Finding God

The presence of love

I’ve been working from home the past couple of weeks, managing a magazine from 2,160 km away (thank God for technology). Instead of a stuffy, airless cubicle, I now look out at an expansive manicured garden as I work from my younger one’s bedroom (and it’s grinning lush green in the rain today). Instead of fixed timings of signing in and lunch hour, I work, eat, read, write and rest at my own sweet pace. Instead of giving housekeeping or parenting orders in a frustrated voice over the phone, and then coming home to disappointment that none have been carried out, I never lose my temper at all. It’s all real-time here. I am no longer living two lives — one at the office, the other at home. Work-life is rolled into one big bundle I’d call peace.

In the mornings, everyone’s away and the new domestic help gets busy watching Hindi soaps on TV. The house is quiet. I have no one to tell me what to do, I must self-motivate. In all this new work-life routine, an unexpected relationship has taken center-stage — my two dogs have become closer to me than ever.

They sit on both sides of my mat when I do yoga, until I shoo them away — and then they come back and sit a few inches further in compromise. They sleep at my feet when I work in the bedroom, and move with me when I shift to the dining table. I cannot scrape my chair for hurting them, or move my feet about too much; I must stir gently, carefully. Even if they are snoring away, they immediately sense when I tiptoe out of the room to take a shower, and are sitting outside the bathroom door when I come out squeaky clean. At lunchtime, they are my face-gazers, especially Ronnie who is always up for a bite. When I lie down on the sofa to read a book, they align themselves alongside, tilting up their chins so that I can stroke them before they settle back down to sleep. Never do their eyes leave me.

I am not more loving than I was before. I hug them and cuddle them about the same. I scold and cajole and tease them just as I used to. But my sheer presence has endeared them to me (and me to them) in a way that absence can only aspire to. Something’s new. They have become addicted to me, my love. They cannot resist sticking close if I am around. And as the days go by, I am becoming addicted too.

It’s not just the dogs, of course. I am suddenly closer to the kids after years of being an office-going mom. I am suddenly the wife-waiting-back-home after years of being a busy girlfriend. There’s a whole lot of equations being altered, a whole lot of priorities shifting across space and time zones, new kinds of love addictions going on. I am glad I have the silence and ease to absorb it all, to allow it to grow on me instead of being forced into it.

Things change, and they change you. And then you change things because you can’t imagine it being any other way. Then one day, you work for a few hours on the computer and then look down at your feet and see two content big goofy dogs sleeping there with their paws spread out in front, and you realise that no matter how much you do or achieve or transform or desire, it’s really always about just one thing.

Love.

Everything else is either just an expression of it, or a distraction.

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Seeking God

Decisions, decisions

Some decisions suck the blood sugar out of you (this is research by the way) and some come so easily that you suspect something’s wrong.

I’ve mostly always taken emotion-based decisions, which isn’t really a good idea, I know. I often regret it later, I often cry, I often go through difficult moments of doubt and self-blame — mostly because all the big decisions of my life have affected everyone around me as much as me.

But the decision I took three days ago — to choose between a full-time job in the same industry I was coming from, or a work-from-home position with lesser pay but greater flexibility to try out new things in my life — has been both crystal-clear and difficult. I’ve been vacillating between “It was the right decision” and “Was it?” for the past 72 hours.

I chose to stay home. I chose to spend time on my kids and my dashing new husband and our lovely new home and my own spiritual growth. I chose to take a risk with my life, knowing full well that my income will go down but my happiness quotient will go up. I chose freedom over security, God over people.

It sounds like an obvious choice for someone like me, but it’s been hard too. Hard not because of my own thoughts but because I had moments of worry about what others would think of me. Hard because I haven’t sat at home for years, there’s always been an agenda even on holidays. Hard because I am not yet the superwoman like all those work-from-home moms who juggle housework, kids’ work and office work efficiently, day after day. I’m still learning how to draw my boundaries at home.

I tend to drift. I tend to get involved in chats with the neighbours, buying vegetables from the roadside vendors, doing the laundry, fixing the cupboards. Then I remind myself of my dear friend R’s advice (she was one of my most efficient freelancers): “Housework will in itself not give you any lasting value; your work will. So be disciplined.” And I get back to my computer.

The past few days have shown me strange new sides of myself. I saw myself being crabby at the end of the day when the husband came home. I saw myself hesitating to leave the house at all, it was too much of an effort. I saw myself compulsively reading blogs and watching videos online. I saw myself struggle with writing a new story. In short, I saw in myself remnants of a younger me. The fearful, insecure being I used to be. When, after 11 years of working, I found myself a homemaker again, the old psychological habits popped back up too.

Luckily, though, this time I’m different. I can sense God in all that I am going through; it is as if Life is testing me: Have those lessons been learnt? I can see myself from the outside, and check my behaviour before it leads me to trouble. I can reverse my self-conversations, and choose positive over negative self-speak. I can apologise to my loved ones, and request their patience while I go through all this re-adaptation of identity.

It was yet another big decision that I took with a bit of an emotional quotient, but I am able to control the damage this time around. And every day, as I get better and better at managing this, I am more and more excited about the possibilities. I can’t wait to see what I am going to do next.