Over the last week, at least 6 people have messaged or spoken to me about the restlessness they are going through with this pandemic. Make that 7. I will include myself in that list.
As the conversations flowed, over email, text, and phone, I could only offer crumbs of comfort. Cliches.
“It will get better.” “Everything will be ok.” “Hang in there.” “It’s ok to feel this.”
My words appear trite and banal. We are going through something no one in our generation, the previous generation, or the generation before has gone through.
I come back stressed just buying groceries. I am stressed running just around the block, wondering if I am maintaining whatever distance. When random people walk in, or my Mom interacts with vegetable sellers, I watch from my window in numbed panic. And that’s just ordinary life.
There are other things that we worried about before but which are now glaring at us in stark naked glory.
I lost all revenue from our travel startup. Our content business is paying my bills, but I don’t know how it will be once the predicted recession really hits.
I try to read, and random people float in and out of my mind’s eye. People long gone, but for whom I feel intense anger. I put myself in the victim mode. “Idiot, look at her enjoying life. Doesn’t she have a conscience? Yuck. What a liar and hypocrite with her social media posts on kindness while she gives me the silent treatment.”
Our emotions are deeper than before. We are groping in the crevices of our souls, digging up old dirt. And we have no place to sweep that dirt up because we are occupied with all of the above.
Last year, when I walked the Camino de Santiago, I always always hated the uphills. My legs would threaten to crumble, and my 9 kg backpack seemed to weigh 90 kg. So desperate was I, one day, I chose a route through an expressway rather than crest yet another hill through picturesque forests.
As a runner, I hate hills. Where I stay is all hills. So, I have always tried to map out the more comfortable paths for my long runs.
Until this year happened. Discomfort was shoved in my face. I was asked not to just hug discomfort but to marry it. And well, you should know what you are marrying, right? So, I decided to have a better relationship with discomfort.
Over the last month, I have consciously added a hill workout into my weekly workout routine. I want to get comfortable with discomfort. Every week, I run up this hill.
Up and down. Up and down. For at least 2 or 3 km. Sounds short compared to a marathon. But.
I gasp as I try to crest the steepest part. I feel my heart will give way. And the thing about hills is that they kill you each time. There’s never a time you can say, “I aced that hill.” Never.
Today, when I ran up that hill, I felt just as unfit. Huff. Puff. Gasp. Gasp. I reached the top and collapsed, hands on my knees. Passers-by gave me worried glances. A few dogs look puzzled. A cow waddled by, swishing its tail nonchalantly, and showing me how it’s done.
And then, all the conversations of the week came back to me. The anxiety. The pain. The tiredness of our souls.
This is us. You. Me. We are struggling with this hill. We are panting with the anxiety. We want to run away from the discomfort.
But trust me on this, the view is better when we do embrace our hills. See this:
That was my reward. The photo doesn’t do justice. Forgive the sweaty camera. But Bangalore blinked at me.
So, my lightbringers, as tough as this hill is, you will make it. We might give up and want to climb down. But I encourage you to stay. Forgive me my trite words. But that’s the best I can give you. My words.
From now until the end of this year, I am reopening my social media profiles. I will use this space to talk about the delights in life, skies, warmth, kindness, footprints, pawprints, books, words, memories, and whatever I can do to tell you that we are all in this together.
I hope you may find peace through the dark.
Instagram: Find me as @soulmuser (https://www.instagram.com/soulmuser/)