Of cricket and patience

I remember growing up on a healthy dose of India-Pakistan cricket encounters and five-day test matches that mostly ended in a draw.

The one-dayers were more interesting, but the five-day matches had a charm of their own. One didn’t have to sit through each ball, but a general session-by-session update was a given.

But that was in the pre-cable TV and internet world. Today, our attention spans are so small that we have a “Skip Intro” button to quickly get us through the titles, that mostly last a minute and a half.

And so it was refreshing to watch Neelakantan (a family friend of ours) and his young son sit through the match for the whole day, discussing missed catches and solid defenses.

My today’s brain would process this as a waste of valuable time and ponder on the opportunity cost of all the things that one could have done if not watching a match that goes on forever. But I don’t think that is a fair thought.

They have not slowed down – we have sped past in our heads, and now view time as a collection of quantum packets that have to be filled up with something, whatever it is, so as to make life more “meaningful”. A gap in thought, or in action, is seen as inefficient, and this is the reason why we turn to our phones when at a traffic signal or during a short ad break.

Neelakantan, on the other hand, finds his relaxation and peace in watching the ball being thrown to one end, being returned either with courtesy or absolute disdain, and then discussing the merits of the said ball with his son. All over a steaming cup of coffee and sometimes, a crying baby (as was the case today).

Funny that we try to find the same relaxation and peace in exotic getaways and staycations, or “retreats”, when all it takes is some calmness in the mind and the understanding that time does not have to be filled to the brim, but savored every moment.

Keep it simple, I guess!