Sometimes, nothing seems to move. Somnolent mornings transition to sleepy afternoons, and before you know it, night arrives. You wake up the morning after, unable to believe another day just went by. Another day that you spent working, fixing meals, planning to-do lists, meeting social commitments. There isn’t a single thing on the horizon that you look forward to, not even the prospect of a vacation. Because time. Money. Leave approvals. Kids. It will soon be a new month; half the year will be gone by the time you have arranged your closet. Life will go on, interspersed with births and deaths, career highs and lows, mood swings, and endless cups of coffee. But none of those will nudge life from its rut.
How bleak. How dismal. Surely, there is more to life than just surviving each day and planning for the next day in an uncannily repetitive style?
“Maybe there isn’t,” complains one of my friends, a homemaker. “For housewives like me, taking care of the home and the kids takes up most of the day. It is a routine I cannot change. Indeed, I don’t even have the time to think about such things. Maybe working women have it more exciting.”
“Far from it,” complains a colleague, a working woman and mother I know for about a decade. “People assume that I leave the house every day, dressed up for work, and probably have it super thrilling. But usually, all my days are the same: an endless saga of work, worrying about the house, and work again.”
Stagnation, then, is not a factor of your profession. Homemakers face it; so do single women. Men in the top tiers of businesses get bored; advocates of Zen philosophies have phases when the world comes to a standstill. Personally, I go through periods when nothing seems worthwhile. I want to abandon projects midway, and then fret about how I shouldn’t. Long-held dreams lose meaning. Times when I had persevered to reach a goal or fidgeted at bed-time because the next day promised SO much joy seem to be from a previous life. Excitement becomes an alien concept; it doesn’t permeate through anything—not a bowl of my favourite comfort food, not a paperback that usually gives me bliss, not the zillionth night-out.
Perhaps, feeling stagnated from time to time is one of the ills of contemporary living. We consider planning and organising such important virtues that we lose the joy of the spontaneous. In comparing ourselves to others on social media feeds, we ignore the gifts we do have. We are scared of experimenting and trying new things because the way things are going seems to be safe, if boring. As we grow up, the “life-changing” moments seem to diminish in both number and intensity. The thrill of a well-made meal is hardly as intense as a picnic to the lake with the other ten-year-olds. Stagnation seems to be a by-product of ageing and getting “more mature”; it is how adults are supposed to feel.
Lately, I have started trying a new mantra to escape these crippling feelings of stagnation. It is simple enough, but I find it brings me joy:
I do ONE new thing every day. Or, I do one thing differently every day.
For instance, I let an occasional weeknight be without a fixed meal plan—I whip up an exotic recipe or order in food from a hitherto unexplored eatery. I change my reading spot from the study to a window seat to a bean bag in my balcony. I try on a new accessory—including the neckpieces that R teases me for buying but never wearing. On some days, I just shuffle my schedule, having an early night, taking a day off work and binge-watching a television show, signing up impulsively for random (and potentially useless) workshops.
My one new thing for the day keeps me at least a wee bit excited for what’s to come, even during the dishwater-dull patches. It brings out a raft, calls out to my soul, and stirs up some ripples that see me to the other side.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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