I don’t know where to start. Sometimes there’s so much to say I regret not writing here every week; other times that long list of things to talk about seems to be full of trivialities that could all go in a single post. Other times, I’m not sure whether what I want to say should go on the blog or in my diary.
I still don’t know what my criteria are for deciding what goes here and what doesn’t – I write a blog draft and then don’t post it because it seems unimportant; other times I end up writing words in my diary that I feel more people should read. There’s no uniformity here. This blog is sort of like a diary and sometimes I feel it’s completely pointless to write good words in my diary because when I write good words I want others to read them.
But these “others” are ambiguous too. Sometimes they’re all the people who read this blog. Sometimes it’s a specific person I want to share my words with. I specifically want that one person to read those particular words and tell me how they like them. And this one person is not always the same individual. Sometimes they’re fictional, made up in my head.
There are parts of me that perhaps everyone likes. There are parts that some people love. And some parts they hate. Depending on who that “particular person” is, my words change. My expectation of how they would react changes. And my relationship with that person decides what goes here, in my diary, or directly on their Whatsapp.
So many words – that last line made me wonder whether there was any point to what I just told you above. Do you even need to know about this? Or would it help me better explain what I’m trying to talk about in this post but haven’t really figured out for myself, because I’m not really writing this post as much as reading it as you are reading it now, not knowing what sentence will follow next?
I haven’t posted much lately. I wasn’t sure what I would write about. My life had already so little to offer in the way of good writing material, and then the world was suddenly overwhelmed with a pandemic, and we were all told to stay home. I did not want to write about dealing with the coronavirus, mostly because I don’t really have much to say. I could, of course, as always complain about how boring my life is and that nothing interesting is going on. I could talk about being lonely. The same shit over and over and over.
But then the migrant labours flooded the empty highways on a long march home now that they had no source of income thanks to the lockdown. I read news reports of people dying after walking for hundreds of miles, being sprayed with disinfectant as if they were pests and not people. I saw people use the Tablighi Jamaat outbreak as excellent fuel for reigniting communal hatred in the country which seemed to have taken a backseat when coronavirus took up the news space occupied by reports of the Delhi riots. I read about the rise in cases of domestic violence and worried about the mental health of people with OCD, washing their hands over and over, people with depression and anxiety and claustrophobia and more – I saw all that and I decided that I did not really have anything of importance to say, and even though I love writing, sometimes it is better to stay quiet and let others talk.
And others have been talking, trying to remind people that it is a privilege to not have your lives upended by the lockdown,unlike for the poor and the homeless, that you don’t have to reach new levels of productivity now that you have so much time. You are allowed to relax, take a break, sleep all day if you like. No one is obliged to start side-hustles or lose weight or learn new skills. This is not a competition. The world has shut down. People are dying. If there’s one thing we are supposed to do, it’s to stay at home and flatten the curve. What you do when you stay at home is your business only and you are not obliged to do anything that people want you to do.
Personally, I haven’t been up to much that’s worth talking about. I did have a few bad days, but those happen whether or not there’s a lockdown. I started more books but I also found myself reading very, very slowly because it felt like my brain was unlearning how to read English. I did have some productive days. I cried. I started sketching again but didn’t stick to it. I planned my days in my bullet journals, then couldn’t follow through because of this or that. I talked to friends. I didn’t talk to friends. I realized what sort of a person I wanted to be. I got things done, but only when I was perilously close to the deadline. I started figuring what were the things that were important to me and what weren’t.
I’m still figuring that all out.
One thing has remained constant through it all, however, and has even strengthened over the past few weeks: the resolve to be kind.
A few months ago-I think around the New Year-I’d considered posting on my Instagram page again. I still struggle with the remnants of my existential crisis every now and then – I could die tomorrow, is this what I really want to be doing today? What’s the point of writing this or reading that? What am I doing to make this world a better place? How am I going to strengthen my bond with my family if I continue behaving like this or talking like that?
The questions keep popping up, and my mind recalls the answers I’d found too, but I keep forgetting them. And I hardly ever – if at all – end up acting on the solutions.
And the days go on.
And the questions pop up.
And I dismiss them.
But I worry, or I forget about goals and life and death.
And the days go on.
And then it all happens again.
I keep saying I want to do this or be that, but I don’t really do those things. And I feel like a hypocrite as a result, not to mention quite ashamed for admitting my failure to act.
And this is not the first time I’m talking about this. I’ve said this very thing a thousand times before. Clearly, I haven’t learned much.
So back to Instagram: these answers that I found – some I did by thinking and pondering, but mostly I found them because I talked to others or consulted the good ol’ internet for reassurances and solutions. And I thought that perhaps I should share those things. Someone wrote about something, and that gave me a solution. Maybe I’ll write about what I struggled with and how I overcame it, and maybe someone will read it and find a solution to their problem. We all have unique experiences, yes, but we share our innate humanness with everyone.
Or maybe no one would read it and I’ll hear crickets, my post buried in the deluge of images posted on Instagram every second.
I could have some impact, or I could have no impact. It’s not really in my hands. Human beings have this incredible ability to take what’s out there and make something useful out of it, in ways the creator might never have expected. The transformation that human beings bring about are largely unpredictable – that’s what so weird, so surprising, so wonderful, so fascinating, so baffling about how our minds work. Anything could become something else entirely, and you’ll never be able to see it coming.
Given that then, it’s not really the best approach to decide for ourselves that this particular action will have this particular consequence only. The things you predicted might happen, but so will things that you didn’t.
Your job (and mine) is to just share. Only if you want to, of course.
You do not have to share everything you’ve known, seen, lived, thought because many of those things are better left in the past, untalked about.
But if you want to share, you should go ahead and do it.
This is mostly me talking to myself. A part of me right now is telling me not to publish this post because it’s repeating something I’ve already said in other posts in the past, so why waste people’s time? Why not just write this “solution” , this note-to-self in my personal diary and be done with it?
But the part of me that’s making the argument in favor of sharing is thinking about the possibilities – maybe a new follower is reading this and so what I shared here is probably new for them because they haven’t read any of my old posts. Maybe when at the end of this year I’ll look back at my own posts and determine which were the best, this might be one of them. Maybe one of my old followers had read that old post that was similar to this one but was reminded about it today.
I don’t know.
What I do know is that I’m writing here because I love blogging and this is something I want to remember now and in the future and because I believe that things take unexpected turns. I was helped during my existential crisis by a lot of random stuff on the internet. Most of it probably wasn’t posted with the intention of helping eighteen-year-olds deal with death anxiety and self-doubt. But it ended up doing that anyway.
I believe in sharing. We’re all we have, minds dead and alive, speaking across space and time. Sharing is how we grow and thrive and progress.
So I’ll do that. I’ll share what I have and hope that if it doesn’t hear crickets and does get read by people, it does something good for them. Because countless strangers on the internet did it too, and I owe a large part of my mental health to them.
If they hadn’t shared those things, I probably still would have been struggling with the concept of existence, with no idea about where to go and what to do.
And because of this very reason, I’m gonna go back to Instagram and start sharing again – quotes that I think more people should see, books I think everyone should read, ideas that helped me, a thought I had after reading an article, a question about human behaviour sparked by a conversation with a fellow book club member.
It might help others, or it might not. Maybe people will like what I share, or they won’t. But I’ll get to collect my thoughts and ideas in one place. I’ll have an excuse to show off my handwriting and have an aesthetic feed. In the end, it might all be just for myself. Maybe not much would come out of it, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong on this count.
I just don’t want to not do it and then wonder what would have happened if I’d gone ahead with the idea.
I still don’t know what exactly I’d be sharing, how I’ll go about it. I don’t have a plan. I just have interest and intention. I’ll figure out the rest as I go. There are no obligations. I can always quit if it becomes too much work or if I’m not enjoying it or if things take a negative turn. It won’t be the first time I’d be giving up on a project anyway.
But I’ll share. That’s for sure. And I’ll do it in the kindest way possible.