In the middle of an ordinary work day, I was hit by a giant wave of responsibilities that washed me ashore without a premonition of setting my sails straight. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not afraid of accepting responsibilities. But when there’s so much to be done, each task as diverse as a cantaloupe to a carrot cake, I feel overwhelmed. It was then that I found my superpower – gratitude.
I looked back at my past when I listlessly spent my days. I had plenty of things to do back then too but I did not feel connected to my purpose. I invested time in pursuing what interested me but I didn’t know what it would lead to. That’s when I met a group of people who not only gave me a chance but also believed in my abilities as much as I did.
Since I have been associated with Aavishkaar as part of my India Fellow journey, it presented me with opportunities to understand my strengths and shortcomings for reworking my road map to the future. When I was grateful I siphoned energy from my challenges rather than succumbing to complaining. I noticed how resilient I had become after working seven days a week for the past six months.
I found creative ways to weave in joy into my work everyday. We chose grasslands where goats graze as our meeting place, held impromptu poetry recitals, went pine cone hunting and sniffed resins oozing from the tree trunks. I loved giving up my luxury to go back to a primitive lifestyle where I had to walk to the office instead of using public transport. For keeping myself amused I alternate between at least five routes to reach home and something new always catches my eye: the unwavering mountains freshly capped in snow, a doonj (a citrus fruit) dangling off a tree that I have often mistaken for a lime, and a cactus blooming in all its glory.
I had to arrange a poetry reading for eighth grade girls in one of Aavishkaar’s camps. I have always felt that poetry isn’t for me. I don’t know how this aversion arose but I can’t seem to get rid of it even by reading more poems. I decided to facilitate this session only because I could see what a challenge it would be. I deliberately tried to find meaning and enjoy it as much I love prose but it’s charm evades me. When I asked for help, I discovered that I was surrounded by poetry connoisseurs all this while! The founders of my organization and some of my colleagues admired poems in all forms. A cozy gathering of seven at the swing in front of the workshop shared tidbits from their favourite verses. The beauty of those words unfurled when we discussed our first impressions after listening to it and then viewed it through the poet’s perspective. Some of these were classics from Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s Madhushala to Siyaram Sharan Gupt’s Ek Phool ki Chah. I never immersed myself in poetry the way I did that day.
हवा हूँ, हवा मै
बसंती हवा हूँ।
… हरे खेत पहुँची –
वहाँ, गेंहुँओं में
लहर खूब मारी।
I could imagine basanti hawa bouncing and flouncing in the expanse of wheat saplings that I pass by every morning on the way to work. During these walks I listen to music when I need a push for getting through the day or catch up on calls that I missed while working. But most of the days I like to walk in silence, share greetings and quick smiles with faces old and new and gather my thoughts. I enjoy tasks as mundane as laundry because that’s the time I have found some profound answers. Even when I take a day off there’s an incessant urge for striking off items from the to-do list. I never sit alone to ruminate over my thoughts.
Perhaps I am scared and make convenient excuses under the pretext of being busy round the clock. I am grateful that I have recognized my worst form of escapism and taken time out to write this thought.
I am certain my future self will be glad that I did. These last few months have also been about interacting with new people. Some of them were luminaries and others were regular folk. The impact of the regular people in my journey is immense. Some of these meetings were in a formal setup such as through workshops and guest lectures. Others were unintentional. Even the shortest exchanges between volunteers, peer working in education, team building coaches and participants from several Math and Science camps have been rewarding. When I realized how valuable every single one of them is (a 13 year old from the camp, somebody who has recently started out in the education sector and an experienced teacher alike), I made room for all the interactions and insights from their discussions.
After my induction training at my organization, one of the facilitators wrote me a gratitude email. The opening line read that he has a habit of sharing personalized handwritten notes with his participants in every training. Although I prefer the warmth that handwritten messages carry, I loved the sentiment conveyed through the email. His words of gratitude brightened my day. In turn I shared a few of my experiences and thanked him too. I have learned to be grateful but I have a long way to in terms of expressing it. Uttering thank you is a lot simpler than finding the right words that resonate with how thankful you are.
In her latest book What I Know For Sure, Oprah talks about the impact of incorporating gratitude in our lives. She admits that it is hard to be thankful when times are tough but it is the one of the most powerful tools you can use to turn things around for better. At the risk of sounding like a corny motivational speaker, do you remember the last time you were truly grateful? Dig a little deeper. Now that you remember it, ensure that it finds the right outlet too.
Such a beautiful write up,Lohi ! Today,you made me smile 🙂
This is an awesome self reflective piece. Knowledge is great to acquire, but insight truly brings application of knowledge. Looking forward to hear how this has reshaped things at work and personally.
Loved loved loved reading this 🙂