Amidst the incessant chatter, the incorrigible banter, the uncontrollable laughter and the endless streams of communication that happen with the two maddest girls I have met in recent time, I sometimes find a trigger. A trigger that sets off an inner monologue. A random utterance that ought not to hold too much meaning, but suddenly clicks a little swirling thought right into place, in my head. And today that happened by way of one of those pinterest-y aspirational quotes that were shared on whatsapp.
Starve your distractions. Feed your focus. it said in big fat letters, superimposed over a reclining tiger. Simple words often hit the spot like a hammer on an anvil that has been in waiting for aeons. Instantly, it put words to the meandering thoughts that I’ve been juggling in my mind. It gave shape to the shapeless, mish-mash that has been my focus of late.
I know what I want, I know what I have to do, but I have been restlessly shuffling around not knowing where to begin. To-do lists, notes to self, reminders, calendars — I’ve tried it all. But the thoughts continue to morph like shapeshifting ninjas that refuse to be tamed. At some point last year I resigned to the headless-chicken-like existence that I had resorted to. Just slipping along with the landslide and continuing that way seemed like the easier option than hitting pause and making sense or working out any kind of schedule.
But. I cannot continue that way. It caused a significant loss of stillness, patience and calm that I had so carefully built over the last 2 years.
Our conversation today, about rejigging the focus back to where it should be, made me realise it is ultimately about cutting distractions. I sorely miss the days when I lost track of time, immersed in one activity. These days I don’t feel like I have done much unless I have multi-tasked the bejeezus out of my daily task list. Any free moment of time makes me restless thinking about the ten other things I could be doing to fill my time. And I hate that kind of constant preoccupation. Mostly because it is not productive. It is noisy and chaotic, and I cannot function that way.
The importance of everyday rituals and habits is seriously underrated and I have never felt the lack of it and missed it sorely as much as I did these past few months. Daily habits that I had made for myself allowed me to pare my thoughts down to the most important, listen to the inner voice that’s always struggling to be heard, and gave me immense peace and joy even at the busiest of times.
I need to get back to that level of stillness. And because I know how hard it was to cultivate it, I want to grab it before it slips away completely.
I am so very grateful for the moments of honesty and sharing that I have with these girls, where it is so effortless to swing from ranting about men to talking about how I need to bring focus back to my life, in a moment. I revisited this post I’d written on Flow, because I remembered it perfectly encapsulated all that I had back then, and what I am missing in my life right now.
So, to remind myself of an oft-repeated, old and very cliche, but completely accurate and apt mantra, I drew myself this today:
Rather than panic about the hows and the whens of this cacophony, I’m reminding myself to let it go. Let it flow. Then I’m going to slowly declutter, follow-through and keep calm and try and finish everything I begin.
Another thing I resumed doing last year is giving in to the itch to doodle. And these are some of the pieces of work that came out of it.
A few months ago Mommygolightly asked if I’d exchange art with Re. I happily agreed (because there’s very little I said no to last year). And then forgot (because there’s only that much my brain can ultimately process). Until she came to town in November, and we decided to meet. I decided to finally get down to it and make something to send to Re. Of course it ended up being an elephant. But it sparked off my annual itch to draw/sketch/paint.
A few days later, I woke up to an internet outage (yeah, I’m still suffering those). So instead of rant and rave, I shut the laptop down and opened my sketch book. And this happened.
In December, R and I had a series of conversations about feeling at sea. It was how I was feeling, and she was too, in a different context. So we talked, and tried to assuage each other’s trepidation about love and life at large. And then it began to rain in her city. A few hours after a milestone conversation we had, she sent be a disturbing video of the real situation the floods had caused. So I made this. For Madras.