Tag Archives: a dose of philosophy…

Day 39 – A Lazy Weekend

I am obsessed with rounding up time. If I am about to start a task and I happen to check the time and it is 12:28 PM, I will in all probability wait for it to be 12:30 PM before I begin. When I am in the flow state, I rarely notice this but at other times especially if I am feeling restless or lazy, I have this incredibly irrational tendency to wait for the time to be just right. There is no consistent definition of this just right time. If I had told myself that I’d put down my book and start my chores at 4 PM and I pass that time, I will automatically reset that time to 5 PM. If I have finished watching an episode at 8:45 PM, I convince myself that I can watch just one more episode of 20 minutes length and then stop. But of course once that episode finishes and it’s 9:05 PM, I then want to watch another episode till 9:25 PM. I know that most of this is more to do with procrastination and the time obsession is just a symptom. But unfortunately this self awareness does not help me overcome the problem. I have learnt to manage around it most of the time. If I am supposed to finish work by 7 PM and head out for a walk, it doesn’t bother me anymore if I am off by 5 or 10 minutes. I just head out for a walk anyway. But when I am watching something on TV while eating my dinner, I can sometimes be found on the sofa 4 hours later, still watching TV, having let my entire evening get away from me. Sometimes I wonder whether I will someday look back in regret and I think not. If I think back to the time when I obsessively watched ‘Greys Anatomy’ instead of studying for competitive exams, I don’t even have a twinge of regret. So what does this have to do with my weekend? Well I spent most of it, rounding up time and not getting anything done.

Also, this blogpost has been in the works all week and it is finally getting posted today. So a bit of procrastination there as well. My biggest point of regret however is that I am just not an audio book person. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly enjoy books that way. I am reading one of the most interesting books ever written (narrated by Stephen Fry no less) and I just don’t seem to be making headway. I am finally going to let myself off the hook and start an e-book parallelly while I continue to struggle to finish the audiobook of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. I can only guess that my mind needs visual aids to really focus; which explains all the day dreaming I guess.

On that pointless note, I bid adieu. Cheers!

Day 37 – A Topsy Turvy Week

Sometimes I like to imagine my life differently. I think everyone does it but I get so engrossed that I can completely lose track of time when I am off on a boat trip to the deep blue seas of the Mediterranean or lounging on a beach in the Maldives. A lot of my alternate life imaginings are in or around an ocean. I recently finished reading Something in Disguise and I kept imagining myself in the shoes of those characters and I could easily see myself in the story. But just like fiction always has that tiny little bit of unreality about it, so too do my many imaginings. If I ever look back on any of them it becomes immediately clear how out of touch with reality they are. But I guess fantasy is supposed to be outlandish.

It has been a strange week and I haven’t much felt like writing and I struggled quite a bit with the feeling of despair that I broke my streak. But I decided to trust myself to get back to it when I could and so here we are. After I finished reading ‘Something in Disguise’, I started on an audio book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Even though it is hilarious and excellently narrated by Stephen Fry, I am finding the experience quite strange. Before this, I have only read one audio book in my life and I probably forgot just how hard it is for me to focus when I’m listening instead of reading. I have been hooked to a podcast for the last year or so and I thought that an audio book would be no different but I did not account for the fact that (a) I usually take a walk while I’m listening to an audio book and (b) I never listen for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. So when I tried to sit down and listen to audio book expecting to get engrossed for a couple of hours at least (which is my usual when reading a book), I was in for a rude surprise. I got fidgety within 20 minutes. My mind started wandering, I had to stop myself from reaching for my phone and to top it all, I had to keep rewinding because I felt sure I was missing something even when I was not. This is a relatively short audio book, about five and a half hours so I think I will get through this and then go back to ebooks for the rest of my reading challenge books for 2022. I tried listening to the book at night and invariably dozed off in 15 minutes so last night I tricked myself by keeping my glasses on and somehow it worked and I was able to listen to a complete chapter atleast before I succumbed to sleep.

In addition to fantasizing an alternate life for myself, from time to time, I also start wildly researching possible things to study. It usually wears off in a day or two but while it lasts, I really go down the rabbit hole. Today I was researching Public Policy courses which spilled over into online courses in Arts and Humanities. Don’t ask me what is the connection, I just kept following links and whatever stray thoughts jumped into my head.

I watched a movie today, and I have to remind myself that it is much safer than going down the binge watching hell (which describes most of my week by the way). The movie was called ‘Carrie Pilby’ and it has been sitting around in my Netflix list for half a year at least. It is a lot more heartwarming than the trailer had seemed to suggest. I had expected something more stark and so I was very happy with the afternoon well spent.

I’ll signoff with a couple of food pictures. Actually it’s more about the new plate that I bought that I am absolutely in love with and it doesn’t hurt that it makes all food look amazing 🙂

Pasta and grilled cheese sandwich
My everyday lunch looking glammed up

Until next time, Cheers!

Day 030 – Melancholy

I feel sad that the month of January is coming to an end. I shouldn’t because I really have completed a lot of what I had set out to do this month. I am also happy about sticking to some of the broad level goals and cautiously optimistic about keeping up the good work in the rest of the year. But this weird melancholy feeling has still been nagging me since morning. I first distracted myself by finishing the book I started yesterday, ‘Funny You Should Ask’ and that worked for a little while. But then once again I felt at loose ends and almost teary. Thankfully, I decided to dive into that magical folder in my email that collects all my newsletter subscriptions through the week so that I may enjoy them at leisure on Sunday and the very first one helped me find my solace. There was an article called The Antidote to Melancholy and it contained centuries old advice on how to beat the blues. The short answer: spend time in nature and read new things. I tend to spend long hours at my desk and forget to go outside sometimes. I have been doing better lately, going for a walk almost daily but now that I think about it, it is exactly those days that I skip it is when I feel my worst. I also have been reading quite diligently this year and I realise that this week has been a lot more TV viewing than reading. So I will pay better attention going forward. Binge watching is a huge risk for me, I will have to manage it. I have spent most of the day immersed in long think pieces to the point where I think it’s giving me a headache so I think my quota for the day is done. I just need to pick out my next book so that it is ready for me tomorrow as soon as I finish work. I have been compiling a long list since the start of the year and I think it’s going to be quite hard to choose. Wish me luck!

Until then, Cheers!

Day 015 – The Secret

I’ll let you in on a secret. This daily journaling endeavour of mine is equal parts pseudo therapy and writing practice. For a while now I have been getting the feeling that writing copious emails and to do lists at work aren’t really about ‘writing’. My first clue was that they bring me absolutely no joy, in fact, trying to get it just right so that it hits the right notes and does not offend anyone but at the same time gets the intended response frequently leaves me feeling exhausted. There is no creativity in it, no flights of fancy allowed; just cold, hard words put across in the most economical way stripped of all meaning and context. To add insult to injury, work takes up so much mental energy that I have almost none left over afterwards to devote to anything else and end up in binge-watching limbo. I know I won’t be able to change anything overnight and so for now it’s this creaky and hesitating start where I force myself to spit out something, anything at the end of each day and hopefully help scrape off the rust. I know if I tell myself I’ll write every day and publish once a week so that it becomes a cohesive and well written post, I will end up not doing it. Instead, aiming this gun to my head seems to be working so far.

I am pondering this today because I caught up on a gigantic backlog of reading today. I usually read all my newsletter subscriptions and saved articles over the weekend but I have neglected them for almost a month now. I couldn’t get through everything of course but I got through a lot. And reading all those beautiful essays just made me want to hurry up and get there myself. Happily a lot of the year end posts were about books to read and I now have a bulging list of varied recommendations which is good because I set myself a 50 book challenge for the year. I usually hate the idea of such a formulaic and arbitrary way of governing my reading life but once again it’s the proverbial gun to my head which keeps reminding me that I would be better off reading than watching TV. I have picked my next book: No One is Talking About This and I have also logged 2 finished books of the year in my Goodreads account which I have apparently last used in 2020 when I must have thought I’ll get a lot of reading done during the lockdown. Today’s reading quota however has been completely exhausted by all the long reads: New Year Resolutions from 1942, commonplace books, psychology of picking baby names, decoding JK Rowlings behaviour, busting the myth of Goop and too many more to list.

Today was also productive for my personal finances, but that part felt like a full day’s work and I needed a walk afterwards to clear my head. Just like my reading backlog I also had a huge personal email backlog. I have almost managed to clear them all except 4 which of course are personal finance related. I have promised myself I will get to them tomorrow which means after this weekend I will be fully caught up and back to my pretty decent weekly schedule of reading articles, clearing emails and doing pesky online chores (which never seem to end do they?). One of the other things I think I shall do this year is to stop hoarding things for the weekend. I tend to do that for both good and bad things and that can make my weekend quite exhausting. Of course, sometimes the pile of things to do feels so daunting that I don’t end up doing anything at all and just spend the weekend however I like. This does not solve the problem and just makes the pile that much larger for the next weekend. This year, I will do something about this.

I thought I had watched enough hair care videos yesterday to last me a lifetime but somehow managed to squeeze in a few more today. But I am done now and have banned myself from that channel for the foreseeable future while I work on practicing some of the things that I have learnt. I think that is it for today unless I have actively forgotten any part of my day. Until next time, Cheers!

Day 014 – It’s all about the HAIR!

It has been one of those days when it simultaneously feels like the day flew by and that it lasted forever. Since the holiday today felt like such a bonus, I decided it was a good idea to dive into hair research all over again. I go down this rabbit hole periodically and every time I think there is not much more left for me to learn, I end up learning something new. Today’s learnings were quite eye opening and I cannot wait to put them into practice. In fact, even as I write this, I am trying our a hair refresh technique for the first time. Keeping fingers crossed to see great results in the morning.

I finished reading ‘Normal People’ by Sally Rooney today. I would have finished it last night if it hadn’t been for the need to sleep but I’m glad I was full awake and alert for the ending which I read over breakfast and my cup of coffee. My issue with the previous book of hers that I read was perfectly addressed in this one. The ending was satisfyingly unsatisfactory. There was only a semblance of closure; I didn’t know whether the characters were going to ever get a happily ever after; I didn’t know whether they would fall into their old and frankly toxic patterns; I couldn’t even be sure if this was the ending of the book (I checked and my Kindle assured me that I had indeed finished 100% of the book). The only thing I did know for sure was that these characters had grown and it was an uphill climb and that I cheered them on, every step of the way and felt their frustrations at every setback. I think I liked not knowing exactly how things turned out for them. I am not going to sit around imagining their lives ahead but if the thought of them ever pops into my head, I may indulge myself for a few minutes (or hours). With this I am putting a self imposed ban on reading Sally Rooney for now. I am so tempted to binge read all her books, short stories and essays but I get the feeling that I would soon become jaded if I did. This style is probably best read at intervals. It’s funny though that I can read all of Jane Austen’s books one after the other and not have this feeling. I might actually revisit her soon.

We made koraishutir kochuri once again today. That makes it twice this month. I feel like we go overboard with good things sometimes but at this moment when I am so happy with my meal, it is hard to feel too much regret. In our defense, green peas are in season so if not now, then when would we indulge ourselves? Also coming up this weekend will be a green peas soup. Let’s see how that turns out.

The least memorable item of the day was watching ‘Eternals’. I am very very glad I did not risk the theatre for this film. I have already forgotten most of what I have seen unfold during the movie and I have absolutely no curiosity about the sequel. I don’t think I have ever felt this way about a Marvel movie. I don’t even feel too aggrieved about it. I am just accepting it and moving on.

Keeping my fingers crossed for a productive weekend ahead. Cheers!

Day 011 – I Stole an Hour Today

Technically, I started work an hour earlier today and so ended my workday an hour earlier as well. But I still felt like I had stolen an extra magical hour. I have always wondered idly if it would make a difference having some free time before starting work or after. I usually go for the hour before work because it lets me linger over breakfast, coffee and some reading before I dive into the day. But I am surprised at just how much of a difference it made to have my workday end while it was still daylight. I went for a walk earlier, I ate dinner even earlier than usual and I had the rest of the evening to relax. Even the few personal chores didn’t seem like a big deal. And once I wrap up this post, I will settle in with my book and read until I fall asleep. I can hardly believe it myself.

Until a few months ago, I did not think this was a possibility. It wasn’t just making time that I found difficult; I couldn’t seem to switch my brain from work to non-work. So even when I told myself all the things I could do with my time after work, I would never be able to summon up the energy after my workday. Maybe my motivation wasn’t strong enough then but now it is and I find myself able to reach the goal I have been setting myself: of finishing up work at a specified time and then switching off completely until the next day. It didn’t help that the mentors in my early years have all modelled the sort of behaviour which seems to put work at the centre of life. I am still responsible for having followed that path unquestioningly. It took me more than 10 years to properly think about it and question my attitude. Previously, I have had bouts of impulsive slacking off work or taking unplanned breaks but they were all akin to a child acting out instead of addressing the problem at it’s root. I wish I had reached here sooner but I think this is exactly the path I needed to take to get here. Even now, I can’t say I have it all sorted. I am tenuously balancing on a beam, quite convinced I will fall at any time. I hope to build my confidence to keep balancing and more importantly to rise again if I fall.

On that note, I bid adieu.

Day 010 – I Smell Snow

Well I don’t actually smell snow but I used to love this line from Gilmore Girls and I am paraphrasing it to mean I smell cold weather! Mumbai is experiencing it’s few days of cold weather of the year this week and I am so thrilled. Bright blue skies, cold breeze and sunny is my favourite combination of weather elements. The temperature is not to chilly but chilly enough that I could go for a 45 minute walk and only have a light sheen of sweat on my face instead of the usual rivers running down that I usually have. If it feels like I’m a bit nuts to be gushing about the weather like this, that’s because I probably am. All afternoon I kept wanting to curl up on the window ledge and read a book or snuggle up for a nap instead of what I actually did (work). I know that these days will be so limited so I want to make the absolute best of them as much as I can.

I read an article today that confirmed to me what I have always suspected, which is that some people’s traits (inherent elements of personality) make it easier for them to form or break habits while the rest of us have to painstakingly manage our environment to facilitate the same state (a way that someone chooses to behave at a particular time). It can be done of course but that bitter feeling you get when you hear about someone else conquering that mountain which you are struggling to scale is probably something you could do without and this article suggests you do exactly that. First you do everything you can to set yourself up for success but then you also understand and accept your limitations and love yourself for it. Needless to say, I am in the state camp but for most of my life I have been led to believe that there is no such difference. If you “want” to do something badly enough, you will do it. If you aren’t getting where you “want” to be, you have to try harder or stop being lazy. While undoubtedly it is better to encourage and motivate someone to keep working towards their goals, all the wise pieces of advise that I have ever heard (and maybe you have too) have never included this seemingly important clause that this may be out of your reach but you should still celebrate whatever much you can achieve. The devil’s advocate in me is sneering and wants to say that this seems like a very pretty escape clause, an incentive to stay in the comfort zone and never venture out. But I say the hell with it. Life is too short to spend in misery agonizing about not reaching a state of effortless flow when working towards a goal. Maybe that goal isn’t the one for you anyway.

A friend of mine gave me this very advice a while back when I decided to embark on a diet and exercise regimen and I think I must have subconsciously understood because reading this article was like a giant lightbulb going off in my head. I hereby declare that I am done feeling bad about my body and I am definitely done regretting not fitting into clothes. I will continue to look for ways to eat better and exercises that I enjoy but I am done feeling a sense of dread when I look at the weighing scale. I will try my best to reach those 10,000 steps a day but I am celebrating anything over 6,000. If the clothes I love don’t fit me anymore, I will say goodbye and give them away to someone who they will fit. When one day my back starts aching and my knees can’t hold me up anymore, I will remember not to look back in regret but be glad for the times they have served me well and accept that this is what happens to the body as we age. I will banish this thought from my head that somehow I owe the world a “perfect” health record because newsflash: nobody is perfect. So in summary, I am done with it all.

Day 003 – The blues

It is day three and already I have the blues. I wish I could just end the post right here but I will try to make sense of the thoughts and emotions churning inside me. I guess the thing that’s been topmost on my mind today has been the concept of obligation; the owning and receiving of favours; the eternal loop of certain kinds of debts. In a strange way, the TV show, ‘Lucifer’ is quite insightful about this particular topic. Most of our suffering is our own doing; we are the ones punishing ourselves constantly for the things that we regret. We hold on to these feelings until they become festering wounds and there is no guarantee of ever healing completely. There is so much advice out there about letting go or standing up for yourself or finding peace but sadly the path to redemption is hard and rocky and you don’t have the right shoes and you ran out of water a few hours ago. So eventually you just turn back to base camp; the comfort zone and tell yourself you’ll live to try another day. But you remember how bad it hurt to try in the first place so your next attempt keeps getting postponed until you once again are completely unprepared for it; the cycle just keeps repeating. You distract yourself with all the other things life has to offer but you know deep down that you will never really feel whole until you get this burden off your back. You imagine the feeling of it rolling away but even in your imaginings, you know it’s not that simple. There will be twists and turns and setbacks and false starts and you may spend the rest of your life trying to get it off your back. But if don’t even try, you know it’s never going away and it will only get heavier with each passing day. Like some weird interest rate compounded by the hour. It would make a good poem actually, I might give that a shot.

In other news, I didn’t manage to donate my books yet. But I have not given up hope. I will try again tomorrow.

I love my new executive planner. Broke it in today for the first work day of the year. Here’s to a well documented and minuted year ahead 😉

Cheers!

Day 001 – Happy New Year

I have decided this year that I will begin journaling. Daily journaling. As soon as I had made this decision, I noticed the time: 11:30 PM. So I guess this is not going to be a very thoughtful or well written post; which actually suits me fine. Spouting things off the top of my head is one of my specialties. And in this way, it kind of reduces the pressure to maintain a certain level of quality as the days go on. If someone other than me is reading this, you are probably better off moving on right about now. The only reason I am journaling on a blog is because it is so full of cobwebs that I am pretty sure that the internet has forgotten about it. And so I feel quite safe in the knowledge that my thoughts are, well, safe.

So let me begin with: Happy New Year! I began the year almost as thoughtlessly as I began this post. The big difference from every other new year before this? I was not hung over this morning AND I did not let myself get away with spending the entire day lazing just because it is a holiday. I acted like it was any other Saturday and set myself a list of tasks to accomplish for the weekend. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with lazing around on your hard earned holidays or even on a random weekend but looking back on the year gone by, I have the uncomfortable feeling that I have carried the thought too far and I could have instead been doing something interesting. So with that in mind, I set myself some targets for the month:

  • Be super productive (this has nothing to do with work. I’ll explain more in the coming days)
  • Find your joy (it just occurs to me that I should have written find ‘my’ joy)
  • Don’t be lazy (or at-least be less lazy than usual)

With that target set, I first took on the mammoth task of cleaning out my desk. I feel like it was only yesterday that I was cleaning it out but unfortunately it has probably been 6 months since I tackled this task. My desk has taken advantage of my apathy for organisation, to run completely wild. Nothing seemed to fitting where they are supposed to lately. I am proud to say that I have now prevailed and my desk is going to go back to being the subservient tool that it is supposed to be until in 6 months time we find ourselves in a role reversal once again where I am the one pleading with the desk to please co-operate and let me shut the drawers without protest.

I cannot take all the credit for getting it done however. A large part of the process was the decision that some books have got to go. It was a heart breaking decision. This is only the second time in my life that I have given away books. And even though most of these books are dreary management books, I still feel that little tug in my heart that says: nooooo! But once I saw how well I could fit all my other junk (yes, we’ll get to that too. I have way too many notebooks), I was able to steel my heart and research options for book donation. The actual giving away part might take a few days so that can be my grieving period. I can probably page through a few books and that’ll also help me feel better about my decision.

In other news, I dealt with one particularly difficult adulting chore: name transfer with a utility provider. I earned the drink and the chocolate cake I had with that. Very happily for me, the last couple of hours of my day has been spent on reading a new book which is absolutely delightful. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney. I found it on a Goodreads annual list and was very intrigued after reading a review. I will talk about this some more later as well

Until then, Cheerio!

My Life As I See It

It’s been a while since I sat down at 8 in the morning to write. There have been a handful of instances across time when I have done this and it seems to me that that is what makes it so special. It also usually means that I’m supposed to actually do something else but I’ve just indulged myself and let loose. Today, however was different. I woke up about 20 minutes ago with a fully formed thought in my head that I wanted to write. I didn’t know what about and it didn’t bother me because somehow once I found my laptop open in front of me, I was sure that I would find my fingers racing across the keyboard and indeed that is what happened.
Well I’ve settled on what I want to write about. I want to write about writing and the strange fascination I’ve always had for it. I have always unequivocally loved reading, there has been no doubt in my mind about that. I may be picky about what I read sometimes but I’m quite convinced that I could read anything in world out there (provided I knew the language of course!). Writing however has been more elusive. Like a houseguest who you aren’t sure how long they would stay. Or when they would be back again. But the way I feel about it has always remained steady like a gnawing pain that won’t go away. I didn’t have words to describe this feeling for a long time and then I heard it in the movie The Hours. It describes it perfectly:
“I wanted to be a writer, that’s all. I wanted to write about it all. Everything that happens in a moment. The way the flowers looked when you carried them in your arms. This towel, how it smells, how it feels, this thread. All our feelings, yours and mine. The history of it, who we once were. Everything in the world. Everything all mixed up, like it’s all mixed up now. And I failed. I failed. No matter what you start with it ends up being so much less. Sheer fucking pride and stupidity.”
That’s how I’ve always felt. Like I want to write everything but somehow every time I take pen to paper, it always feels so much less than what it was in my head. The colours in the scenery just lack that lustre and it cripples me then to think that everything I will ever write will be that way and I will never be able to say everything that I want to. But I’ve slowly realised over time that its ok. It doesn’t matter that I couldn’t get it out perfectly or that I never will. It only matters that I felt happy about it. When I don’t expect to do something great I’ve managed to write some things that I am exceedingly proud of. I go back to these from time to time and wonder how I wrote them. But there is no secret, its just practice and discipline and habits being formed and most importantly being happy with what you are writing. Its about not assuming that you can or cannot write in a certain style. Its about never limiting yourself. Its about just writing down whatever comes to mind without second guessing yourself. And most importantly it is about getting over the fear of that nagging disappointment that comes when you’ve finished writing something that then looks nothing like what you imagined it would be. Its about celebrating every word for what it is and coming back to write more and more and more. No matter how agonizing it is. No matter how much your palm sweats from the effort or your head hurts or your eyes just want to close because its the end of a long day and you just don’t want to write anymore.

I don’t suppose anyone in the world can ever write it all. But when we all write our own little parts, these stories come together and become so much more than just the sum of the parts. Its the richest and most complete story ever spun because each and every thread is unique not matter how much they seem similar. Like pieces of music that are made up of the same notes but each different from the next. Our words are what stay and tell our story long after we have uttered them. So put it all out there in the universe, your voice, your story. There are enough things in this world to inspire. The cup of tea I had this morning with the steam gently rising from the surface made me think about time passing slowly by. The patch of sunlight on the floor right now makes me think about strength and solidity. The dance steps I was attempting to learn last night (unsuccessfully) was proof of how much I love my friends to even think of attempting something like that. Watching the sun set over the sea yesterday evening just gave me an assurance that it would keep happening again and again till time itself stopped. The clear blue sky that I can see outside my window right now is humbling, makes me acknowledge how really small and insignificant we are in this universe. It all matters, it all counts, so never ever hesitate to write it down.
Cheers!