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  • Writer's pictureLeela Kirloskar

Beginning to Be

On a day when the wind is perfect, the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty. Today is such a day. – Rumi

Mornings find me sitting on the steps of our back verandah, fingers wrapped around a steaming mug of Darjeeling tea, watching squirrels tumble down trees and chase each other across the lawn. September mornings in Bangalore have been for the most part gloriously wet and windy. As clouds shimmer overhead with the promise of more rain, the sun’s rays peep through the gaps, lighting up the many shades of green in our garden. Dozens of dragonflies hover low over dewy grass, their wingtips flashing a delicate gold in the sun. I smile as stunningly bright butterflies flutter by and look up to see birds glide and swoop and sing. A hibiscus plant is flowering in a corner of the lawn and tall silver oak trees sway gently, caressed by a fresh gust of wind that’s blowing over the lake. I breathe in the warm unfolding fragrance of the day and relax. In the time it takes to finish my tea, I’m renewed, refreshed and reconnected. And reminded, to just be.

It’s not easy for me to stay in the moment. For most of the last 25 years, busyness has defined my life. I believed that being busy was the best way to be to stay productive and positive. And perhaps it was. Through the years when my children were growing up, I juggled demanding domestic roles (supermom, cook and driver remain endearing memories) and professional ones (lawyer, baker, pickle maker and copy-editor have been past avatars). If I had nothing else to do, I would empty, clean and rearrange kitchen, bedroom and toy cupboards (no, I don’t have OCD). Giving myself a break made me feel guilty. So I rarely did. Through the years of my separation and divorce, I was determined to survive and succeed. So I worked even harder at being busy.

Ten years later, I’m only now beginning to learn to just be. Staying in the moment and trusting that time and space will unfold when it will hasn’t been an easy lesson. I keep thinking there’s something I should be doing to make it happen faster. And it’s particularly hard during a time when I’m wondering what the next phase of my life is going to bring.

There’s no doubt that being busy is a way of life for most of us. Some of the friends I’ve talked to this past week are caught up in familiar, madly busy schedules that include work, travel and families. I often wonder as I listen to them, when do they give themselves a break? Any “free time” is filled up by technology: emails, phone calls, texts, status updates on social media, browsing the web and television. We’re busy on weekends and vacation days constantly doing things. Any being we’re doing is when we’re being available for other people. Rarely ourselves.

Too much busyness – overdoing (and overthinking) – can build and cascade, causing stress, overwhelm and sheer exhaustion. It will fill all the spaces of your life, leaving you numb to your own needs and emotions. It will make you miss out on the moments that are important for your soul to rest and renew. And if you’re not careful you can get stuck there if you aren’t already.

You’ll know what works for you. So, take out a moment today to just be. Find a peaceful spot where you can soak in your surroundings. Let the silence and the serenity of the moment connect you with yourself. Watch the world go by without you in it for a while. You’ll find you live your life with so much more awareness and clarity. It can get addictive as I’m discovering.

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