We had driven in from Delhi on 17th March 2020 for a week to check in on our apple orchard plantation not far from Shimla when it happened – the lockdown! Though for me personally, it was the biggest un-lockdown in more ways than one. In the last 34 years after marriage, I had made numerous “quick” trips to the orchard, squeezed between cramped agendas. It was the same always – the beautiful country roads in the loving embrace of the hills, the symphony of sparkling streams and singing birds, the ever-generous bounty of trees, and the warmth of a welcoming home. And yet, this time around nothing was the same.
As I drew the curtains of my room on a spring April morning, I stood mesmerised by the sight of the white apple blossoms with their pink blush canopies amidst the snow-kissed crowns of the majestic Himalayas. My cup of masala tea in hand, I walked over to the swing and sat down, idly looking at what was printed onto the mug. It said ‘BREATHE’ and I caught myself actually breathing – long and deep. And I liked it. Suddenly, I had a flashback of my daughter telling me on a holiday once, “Mom, you do not know the spelling of relaxation?” Didn’t I?
Life, as I had made it, had been a ‘To-do’ list so far, where all the boxes needed to be ticked. Here, I was in paradise where despite the lockdown, nature had unlocked all of its magnificence for me, and yet I was struggling to spell relaxation. My default setting was holding me captive and I knew if I did not change the wallpaper, it might be too late.
The epiphany came a few days later as I was walking in the forest with the conifers towering above me in a constant tete a tete with the heavens. A tiny voice on the ground said, “Pick me up” and as I did, a flood of memories engulfed me. I remembered my childhood holidays in Kashmir where we spent hours collecting and smuggling pine cones into our bags. My reverie was interrupted by a sudden drizzle, so I hurriedly wrapped some in my muffler and rushed home with a childlike gleam in my eyes. I felt like I’d won a game of Treasure Hunt and got the prize of my dreams. I dipped my pine cones in fresh red paint as a thank you for reminding me of the things that I had long forgotten.
Everyone I knew was learning something new during this time. What I learnt was to un-learn. I un-learnt to-do lists, perfection, certainty, black and white, guilt, pleasing others, masking my feelings, pretense, being hard on myself, validation, and ‘getting there.’
Then came the other un-learnings. Un-doing of habits that no longer served me; un-tying the ribbons that stunted my growth; un-earthing of truths that were awaiting excavation; un-covering my forgotten stories; un-raveling the mysteries within; un-masking relationships for what they truly are; un-packing of excess baggage; un-locking the rusted locks and finally un-leashing and un-veiling a new me.
How apt that pine cones are said to signify enlightenment and rebirth, because that’s exactly what they did for me, they made me shift from “doing” to just “being.”
Picture By : Pixabay