Back to Basics

Anika Sharma

The diary of a real mom. As said in real time.

The year 2009 has finally ended. A really difficult year, no doubt! It’s also that time of the year when most people make lists – wish lists, remorse lists, job lists and so on. Well, here is my list of the 10 things that I learnt in 2009:

Every year has a winter. And a spring: This was my biggest realization this year. We all cringed when the housing market plummeted. We all cried when friends, family and other people lost jobs. We all wondered whether we would ever see things back to normal. Of course, none of these thoughts entered our mind when we were making a killing in the stock market, when our houses were selling for obnoxious amounts of money, and when we were buying things on credit like they were going out of style. Me too. I thought life is about crazy good times. Never once considering that this too shall pass. But it did. Winter came and spread its bone-chilling cold across the country and the world. And then came spring and summer – seeds sprouted, the trees got new leaves and everything came back to life. The economy seemed back to normal, and things started looking up. Weather-wise, then came fall. The days grew shorter, the nights more chilly and the trees started shedding. No matter what happens, the cycle of life continues. I found this to be a very powerful truth. If the times are bad, this too shall pass. And if the times are good, we need to remember that this too shall pass! As I sit and write this in the cold, I remember that it will be time for spring again. No matter how cold or long the winter.

Know that you will be provided for: Someone sent me this thought and I found it to be so powerful. It was a simple thought: “A sincere prayer will never go unheard – nature does it that way. There is water when you are thirsty…before you are thirsty, there will be water. Before the calf is born, there is milk in the cow. Know that you will be provided for…What you can do, you do; what you cannot do, you pray for.” It is comforting to know that if we put in our best, our basics will be taken care of, so that we can rise up to do other things in life. Oh-so-powerful and I actually believe it! I feel liberated in that belief.

Keep it simple: Dinner with friends. Movie nights at home. And sometimes a game of Pictionary. Potluck, home cooked meals and basement jams. This year was truly about going back to basics. I realized that good times need not be extravagantly expensive. Good times can be about meeting in a park or at home, and having food together or watching a movie together. Simple, right?

Summer is not about summer school: My friends and I called it the recession summer. Even though we knew it would drive us crazy, we did not put our kids in summer school. Summer this year was about bubbles, inflatable tubs in the front yard, long walks and playing with blocks. And of course bicycling with neighborhood friends. Zero dollars and priceless!

Most friends don’t want your gifts: We all try and make up for our lack of time. With gifts and emails. But most of the times, that is not what friends and family want. A phone call, a quick visit, a home-cooked meal and a bit of time to hear each other out. These go a long way – more than a regular gift would!

Garage sales and Craigslist aren’t bad at all: So it’s old, and it’s probably someone else’s stuff, but hey, if you are looking for a side table or a child’s chair, why not just get it at a garage sale or on Craigslist? So many people bought and sold old stuff this year. Great for the wallet. And the Earth, I say!

Annual re-decorations and well-manicured lawns – Out: I know of people who did not water their lawn every week this year. Or cut their grass every three to four weeks instead of say, every two weeks. And, of course I know of people who did not change their home furnishings or re-decorate for spring and fall respectively. And it was okay. They did not fail any exam because they were not matched up to the latest colors or because their lawn did not look as if it had come out of a catalog! If I may say so, we had become too well-manicured for our own good. Too picture perfect. And now that we are not, I guess no one is missing out on anything.

Everything is not about a lawsuit: Shopping at the food store the other day, I picked up a half gallon of juice and it accidentally slipped from my hand, denting slighting at one of the edges. Last year, I would have kept it back and taken a brand new one. After all I don’t want anything semi-broken even if it was my fault. This year, I am harsher on myself and, more forgiving to companies that help people put food on the table. If there is a rip or a tear or something is slightly chipped for no fault of anyone…I am fine with it. After all, no one intended it that way.

Smelling the roses: My garden never looked better, and my plants never looked more cared for. The fact that I was in the house a lot more meant that I could devote more time to my plants and my garden. And it showed. They look radiant and happy – and coming back home was a delight. I love plants, but never really had the time to take care of them. This year I did and I have to say, the happier I was for it. This year I re-discovered the small, simple pleasures.

Not every house has to have one: My neighbor’s house has all the transformers that my son would ever need to play with. Another neighbor has one of those powered jeeps, as well as this really cool motorcycle. Fun things that my son loves. It’s tempting to go and pick up the same things for my son as well. But then I have to remind myself that not only do I not need to duplicate, but it will also destroy the charm of going to his friends’ houses. That was the way it used to be before. Better still, if done with it, let’s pass it around.

Smelling the roses. The play of spring and winter and then spring again. The essence of time. The Zen of simple things. Keeping it real. The year 2009 was all about back to basics. And I think it’s a good thing. Wabi sabi – the appreciation of the imperfections – in us, as well as the things we use everyday. The difficulty would be to believe and hold on to things when the bounty returns. And we are such a consumer-oriented society that the bounty will return for sure. I guess that is what being grounded is all about. How Zen!

  • Every year has a winter. And a spring.
  • Know that you will be provided for.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Summer is not about summer school.
  • Most friends don’t want your gifts.
  • Garage sales and Craigslist aren’t bad at all.
  • Annual re-decorations and well manicured lawns – Out.
  • Everything is not about a lawsuit.
  • Smelling the roses.
  • Not every house has to have one.
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