with the mail, packages from amazon, notes and books). All of this was swept in one great movement to the side room and the room door shut before anything could come tumbling out. The table was found, the food was laid on it, and the chefs beamed. The children had contributed in no small measure with the items on the table and it was remarkable how spacious the table , and the surrounding space was without the debris that usually surrounding this space. 

“Too much food!” said the daughter with a little shudder. 

feast

“Well! I am going to take my shhrama pariharam after this!” I said, regally rolling towards the feast of the day. 

“What?”

I saw that it was the sweet time to start reminiscing. I told the assembled lot about how their grandfather would talk about food, about his love for appalams and how he would pat his tummy lovingly and reminisce fondly about how in the olden days nobody cared about quantity : Did you know they served ghee in dhonnai-s – little straw cups, cups full of ghee and how they ate rice in those days. These heroes did not flinch when the ladle fulls hit the plate, they took it as a challenge, he said to us in his booming voice, and we used to laugh it at all till I saw it myself.  

I remember those days well enough. Maybe my memories are keener for they were formed in the exuberance of youth. One particularly hot afternoon floated into my memory and I burst out laughing.  “If Pythagorus had a strong foundation like us, who knows what else he might’ve found? “ I said. 

pythagorus theorem

The children looked at each other with that look of amused tolerance, “Uh-oh! Here comes another story within the story!”

I prattled off, whisking them away in one swift gallop on the chariot of time for a quick visit a few decades ago.

The occasion was something, and guests and priests made their way into the old village home. The gaggle of aunts, had been busy all morning in the kitchen preparing one of those meals that don’t fit on stainless plates and require three large plantain leaves on the floor just to get the servings in. 15 different vegetables, fried snacks that take all morning just so they many occupy a small portion on the plantain leaf, along with the main stay of sambhar, rasam and payasam had all been prepared. The corner leaf was given a special name, nuni elai, and the priests and his friends got busy. I sat with my cousins watching in awe. I had read mythological tales of giant-like people eating mountains of rice with rivers of sambhar and ponds of ghee, but I had always dismissed it as myth. I had read the story of Kumbakarna and that fellow who started the Vaigai river after eating so much, a river was required to quench his thirst thereafter. 

I suppose till that moment I had never really thought about what it takes to feed folks. How much food does one prepare, and how does one estimate? 

Children have an innate sense of wonder in them, a practice we must learn to cultivate just to enjoy our own life. There is a beautiful word, shoshin, that means just that: The practice of looking at things with wonder.

That afternoon, we, the pint sized folks, sat watching the priests fall asleep. Shoshin was shining in our eyes and we went to see how the legendary eaters were doing. We were told the siesta was not called a nap, it was given a name Shhrama pariharam – meaning the respite from the strenuous. It was an apt name, they had gone into the ring of leaves and fought like champions. Every last drop was polished off, every morsel of rice chewed and every fried item belched into the dark recesses of their expanding stomachs. 

That afternoon all those years ago, I remember watching the stomachs rise and fall with their gentle snores, remember seeing how the shadows lengthened with time, and how they rolled over before getting up, how they joked that a cup of coffee would help settle their stomachs, and then made their contented way home. We had discussed measuring the height of the stomachs, the length of the shadows and much more, only to be shoo-ed away by the aunts. 

I told the children all of this as we sat full, satiated, and laughing at the recollection. Thereafter, I showed them pictures of the South Indian meal. Was this a mythological tale? Or did people really have leaves filled with 50 different items on them? Had I not seen them in my childhood, I might never have believed it myself. 

elai

It has been a long time since I sat at a banana leaf and saw the world float by me with huge ladles of sambhar, rasam, copious amounts of rice and spoonfuls of ghee.

“The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland.” 

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The Secret of the Wings

So many days in the past few weeks, I have tried desperately to snatch a moment here, and a moment there, in the midst of hectic, crowding days of meetings, expectations and deadlines. Sometimes, I peek out of the window in the precious moments between ‘Leave meeting’ and ‘Join meeting’ to catch a glimpse of the beautiful November days with its soft sunshine through the yellowing leaves, each leaf 🍁🍃🍂 taking its chance to show its beauty to the world in a grand flourish before it lets go. The evenings are dark by the time the little tiles on my meetings are gone, and I clutch my coat about me as I stare at the tiny ✨ dots lighting up the night sky instead. 

So, we went:  before the crowds hit the mountain resort for the Thanksgiving holidays, the husband worked his magic and found us a little house that was free for a couple of days only. 

All of the Californian plains that we traversed for the 100 odd miles was bursting forth with fall colors. The reds were particularly fetching against the browning hills. Traffic was very light, and as we started climbing the Sierra Nevada mountains, a nippiness crept into the air. It is the lunar waxing phase, and the moon was out early in the afternoon keeping us company as we climbed the mountains. The fall colors gave way to the snowy reaches, and soon, it was apparent that here, it was no longer Fall. Here it was Winter.

tink_periwinkle

The journey reminded me of the scene in the Tinker Bell movie where the warm fairies peek into the winter lands. The orange, yellow and the brilliant reds slowly gave way to evergreens and a world blanketed in snow. There is nothing half as marvelous as a sunny day with wispy clouds against the azure skies and a snowy backdrop. This was winter wonderland alright. 

Mulish as I was, I took off on a walk as soon as we reached our destination. I huffed and puffed up the steep hills, my lack of exercise clearly showing in the panting under the mask. I was grateful for the mask for it held the warmth of my breath in as I walked on towards the snowy reaches affording a view of the vast Lake Tahoe from up above. The moon twinkled its milky light on the snowy  reaches below, and I stopped here and there to take a picture. I remembered reading in The Sea Around Us that some of our ancestors thought the moon was made up of ice (it was a much older notion of course). It was an appealing theory – standing there in the light of the moon, with the thin glint of the snow light all about me, I could imagine how our ancestors came up with that one. 

I like to see how we made leaps in understanding, and I feel the joy of every discovery almost anew as I gain even a little understanding deeper than before. One of the things that still astounds me is the spatial intelligence required to figure out our position in the cosmos. I watch the constellations change their positions in the sky every night, I notice the moon at a different place and time, and yet, every time, I marvel at the leap of understanding for mankind. 

Read: The Man Who Deciphered the Heavens – a post on Nicholas Copernicus

That evening, the movie of choice was Tinker Bell’s Secret of the Wings. The daughter and the son overruled all the action packed thrillers suggested by the hardworking man who found us the cabin in the first place, and we settled in to watch the feisty fairy instead. Tinker Bell, the impulsive little thing that she is, is curious to see what the winter wonderland is like. Since the fairies of the warm lands are banned from going over to the winter side, of course she wants to go. It only seemed fitting to sit and watch the little movie together. 

Closeted in what looked like an adventurer’s cabin, with the soft light of the snow reflecting against the moonlight outside, a fun movie, and the warmth of food and beverage created the magic that Tinker Bell and her friends were creating up in Pixie Hollow. The pixie dust swirled and poured out in to the world, and we did the same with our comments. 

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We sought peace in the less popular trails. It was a trip meant to process the year, and say thanks to the world in spite of all that has happened during the year, or because of all that has happened during the year. I feel most like Anne of Green Gables when she says she does not know how to pray, but when out in the woods, looking up at the great gifts of nature, she can just feel a prayer and let it out into the universe. 

Isn’t it magical when our most positive thoughts take on wings and soar?

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“I’d go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep, woods, and I’d look up into the sky–up–up–up–into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. …” Anne of Green Gables, By L M Montgomery

Imaginating on unbirthdays

There’s a little something that we have been treasuring in our home. It isn’t so much a secret as a quirk really. But it is something that our hearts have grown fond over, an idea that we share with close friends with a stab of joy, pride and a laugh that acknowledges the un-normal-ness of it all. But by doing so, we have invited you into our little circle of joy and keeping our spirits up. 

So, why do I share this now, here on the blog. My answer to it is, “I feel it will help us all cope in these times of uncertainty. ” Practiced over small doses, it can be comfortable or not depending on how much you have used this part of your personality before. But it is possible. I know it. For on the sternest of days, when life seems to be boxed into a little screen, and the slings and arrows of fortune come by taking straight swings at us, and the mind struggles for an outlet, this tiny act of will works its way into a part of the brain that senses wonder and magic. It seeps in.

I will need to take you back into our world for a bit. So, please come on over.

I was trying not to fall asleep one afternoon.  The leaves were rustling outside in the soft afternoon breeze, our stomachs were full with a week-end meal, and I had retired for a space to read a book. I had only just managed to let the book slide out of my hands as a wave of sleep crashed over me, when I heard  sounds of battle from within the home.

Bwoooshhh! Swoosh…aahh…guhgh, brwooosh!

This sizzling sound effect was followed by dull thumps, and a moan. A moan not of defeat, but of acknowledging a hard task that needs to be  done. If ever a moan was cloaked in determination and strategy, this was it.

“What are you doing?” I hollered. 

“Just imaginating!”, the reply came from the young son, and the samurai, dragon, ninja, or jedi warrior went about his business of setting his world to rights. Sometimes, electrons and quarks swoop in to change the nature of the opponent.

I smiled sleepily trying to figure out the latest battle he was fighting.

The dragons were slowly gaining ground and judging from the throaty cries, and the swift roll-ups being performed by the other side, lightsabers were running out of energy and quickly needed recharging, if anything were to be done about the dragon menace. They were taking over the mountainsides , gaining speed and traction even worse than the  wildfires that raged in the area just a few days ago. Weather monsters are only one kind of monster.

Imaginating

In our home, the act of pure imagination has been given a verb-form all on its own. Imaginating, we call it, and go about our business of imagination without batting an eyelid. 

When the son came up with the word as a toddler, I was amused. Here is a word that documents insist on underlining in squiggly red as unrecognized, and yet, this word feels right. It feels like a word that belongs. 

Imaginating evokes the act of imagination sure, but it is an imagination with power and force. Imaginating in the face of tyranny, imaginating in the throes of uncertainty, and imaginating in the relentless negativity of news cycles, seems to be just the panacea to set our world to rights. It is an act of our will, and to quote L M Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables,

“Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worthwhile.” 

Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Our song could be:
We shall imaginate.
When tyranny comes my way, I shall imaginate.
When hopelessness clouds my day, I shall imaginate,
Just like the tree that imaginates itself to be a bird. I shall imaginate!
 

Lewis Carroll, a man known for inventing words, would love to hear the word from the son, were he alive. So, here is the secret of imaginating and I am sure it is a necessary one in a world in which we are all mad.( To quote the Cheshire Cat in Alice by way of explaining Wonderland to her, “We are all mad here.”)

So why not have fun imaginating with it, and reserve them for special occasions such as our unbirthdays. (Lewis Carroll’s word for every special day that isn’t a birthday, which means we all get to have 364 of them every year).

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P.S: The story has been put to rights by the hero of the imaginating sequence. That afternoon, it was pirates he was fighting off, and not dragons. So, they weren’t gaining ground, but they were gaining water.  What else did I think those squishes and swooshes were? It was obviously the sounds of water splashing against the stern of the ships as he bravely fought off them pirates. Moreover, he wasn’t on an intergalactic space adventure to use his lightsaber, he was simply using his dark matter sword. Duh! 

 

The Wonder Formula

Someone told me once that we lose the joy and wonder in things as we knew more and more about how things work. If we knew the conditions were right for a rainbow to form, or the planets will shine in the evening skies brighter than usual, we seem to expect them, and then lost the magic of it all.

I have pondered on that often – could adding a pleasurable anticipation make up for the lost serendipity? As we watch the bleak skies of the winter, we can wait and feel the weight of the buds in the spring snowflake 🌱 plants, or watch the tulips bulbs shoot up from the Earth admiring their sense of timing, can’t we?.

While, waiting for the rains to subside, we can nurse a secret longing for a rainbow – I know I do.

Aside from all else, what isn’t lovely about a World that has rainbows? Maybe on other planets, with different atmospheric makeups than our own, rainbows themselves manifest differently or not at all, but it is comforting to know the colors of the rainbow and their perfect arc will be this way on this Earth as long as the suns rays can diffract the light in the moisture laden droplets.

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One day during the Winter holidays, I got to sit in a beach. It being the rainy season, there weren’t as many people around. There were a few beach lovers, so we curled up our beach towels and all set to greet the noisy seagulls. There I sat watching the Atlantic ocean with my umbrella open, sitting on a Mickey Mouse towel with a book in hand.

It was a few minutes afterward that we discerned the rainbow forming in the sky. How marvelous and wondrous an experience to watch the rainbow go from a faint smearing of smudged colors as though making up its mind whether to come out in all its glory or not; and then watch a colorful, bright rainbow full of the conviction of Being play on the horizon. The son came running across from where he was playing, flush with excitement pointing at the rainbow -🌈 “I knew it will come now.”

Sometimes, I wonder why we cannot be like children. Even though, they know the hows and whys behind things, they still retain Shoshin: the Zen concept of wonder as in a beginner’s mind. I smiled and patted him to sit next to me and take in the rainbow 🌈 with me.

After a while, he went back to playing in the ocean waves with his sister. I sat there, nourishing my musings with whimsy. I remembered some drawings of the daughter when she was much younger. Dolphins leapt out of the seas, with a rainbow arc-ed beautifully around them. Of course, children imagine the best possible things together – there isn’t any dearth or rationing in their imaginary worlds, is there?

Because when you are imagining, you might as well imagine something worth while.” as Anne of Green Gables would say.

The dolphins may get to see rainbows, but the fish do not. But maybe their world is marvelous enough with a thousand prickling and tricks of light that the water medium presents to them.

Musing in a world of rainbows is nothing short of magical even if I do know the concept of light refracting and producing the colors of a rainbow. My heart still lifts.

I had been traveling during the past few weeks. One such time on my sojourns, I left my home amidst brown hills. The summer sun had toasted the hillsides, and I yearned for a little respite to the eyes. In the two weeks that I was out, the rains had lashed the area liberally, and when I came back, the hillsides had turned a marvelous green. The rolling hills lifted their misty veils every morning, and I felt my heart pound with the magic of it all. Yes, I knew the rains make the grass grow, but the transformation is still a miracle that my heart waits for every year.

When I watch the dew drops glisten on the spring snowflakes,
When I watch the rainbow makes up its mind and throw itself like a garland across the skies
When I watch the eight-legged marvels creations catch in the sunset
When I watch the waves lap and play with the sandpipers

I feel hope stir in the spirits
I feel decisive and conviction in Being
I feel solitude’s gift can be tangible and needs to be nurtured for its fragile state
I feel engaged with the planet and all its gifts

I recently read a book bySasha Sagan, that is full of the joy of being. Titled: For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World, the book immediately caught my attention and I savored its many truths and facts about our rituals and festivals – the meaning behind life’s celebrations.

“My parents taught me that the provable, tangible, verifiable things were sacred, that sometimes the most astonishing ideas are clearly profound, but when they get labeled as “facts”, we lose sight of their beauty. It doesn’t have to be this way. Science is the source of so much insight worthy of ecstatic celebration.” – Sasha Sagan

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I was also reminded of Richard Feynman’s meditations on 🌺 flowers.

Ode to a Flower – By Richard Feynman.

There is beauty in knowledge, and wonder in anticipation. We just need a formula linking the two now.

The Three Selves

Mary Oliver’s, Upstream, is a book of many marvelous essays. One in particular stood out: Of Power and Time. This one is about the three selves in many of us:

  • The Child Self
  • The Social Self &
  • The Eternal Self.

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Reflecting upon the piece, I realized we should know this by now, and we probably do at some level, but it takes a clairvoyant writer to set it out so neatly.

The Child Self is in us always, it never really leaves us. I completely identify with that. I am decades away from my childhood, but I can dip into it like I only just grew up.  Everything felt keener and sharper as children, and that is part of the reason why The Child Self never really leaves us, I suppose. (Probably the reason why I forget the name of the person I met yesterday, but remember the names of my friends from when I was 5 years old : What is Time?)

While young, I yearned to grow up, and in the words of L M Montgomery realize that growing up is not half as fun as it is purported to be.

“That’s the worst of growing up, and I’m beginning to realize it. The things you wanted so much when you were a child don’t seem half so wonderful to you when you get them.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The second self is the Social Self. This is the do-er, the list maker, the planner, the executer. The one, in short, that most of us find ourselves trapped in for the most part of our lives. This is “the smiler and the doorkeeper” as Mary Oliver so elegantly puts it. This self I am familiar with: metaphorically the whirlpool, the swift horses of time, the minute  keeper.

“This is the portion that winds the clock, that steers through the dailiness of life, that keeps in mind appointments that must be made. Whether it gathers as it goes some branch of wisdom or delight, or nothing at all, is a matter with which it is hardly concerned. What this self hears night and day, what it loves beyond all other songs, is the endless springing forward of the clock, those measures strict and vivacious, and full of certainty.”

The social, attentive self’s surety is what makes the world go around as she says.

Then, there is the third self: The Creative Self, the dreamer, the wanderer.
“Certainly there is within each of us a self that is neither a child, nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, tyrant in others. This self is out of love with the ordinary, it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.”

The essay goes on explain the regular, ordinary self in contrast to the creative self. The Creative Self – the one that is out of love with the ordinary, out of love with the demands of time or the regular routines of life, is concerned with something else, the extraordinary. This is the self, she says, that makes the world move forward.

“The extraordinary is what Art is about. No one yet has made a list of places where the extraordinary may happen and where it may not. Among crowds, in drawing rooms, among easements and comforts and pleasures it is seldom seen, It likes the out-of-doors. It likes the concentrating mind. It likes its solitude.”

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The essay was eye-opening in many ways. For I know many, including myself, have to fill our days with the demands of the clock. It is also easier to be the do-er, so that we may not have to enter that difficult place of teasing, figuring and wrestling the extraordinary out; to give shape to the nebulous clouds skirting in the recesses of the brain.

There is nothing wrong with succumbing to the demands of the clock, but it is a valuable lesson to teach ourselves to take our brains for a tease and see what results, isn’t it? We may land up surprising ourselves if only we give it the chance.

The essay ended on this note:

“The most regretful people on Earth are those who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither time nor power.”

What do we do to ensure that there is enough time in our lives to ensure the nurturing of the Eternal Self? (Read: The Art & Charm of Shoshin) I don’t know the answer yet, but when I do, I shall hop on social media and share it right away.

Note:

A version of the essay is found here: 

Mary Oliver: The Artist’s Task 

Brain Pickings – The Third Self