Effortless Living

November 2016

By Shivi Verma

Instead of fighting against the tide, it is possible to ride the high wave of effortlessness, spontaneity and joy, says Shivi Verma

Surfing a Wave. Bali Island. Indonesia.

When we were children, life gushed through us like a young mountain river, dancing, frolicking, and cavorting her way down the rocky hills. We sprang out of bed at daybreak, spent the day in tireless activities, and had to be coerced to go to sleep at night by our harried parents.

As a child I used to wonder how elders could nap after lunch. While they snored, after exhorting us to go to sleep, we kids used to stealthily sneak out of the room and spend the afternoon playing, squealing, running, swinging or climbing trees. Sloth or inertia were alien to us and life meant endless joy, hope, sunshine and possibilities. The only thing we resented was the control of parents over our lives, and we wanted to grow up fast to be able to live our lives on our terms and do what pleased us. Our dreams were woven around becoming ballet dancers, ice-skaters, tennis players, actors, and magicians. Life waltzed on ball bearings.“Childhood is the best time of your life. There are no responsibilities to bog you down,” my mother used to often tell us. But I could never understand this. For me adulthood signified the freedom to do what you wanted to, and I was aching to take the reins of life in my own hands.But as I grew, I realised life was not a bed of roses. There were enough conditions, curbs and expectations to rein the horses of childlike enthusiasm, and cause them to jogtrot through life.

Effortful life

Spontaneity and naturalness were often curbed by statements like, “If you do not study well, you will one day become a grass cutter. One has to work hard to achieve something in life. ” “Children poor at science and mathematics, do not have a bright future ahead.” “Girls who do not show interest in kitchen and household activities do not get praise after marriage.” “Nobody pays artists, singers, painters or musicians. You must become a doctor, engineer or an IAS officer to earn respect and status in society, pay your bills and maintain your family. ” “Look at our neighbour’s son. He is a gold medallist who is going to a US college on a government scholarship. Such things happen to people who are sincere, focussed, hard working.” As expectations piled on and comparisons with peers increased, I began to
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