TSUNDOKU-A REFLECTION

Today is the first of May. I woke up this morning wondering how much of what I set out to achieve this year has actually fallen in place. It feels like not much really, but I think that is because most are works in progress.

I grouped my desires for the year in 4 major categories- Read, Write, Teach, Learn. As you may notice, every one of these influences and reinforces the other. I know to the experts at resolutions, this is vague with no definite plans and metrics by which to gague success but it is all I could commit to. Besides, I made no strict resolutions, just a desire to pay closer attention to these aspects of my life.

On Reading

I have been reading alright, just not how and as much as I’d like to. The measly feat of four books in four months- fiction and non-fiction, two apiece- cowers at the intimidating accomplishment of completing 100 books in a year or even in 100 day, as stated here. I have no intentions of going as far as creating a spreadsheet for the purpose of reading books and my current responsibilities will not permit me to become a hermit just so I can attain such lofty heights. The books I read are all old and forgotten, so its clear I’m doing this on my own terms: Senaca’s On the shortness of life, C.S Lewis’ Reflections on the Psalms, Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah and Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.

I have quite a number of half read books on my tablet. I am like a hoarder when it comes to downloading e-versions and my tablet is currently a digital tsundoku (that’s a new Japanese word I learnt for the unread books in a library). With a growing wishlist of books I want to purchase and read (the latest being ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ by Rebecca Skloot), I guess you could say I have a fantasy tsundoku as well.

On Writing

A number of the books in my digital tsundoku are on writing and being a better writer. As a writer, I think I have improved marginally. Facebook Memories has brought to my notice a few cringeworthy pieces I put up over the years and I really do think I am better. I have saved a couple of these pieces for reworking and editing. A weekly feature on Medium was supposed to ensure that I put in the effort to make writing, even without inspiration, a habit but I have been anything but consistent. To be positive though, this is probably the most effort I have put into writing on a regular basis and that has to count for something. As usual, I have countless drafts here and there, abandoned on Medium, my tablet and my laptop, that I hope I can come back to.

On Teaching

Teaching has been a blessing. I put in more effort into preparing my lectures these days and I can tell that my students enjoy it. I have found the saying ‘to teach is to learn twice’ true in all ramifications. I have also been reading a lot of materials challenging traditional education, teaching and grading methods and these have had some effect on my style. There is a desire to spark a flame in students, to inspire them to be responsible for their own learning than just reeling out a bunch of facts which they have to cram and regurgitate at examinations. Although, I still give out the notes, what I am trying to do more consciously is to instill a culture of deep learning. I hope I succeed.

On Learning

Learning is the big one. I have learnt so much in 4 months. Stuff about myself, the world, people. I can’t quantify how much I have learnt. I hope I can put into practice all I have imbibed from numerous sources. That would be the true test of value. Above all, I have learnt how infinitesmal the knowledge I have in areas in which I claim to be an expert is and this is really humbling.

My hopes for the next eight months.

In addition to the categories above, I am adding creativity and boldness. So my resolutions are to read more, write more, teach more (and better), learn more, be more creative (another vague one) and be bolder (let go of the butterflies in my tummy).

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