When you don’t notice, time passes you by. But when you notice, time passes you by while giving you a dirty look. 2021 felt, for the most part, pissed about itself and, thankfully enough, seemed to be in a hurry to leave the room. There were days when the dates didn’t matter as sunrise blinked at sunset and it was already time for dinner.
I am insular and already used to such a passive-aggressive lifestyle, and shouldn’t complain at all. But then, at what point does a man wake up from his self-imposed slumber? Where does he raise his hand and say “That’s it” before changing the gear of his system? Who should he invoke to make his breaths a bit more worthwhile? How shall his environment react to his avowed transformation? Which road leads to a confluence of contentment and peace? When is a good time to reconsider? Many questions, including these, made their presence felt in my head throughout, with little to no real action at my end.
However, there were several silent lessons that trickled with varied experiences. The trouble with thinking too much and doing too little is you accumulate a lot of untested conclusions. They sound good on paper, almost poetic, to the effect of sunlight falling on your brow, and you end up pretending as if you are in a gorgeous slow music video directed by Alfonso Cuarón.
Yes, your brain can turn you into a magnificent tool.
You keep rattling your grey cells because deep down, you acknowledge how much you’ve died and how little you’ve lived so far. You could have been somebody far steeper than you are today. You could have broken the barrier and found yourself with a better view from the summit. You could have done more, fought more, earned more, fucked more, won more, applied more and served more. If not, at least you could have been simply happy, if not happiest. But then, the only thing unique about you is your ability to deal with disappointments. God created math so that we can continue to do our arithmetics and wonder about all the endless probabilities, dragging our ass down to the street called What Next.
Based on a myriad of such extrapolations, you can easily persuade yourself that maybe, just maybe, we are alive to witness ourselves grow through our thoughts. After all, what are we without our thoughts? Particularly when we are fully aware that what we think is an extension of our surroundings, leaving little area for improvisation. We learn a certain way because we think a certain way: our lessons remain contiguous in nature, whether we appreciate them or not.
And on that note, let me share some lessons I picked up this year, much against my wish –
1. Family matters. Even if you are running away from it, you’d ultimately accept the bare truth that some people in your life are pre-designed to be a part of your existence for a reason.
2. Our fears are there to guide us. If you are scared of something, it’s simply a reminder for you to keep going in the direction that you are already headed.
3. Your reputation is a byproduct of what you do, not what others think. If others assume lowly of you, it’s not your problem. The world runs on balance: those who focus on your shortcomings are negated by those who focus on your USPs.
4. Learn to listen to yourself for a change. Most of the promises we make are to ourselves, and more than half of them are broken at the earliest without a sound.
5. Keep in touch with your old friends who meant something to you once upon a time. You never know when they are dead and gone and all you are left with are some badly typed messages on WhatsApp.
6. If you think you are going to make it, most probably, you will. If you think you are not going to make it, most probably, you won’t. That’s just the way mind and matter cooperate. I didn’t make the laws.
7. Seek companionship and love wherever you can. There is way too little of it left in this overcrowded world (read: cities) of ours. Express yourself out.
8. Unless you reform yourself on a daily basis, you’ve got no (moral) right to pontificate how the others (society) need to function. More often than not, your biggest problem turns out to be you. We are all traders in this market of sentiments. Nothing more.
9. This pandemic has been a blessing in disguise for those who could fathom it without burning their fingers. If you didn’t lose a loved one, you are lucky. Be grateful and extend a helping hand wherever/whenever you can because the waves haven’t stopped incoming.
10. There were long phases when I thought I couldn’t do without watching cinema or reading books/poems or playing chess or ukulele. Plot twist: You will outgrow yourself sooner than you realize it. You will pick up a new passion and you will fail and bounce back. Keep at it.
11. The only thing you ought to be oversmart with is your money. Learn how to save it and grow it and ensure that your future is devoid of debt. Lead a frugal existence, if need be, but never splurge beyond your means. Set long-term goals.
12. Work on all your relationships, week in and week out. Time is the biggest currency in these emotional transactions. Spend it generously and try to create memories that won’t require pictures clicked on your smartphone to recollect later.
13. Despising the younger lot is a generational curse. Of course, they are spoiled because every generation is more spoiled than the previous one. Better to accept the behavioral drift as they are most likely to shape your tomorrow and you don’t want to be out of touch, now, do you?
14. If you think your communication skills—be it written or oral—are substandard, then reach out to folks who are better in this department. The only way to boost your confidence is to learn to drive while sitting next to someone who knows how to drive.
15. Workout. Even if you’ve lost your rhythm, go back in there and put yourself through the regime. The nicest feature of a good workout is your body and mind seem to be in sync for a change.
16. Cut out negative crap, both online and offline. Stop complaining. This year, I tried to be less skeptical and gained some ground too, but I am sure it’s a long process because pessimism is like a deep-rooted gangrene of consciousness. One day at a moment could be the mantra.
17. I can’t say I slept very well in 2021 but I acknowledged something more valuable: why I don’t sleep well. According to my understanding, sleep is supposed to be a natural therapy as long as you strain your physical self just enough. Otherwise, it becomes a burden. The way out here is to slowly rollback on all the factors that are keeping you awake. Work-related stress, past-related anxiety, life-related depression and so on.
18. Moving to a new city doesn’t make you a new person. Sorry. It only gives you opportunities to fulfill yourself in different ways. Grab them with both hands.
19. Define your success metrics and then keep changing them. Don’t let your neighbours define them for you. Most of us chase career graphs not because we are doing anything enormously significant with our lives but because we haven’t figured out yet what is it that we really want to do with our limited time on this planet.
20. Humility is the only dying art form today. Adopt it and practise wholeheartedly.
21. I observed that my writing neither improves nor deteriorates. It’s like a pendulum that refuses to move although the clock above still shows the time right.
Thank you for reading.