It has not been a regular case, where I lose track of time so easily. It is as if I had walked into the wardrobe of Narnia, and when I came back a hundred years later, it was still the same day on this side of the wardrobe. I reflect just a week short of eight months in the lockdown; and the feeling is still sinking in. I have not reached full acceptance yet, and I know it is going to take time for it all to process and integrate well: How did we remain isolated for so long? How did we stay away from people, who we met day in and out, for so long? How did we remain sane, amidst confusion, for so long? What makes us go on, and on, without certainty? The mind still has questions that it has not found clear, truthful answers to. What I have found is a theme that played along during these periods, a real-life background score with its highs and lows.
March-June 2020: For me, the lockdown has been like a Japanese revisiting. No, I am not reading ‘Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life,’ like so many others. It seems like a rather ironic time to do so and it would seem absolutely unbelievable. Rather, it felt like a period in the life of a Samurai warrior. There is so much that you are fighting with, within and without. Each day had its own battle; each moment its own scar. And with no signs of the war abating. It seemed like ages for which it is dragging on and you cannot afford to pause. You stop, and the blows seem too harsh for you to stand on your feet. Seeing your loved ones in sickness and pain, bring up so many fears that you didn’t even know had rented your body. The anxiety beats like a drum. The muscles give out a war-cry in exhaustion. This was the most challenging phase for me, where everything was progressing at such rapid pace. When I looked out at others for hope and strength, I only found their faces covered with a mask. How does a human accustom himself to such an alien life?
July-mid September 2020: My life during the quarantine period was very similar to the feeling of having your favourite mug falling from your hands and break into splinters. That pit in the stomach. The loud sound of disappointment. And eventually moving on phase, where you know that you don’t have any choice but to accept what has happened. I am reminded of this beautiful practice with its origins on Japanese land, called Kintsugi or Kintsukoroi.
“Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it, thereby revitalizing it and giving it a second life.”
Although I was feeling broken in a lot of places, the struggles were not in vain. It had a reason, even if I did not know it. As a human, I am meant to wear and tear, break and make. And I came back, revitalised. In my case, hope was the lacquer (and a few people I could lean on, and for most, the quiet strength of children who were putting through at least ten times the magnitude – they put so many things in perspective). There was a newfound appreciation for life, gratitude for my breath, and the fact that I still am privileged to be on Earth. I was unconsciously melding into a state of ‘wabi-sabi’, seeing beauty in the flawed or imperfect. I know things were not as I wanted them to be, but they were as they had to be. The perpetual dance of the yin and the yang, seeing the order in the chaos.
Mid September – November 2020: Once you let the storm pass through you, a silence awaits. There are ruins, but there is a deep gong of tranquility. You have to wait to see the silence; to dig your heels deep in the ground, lest the storm carry you away. And after the storm, you are bound to be covered in muck and solid dirt. There is a lot to clean, sift and heal.
For me, the deep silence came in the form of Usui Shiki Ryoho or Usui Traditional Reiki. The blessing for Mikao Usui’s tapasya, the reply to my prayer for reprieve. Over time, so many layers of trauma impressions form and cut sharply into you that you don’t even notice. With Reiki flowing through me, I felt empowered to touch the wounds with my bare hands. Where earlier there was distress, slowly I could feel the peace of home. And that is my goal now, to carry this feeling into everything I do.
November – 2020/2021: A deepening of feeling of ‘mushin’ – the acceptance of change. Witnessing the light and shadow dance together, embracing each other in perfect order, and setting the world in chaos again.
Sameer Parmar is the mentor of Discovery class at Touching Lives Learning Center. Sameer loves being around children, books make his soul sing and art gives it the rhythm to dance to its own tunes.