The 7 AM alarm on my phone is set to repeat every day. I start my Saturday with that alarm and a greyhound anxious to walk. We usually return home after a twenty minute evenly paced walk. On some days, the promise of a pretty sun-rise takes us on a longer walk, to the river-walk under the Fuller Warren bridge. We come across runners, cyclists and the Riverside Arts Market waking up and preparing for its day. The two of us enjoy a transitional time where the rising sun’s rays cut the cool morning air promising a warmer day. We even witness some dolphins playing around in the brackish waters, the said runners too busy to discover them.
After the walk, Laya is fed and I brush my teeth. Still fasting, by 8:45 AM, I am off on my bicycle with only a yoga mat, sig water bottle, wallet and keys. No phone.
The three mile route to the studio is mostly empty. Each stroke of the pedal warms up my quadriceps first, then calfs, the soles of my feet, then my upper arms, back and neck. The sky is bright by now but the rising sun is behind me and I don’t require sun-glasses. At the class, I am greeted by Tara, the teacher. At that time of the day, she is the metaphor of tranquility. She is neither trying to wake up nor jazzed up on caffeine. She displays a peaceful medium appropriate for a morning yoga class. I greet her and walk onto the practice hall. The morning light reflects at a steep angle on the spotless floor and off the pastel green walls. The artwork on the walls seem almost back-lit. The whole place glows of fresh and subtle energy, up for grabs by who ever wants it. Some of the Saturday morning regulars are already on their mats in various postures of warming up. I roll out the rubber mat first, carefully placing the outer end at a specific distance from the wall. This unrolling reveals the thick orange canvas mat which is rolled out in the opposite direction. Since I am already warmed up, I lay down on my mat, letting the breathing come back to a steady state.
After a grueling 90 minute session, I head out on my bicycle towards The Fox, the local breakfast joint. A spot at the bar is usually open. I exchange pleasantries with the wait staff. They are on a first-name basis with me and don’t insult me with the menu. I order my usual corned-beef and hash with home fries and a biscuit, an orange juice to wash it down and a water. Then, I ride home and walk Laya for the second time. By the time we return, the clock on my phone shows the time of around 12:30 PM. I jump into the shower and treat myself to a shampoo and a scrub. Completely rejuvenated by the shower and exhausted by the yoga, I settle in for a nap with an alarm for 2 hours. By 4:30 PM, I am walking Laya again while trying to completely wake up for the second time. This is when I end my digital-sabbatical and check my phone for messages and missed calls for the first time on a Saturday.
Thus starts a new day on the same calendar-day. It is more social than the earlier half. I visit friends, go to art shows and music events and engage in discussions. I eat a light dinner by 6 PM and a late dinner by 1 AM usually at the coffee shop. Some times, I stay at the coffee shop till well past 2 AM, reading a book, meeting people, chatting with the caffeinated baristas and catching up with my friends—the owners. By this time, I have achieved two days worth of activities and socializing including a significant time without any cellular and internet connectivity. I have managed to create two perfect days out of one by starting early, having a defined break — the nap and ending late. This also makes my weekend three days long.
The absence of “modern” connectivity gives me time and space to achieve some internal reflection. I think of all the new people I have met that week and the blocks I have stumbled upon. Sometimes, my brain goes 90 miles an hour, jumping from one string of thought to another. Sometimes, it slows down to a crawl and sustains focus on one string. It is easy to achieve this focus with no external distractions. I can not list any tangible benefits of this not necessarily focused but distraction free state. Maybe my memory is getting better. I have remembered more names lately. Maybe my focus during reading and communicating is improving. I am developing an aversion for mindless banter, stronger aversion than I have already had. I am shutting my ears on conversations where I have lost interest, not being able to recall the conversation ever taking place. I am walking to places where I would normally ride a bicycle — places up to two mile away. I want to walk even further. I am sensing a need to slow things down. I am responding to that need.
Saturday is a lesson in focus and balance and I am still learning. I am yet to figure out how to bring proper balance to connecting with my family outside USA.