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This new year I plan to be more present and buy less things; to declutter my life and focus on meaningful pursuits.
The year 2018 has actually been a year that defined ‘new year, new beginnings’ for me. I’d resigned from my job (and perhaps bid goodbye to my decade long corporate career for good) and decided to pursue my writing more seriously; I also wanted to follow things that satisfy my soul, and it felt like I plunged headlong into this year with a resolution to do things differently.
It was at this time, that I came across an article by author Ann Patchett that made me think about the other aspects of my life as well. It surely couldn’t have come at a better time. The article talks about not shopping for things we don’t really require and what better time to start following it than when you’re actually without a substantial source of income?
So, I took on the resolution to stop buying things unless absolutely necessary. See, at the very onset let me confess, I have a bit of a hoarding tendency and it is kind of genetic. So, my mother keeps buying junk, saris she doesn’t need, cheap plastic containers, t-shirts for me or my brother which we’ll never wear, you name it. I, in turn, love buying clothes and shoes online. Last year, I finally learnt how to use makeup (just the basic stuff) and then I’d go crazy online buying things that I’d even forget about later on. I even took a subscription at a fashion website and now I have more cheap purses than I know what to do with.
The realization came after months that I’m simply not that kind of woman who can take too much pains with putting on makeup. Yes, I might do the basic preening if I’m heading for some occasion but that’s the extent to which I’ll go. Working from home for the last three years also came with the advantage that no one got to see me. Hence, I am always in my pajamas or shorts at home, forgetting to even comb my hair on many days. What was I buying so much of stuff for?
I slowly understood that more than a physical need, I was trying to fill up an emotional void by buying things. Working from home or writing are lonely pursuits and sometimes that’d make me so desperate and restless that my mind would convince me into thinking that material things might be able to fill in the blanks where emotional connections should have been.
Of course, I was wrong!
It seems like some good realizations begin when necessity knocks at the door. With the decision to quit my job, I started paying heed to unmindful spending. And then when I came across the article I mentioned in the beginning, it was as if the Universe sent a message to reaffirm my thoughts.
So, even though I have not taken the oath to stop shopping altogether, I have instead decided to opt to buy less, i.e. mindful shopping. So, of course I’ll buy a shampoo when it gets over. But I won’t buy two more shampoos just because I found them interesting when I already have a half-filled bottle lying on my bathroom shelf.
I have enough shoes and clothes and so, unless something huge demands a purchase, I won’t buy anymore this year.
The only exceptions to this rule are books and food. Though my compulsive purchases of books online have definitely slowed down, it still needs improvement and I’m working on that.
The same goes for ordering food which seems to be my answer for any kind of situation (‘it’s so cold, I want something good to eat’., ‘it’s raining, I want a treat’, ‘I worked hard today, I need some delicious snack’). Yes, I have a habit of emotional eating and I’m trying to get that under control.
Instead, I’ve Chosen To BE MORE.
In this context, let me quote one of my spiritual gurus, Marie Forleo,
”Make Isness Your Business.”
I highly recommend her YouTube videos for a huge dose of motivation and inspiration.
Look at the above quote and just think about the depth of it.
Is there any other way to attain happiness than by just being fully present at wherever you are or by doing anything that you’re doing with your complete presence?
This implies cutting down on distractions and focusing on the present moment.
This is my biggest resolution for the year 2018. To just ‘being’ more. And of course, the more we are present, the more we realize the futility of our compulsive behavior, such as buying more.
Of course, I’m a work in progress, but I’m trying.
If you too feel that material possessions are not really filling the gap that seems like a black hole, then maybe stop trying to fill it. Instead breathe in, breathe out and accept the place where you are at. Take in the beauty around you. Create art. Read. Play with your children or with your pets. Be more human. Maybe, that’s all we need.
Published here earlier.
Image source Pexels
Kasturi’s debut novel, forthcoming in early 2021, had won the novel pitch competition by Half Baked Beans Publishers.
She won the Runner Up Position in the Orange Flower Awards 2021 for Short Fiction.
Her read more...
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Why is the Social Media trend of young mothers of boys captioning their parenting video “Dear future Daughter-in-Law, you are welcome” deeply problematic and disturbing to me as a young mother of a girl?
I have recently come across a trend on social media started by young mothers of boys who share videos where they teach their sons to be sensitive and understanding and also make them actively participate in household chores.
However, the problematic part of this trend is that such reels or videos are almost always captioned, “To my future daughter-in-law, you are welcome.” I know your intentions are positive, but I would like to point out how you are failing the very purpose you wanted to accomplish by captioning the videos like this.
I know you are hurt—perhaps by a domestic household that lacks empathy, by a partner who either is emotionally unavailable, is a man-child adding to your burden of parenting instead of sharing it, or who is simply backed by overprotective and abusive in-laws who do not understand the tiring journey of a working woman left without any rest as doing the household chores timely is her responsibility only.
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