This writer’s block is killing me, it has been three months and I have not written a single article, not sure why. I am not in any crisis or pain, the stress and work are as usual, yes things are changing and life is happening but why should that stop my flow of words or self-expression? This is the first time since I took up writing on a regular basis that such a phase has happened. I tried writing in bits and pieces but nothing satisfactory. I am sharing now some thoughts that are flowing, hoping to get back into the zone. Summer time has already arrived, the days are long, dry, hot, and hours go by without even a leaf moving, view outside my window is a stand-still image. It looks like a life-size painting at times, tall silver oak trees in a row and far at a distance a tree in full bloom with purple flowers, not a leaf in sight, just a sea of purple. With the backdrop of the clear blue skies it’s a delight to watch.
Lately, I have been watching videos on a channel called Green Renaissance, they bring deep and meaningful short interviews of people who seem to have earned wisdom through the choices in their lives. One such person is Antoinette, an old wise woman living in the deserted region of the Karoo in South Africa. The South African language she speaks mesmerizes me, and her words are pure gold. She says people often ask her why she lives in such a deserted place with no trees, only shrubs, and a harsh environment, there is nothing there. She says, she remembers a quote by a famous mathematician.
“ If you look at zero you see nothing, but if you look through it, you see everything”,A famous mathematician
Profound words that touched me. In the seemingly nothing, life thrives, mother nature finds a way to keep life going, in what outwardly looks barren, is still rich with hidden fruits of nature. We pass by life every day as it is happening around us, seldom do we sit and watch. Have you ever been to a park and sat on a bench, after a while your eyes wander and start noticing that tiny anthill next to it, you watch the ants moving up and down in a hurry, they are so busy, so much of life is happening and yet any other day you would have put on your headphones and walked past this completely unaware.
She says to know yourself, learn to sit with nature and actually listen, no cellphones, no headphones, no meditation music, nothing. You will be surprised that there is actually a lot of sound, nature is seldom silent. Only in the lap of nature with total silence and attention, can we hope to reconnect with ourselves. And it need not be deep in the amazon forest or high on the Himalayan ranges, a small walk to an urban garden would also do. The dining room in my house has a big french window that looks over a meager garden. If you can even call it that, it’s a bunch of pots with some plants. While drinking tea and thoughtlessly looking outside, I am amazed at the amount of activity I notice, sun birds, squirrels, butterflies, dragonflies, bulbul birds, caterpillars, chameleons, ants, spiders, the list goes on, all busy with their day’s work hunting for food and water.
When you stop thus, even for 5 minutes everyday and watch nature, it has a soothing effect on your soul, if you live in a tall building, spend time looking at the sky, the eagles and kites circling around, the clouds passing by in all shapes and sizes and watch without analyzing, without any judgement, just watch. I think those few moments bring us back to the realization that we are human and part of nature, not robots working on autopilot all day, running towards something important,no one knows what. Do not wait till the next vacation or for the pandemic to go away to experience this, just try it out today in whatever capacity you can and stop for a while the invisible race we all are running.
Antoinette goes on to share that if you want to learn about love, learn it from an animal. Animals do not give you unconditional love, they give love from their inner being, and hence it is pure and unadulterated. They do not calculate or manipulate love, they love for the sake of loving. This is so true, with all the animals I have had the privilege to know, I have experienced the same. My pet cockatiel sings to me every morning, only to me, no one else in the house, and he is stuck to me all day long, at times I ask him, what is it so special about me that you look at me with so much love? He tries to comprehend and then goes about being mischievous again, chewing on wires and pooping on stuff hahaha. But I know for sure that the love he shows is not an act, he does it for the sake of love alone. Why do humans need someone or some animal or some external factor to make us love ourselves? Why are we such harsh critics of ourselves? Why cant we shower the same kind words to ourselves as we do to our loved ones?
Antoinette ends with another profound pearl of wisdom, she says people often ask her what is the secret of life, and she says the secret of life is to be content.
“To arrive at a place, where I accept that which I was given at birth is enough, and thank you, I am content, that is the secret to life”.Antoinette Pienaar
It took me a few rewinds of this section to understand this, but it went straight through my soul. Imagine, being content truly with what was given to you at birth, it does not matter if you were born into a rich family or poor family, we all are born with just our naked bodies and our soul and heart, the day we feel that is enough to be happy and content, the release of pressure we will feel is tremendous. I imagined it for a few seconds and I felt relief, a huge relief. To feel grateful for the body, the soul, the mind, the heart, and our breath, all our pursuits feel so futile after that. There will be no scope of disappointment if we get something that is well and good and if we don’t that is also well and good. To anyone undergoing depression or feeling low today, please take a deep breath in and release it, and imagine yourself saying thank you and being content with just you, no titles, no money, no beauty, no relationship, no property, no savings, no degree, no marks, no trophies, no vacations, no friends, no family, no parents, no diamonds, no fast food, no shopping, no nothing. Take a deep breath again and repeat, repeat this as a mantra and keep repeating it every day till it begins to sink in. I am trying this out every day.
This is not to say that we all become lazy and give up our dreams, this is to say go after your dreams but without any lack in your mind. Go earn those millions but without fear of loss, go chase that relationship or that soulmate without the fear of being alone, go work towards winning that medal without the fear of failure, because when you are content, there is no fear and you are no longer greedy. You can excel and be the best version of yourself when there is no lack, there is no greed, there is only an anticipation of an experience called life. Then you will find time to stop and smell the roses, you will truly appreciate that helping hand, maybe your spouse or parent or child or friend, you will live not just survive but thrive. And when you start looking at yourself through that lens, your expectations from others will reduce too, because the other person also needs to be accepted for just being human.
It is not easy to practice because our monkey brain will forget soon and people will do something or say something to upset us, but keep trying, keep reminding yourself of what is truly important, why are we here on this planet? Hopefully this will help someone contemplating suicide, that there is a reason to live, it is for the sake of living. More people are dying of suicide that all pandemics put together, unless we find an anchor for our soul and mind, it is a possibility in all our lives too. Find your anchor, it need not be a person, it can be a simple yet powerful thought, in moments when everything seems meaningless turn to that thought and hold onto it until that moment of danger passes away, then go seek help. I believe this could be a potential thought we can use, being content with what we were given when we were born, everything else is a bonus, our roots lie in being human and that is all that matters.
I started with a writer’s block and ended up with a thought that is simple yet profound, and am grateful to the team of Green Renaissance for bringing such a deep and meaningful video and sharing on a free platform. I will leave the link to the video below, do check it out and others as well, which I shall write about too. We should follow and idolize such figures who have earned their wisdom through the choices they made in their lives, living examples of the different ways of looking at life. Perception is what needs adjusting every now and then, if you do not get it all today it is alright, just pause for a few minutes and be present without the distractions or loud thoughts, just be today, that is enough, Just be.