There are people who go to naadi astrologers to know about their past lives and what the future holds for them. I could never do this.
Like 2019 for instance. If I had known in January last year what I know now, I simply could not have gone through. I would have been paralyzed with fear and hopelessness.
The next time I see a meme about life throwing a curveball or springing a nasty surprise, I am going to be thankful for my lack of foresight.
2019 has been a year of many milestones: good, bad, and ugly.
I finished one complete year of self-employment. It has been amazing in terms of flexibility, freedom, variety, and money. And not a week goes by when I don’t thank the impulse that made me unusually risk-averse and decide to make the switch from full-time to freelancing.
I rebuilt my relationship with my mother. Never in all my life, until now, had I realized how important she is to me. All through the year, I have been spending time listening to her, knowing more about her life, and talking every day. I have been terrible at this in the past but I am glad, glad, glad that I changed this.
I tried many things for the first time.
For the first time in forever, I let people into my life, shared my emotions and vulnerabilities with them, and I am so thankful that they rallied around for me in all the ways they could. I have never felt so included, so supported, by anyone who is not family. V, S, M: thank you for being there.
For the first time in forever, I went on a holiday by myself. I spent a week writing, walking around, listening to music, reading, and thinking, with no agenda whatsoever. It was liberating and I know I will do it again when life crowds me too much.
For the first time in forever, I learned some lessons in self-reliance. In not looking outwards for happiness or contentment or entertainment. I realized that no matter where I go, I take myself along. So I need to enjoy being by myself, figuring life out in every way from small to big, making my own decisions, taking my own risks.
It was so hard to do (in spite of my having always considered myself good company!) especially on the days when I was also struggling with depression. When you spend a lot of time introspecting, you will not like everything you find. This year, I learned to accept it and take things one hour at a time, one day at a time. I am not there yet, but I am on my way.
This year, we were there for our families on multiple occasions. Suddenly, you realize that your parents and grandparents and all other parental figures you’ve relied on over the years aren’t permanent. That they need help and support now. And that you still need them, no matter what you thought in your twenties. This is one of those saddening realizations that come to you in your thirties but thankfully by then, you have learned to accept it with grace.
Now for the good stuff.
This year, I think I was a better mother to B and S than I have been so far. Somewhere during the year, I resolved not to lose my cool with the boys, no matter how provoked I felt; no raised voices, no threatening body language, no punishments, no guilt-tripping. I tried to see myself through their eyes and suddenly realized how much at my mercy they are: for food, games, walks, even peeing and pooping. And I suddenly felt like a monster. If you bring pets into your life, you take responsibility not just for their physical wellbeing but also their mental and emotional health. I am glad I realized this early in the year.
This year, I discovered that I enjoy some forms of physical exercise (I had struggled with this for years and nearly written myself off as ‘not an active-lifestyle person’) The first is running. In 2019, I realized that I enjoy running. The scenery whipping past, the wind in my face, even my heart beating in my cheeks. The second is dancing. Not in a class, not on stage, but simply putting on some of the worst dappan kuthu or Bollywood item songs and thumping away to abandon.
This year, I learned that I love lipsticks and I may as well add here that I built up a small, cruelty-free collection of them. I used to think the shape of my lips was weird: now I have realized that I simply had the wrong colours and the wrong technique.
I often tell people I have a long history of starting things and not following through on them. But in 2019, I am glad I stuck (well enough if not perfectly) to my resolution of not ordering food that comes packed in single-use plastic. This had the unfortunate side effect of me eating too many burgers and vada pavs just because they were wrapped in paper. BUT I am still glad I didn’t accumulate those terrible plastic containers no one knows what to do with.
This year, we also made some progress on reducing our plastic consumption: carrying shopping bags everywhere, using metal straws and spoons, saying no to single-use plastic, switching to biodegradable menstrual pads, trying a cup (haven’t learned it fully yet but I hope to do so soon), and taking more public transport than ever.
In 2019, we managed a few holidays: one to Bombay where SR’s parents took us around to all the places they had lived in in the 70s; it was nostalgic and poignant and such a bonding experience for all of us. Another holiday was to the UK (the second time in three years, something I could never have imagined) and if possible, we enjoyed it even more than the first. Sometimes I suspect we may never holiday in any other country again. The third was OMO and it was bliss.
I suppose every year is full of ups and downs, events and experiences, heartache and hope. This year certainly was and it tested me more than I have ever been tested. What does 2020 hold?
I think I am old enough to not hope or to want to know. Let’s take each day as it comes.
Happy new year!