At the surface, this channel of communication feels so abstract. I don’t know whether you read this to the end; maybe you skim through for something of interest. Whatever you do, I feel as if I am writing a letter to an old friend. I bear no sense of entitlement just because I am writing an issue of a newsletter. On the contrary, I feel honoured that you allow space for my ripe thoughts in your inbox. I appreciate you taking the time, even if all you do is skim.
Anyway, I have, for many years, struggled to find time for things that matter, to make time for them in the routine. A routine that keeps getting tangled with each passing day. The problem has recently aggravated as I stay locked down at home, always connected. I pass the time without being aware of doing so. I know this isn’t healthy.
The book “Make Time” sets itself up with just that problem. It presents a set of tips and tricks “for improving focus, finding greater joy in your work, and getting more out of every day”. The self-help books tend to crow over whatever little they have to say. This one was among those rear ones that win me over by their simplicity. It inspired me to bring in some simple changes to my routine.
To list a few, I follow a fixed sleep routine now; I exercise and meditate daily. My smartphone unlocks to a blank home screen with no apps, no widgets waiting to distract me. I spend not more than 2 hours on group meetings in a day. I am not letting others’ priorities run my day.
Every morning, I write down a highlight that will bring some sense of satisfaction to the day. Every evening, I log out from all my devices and spend a good hour or two with my family at a fixed time.
And the list goes on. In short, I desire to be conscious of how I spend my time. I have made many minor shifts in my routine in the last month. Do I see any gains? I am not judging yet. But I am leading my life at the very least.
Anyway, I hope this letter inspires you to contemplate whether you are doing the same with your life - consciously living it. With that said, here is a selection of three brilliant works of writing.
Who is your “everyone”? Chess masters scarcely surround themselves with motocross racers. Do you want aborigines at your birthday party? Or are you serving yak-butter tea? Popular culture deals not in its distant past, or any other past, or any other culture. You know no one who longs to buy a mule or be named to court or thrown into a volcano.
So the illusion, like the visual field, is complete. It has no holes except books you read and soon forget. And death takes us by storm. What was that, that life? What else offered? If for him it was contract bridge, if for her it was copyright law, if for everyone it was and is an optimal mix of family and friends, learning, contribution, and joy of making and ameliorating what else is there, or was there, or will there ever be?
The truth is, most wisdom is embittering. The task of the wise person cannot be to pretend with false naiveté that every moment is new and unprecedented, but to bear the burden of bitterness which experience forces on us with as much uncomplaining dignity as strength will allow. Beyond that, all we can ask of ourselves is that bitterness not cancel out our capacity still to be surprised.
Real pain, as in the case of being burnt at Smithfield or having a toothache, is a positive thing; it can be supported, but scarcely enjoyed. But, after all, our toothaches are the exception, and as for being burnt at Smithfield, it only happens to us at the very longest intervals. And most of the inconveniences that make men swear or women cry are really sentimental or imaginative inconveniences—things altogether of the mind. For instance, we often hear grown-up people complaining of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train. Did you ever hear a small boy complain of having to hang about a railway station and wait for a train? No; for to him to be inside a railway station is to be inside a cavern of wonder and a palace of poetical pleasures. Because to him the red light and the green light on the signal are like a new sun and a new moon. Because to him when the wooden arm of the signal falls down suddenly, it is as if a great king had thrown down his staff as a signal and started a shrieking tournament of trains.
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Thank you for reading and sharing.