In 2003, I bought the omnibus edition of ‘The Indispensable Calvin & Hobbes‘ as a birthday gift for my husband. It was sheer pleasure to know that we shared a common love for this delightful comic strip. Earlier this week, my 10-year-old pulled it out of her bookshelf and settled down to read.

Within minutes, she was chuckling as the mirth from the pages translated into hilarity in her mind. The room, her face and my heart were all filled with gladness as the humour spread its touch almost imperceptibly.

Much later, as my husband and I spoke about the joy that the strip evokes, he mentioned how Bill Watterson, the man behind the strip, resolutely stayed away from the public eye. In fact, at the very height of his career, in 1995, he quit. He simply stopped drawing any more Calvin and Hobbes comics. This was news to me. Why would he do that? It was much loved by millions of people around the world.

The short answer in his own words were:  “I did not want Calvin and Hobbes to coast into halfhearted repetition, as so many long-running strips do.” He wanted to slow down, pursue other interests and work at a less frantic pace.

In 1995, he said this. That was 22 years ago. Before the advent of social media, touch-screens and information at our fingertips, one man felt the need to step back, quit and savour life.

This was a grand revelation and it came to me when I’ve been personally wondering where I’m going with the blogging journey or with my attempts as a writer. And a voice quietly whispered in my ear:

Have you thought about quitting something that you love? Click To Tweet

Naturally, one or two of the things I love the most are blogging and writing. Would I be able to quit those things? Ever?

Before I actually answer that question, let me take you through a gratitude list for June. I promise you, this isn’t digressing from the subject. And I am not avoiding the answer to the question, either.

Gratitude List for June

Completing a 30-day challenge:

Every day through this month, I managed to be up early, either at or before 5 am and meditated for 15 minutes. My master bedroom opens to a view of a temple spire on a hill and it’s soothing and calming to wake up to that every morning. Meditation helped me calm down, fight my anxiety and feel at peace with who I am.

Resuming my journal habit:

The planner which lay forgotten in a cupboard saw the light of day this month. Every day I wrote down tiny to-do lists to help me cope with the daily schedule. It liberated my stress and enhanced my productivity. The vibrant colours of the journal together with the quotes on each page were extremely motivating.

Receiving love from friends:

Soon after I wrote my post on being an exhausted parent, dear friends reached out to check on my well-being and offered good advice and suggestions on learning to let go of the illusion of control. I did and I’m always grateful for the love I receive in abundance.

Staying away from social media angst:

Last week, I deactivated my Facebook account for 5 days. I found myself unable to scroll past the constant barrage of news and opinions on every subject. At one point, I actually asked close friends if I should just delete my main Facebook account as it was becoming too difficult to handle the volume of outrage.

Turning it off helped me greatly. I took up reading offline, putting my head down and working and pursuing interests in blogging that didn’t involve a social media presence. Since the beginning of 2017, I’ve successfully stayed away from ranting about anything at all on social media. It’s been a boon.

Tremendous support from readers & fellow bloggers:

No matter how many years I blog or write, an honest and heartfelt comment always lifts my spirits. Four gestures I received this month gladdened my heart. One was an e-mail from a fellow blogger, Shalini Baisiwala. In it, she wrote a glowing testimonial of the blogging support group I run and poured her heart out, saying she was grateful for the same. The second was a beautiful, hand-crafted gift from the same blogger and I’m too choked up to tell you what this means to me. It’s hand made and sent all the way from another city.

It can be used as a pen stand or I can add water and even put an indoor plant in it. Isn’t it gorgeous?

The third gesture was from a reader & blogger who left a heartfelt comment on my blog, appreciating the writing. That made me so grateful. Finally, today, I received an e-mail from a blogger who confessed that she read my blog off and on but was mostly silent. Instead, she chose to write me a long and detailed e-mail on the power of words and how she loved the connect it created between the reader and the writer. My heart is full to bursting at this point.

With that, I come back to the question I asked before this list.

Would I quit blogging or writing today, if I could?

Short answer? Yes. I would.

Why? Because if I were to look back at this journey of 10 years as a blogger, I’d be able to tell you that I’m happy. I am thrilled with what I’ve achieved and where I am, even if that doesn’t translate to popularity or success in the traditional sense.

The more important question, though, is:

Will I quit blogging or writing today?

Answer: No.

That’s because I still enjoy the process. I love how thoughts flow from point A to point B. I love the learning that comes from every single day, each post and each comment. I love learning and discovering and uncovering new ground.

So, I am grateful for the clarity that this month has brought my way. Perhaps that’s what June was for; to guide me to finding out what I truly love doing and why I love doing it.

I need to acknowledge that any day, any minute I may lose this gift, so it’s important that I treasure this while I can. When the time comes for me to quit, I shall want to do it in the best way possible: Not with disgust or fatigue, but with the acceptance that this has run its course and that it’s time for something different.

We must embrace change with equanimity, much like we should embrace joy or sadness. Then, quitting doesn’t seem terrible. It’s just another stone on the path to where we need to go.

***

Linking up with Vidya and her gratitude circle for June.   

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32 thoughts on “Thoughts on Quitting & a Gratitude List

  1. I can actually imagine someone giving up a passion of theirs after some point. The happiness and fulfilment that one achieves is enough to stop and maybe look for something more challenging. I don’t see myself quitting now… But who knows what’s more trendy in few years.
    Rajlakshmi recently penned this post Skincare: How I Sherlock’ed my Acne !My Profile

  2. Hello πŸ™‚

    Somehow I have found that making to-do lists helps me finish all the listed tasks – no matter how difficult they might seem at first.
    And about quitting – we have a saying in Malayalam – swaram nannavumbol paattu nirthuka – I interpret it as an artist when she realises she has no more to give, stops giving. It seems to me like this is a good way to ensure we do not spoil our craft by making lousy attempts or not giving 100%.
    I agree completely on what you said about quitting.

  3. At what point do we know if whatever we create has reached the pinnacle of its life? That’s when we must essentially decide to step back right?

    5 a.m ah :O aiyayo… what time do you fall asleep though?

    1. We never will know that, right? We always feel that the next step is the best one, that your best work is yet to be written or created or done or whatever.

      I try and sleep by 10.30 pm so yeah, that helps.

  4. Hugs! I love how grounded you always are, Shailaja! This post is a wonderful reflection of the person you are. Journaling is very therapeutic. I do it regularly and sometimes end up folding one panel of the page and jotting down ideas for various things. Focus is the key to a happy life. (and of course lists!)

    Thank you for joining me in the Gratitude Circle. Wishing you health and happiness.
    Vidya Sury recently penned this post 14 cherished gifts from 14 years of bloggingMy Profile

    1. I am in love with journaling. I don’t know why I ever stopped. It has helped me marvelously! Focus is everything, you are so right! Especially today when we are juggling so many things, no? Thank you for hosting the Circle each month. I try to join in when I remember to write a post πŸ™‚

  5. I didn’t know that about the Calvin and Hobbes stripes. Sometimes with things like that, especially in TV, I’m fine with them quitting on a high note. It’s sucks, but it’s much more satisfying than something I love fizzling out because they kept pushing it and were running out of passion for it.

  6. I have been blogging for 7 years now, regularly for 5 years and I don’t think I can quit. Of course, there are days when I feel I’m not going anywhere but writing makes me happy. So, for now I can’t quit. But you never know. You scared me for a bit! πŸ™‚

  7. I too feel that there is no goal in Blogging. I never can’t get enough of it. My Blog Life through my Bioscope has been hacked and I am feeling the void as It has helped me evolve in the last 2 years. Your Blog is like a lighthouse for many Shailja.
    Let it guide. Ten years is a long journey. Congratulations. Be here to inspire.
    upasna recently penned this post How to make gratitude journal? Try #GratitudePieMy Profile

  8. Another famous thing that came to my mind is Imran Khan the cricketer who quit cricket the after Pakistan won the World Cup. I couldn’t understand why would anybody do that. That’s when my mom told me he probably wants to be remembered as a world cup winning captain. I also think that post reaching his goal, there was nothing more he wished for. Hope you reach a similar space before quitting.

  9. It’s wonderful that the month of June brought peace, comfort and answers for you.
    Glad that you are not quitting in the near future, but what you mentioned is so true. Till the time you love what you do, continue to do what you love!
    Have an enriching and exciting July, Shailaja. Cheers!

  10. Quite often many ardent readers of our posts do not comment. There may be various reason: too lazy to fill the comment form, discouraged to see that someone has made a similar comment already and so on. At the same time there are some who comment without without grasping the central theme of your post. Of course you can make out such comments. Comments always do not give an honest feedback about the quality of the post. But, it is a nice feeling to receive the love of readers and fellow bloggers in some form or other.

    Now coming to quitting a regular activity, I feel, a time comes when one quits being a professional. But, if some activity (whether it is a profession or hobby) gives a kick, why think of quitting it?

  11. My heart was in my mouth when you chose to segue from the ‘thoughts of quitting blogging’ into the gratitude list topic. I kept my fingers crossed as I read through your post, and heaved a sigh in relief when I read that singular word no.

    To be honest, I cannot imagine the blogosphere without your blog. You create art with your words, Shailaja. Every topic you write about helps me learn so many new facts and ways of thinking. Not to forget, your kind comments and genuine feedback since my early days of blogging have helped me become better every day. πŸ’œ

    I liked the Calvin & Hobbes anecdote you shared. Quitting a certain aspect of life, so as to regroup and reinvent oneself is quite necessary. It could be called positive quitting, eh? The
    Mithila Menezes recently penned this post Anything But Books Tag: Get to know Mithila better + 200th Post!My Profile

  12. Quitting! never, you like to shake things up!!
    Your posts always keep me grounded and inspire me, just continue. Just read all those heartfelt comments and emails. <3

  13. So much wisdom in this post, Shy. I have often thought of quitting social media, as you are already aware. There were times when I experienced extreme angst but have come out strong. It still remains a dream of mine to just disable my profiles. Maybe, after I stop working. πŸ™‚ But writing or blogging, I will never give up even if no one reads me. It gives me so much joy to write, to connect with people and to experience the love and support that you’ve mentioned. There are so many of us who connected through blogging and have moved beyond it and have become true friends. I am blessed to have a few of them in my life. Just like you mentioned in your last lines that we must handle joy and sorrow with equanimity. I had the exact same thoughts as I was writing my gratitude post. πŸ™‚ I am also happy that you are in a better space emotionally. Do remember to get your tests done and would love you to incorporate a regular form of exercise in your life as well. Love and hugs. May July be even better.

    P.S: Loved Shalini’s gift and all those emails and comments. Such a shot in the arm!

    Rachna recently penned this post The June That Was And Life LessonsMy Profile

    1. Thank you so much, Rachna. For always being there. For your deep and abiding love for me. For being one of the kindest people I’ve come across through blogging. Ever grateful for that. Always and always.

  14. Your words have a way of finding a place in the recesses of one’s heart and making it their home. I love the way you express your point of view without trying to prove yourself right, ever. My interactions with you till now have been very meaningful and I hope that for the sake of people like me you keep blogging/writing for as long as you can. If and when you want to quit, please give us ways to reach out to you, ok? ☺

    1. Aww thank you Varsha! You have made my day with this. I love meaningful interactions and am thrilled when connections move beyond the blog to genuine links between writers and readers.

  15. You just scared me. As you are aware my reading /blog hopping is very sporadic these days. But I do make sure to read a few people no matter what. And you’re one of them. You inspire. You share positivity. You share reality bytes. You make me introspect. You make me feel like there’s life beyond those opinions, hatred and angst on social media. For these reasons and more I keep telling you that we need more people like you sharing your thoughts regularly. Lots of love.

    Rekha recently penned this post #TravelDiaries – Birds of #HimalayasMy Profile

    1. I didn’t realise I would scare so many people. That’s at once humbling and gratifying. So many people love me. I wonder what I did to manage this. Truly. I’m so touched by your words of love and encouragement. I know it’s not possible to blog hop always, Rekha. I’ve completely let go of expectations on that front. If one person reads I am happy these days 😊 So very blessed that you find my posts uplifting and inspiring. Thank you so much!

  16. Oh I hope you never give up on blogging, Shy. Because I (and the world) would miss you too much. As is apparent by my several declarations of undying love, and those emails from your other readers. But I guess we would understand if you needed to quit, and I for one, would settle for stalking you on social media. πŸ˜›

    P.S. Do not even think about quitting.
    P.P.S. Please don’t. Posts like these make me nervous.
    P.P.P.S. So don’t do it, okay? πŸ˜›
    Shantala recently penned this post When Dimple Met Rishi – Review and RaveMy Profile

    1. That’s so very sweet, Shantala! I’m glad you feel that way and it’s exactly how I feel about you too. I just wanted to say that we should not quit out of tiredness and annoyance because that may be the wrong reasons to quit.

      P.S. Not quitting πŸ˜‰

  17. Whew so you’re not going anywhere. Thank goodness. You had me worried for a moment there. And No I don’t think I would be able to handle that kind of a change with equanimity. Going back to your question – Would I quit something I love? Yes I would, if I wasn’t sure I would continue to do it justice. Perhaps one of the reasons I never went back to full time work was because I knew I wouldn’t be able to give it my 100 percent after the children came along.
    Obsessivemom recently penned this post The Fragrance of LoveMy Profile

    1. I love that answer. It’s precisely why I quit teaching. I knew I couldn’t do justice to that as well as bringing up my daughter. Which is why blogging is a boon that fell into my lap soon after she was born. Ever grateful for that. And don’t worry. I’m not quitting. Not yet anyway πŸ™‚

  18. Guess June has been a month of self-discovery for you. And perhaps most of us.
    Glad to know that you’re finally attaining that peace and calmness that you have been searching for.
    Always a great thing to get little acknowledgements of all the hardwork that you put in.

    All the best, Shailaja.
    Sid recently penned this post Have you ever felt like an imposter? I have.My Profile

    1. Thank you, Sid! Wow, that was quick πŸ™‚ It’s been a rough-ish first half of 2017 so I am hoping that things look up in the second half and what better day to hope for that to happen, right? By the way, I really liked your post on the Impostor Syndrome. Well written. Hope things are settled at the new place. Look forward to your being regular on your blog again.

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