Tuesday, January 14, 2014

the year of setting things aside

It's two weeks into the year and it already feels old. This year crept in on slow legs, carrying on its prematurely aging back the burden of false promises and stillborn ideas, dressed in a new veil of shiny hope. From time to time this covering slips off to show us that underneath, there is little that is new. It is just the inexorable passage of time. Yet we accept the fiction. We choose to be intoxicated by the effervescence of the market and charmed by the seductive ringing of bells of various kinds. We wake up on a day marked as the beginning of a new calendar and believe that we are changed. That the world is changed.

Yes, I received my share of phone calls, emails and text messages. I stayed up till past midnight and colluded in a round of hugs and handshakes. I posted a post on Facebook and responded to others' posts as well. I willingly contributed to the conspiracy of expectation and excitement.

After all, ritual is an important part of our lives, and the ritual of new year does allow us a pause of some kind. Apart from throwing away old calendars and putting new ones up on our kitchen doors, or acquiring new pocketbooks that we hope to fill with interesting and important appointments and assignations, it allows us to think about what how our plans went and what new ones we can make so that we can look back on how our plans went the next time this comes around [with apologies for that complex sentence].

I'm not given to making resolutions, really. But I guess we can't get away from that process of reflection, however brief, and with reflection comes some resolve, however faint.

I spent the first weekend of the year clearing out my closets. That yielded a big suitcase of clothes that I had no need for. The process made me think a little bit about the nature of acquisitiveness...we see, we admire, we buy, we use (briefly), we put away, we rediscover, we wonder why, and we throw away. Of course, life is meant to be enjoyed and experienced, but maybe that doesn't mean one has to keep buying every beautiful dupatta one sees in Fab India or every woven garment that one stops to admire.

That's when I decided that this would be the year of setting things aside. From clothes one doesn't really need to negative emotions one doesn't really need to feel. Guilt, for instance. Or resentment.

But maybe what I really need to do is to work on setting aside time. To do nothing. To read. To laze on that armchair in the verandah and watch the children playing on the street. To write more. To call friends. To enjoy my coffee in the morning without thinking of the hundred things I need to do in the next twelve hours.

To make sure that these promises to myself do not add to the burden of the year as it passes on to the next.