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:
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?
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.
*Pin image: Shutterstock