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  • Writer's pictureVidya Shyamsundar

Celebrating Small Wins

That Wednesday just wasn't my day. I was getting ready to go on a family trip over the spring break, and I got my first bolt of shock that morning! My laptop that was working fine until the night before crashed that morning. Although I had a brand new backup hard drive, I never bothered to back up my files manually. I hastily logged into my MS One Drive Live account and quickly glanced over my file folders, and it seemed like my files were there (actually, I lost many of my recent files, which I didn’t realize then). I took a deep sigh, and we were off on our trip to Annapolis, MD. My girls wanted to stop by the Baltimore Aquarium on our way up. Since we have been there multiple times (when they were much younger), I decided to put my smartphone away only to marvel at the sight of the sea creatures. I had my backpack up, and my phone was sticking out from the side pouch. As we were getting ready to leave the fourth floor, I took the bag off my shoulder and found that my iPhone was missing. I started to get flustered, and tears rolled down my cheeks. I realized how stupid I was to leave my phone in the side pouch. We re-traced our way back, looking for it in every direction, and the Find My Phone App did not indicate the location either. We filed a missing report with the information desk and the security office. Later, we learned from the aquarium that someone else also filed a lost and missing phone complaint forty-five minutes after we did. It was clear that somebody was deliberately on a stroll to steal smartphones on that day.

I felt frustrated for a while since we know how smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives. We temporarily suspended the service, and I made a conscious effort to snap out of my brooding mode and enjoy the moments during our trip. That same evening, I tripped on an uneven sidewalk surface, fell on my knees, and lost my contact lens while distracted by the charm of the historic row homes. That was a lot of emotions to handle for one day. However, my day ended with warm greetings and excellent service from a waitress with a beautiful Italian accent at our dinner in a Tuscan Kitchen restaurant, Carpaccio. I made great new memories sitting with my family, cheering me up while having a fantastic dinner together. That was indeed a moment worth celebrating.

What is my connection with Mandalas, Sanskrit, and Music?

Over the past six months, I have been pursuing my interest in learning the Sanskrit language and Indian Classical music. It is meaningful and fulfilling because it is a way to connect with my roots and reminisce about my childhood experiences. I deeply cherish the first thirteen years of my childhood, and many of the family members I grew up with are no more today. Painting mandalas and learning Sanskrit and music take me back to those moments of lasting memories that I treasure and appreciate with deep gratitude. I become alive and pay attention to the chit-chatter, noise, laughter, and sadness. Studying Sanskrit brings me memories of my grandfather reading Vedic scriptures, the melody of Vedic chanting by priests in my neighborhood temple, and the scene of performing ritual functions in my childhood home for solace and wellness. Learning music brings me energy and happiness. I imagine my long walk to the neighborhood music teacher's home and the times when I wandered around the temple vicinity with my friends dressed up in our long colorful skirts and blouses while we lingered and listened to the legends of Indian Classical music during festivities.

Light of Gold Series

Mixed Media, 2022

Vidya Shyamsundar

Layered with vibrant colors, textures, and symbolisms, I paint mandalas that reflect imprints of the centuries-old South Indian meditative art called Kōlam with distinct intricacy, precision, and symmetry and its effect on mindfulness and spirituality. Painting a mandala gives me a feeling of belonging and identity, a practice that helps me to slow down and find my momentary peace. Somedays, I invite Ms. Solitude to sit beside me while I paint. With no music or podcast, I like to feel the quietness in my body and mind. Sometimes, Ms. Solitude makes me cry, reminding me of my relationship with lost spirits, especially my father, who passed away when I was thirteen. Other times, she brings me joy. I picture myself admiring my mother’s beautiful floor mandala drawings, the fragrance of jasmine and incense sticks, the aroma of my grandma’s delicacies, the sweat and respect for my father’s hard-earned income, and the energy of my mother as a homemaker, and much more. A mandala symbolizes our desires for a moment of fullness before fading, signifying the ebb and flow of happiness and suffering. The repeating symmetry of motifs represents the act of finding internal beauty in our mundane life, which is defined by our routines and responsibilities. I celebrate my small moments of victory that fulfill my desire as an artist and the various roles I take on in my family and the community as a human being.

Peace & Namaste!


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