The sun was going down, and it was getting dark really quick. I scrambled around the locality, frantically searching for her.
Where could she be? We had to be back home by now. It had been a long day.
I almost did not notice the children’s park gate, and almost had passed by it when I heard a solitary creak. I tracked back, and peeped in to see her on the swing.
I went in, relieved and angry, walking towards the swing.
“Oi, what are you doing here!?” I exclaimed.
She looked at me with a mischievous smile on her face, “Come, sit on another swing with me.“
I gaped at her. “Have you lost it? We need to leave, now!“
“Where to?” She smiled knowingly.
She took some time to respond. “I don’t want to go home,” she whispered.
I’ve been here before. This was going to take a long time. I heaved a huge sigh, and took the swing beside her.
“Why not?” I asked her.
“It’s just boring,” she said. “Wake up, Uni, work, go home and sleep. What about other things?“
“Other things like what?“
“Like just sitting on swings. Looking at the stars. Going for a long peaceful walk. Stuff for the heart, you know, not just for the schedule.“
“There’s no time,” I said. “There’s still a lot of work to be done, preparations to make, chores to finish.“
She made a tch tch sound. “There’s a lot of time, you just don’t want to find it.“
“What I mean is, learn to take a break.“
“From what, for what?“
She looked at me, and pushed away some locks of hair from her face. “From the monotone, for yourself.“
“I’m fine with the monotone. It works well with me, and I have no qualms about it.“
“Okay, then tell me; when was the last time you relaxed, picked up a book and read for hours at once?“
That hit me like a thousand slaps. It was true, I hadn’t read in months. Maybe even for more than a year. I had no idea how it came to this, when once upon a time I used to read a book per week. What troubled me was the fact that I didn’t even realize that I missed reading, and her reminder brought back all the collective yearning back, with interest.
“Yeah, okay. I miss reading.“
“I know you,” she said. “You love what you do. And you also love to be doing something always. You like to be busy, busy enough to maybe keep your mind off things that you may not want it to ponder about. And you’re even prepared to let go of other things for that, even if they’re other things you love doing too.“
I was lost for words, but still tried to say something. “Yes, but –“
“And that’s a good thing,” she cut me off. “People wish to be where you are at the moment. I am just telling you to spare some time from your week for your heart and soul. Things that replenish you. Rejuvinate you. Things that you still wish you were paid to do. Things that harbour the petty joys and silly laughs. Things that, essentially, charge your batteries.“
“You never get enough of them,” I said with quintessential stubbornness. “Such activities are like a swamp, or a quicksand. They pull you in, you lose track of time and perspective.“
“What perspective?” She arched an eyebrow.
“The perspective of responsibility. Of impeding work. Slack off and you fall behind, and the workload increases and increases, and you start lagging behind.” I said with a definitive finality, as if there was no sounder logic than this.
She shrugged. “Courts function everyday with hundreds of pending cases. Countries splash around while still being in millions of debt. Here’s the harsh truth, the world functions exactly the same even if you make some mistake. You’re running breathless at the moment. There’s a certain amount of adrenaline about your passion, no doubt. But this isn’t sustainable. You can’t go on like this.“
“So what do you suggest? I stop doing everything I do and start fooling around, like no good losers?” I blurted, a little irritated.
“I’m not asking you to stop. I’m asking you to pause from time to time. Take a deep breath. Listen to some of your favourite songs. Go for a short coffee break and stare into the sky from your balcony. Take short siestas. Visit a park. Call your friends. Read a chapter of a book. All these things easily fit into your day, and not only they help you relax, they also help you focus more and make you more efficient, this saving more of your time in the future.“
I looked at her. Maybe she had a point. After all, she always looked fresh, while a constant cloud of tiredness was around me. To think of it, it was ages ago that I actually did any of the things she said. I had lost contacts and friends. I had stopped reading. I didn’t know any new songs. I had let these things go, and however difficult it was to say it aloud, I did miss them. To run away from these missings, I started immersing myself more and more into my work. I thought if I kept myself and my brain busy, I’d never pine for these things again. And it worked.
“I get you,” I said. “I’ll start trying to add these things into my day.“
“Back,” she said.
“What?” I asked, baffled.
“You need to add these things back into your life. Reintroduce them.“
I smiled. I wasn’t completely gone, I guess.
“Oh look, the Big Bear,” she pointed to the sky.
I looked up, and the sky was refreshingly clear that day. The Big Bear shone down on us, and on seeing the dark sky, the lateness of the hour dawned upon me.
“Mommy,” I asked her mockingly, “can we go home now?“
She laughed and punched me on my shoulder. We began walking home, arm in arm with she cozying up to me under the streetlights.
“That reminds me,” I asked, “How far along are you on the semester thesis?“
It’s really worth to have someone your polar opposite constantly around you, reminding you of what you’re not. That way, you complete each other. And as Chili Davis said, ‘growing old is compulsory, growing up is optional.’
So maybe I need to make her grow up a little.
And maybe she needs to reawaken the child in me.
“The child is in me still and sometimes not so still.”
― Fred Rogers,