Resolve to create space for the pointless in your life

Natasha Badhwar

I finished doing all kinds of gair-zaroori kaam before I started typing this sentence. Unnecessary things that were not tied to a deadline. I arranged flowers in vases on various window sills, served food to half-a-dozen cats and one insatiable dog, tweeted a link and liked some updates on Facebook, tried to wake up teenagers and made a to-do list of all the zaroori kaam scheduled for today, just so that I have a handy list of what all I did not accomplish before I go to sleep at the end of this day.

Whatever else happens or does not happen today, I will have completed writing this column you are reading right now. Connecting with you, dear reader, is enough. Being here with my unadorned, authentic voice is enough. It is a space in which I unclutter the messy strands in my consciousness. If these words are useful for me, they will work for others too.

I encourage you to make this your New Year resolution too — make space for the unnecessary in your life. Be still. Save your energy for that which isn’t counted as productive. Neglect important work in favour of small joys. For repetitive acts of nurturing, for random things that eventually connect to make our personal universe whole.

2020 has been a year of shock. We experienced sustained fear, grief and an ineffable sense of loss. Many of our relationships ruptured. We witnessed others suffer unimaginable horrors. 2020 gave us a glimpse of what the end may be like.

Not much will change in the New Year we have stepped into. Except that each one of us carries within ourself the kernel for change — for healing the self, so that the collective can begin to find hope and strength. We need to acknowledge that by demanding endless productivity from ourselves, we simply set ourselves up for failure. We constantly rate ourselves by outdated social and cultural standards and feel overwhelmed with shame, exhaustion and a sense of never being good enough.

Make yourself pause. Seek silence so that you can listen to your emotions. They are protective towards you. If something makes our bodies and brains light up with dread, we listen to that feeling and learn to say no. Face up to the anxiety that makes us needlessly rehash old scripts.

Be less efficient. Doing too much has destroyed our health, our economy, our environment, our relationships, and our spirits. Why not try doing less? It will create space to grieve, a necessary step towards healing.

Save yourself. Allow your spiritual energy to revive. It will guide you. It seeks peace.

One of my closest friends is on the cusp of a new relationship. He has been hurt and lonely and now he sees hope for happiness again. But new love also brings insecurity and despair with it. He calls me to hear his own thoughts as he speaks to me.

“Take it slow,” I repeat to him often. “Let things unfold. If this is right for both of you, it will meander across conflicts and find a way home.”

“So what should I do?” he asks with restlessness. “This anxiety is unbearable.”

“Read a boring book,” I answer, knowing how many books he buys. “Go out. Run. Cycle. Crash on the sofa. Look at your notes from the self-help workshop you had attended,” I say to him. “Don’t try to hurry things. Trees emerge from their seed but you have to leave them to their own internal processes.”

Often, he laughs at himself at this point. He has to embrace his vulnerability and rock it to sleep. It is a life lesson for him to know that he is not in control.

I send him a quote I have saved on my desktop. “May you know the surprise of finding unexpected abundance inside a state of loss.”

I wish the same for you and me, dear reader. Given the state of the world around us, it is a long haul ahead. We need permission to withdraw and reflect. We need to be forgetful and forsake the responsibilities that shrivel our sense of self. We need to make space for our authentic selves — the seed inside that knows the process of growth and the direction of the morning light.

— The writer is an author and filmmaker

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