It starts as an escape, a way out the ever looming non-existence of meaning. Like you, I often find myself at the receiving end of life. Stuck in a dreaded tar, the more I move, the harder it sticks. By the end, there is only one way out – accept it and find peace in misery.
Such phases are recurring. The romance of the broken soul of an artist loses its charm as it turns real. Earlier, there was no picture definition of how we behave and how our mind functions. But our understanding and knowledge of the human mind has extended into an idea of control. We can reverse engineer and hack our way out of the dread. But how?
Complexities and challenges are my muse. The unfamiliarity of not-knowing and lack of understanding and skill is something I thoroughly enjoy. Part of the reason, I find myself occupied with design challenges, creative endeavours and ridiculous experiments.
The twelve year old me visualised myself teaching, shrouded in books, writing and fidgeting with stuff. The grand idea of an old me, with a rough, street look, a long messy grey beard, eyeglasses powdered in chalk teaching and talking still holds relevance. The situation I am in right now does signify that vision even when it is not a clear frame by frame depiction. Essence of my being still holds true. But my way of living an absolute anomaly to this design.
I am too obsessive, I feel too much and once something peaks my interest, I tend to lose all sense of objectivity and just devote myself to it. I have always functioned like this. Sudden bursts of extreme creativity, passion and persistence; when I look at what I have done I feel very proud. But such a lifestyle is neither sustainable nor desired. You become a subject of the divine intervention and moments of inspiration, etc. You compromise with your health and the risks you take, sometimes, too extreme and unwise.
A fundamental challenge with a mind like mine is drawing a balance between thought and emotion. Being a songwriter, I am carried by emotion and a longing to express truth and honesty. It is supposed to be the way it is, but thought is the enemy of art. Juggling these two personalities of expression, emotion and thought, objectivity sometimes outweighs my caliber and will.
One cozy winter evening, tucked in my blanket, governed by the warm air of an electric heater – I feel the physical comfort and ease. My mind, however, is not still. Drenched in the oblivion of external elements of social media, internet, YouTube, etc, and like eating too many rasgullas, I gag at the thought of another piece of content. I am overwhelmed with anxiety, angst and unease. An immediate relief needs to be addressed.
Over the last few years, there have been numerous attempts for a routine of sorts. Unfortunately, every single one failed in one way or another. During the COVID-19 pandemic, for a couple of months I was substantially productive and easy. I made the most significant growth in my career as well as a human being. That phase still serves as a gentle but glorious example of a possibility of change.
What made it different was the fact that I ripped myself off all distractions. Firstly, because of the lockdown I couldn’t step out of my home and secondly, I had instinctively decided to quit my phone. These few months with no outdoors and no phone and internet, I realised my true potential. At least, I got a realist idea of how incredible an individual human endeavour can be!
This cozy winter evening is different however. I am more aware of my idiosyncrasies and flaws in my character. There are a lot of obligations I am bound to. I will have to step out and be on the internet.
A major issue and a constant theme of these ordeals has been consistency. I have lost track and focus during the discourse. This time, in accordance of the vice, I have made a seven day plan. a month is a little too long, a few days seem too little, but one week; seven days – serve a sufficiently long yet doable challenge. The Bible says God build the Earth in seven days.
Another problem area has been the overwhelming might of the routine. I burden myself with unrealistic and idealist expectations. I need a simple, comfortable, not so strict but also a little challenging routine. Dividing my day into 4-5 sessions of focussed work, I set out for the week.
It amazes me how we demonise and exaggerate tasks that hardly require any will. Once you start, it is very steady, comfortable and an easy ride. The only major resistance comes at the start. Even according to physics, static friction is always greater than kinetic friction. It is more difficult to move an object at rest, but once in motion the momentum takes care of it. Hence, I need to make sure that once I build the momentum, I should be able to sustain it.
The Seven Days
These past seven days have been one of the most beautiful days of my recent life. I made teeny goals and watching them exceed expectations brought a sense of achievement and self-worth. Waking up felt a lot easier as I have the day planned and the history dictated that whatever was on the list, was achievable.
One aspect of which I was a little concerned was if this routine would hamper my ability to generate and cultivate ideas. To my utter disbelief, I was proven wrong; and I love being proven wrong. It is actually the opposite of what I thought. In fact, I felt more creative, there were more ideas than ever and I had all the time to develop and manifest an idea. It was indeed beautiful, glorious and freeing.
The seven day streak has ended now. And I have the data and proof to analyse what worked and what did not. I need to update the routine though, but more important is that I make gentle strides in the right direction; that I keep the scientific approach of self-study intact; that I push myself even further; and more importantly, I allow myself to take breaks and enjoy the little things.
These seven days, of work and persistence and enjoyment, that started with a biting cold shower in the morning to a no screen time past evening wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated. On the contrary, it brought more joy, a sense of achievement, fulfilment and coherent peace. I didn’t have to wait for an extended period to feel the results. They were immediate. It is not about what I did, or how efficient I was, as for starters, I have to build a momentum and devote myself to the process. Efficacy and goals come later, for now it is about having sturdy, firm systems in place.
These seven days of discipline, persistence and consistency were the seven days of peace I have had in a long time. As of now, I am in the middle of another experimental routine that shall last till the end of 2022. There will be a few hiccups and bumps along the way, but that is completely fine. Life is neither a race nor a comparison avenue. It is uniquely true to who I am and I should exercise the freedom to design it the way it helps me actualise my true potential and realise my true self. The real sin wouldn’t be not living up to myself, but giving up and trying to be someone else – that would be the real tragedy.