‘Dad, can you play cards with me? Now? Pleazzz? I have made it a rule - at least today - to heed my daughter’s call immediately. Dropping whatever I was busy with, online. And play cards. Or come outside to join her sitting on the rooftop of a neighboring slum house with her friends. Or cleaning the fish tank (‘who bought those fish, baby?’). How does that feel? It feels ‘in control’. Because what I *actually* want to do, is to continue what I was doing at the moment of my daughter’s request. Whatever that was. Mostly online work. Website. Facebook. The Stuff. But not today. Not this Sunday. So I play cards with my daughter, powder her back with rose-scented talcum and massage it, sit with her and her friends of my neighbor’s house (‘oh, oh, don’t jump from the stairs, dad. Neighbor will be angry’) and whatever is coming up in the rest of the evening. Ah, yes. Got the laundry from the line on top of our house because it will rain .. not! Chores keep me busy and the computer waits. When I finally return, and look around, I see happy faces. My daughter (‘dad played with me today, cool!’), my son (‘ha, he finally went out so I can play a few online games’) and my wife (‘I thought he would never ever do this, finally!’). It’s worth while, acting now. Its more. Its important. For yourself. And people who live with you. Now.
There’s washing your car, going to the park for a jog, walking your dog through the neighborhood or calling someone you haven’t spoken to since ages. Things you could do and many actually do on a Saturday morning. Not me. Apart from the fact that I live in a South-Indian slum area, with a park close by but separated from it in such a manner that I would have to cross have the city to actually be able to go in there and the fact that most of the people I know or am working with are all the people I regularly speak with and the fact that my landlady has a dog but I haven’t, there’s work waiting for me. Why? Its weekend?
Well, here in India and I guess pretty much everywhere in the developing world, we’ve got this thing called a six-days working week. I work 8 days a week, personally. Well, that’s how it feels, me working 14 hours a day from Mon-Mon, but having said that: you really get used to working so much once you do work that you really like. I’m not saying that the office I will go to today (again, like yesterday and the day before that etc.) is my dream, but it earns me the income that I need to sustain my family. And believe me, once you’ve got a family (and in India marrying with an Indian means you get to know the meaning of ‘family’ really thoroughly), you’ve got to do what a man got to do: earn a livelihood. And living like I do in a metro (Chennai), where everything is expensive (and no one has toilet paper because that’s even more expensive than writing paper), you really got to find yourself a good job, a job that pays and is not too devastating to your mental or physical health.
I am lucky to have found a job where in between I can get a lot done of my other work, my passion (sorry), what I call ‘my second shift’, the work I do when I get home from my first job, roughly from 9pm-12am. If not for that second job, I would have a real hard time working in my first (not really knowing why I would be doing that in the first place except for a salary).
So perhaps the bottom line could be: if you’ve gotta make money for a living and need to take out a job for that (some don’t, others won’t) make sure that next to a job you need, you have a job you want. And praise yourself lucky as one of the happy few when those two jobs coincide in one and the same. I hope I’ll ever get there.
Everyone needs it, but its considered to be a rare thus scarce commodity, not many can boast to have it all the time: inspiration.
Inspiration makes you come of out bed at 2 in the morning; it makes you say stuff that you didn’t know you had in you (of course this can work out both ways); it makes you sit to finish that drawing, poem, song, blog post way beyond the time your house mate thought you’d take before you’d join them in the party; it creates space for creativity, it channels intuition and it is opposite almost everything that is being taught to kids at school.
‘Be creative!’ is the mantra.
Where discipline is caught in the phrase ‘you could but you won’t’, inspiration is probably found in ‘it comes out because it came in’.
‘It is because I have crossed 50’, I keep telling myself. This sense of urgency. Time’s running out and that kind of thing. Are you under 50? Most likely you are. Have you every ‘been urgent’ about something? Are you? Now? Well, let me tell you: its okay! To be urgent. Because time IS running out. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re 2 months or 200 (Oh, please!): time is the only commodity, along with oil, natural gas and brain cells, that is not restored. Ever. After it is wasted. And for all of you who don’t know: death is a one-way ticket. I’m not a Buddhist, no. Not a Hindu either. Baptised, yes. Does that make me a believer in life-after-death-in-heaven? No, it doesn’t. Well, it didn’t I should better say. Seeing and knowing the world I live in, I have grown to be a humanist. But let me not get into that, its an altogether different discourse. Perhaps for a later blog post.
Urgency. I have more of it while time runs out on me. While life runs out of me. What do I say here? Am I sick? Terminally ill? Thank God (!) no. Not yet, at least. Not that I know of, at least. I know of so little. And that, believe me, I consider a blessing in disguise. I read about Kim Peek the other day. Kim is (or was, there we go!) a so called ‘megasavant’. You know, one of these only hundred or so, people on earth that are gifted (why do we call it so?) with peculiar properties (others call them ‘bizarre’) as ‘seeing numbers as colors and shapes’, ‘knowing the future’ or ‘bending over backwards defying the known flexibility of human spines’. In Kim’s case: memorizing each word from a book with lots of pages, in an hour or so, by reading each left page with his left eye and right page with his right (simultaneously, if you thought that that wasn’t such a big deal!). At the time of his death (it hits us all, and so it did to Kim too, when he was in his fifties, in 2009) he knew some 12,000 books. By heart! He memorized them all. Has Kim’s capacity contributed to world peace? Has it brought communities at odds with life’s conditions (undrinkable water, no income and no natural resources) closer to better circumstances? No, it hasn’t. Should it? No. Then why do I remember this? And tell you this?
This is what life does to us. We think we do and think about that what is important in our lives. We say ‘do good!’ to others and say to ourselves (we should!) that we do good to others, because look. . aren’t we going to work every day? If we have work, that is. That is a miracle that some of us are still waiting for. Praying for! Look, we say, aren’t we sending our kids to school? Aren’t we responsible citizens, paying tax (or evading it, depends what your community taught you to make sense), mawing our lawn, washing our car on Saturdays? Am I being cynical, because it feels good, to be cynical? Well, it does! But that is not my point. What is my point then?
Well, here it is: time’s running out, lest you hadn’t noticed. The minutes that I used so far (from 3-3:15 am in Chennai, South-India on April 18, 2013, are gone. Forever. They will never ever return. I go to work and (hopefully) return to my home, in the evening. Photographs as witnesses of my passed, show me what happened. But the happenings themselves, will never return. You know when I first really understood the meaning of ‘never’? When my mum died. ‘I will never ever be able to talk to her’, I understood. Never. It means. . what? Its fairly incomprehensible, if you really look into it. And you know why? Because we refuse to really accept it. That counts for the amount of coal stored in our earth’s crust as well as death. We are in denial. And we have to (we think), because wouldn’t life become pretty unbearable when you would realize, I mean: really realize, that it will all stop, one day. The coal. And our lives. Would it? Become unbearable? I think not!
I don’t pretend that I know ‘how things are’. As a humanist and agnostic, I have the potentially depressive-making conviction that when I die, it all stops. End of story (hope it was a good one!). End of the line. But I’m not depressed. I was, when I was 20, but that was because i did NOT feel what I feel now. I felt, back then, that life was going on forever. And that ‘forever’ thought kind of depressed me. The same thought - that life was to go on forever or at least for a very very long time - made me happy ever since. And now? I have surrendered to the idea that it is not. Going to go on forever. But it will stop. And the minutes that clock away between ‘later’ and ‘now’, that seem to stretch out before me as ‘the future’ have become a precious commodity. As the growing scarcity coal has become the heart-beat of the ‘sustainable future’ movement (am part of it, don’t worry!). So did life’s weaning away because of time’s passing away, become my heart-beat. Causing an urgency (not very stressful, happily, but urgency it is) that puts me where I am. Saying: ‘people, do not waste time on stuff that later on you will think of as ‘Oh, I wish I had done more of this instead of that’. Because when you arrive at this and other similar thoughts - most likely at your very end - there’s really no time left to have it done.
My message in a bottle: seek what it is that you’ve come here for. Seek what drives you and to whom it drives you. And dispose of those things (and people) that withold you from doing what your heart tells you to do. For this is your heart-beat saying to you: ‘time’s running out, buddy. You better keep going, doing what you can to make it worth, living. Your life’s yours. And you’re the only one who can make it count. Every second of it. Do it!’
Thought the guy was holding a tablet (lol), but he is actually reading a book! How nice!
(Source: amandaonwriting, via yahighway)
Why is it so difficult to climb the Mount Everest? Or to travel up to 35 km and then jump off a balloon (yeah, it has been done!)? Or, to name something easier, to write a blog post? It is because the beginning is so tough. And that is because we imagine the final climb, moment to jump or first words on ‘paper’ to be so incredibly tough. Almost (yeah, say it!) .. impossible!
Then why some people HAVE done it? Climbing the Everest (many did, since Edmund Hillary in the nineteen fifties , jumping out of balloons (but nobody repeated the 35 km jump so far, though) or writing blog posts (millions are doing it, everyday). Why will YOU not do it, starting with writing a blog post?
Here I am, had just as much reservation as you have and I did it. You know how? Here’s the secret: I just wrote about my very fear, in the first paragraph. I wrote about the hesitation I felt while my browser was loading tumblr.com. ‘What am I going to write about?’
First thing you have to get out of the way is ‘the readers’. Replace them with ‘my best friend’. You are simply having a conversation with your best friend. That clears the path already for a great deal.
Next: get yourself out of the way. Its not you that your friend is interested in (of course he/she is, but that’s old stuff!), its the story! Hey, you’ve got some news for me? ‘Yeah, there’s this doubt that simply fills me everytime I …’. Silence. Friend: ‘Well, go on! I want to hear everything!’. There you are: you’ve got an enthusiastic audience, ready to hear whatever it is. Spill the beans, John!
Its all in your mind really. Just imagine. The right stuff. And off .. you go! You’re on your way towards your (first?) blog post!
Photo Flashback: View from one of the towers of San Gimignano in Tuscany. / on Instagram http://instagr.am/p/WaflqBjjsr/
If this isn’t awesome …