These days I don't go out much. My days are confined to the four walls of my home. When somebody asks me about how do I spend my weekends, there isn't anything worthwhile to share. I tell them that I sleep, then Monday arrives and the cycle gets repeated. My colleagues often exclaim what a boring life I am living. I laugh it off and realize that I have stopped caring for an interesting life in the eyes of others.
There was a time when I used to have a rather "interesting life". It meant getting on a bus/train without much planning and instagramming favourite moments. Like the majority surviving in this pandemic, I haven't travelled for almost two years. If I am given a chance to travel safely in this pandemic, I would take it happily. But I didn't feel like saying that to the world out loud. Somehow that part of me has become so intimate that I didn't want to show it to the world. I no longer get any pleasure or validation from revealing that part of me to the world. There is still that yearning to go somewhere and be at peace. But it is no longer tied to my identity as before.
It is the same with reading as well. I still worry over the books that I will never get to read because I no longer take my time on this Earth for granted. I read, but slowly and mindfully. There is no rush to finish off the ones I started. A pile of unfinished books grow on my table, I pick up them as and when I like and there is no guilt of keeping them waiting for so long.
Then there are plants. Most of my weekends are spent playing with soil. After a week of staring into the screens and living entirely inside my head, doing something physical makes me feel alive. I empty old grow bags, add compost and fertilizers, mix it thoroughly with my hand and try to make it a home for new plant babies. I say "try" because I am still learning and it is often a play of luck that some of my plants are still surviving. Also, how do I tell the world about the joy I derive from composting? Picking up the kitchen waste, adding it to the compost, mixing it, seeing it decompose slowly and transforming into something that nourishes this earth has been one of the grounding factors for me in the past year. I wish I could write a poem about that process. It is that beautiful.
I often think about getting back to Instagram. It's been more than a year since I quit. I do check my messages there occasionally. But the point of going back and putting a piece of my soul in the name of a picture for others' validation seems futile to me now. It is not that I haven't done that before. Somehow the feeling of getting back to the endless loop of likes and validation is intimidating me. I ask myself - "Do you want to throw away the peacefulness you feel now?" The answer is a no, always. That doesn't mean that I am never going back there. Maybe if I continue this journey, I will reach a place where that validation loop no longer has a grip on me. It is just a thought. I am not sure if I will ever be that free. It is an aspired state.
We are all living in a new "normal". Even if we go back to the old normal, there is so much change within ourselves that this pandemic has brought out. For me, I would always choose a quiet uninteresting life over the picture-perfect instagram moments. What about you?