A long time ago – what feels like centuries, actually – I was involved in a most beautiful love affair. With myself.
Back then, during my roaring 20s, I indulged every whim like a smitten suitor chasing his girl. Chocolate for breakfast? Done deal. Career swap? Whatever I want, baby. It was a rollercoaster ride of self-serving romance. ‘You like it, you want it, you got it, it’s yours!’ was the motto that drove me from pay cheque to pay cheque.
That sense of freedom and youthful independence were like sticking your head out of the car window on a highway, laughing, trying to catch your breath and hair-do in the whipping wind.
Somewhere between the end of that decade and a few years later, I lost my me-me-me mojo. Slowly, at a snail’s pace, so I didn’t know what had hit me, until it did, my racy relationship started unravelling.
One day, I didn’t bother to shave my legs during “bath ritual” on a Sunday.
The next, there was no more bath ritual; just a brief soak. And then eventually, I started taking rushed, impersonal showers with industrial-smelling soap bars for company.
That’s the shallow bit. I also emerged from youthful materialism into a 30-something spread of concern about the world: its corruption, inequality and yawning spaces between the 1% (who own and milk everything) and, buckling below the tax-strangled middle-classes – the zero-percenters – who have nothing; let alone time (or space) for a Sunday bath.
The twin events of growing up and becoming properly aware of the planet’s ills could have much to do with the harassed, harried lives so many of us lead today, and again tomorrow, ad nauseum.
We all want the normals – food, shelter, security. Then we strive for a bit more – a family of our own (or dogs, or being part of a creative community); and some of us reach even further, with high-end education, or beating a dread disease, or climbing Kilimanjaro.
But it’s tough trying to juggle personal TLC with family, community and global TLC; since, no matter how you look at it, the more balls you’re keeping in the air, the less energy you have to spare, and share.
Sometimes, then, just taking a walk, or being mindful of nature, or having a precious half-hour alone, is a survival strategy – no matter your age bracket, money situation or gender.
I’m convinced that self-care is the starting point for the ripple effect of solution – if someone feels warm, clean and full today, then she’ll have the energy to face tomorrow, and perhaps, make it better for both herself, and someone else.
You may not know how to save the world – not today, at least. But taking a moment to nurture yourself simply, beyond the manically middle-class juggling act, may be a surprising first step.