Last weekend, Sikander and I went on a drive. In the last 2.5 months all our trips out of home have either been to the vegetable vendor or the grocery store. This was our first long’ish’ drive in almost 3 months. I wouldn’t say long because we just went like 20 kms out of the main city. But even just that much felt so refreshing and so much like freedom. That there were no more checkpoints at every 1 km distance. That there was no-one to stop the car and ask for a pass or the reason why we are out. We packed a thermos full of chai, 2 glasses, and a packet of biscuit. We were feeling quite adventurous :-).
As we headed out of the city, some internal compass led us towards Eklinji temple and soon we were on the winding road along the lake in Nagda village. We crossed lotus farms and old temples built in the pond. It was already noon and the sun was high so while we had initially thought of stopping along the pond, there was no shady spot and we crossed the temples and finally stopped under a big banyan tree just outside a farm.
Took out our chai and biscuit and just stayed there for about an hour. It was beautiful. I was wondering why didn’t we ever do this earlier when there was no lockdown and when there was all the freedom of movement.
I recently finished reading ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’ which is a collection of talks by Zen master Shunryu Suzuki. In one of the chapters, he quotes a zen poem:
“After the wind stops I see a flower falling.
Because of the singing bird I find the mountain calmness.”Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Normally I would not understand a Zen kōan so easily but this one instantly hit home. We find the calmness only when something happens within it that disturbs it. We don’t notice the calmness of a mountain until a bird’s song breaks the silence; or we take flowers in our gardens for granted until the wind comes and they fall.
And I realized, I could extend the same understanding to the experience of driving around the lotus pond or sitting under a tree in a village and having tea from a thermos. Until that freedom of movement was taken away, I didn’t really even think of it as a freedom.
Just the other day, I saw these peacocks right from our balcony. I have heard their call before, but today I just went out and saw them perched upon a tree and one on the top of a terrace. Maybe I have seen this before or maybe not. But it was only now that I really noticed and found the wonder in the world right outside my balcony.