My father’s funeral took place on the outskirts of a mango orchard belonging to our uncle Ramachandran. Once the last of the smoke from the funeral pyre faded into the tropical evening, it was time for the ritual bath. My mother led the way to the pool. The mossy stones were cool beneath my feet. The three of us waded into the tepid water, holding hands. That water washed away our tears, the smell of smoke from our nostrils and gave us a moment of watery peace. We ignored the fish nibbling on our toes and plunged beneath the greenish water, each of us saying a silent farewell. A the water cascaded off our bodies, it took away our sadness and we finally acknowledged my father was dead and gone.
This custom of bathing is cleansing and cathartic.
I think we all should take this traditional plunge on New Year’s Eve. Let’s give 2020 a fitting and final good-bye. So turn on the shower, fill the tub with hot water and bubbles, and say farewell to 2020. We are all so ready to move on to a better year. Welcome, 2021!
Covid Life Lessons:
- Finding solace in being alone. We isolated, stayed away from family and friends and over the weeks and months learned to find peace in our own company.
- Patience is vital. As we waited for time to pass, we learned the value of being patient. This was especially important when baking sourdough. The sourdough starter is on its own timer. We learned that by waiting, we baked the tangiest and tastiest loaf.
- Personal connections are more important than ever. Growing up in a small town in south India, we knew everyone from the farmer who grew our spinach to the girl who brought us fresh milk every morning. Covid taught us, slowly and painfully, how important these personal relationships are to us. We’ll never take the farmer, the cashier or postal delivery person for granted again.
- Deepening bonds with those close to us. We forged stronger connections with loved ones. We overlooked faults of household members and learned to be kind. Continue to cherish your loved ones.
- The backyard is filled with wonder. Nature is a wonderful thing and is all around us. Sure, the ocean and redwoods are dramatic and awe-inspiring but the humming bird hovering in your garden is just as impressive. The squirrels, the raucous blue jays, the doves nesting in the jasmine bush and colorful butterflies provided endless entertainment.
- Soil is life. Gardening is good for the soul and the body. Nothing is more satisfying than eating a tomato, grown and picked by you. We found peace in the garden, however big or small the space.
- Slowing down. Covid made us slow down, take deep breaths (with masks on) and enjoy the moment. Doing one thing at a time is a skill that is forgotten in our busy world. During this time of isolation, we found slowing down made every task easier. We forgot to feel overwhelmed.
- We learned new skills. Covid taught us to be independent. We baked, we cooked, we grew vegetables, we learned how to work from home, we discovered our children were a handful and we learned to be homebodies.
- What’s really important is right under our noses. We learned to cherish the tiny things. We learned to appreciate our children (and their teachers). We re-connected with spouses and other loved ones. We learned the simple life is attainable and we could do without a lot of things. We learned we cannot wait to hug again and renew personal connections.
- We learned to believe that the best is yet to come.
- Happy New Year!