Cultivating Joy


After four days at home, Laddu seemed ready for school this morning. The fever was gone but the sniffles and the broken voice told a different story.

“Amma! Where’s my lunch bag?” sealed it for me.

After Saathi and the twins left, I helped her with her jacket and she insisted on wearing her shoes herself. As I was about to strap her in, she reminded me to pull her hoodie up. Kicking her legs, she was humming to herself. Driving to her school, I noticed the yellows and oranges had given way to reds and browns. A lot of the trees were now stick figures in relief against the clear sky. I turned the radio on and there was a segment on cultivating joy that struck me as true.

Each morning, I throw open the blinds and marvel at the sight. Tall grasses swaying in the crisp fall breeze. Deer that graze fifty feet from where I stand. Dew drops that join each other and snake their way down my kitchen window. The smell of coffee, the silence that is soothing. The kids have taken to imitating me, often staring through the patio door and remarking on what they see. Often we drive somewhere in the dusk and they peer out of the car windows remarking on the beautiful moon. Laddu calls out the color of the flowers as we pass yard after manicured yard. The children compliment each other and us on the clothes we wear.

I used to take this appreciation for the intangibles for granted until recently. The notion of joy as something that can be cultivated hit a nerve with me. It is so true isn’t it? We can all look around and find things to be grateful for, to find beauty in and revel in just for a second or a minute. Often these collection of moments is what we think about when our memories fail us. The feeling of joy that is disconnected from anything we own or experience.

I have been writing each night on a memoir of sorts. Most of the events I have written about in the past five days have been hashed ad-nauseum on the blog. This time though I am choosing to dwell on the feelings, to focus on the unpleasantness that I keep away from sight. I am choosing to confront the unsavory parts of my life. It is hard. It also makes me think the work I am doing now will probably be a legacy for my children and not available for public consumption. What amazes me each night as I wrap up is that I struggle to put words together to represent the hard feelings. The joyous ones pour out of me, words tumbling out in a hurry to be heard.

The radio switches from the interview on Cultivating Joy to the US election. I grit my teeth and gird myself for what follows. It is unpleasant, hearing about how close the race is in many states. I tell myself there is nothing anyone can do about it but exercise their civic duty and cast their ballot. Yet, I can’t seem to stop reading or looking up election news. I reach home and pull up my phone by habit. My feed is filled with positive, uplifting stories from women who call themselves the Pantsuit Nation. These are inclusive stories from women about their gender nonconforming child, about children with disabilities, stories about women who got a new lease of life thanks to Obamacare, stories from LGBTQ couples who talk about freedoms that have been hard won. Mostly it is stories about the pervasive misogyny and sexism that women have tolerated for centuries. These are stories I relate to. These are the stories that make me want to yell from the rooftops that this election is unlike any other. This is a fight for basic human rights. This is a fight to save hard won freedoms for women. This is about women aspiring to see themselves shatter the tallest ceiling there is. This is a clarion call for women to wake up and take those they can influence with them.

On that note, I leave you with this video which pretty much sums up how I feel about this election. Other than that, I am off to find joy in my food and in my home.

One thought on “Cultivating Joy

  1. Laksh, I think it is sooooo very important to put those (unpleasant, unsavoury, difficult) feelings into words and share them if you do find the words with which to express them. So many humans are at a loss as to how to express those things or even acknowledge them. We seem to lack the vocabulary and hence seem incapable of working through them. So they linger and fester in the dark, where they create more damage, where they never become illuminated by acceptance, understanding, and finally resolution. I think as writers it is our duty and privilege to explore those. It gives others a sort of unspoken permission to be allowed to feel them too.

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