In exactly 6 months to the day, I will turn 40. A few months ago, this meant nothing to me. It was just a number on the calendar, an inevitable milestone of sorts, if you wish. But this year has been very different in comparison to the last few years of my life. Perhaps it has shaped the way I look at things today.The year began with moving into a new home. Almost immediately afterwards, I had a severe bout of illness which lasted nearly 8 weeks. In the months that followed, I grew older, a lot wiser and somewhat humbled by the lessons that life threw in my path.
Very often, I stumble upon interesting articles that help in shifting perspective from what I think, to what I know to be true. One of those was this piece: Create more than you consume.
Perhaps it’s the timing of the piece or the space I am in, but it hit me hard. Here I was, at a defining stage of my life and I had a choice. What was I going to do?
What I always do best: I made a list.
You may know that I started on a meditation and mindfulness practice a while ago. As a part of the daily habit, I began writing in my journal. Some days it was a series of tasks to be done. Other days, it was a rambling entry about my space in the universe. Another day it was a micro-poem, dashed off in a fit of inspiration, but not really fit for public consumption. Yet another day it would be something as simple as my grocery inventory.
Each of these tasks helped me in their own way. They gave me structure when I needed it. They gave me calm when I craved it.
Keeping this in mind, last week, at a rather low point , I sat and stared at my journal. A part of me whispered, ‘What’s the point? Why are you even doing this all? What are you getting out of it?’ I closed my eyes and asked myself, ‘What do you enjoy doing? What creative pursuit makes you content, by itself, not because of the possible outcomes?’
And the answer emerged in another list. These are the things, in no particular order, that I enjoy the most:
*Writing and the creative process
Going back to the first part of this post: am I making the effort to create more than I consume?
Blogging for me has always been about two things: the writing and the learning that comes from this space every day. I started on a very relaxed note way back in 2007. When I began blogging in earnest again in 2013, I could sense that there was more to blogging than met the eye.
Today, after 4 years of consistent blogging, I can tell you that the passion to blog hasn’t abated. If anything, it continues to thrive. I love to blog. Be it a meditative piece or an instructional piece, I enjoy seeing the blog come together. It’s like the feeling a sculptor has when the different bits of clay mould and fit perfectly to create a thing of joy. (Keats, anyone?)
This also means that the more time I spend creating and learning, the less time I spend consuming. Social media is now (finally) a tool that I can use without addiction. I’ve spent almost 3 years trying to break my bond with this beast, but I forgot an important thing. It was only a beast if I looked at it that way. If I engaged in acrimonious debates or spent hours scrolling through a feed populated with pictures or winced at people ranting, who is to blame? Easy to blame the platform and other people, but how we use our time is in our hands.
Want to know how I overcame this? (Apart from not installing the facebook app on my phone, I mean). Every time I looked at my Facebook feed, I would ask myself, ‘Why am I here?’ If the answer was a specific purpose, I found that I performed the action and left the platform with no anger or bitterness.
I am a part of many useful groups on Facebook, both as a blogger and a parent. So I switched to directly clicking on the ‘Groups’ icon in my sidebar, instead of the News feed and checking updates or posting queries there. Then, I would look at my notifications, respond to messages and leave. If time permitted, I scrolled once through my news feed and engaged with the posts I cared about. Of course, I share my own content. But the choice of consumption is left to the reader.
What then, is writing? Isn’t it the same as blogging? Technically, it is. But if I were to look at the creative aspect, writing is so very different. Writing exists by and of itself. It doesn’t need to be anything more. If the writing process is one of sheer joy , then I’d say you’re doing writing right.
What happened in this space? I discovered that I was not writing enough. Instead, I was on social media asking about writing more, reading about writing better, sharing articles on ‘how to be a good writer and write everyday’, but not actually writing. Hmm, see the problem?
I love this blog. I love the fact that I have a space to express myself as a writer, but I haven’t been doing much of that lately, have I?
Last week, I shifted both my blogs to a secure version. At that point, I wondered, does it make sense to merge the two blogs? Who has the energy to maintain 2 blogs? Plus there are a ton of blogs out there! What difference will one less blog make?
So, I made a decision. I would keep blogging and writing separate. This blog will go back to being a blog on writing, the creative process, flash fiction and personal essays (like this one). The other blog will be about parenting, my life as a mom and blogging tips and strategies.
Seeing it all written down made it much clearer, somehow.
Finally, I’m working on mindfulness in all aspects of my life- work, blogging, social media, relationships and personal growth. By the time I am 40, I need to be able to say that I’ve grown. I need to forgive more and move forward. I need a better handle on my patience levels, even though I don’t yell. I must steer away from thinking negatively of people, even unwittingly. I need to work on making Time my ally and friend, instead of something that I race against, every single day.
By creating more and consuming less, I believe that this is possible. Six months later, I have no idea if I will be around (life’s short and unpredictable, right?). But, if I am, I have to be damn sure that I walk into my 40’s with my head held high and with a skip in my step.
*If you enjoyed this post and would like to leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you. You can use either the Facebook comment box or the regular commenting system to leave your thoughts.