To Just Be: A Portrait Of A Woman


Musings / Thursday, February 11th, 2021

I usually juggle my days between my apartment and my parents’ home in Bangalore. There’s no fixed schedule to this juggling, unlike before the pandemic when I visited my parents only on the weekends. 

But no matter where I am, I step out in the evening when the heavy weight of the day has settled. I amble along for a walk, usually talking on the phone with someone. Last week, when I was staying at my apartment, I stepped out as usual. The apartment is what we call in Indian real estate parlance a ‘gated community.’ There’s a lovely green park that faces my apartment. It surrounds the badminton and basketball courts. Green grass. Old trees. Warm benches. I always walk and up down the same path, tracing the same route, the echoes of the basketball-playing kids forming a gentle white noise to my conversation. 

Sometimes, when I tire of walking, I find a bench to sit and swing my legs by. 

That’s when I noticed her the first time. I was facing the badminton court, and there she was, her back to me. She was cast against the setting sun, and she was utterly still. From a distance, I couldn’t make out if she was talking on the phone, merely looking at her phone, or just doing nothing at all. 

I finished my call and walked away. She never moved, gazing out into something I wasn’t part of.

The next day, I saw her again. And the day after. For the week that I was there, she was there every day at the same spot. 

One day, I took her place, walking over there earlier, wondering what she would do. She didn’t turn up. 

So, that’s her spot, I mused. She either sits there or not at all. 

The next day, I went back to a different bench, and there she was. Still as ever. Gazing out as ever.

I still can’t make out what she is ‘doing.’ And then I catch myself. 

What is this life that makes me question that someone may just want to be? Why do I find it ‘odd’ that you are looking out at life without a phone or music or conversation or the need to ‘do’ anything?

Do you see what we are doing to ourselves? We are filling our lives with empty busyness.

I took a deep breath and wished I could just be here too. To just be. 

If you read this, I encourage you to go out and just be. For 2 minutes. For 5 minutes. For 1 hour. Time doesn’t matter. You have the time, no matter what you think. If it’s cold outside, then sit by the window. If it’s hot inside, then find a tree, a plant or a cow. 

If you think you don’t have 2 minutes to spare, then I ask you to stop reading this and get in touch with me immediately. 🙂

12 Replies to “To Just Be: A Portrait Of A Woman”

  1. Gosh! Smitha. It has been a while. I got to say this – I was busy 🙂 No honestly…what a great post. What an awesome reminder to just be. (taking deep breaths and listening to the stillness around)

    1. It’s been a while too, Sudha. I miss your emails. 🙂 Little vignettes of life. But no rush, write when you breathe, and breathe more and deeper. Much light.

  2. What a lovely post! It’s certainly strange to find anybody sitting still nowadays, doing nothing. We’ve even forgotten how to stand in a queue because we’re so used to getting everything at the click of a button.

    1. True, Satabdi. I find it difficult to sit still. Even meditation has become something “to do,” which is so dumb that I can’t even begin to understand myself anymore.

  3. Real living – that is what the lady was doing. Just being. Pure relaxation !

    We spend so much of our time crossing out our to do lists that we never realise how much we miss out . Empty busyness indeed. What a shame ! However, Its never too late to change.

    1. You and Birdy – the perennial hopebringers in my life. It’s so refreshing that both of you have this capacity for hope, for things bettering. It’s beautiful.

  4. My “happy place” for meditation is a park at Fort Sam Houston. I go there often. It is a quiet place with water, trees and even a pasture with a group of fine horses used by the Army for ceremonial purposes. I sit quietly in my car and try to quiet my monkey mind for a while.

    A couple of months ago, after I had finally succeeded in fending off most of the stray thoughts and had settled in, a knock on my window snapped me back to the here and now. A cop was standing outside my car. I was pretty sure I hadn’t broken any military laws, rolled the window down and put my hands on the steering wheel just to show I wasn’t a threat.

    “Good afternoon, sir,” said the cop. “Are you all right?”

    I allowed as to how I was fine, but that my meditation was probably over for the day.

    The cop said that he had been watching me and as I hadn’t moved for quite a while, he was worried that I may have had a medical emergency. Should I be grateful or annoyed? Maybe being grateful for a concerned cop was the lesson that day.

    1. Haha. Thank you for sharing with us this little snippet, Dave. I have never ever thought of meditating in a car. That idea just hadn’t crossed my mind. I think I would be grateful that the cop was concerned. The kindness of strangers is just something we take for granted too often. I really should try this car meditation…

  5. It’s so true. I catch myself looking out the window for sometime and admonishing myself because I wasn’t ‘doing’ anything. I want to be like that lady.

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