Make up you bed…. or write 585 words
Dear readers, this is actually adapted from a letter I wrote to my 13 year old daughter. I lead a good part of my year away from her. Physically, that is. Lately the realization that Skype can never be a replacement for ‘being there’ is growing on me. Over the years I have written few letters of ‘wisdom’ for her, but never sent one to her yet. Earlier today I added this one to the Mac Notes app that we share. I hope she stumbles on this when she open her Ipad, which am sure will not be long!
It is 5 in the evening. I look outside. I want to see long shadows at the foot of the trees by the sidewalk. There are none. It is already dark outside, almost. Grey clouds have taken the sun or whatever remains of him at 5 PM in southern Canada hostage. I shudder when I realise that I have started to miss the sun already, it is only early October. Isn’t this year supposed to be ‘better’?
I am sitting on the brown Ikea sofa in the living room. If you saw me now you would think the image from this morning’s Skype was frozen. No, let me confess — I have done nothing today. I turn my glance towards my fitbit for some solace. May be I am just hallucinating, the step counter will show 9897 steps, just a walk to the washer short of the 10k mark. After all, step counters are objective, aren’t they? My scientific antenna is up. Not for long though. My shoulder droops when I see the numbers on the Fitbit diaplay — 114, 2 miles short. This was the conclusive proof. I have barely moved today, even a sloth would have crawled more in 12 hours. Wait, may be there was a bug in the FitBit, or I forgot to wear it when I went for a run…….Or maybe I spent the day making alluring music. On yes, that is it. That was always the plan, even you know it. How you wanted me to play Moonlight, that song by that kid who learned ukulele in Youtube? I look dotingly at my Taylor resting majestically beside the Vox soundbox. My shoulders droop when I realize that the cable is neatly folded and tucked below the Vox’s handle, the Vox itself is unplugged. I admit haven’t inched beyond two lines of the song in the last 2 weeks. Whatever happened to the plans to get up in the morning and get in to the ‘flow’? What went wrong?
Anne Dillard, one writer who blurred the line between prose and poetry once wrote “how we spend our days is how we spend our lives”. So what?, I thought when I read it for the first time. Of course, I was in a hurry and didn’t have the patience to read what Anne had followed that with. The idea that days makes up our lives seemed far too superficial to the busy body me. After all, I am changing the world, where is the time to think of life as a continuum built painstakingly one step at a time. Months later I came back and read the next line — “What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing”. Aha! now I started to get it. Get through the day, hour by hour, mindfully. Beautiful prose, but empty thought, I wrote in a papr napkin that was conveniently handy. It was exactly the poetical prose that goaded me to continue reading, after getting rid of the napkin nevertheless. “A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time. A schedule is a mock-up of reason and order — willed, faked, and so brought into being; it is a peace and a haven set into the wreck of time; it is a lifeboat on which you find yourself, decades later, still living. Each day is the same, so you remember the series afterward as a blurred and powerful pattern”, Anne continued. She had repeated the word schedule so often that I was convinced that this was your grandpa speaking, albeit eloquently. His sermons on ‘time table’ echoed violently in my empty head. I stopped right there.
It is 6 PM. I am sitting in a dark room, my face illuminated by the glow of the macbook screen. Being a creature of habit I look at the word count. 60 minutes, 583 words, 3034 characters. Wow, not bad indeed especially since I don’t remember when was the last time I wrote something outside of Outllook. I notice that I am breathing easier than I have for long. Something at last. Feels good. As powerful as making your bed in the morning. Even when 120 words and 597 characters are straight lifted from the mystical prose of Anne. Ah that was a low punch, to myself. I should’ve stopped but I don’t. It would’ve been more powerful if you didn’t wander aimlessly around the internet jungle finally reaching Amazon (where else!), I continue my charade to myself.
It is hard for me not to be hard on myself.
For a change, I don’t want to let myself down.
It is pitch dark now. The previously angelic glow on my face now feels ghost like. It is time to brighten things, indeed. I wake up from the sofa. I turn on the incandescent. No, not enough. I reach out for the next set of lights — a spot light I had bought exactly to be the steroid of my apartment life. I push the button. Now I am basking in the sun, except that it is soft and mellow, not scalding hot. I don’t care that it is blinding to look at it straight on. Or that there is no wind on my face.
I minimize the word processor. The screen saver looks beautiful, I had just replaced the monochrome black with the Holstee poster. Stop over analyzing. Life is simple. Yes indeed. Especially if you keep doing the small things that you love right and tap yourself on the shoulder. Especially if you are not too hard on yourself. Especially if you build pockets of stillness in to your life (Thank you Maria Popova). Yes, do nothing. At times. Regularly. unfailingly.
Write 500 words, even if 25% of that is not yours.
I must write more. What d’ya think chinnu baby?