Habits and Objects

by Shivranjana R, 07/29/2020, Panaji, GA

Adult Category


Letting go of habits through objects.
Building habits through objects.

Three years back, I noticed that I had developed a habit. It involved using the same mug for a morning cup of coffee.

I was terrified and horrified at the realisation of having formed a habit. I had always been careful to not do that. I was your eyes-always on-the-exit-door kinda person. When you grow up with uncertainty, it becomes a habit.

So a habit of certainty, having a morning ritual of coffee and silence, felt like a terrifying leap away from the certainty of my habit of uncertainty.

But then, it was just coffee. And I was sure life would allow me to have coffee, and surer that if it didn’t, I’ll find a way around it. I have always been proud of my ability to let go.

I let this one be. I wanted to be known as less of a nomad in my dwelling in this lifetime in some small way, and to be known as someone who was an insufferable asshole for her morning cup of coffee didn’t feel like such a bad thing to be. This was my way of learning to take my eyes off the exit door, stop and smell the coffee.

Left unchecked, this habit soon expanded. From coffee, it became breakfast, and then morning reading and writing. It became bigger, it took up more space than I’d planned.
But, I let it be. I let myself be.

I remember my mother was very particular about things in the household. But loss of love changed that for her. Suddenly, she found beauty in objects with stories. Perhaps, these stories were desires in themselves, for the lost love to be invoked and experienced once more.

She also understood then, why I held on to shells picked up at a lake trip outside Jaipur. Or why a broken watch still sits in a corner of my cupboard. Our love expanded in these shared stories over time.

But then, I moved houses and changed spaces so often, that the need to remember through an object slowly shrank away. I don’t even remember where some of the things that I held precious belongings of loves found and lost, are today. I don’t bother anymore.

My morning coffee though is the only constant. I’ve always been prepared, ordering extra coffee always, always prepared for a caffeine apocalypse.

However, today life found a way to test my ability to let go some more. I woke up and found that I had forgotten to get coffee while I focused on the more important things to buy during this lockdown.

I know I can order some and in a few days get back on track. I know I will. But as I made my first ever cup of tea in the morning today, I found myself awestruck at where we have come, at how easy it was to tolerate what seemed intolerable once.

There was never going to be a lockdown.
There was never going to be a pause button on the city’s machine.
There was always going to be things that we were enslaved by.
But, eventually all of it happened.
We were forced to pause.
Forced to reassess and prioritise.
Forced to let go.

Resilience doesn’t feel that bad after all.