Word of the Week #221:

Contrition

People often ask me what I do all day.

Okay, not often. More like, occasionally.

Anyway, I don’t usually have a real answer. I don’t have a schedule, per se. I just do what I like.

Still, what does a day look like in my life?

Well, let’s take a look.

12:00 PM

Awaken by a call. Client asks if I can take a new project and complete it in 24 hours.
“Of course, I can! Sure thing!”

12:02 PM

Go back to sleep.

4:14 PM

Actually wake up.

4:16 PM

Send confirmation to client without actually reading the whole email or checking the attachments.

4:20 PM

Freshen up.

4:40 PM

Think about working out.

5:30 PM

Actually start working out.

6:15 PM

Finish working out.

6:30 PM

Finally catch your breath.

6:31 PM

Think about taking a shower before getting distracted by a text.

6:56 PM

Actually shower.

7:13 PM

Walk out of the shower.

7:20 PM

Have dinner. 
“Dinner”? “Lunch”? Whatever.

7:40 PM

Consider getting started on the project.

7:41 PM

Decide to start at 8:00

7:42 PM

Chat.

8:00 PM

Realise you don’t want to start working yet. 

Reconsider.

8:03 PM

Decide to really start at 9:00.

8:04 PM

Continue chatting.

9:00 PM

Check the attachment in the email and realise you are not going to enjoy this project.
Whine.
“Nah! I don’t wanna do this!”

9:08 PM

Play video games for an hour.

11:20 PM

Realise it has been more than an hour.

11:21 PM

Decide to really, really start at midnight.

11:22 PM

Tell everyone you have decided to really, really start at midnight.

12:00 AM

Play video games for an hour.

5:28 AM

“Is that sunlight? Son of a—”

5:30 AM

Open a 98 page document.

5:40 AM

Finish reading the 98 page document.

5:41 AM

Get started on your task.

5:55 AM

Finish your task.

6:00 AM

Check once and submit.

6:01 AM

Go down for breakfast.
“Breakfast”? “Dinner”? Whatever.

6:02 AM

Realise that society’s definitions have no hold on you.

6:08 AM

Eat scrambled eggs.

6:11 AM

Lie in bed and watch anime.

10:00 AM

Turn the laptop off and go to bed with zero regrets.

That’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it…

Du du du du du du du du du… Du du du du du du du du du… 

 

Word of the Week #208:

Incubation

Okay, visualise this:

The quarantine has ended.

My favourite friends are throwing a party at their place… Because, that’s what you do when a quarantine ends, right?

I’m late, but not too late. I’m just at the right time, really, when the party is already in its full flow and everyone is already having fun. No more awkward small talk while everyone waits for people to join in on the dance floor. 

I can see her through the open door. I watch her as she prances about, her long, lustrous hair bobbing around her waist and her beautiful smile lighting up the dimly lit room. 

She turns. Our eyes meet.

Cue the music

She sees me walking up the stairs in slow motion, my hair ruffled by the soft breeze and my black shirt just unbuttoned enough to offer a glimpse of the recently-chiseled body underneath.

Striding in, I place my hand at her waist and spin her into my arms. Our eyes meet again, and we know what we want.

The chorus rises.

Without hesitation, we break into dance.

I was made for lovin’ you, Baby,
You were made for lovin’ me.
And I can’t get enough of you, Baby
Can you get enough of me?

Sounds fun, right?

Well, anybody who knows me knows that I cannot dance. At all.

Do I have a chiseled body? Maybe if it were chiseled out of foam.

Actually, I don’t think I even have a black shirt.

So, what is the point of this daydream?

In tough times like these, it is important to dream. And not just dream idly, either. Continuing to work towards your goals is important to sustain sanity when the normalcy and the noise of a routine are taken from you.

This is not the time to pause your dreams, but to feed them, gestate them, and prepare them to be borne into a new world.

Isolation can be the best time to work on things that scare you. Use it wisely. Keep working, not from the fear of failure but from the joy of the pursuit. And soon enough, things will be back to a new normal. 

I have my list:

  • Learn how to dance
  • Keep working out
  • Get a black shirt

Let’s get to work, shall we?

Word of the Week #179:

Citrus

When I was just beginning editing—as well as just before—I spoke to a few others who had done that before me, just to get a sense of the path that lay ahead.

A lot of the negatives I heard were all the same: It is a dead-end job that gets real annoying real fast.

And I did not hear any positives whatsoever.

Regardless, I needed the money, so I took the job…

I remember I wrote in my application that I hoped the job would help me grow as a writer and as a human. Now, of course, those were hopes, so I did not really lie, but I did not expect that to actually happen.

It has been five months since I began. Let us take a quick look at how I feel about the job so far.

First, with respect to the technical part of writing including the nitty-gritty of punctuation and grammatical conventions, I have already grown significantly. However, that was well within the realm of expectation, so I don’t make of that.

I have also learned a lot about the creative aspect of writing. Watching the mistakes others make in their stories and analysing the consequences can be a learning experience.

This analysis helped me understand why I never liked James Bond movies. The titular character never grows or evolves, either within or across movies. His experiences never truly change him. The consequences of the events in the movies lose impact when you never see even the characters in the thick of things be completely unaffected by them.

Some bombs will explode, some vehicles will be destroyed, some women will be bedded, some people will be killed, some crises will be averted, and at the end of it all, things will go back to the way they were. Then what is the point of the story? To show a man ensuring nothing ever changes? I don’t get it.

Well, anyway… It has made me improve as a writer.

In addition to this, I have had a chance to edit a large number of self-help books, and the advice held within them has already affected me.

One book taught me how to improve my credit score. So I did.
One book taught me how to make my work outs more effective and efficient. So I did.
One book taught me how to acquire and hone certain skills I might need. So I did.
One book taught me how humans with potential may squander their gifts. So, well, this one I did not.

You get the overall point, right?

Now, I am NOT the guy who would choose to read a book about finance. But I do need financial advice, and probably for that very reason.

Already, I feel like I have improved as a person as well.

And, yes, it can be tedious at times, but what doesn’t, right? LIFE can be tedious, but we can’t just skip to the good parts, right? This isn’t an Adam Sandler movie, after all.

When life gives you lemons, don’t whine about how bitter the skin is. 

When life gives you lemons, squeeze them dry, and add some browned garlic butter, rosemary, rock salt and black pepper, and you have a simple but delicious sauce. 

Word of the Week #178:

Oneiric

So, I suddenly realised that high school was ten years ago. Feels odd to think of it that way, you know. One cannot help but think about everything that has changed over the past decade.

Strangely enough, I don’t think much has.

I remember some of my friends were in too great of a hurry to grow up. They were serious and practical about life. They seemed to have interests in stocks and real estate and what not. They had plans. They had ambition.

I did not.

I liked living in a world of my own. I liked reading fantasy stories. I liked playing cute, crazy video games.

Some of my friends made fun of me for that. They thought I was immature and juvenile for enjoying the things I did.

I made fun of them for acting like middle-aged men. I thought they immature and juvenile for chasing something far in the distance and not enjoying what lay in front of them.

So, how are things now?

I like creating worlds of my own. I like writing fantasy stories. I like developing cute, crazy video games.

At its core, not a lot has changed. I am the same person I was. I like the same things I did.

I have just turned my talents into skills and my passions into professions.

I would like to believe I have grown up without growing old, and I am quite proud of it.

How correct am I, though? Let us check back in another ten years, shall we?

 

Word of the Week #177:

Disdain

There are certain things that I just don’t like, and when someone asks me why, I don’t always have a great answer.

And not just things… It can be people, places, songs, and really anything in the world. I might just not like them, and I could never even begin to tell you why.

On the other hand, there are times when I can literally make lists of reasons detailing why I dislike something.

This is one of those times.

I do not like the city of Pune, and I do have a list of reasons for my dislike.

No, I am not going to list all of them. Nobody has the time for that. Instead, I am going to talk about one reason why I dislike this city:

This city has the most obnoxious auto drivers ever.

Ask one if they would take you where you want to go. What do they say?

“*Ugh! Who the hell are you, asking me to work while I’m at my place of work?*”
Right. Exactly the response I wanted as I stepped onto this dusty, dirty street.

“Nah…”
That’s it. Nothing else. Take from it what you will.

“No, that’s not one my way.”
Wait, what? Did I accidentally walk into a particularly teeny-tiny bus? Or did you think I was asking for a lift?

“The meter is broken.”
Of course, it is. 

“I’ll charge twice as much as the fair price.”
Sure, why not? I do look like a desperate sucker, right?

It’s no wonder these guys are outraged at cab-hailing services.

“People taking the jobs we refuse to take at the fair price that we refuse to offer and provide a service better than we could ever contemplate? Why, that’s unconscionable. This is a personal attack!”

Of course, it is. 

Word of the Week #176:

Duality

You know, I am quite weird.

However, there are times when I struggle to define the kind of weird I am.

For instance, I generally tend to ramble on about how I hate structures and restrictions. However, weirdly enough, the first thing I do when I start a project is splitting the entire thing into distinct, discrete sections and creating an extensive schedule.

In my life, I do often despise strict adherence to rules and conventions, especially ones that seem arbitrary and illogical. And yet, the job I chose for myself almost necessitates doing so, and additionally making sure others do so as well.

My documents tend to be immaculately formatted. You will not find a single space where there shouldn’t be one. But visit my bedroom, and you shall see the true extent of chaotic madness.

There will be days when I’m supposed to work, when I have to work, but I would just not step out of the bed. Then, there will be days when I am supposed to take some time off and rest, but I instead end up working for 9–10 hours anyway—as I did just today.

Some people know me as the most optimistic person they have ever known, while others find me to be quite cynical.

There are times when I am extremely sensitive and receptive, but also times where my blasé attitude towards things that others consider major can be seen as rather galling.

A lot of the stuff that I do is extremely—sometimes excessively—logical and premeditated, and at other times, I will just decide to change the entire course of my life based on one moment of whimsy and that will be it.

It is weird, right?

The few people who know me well enough would know about these random inconsistencies. And the very few who know me too well might know these aren’t as random as they seem.

And if you knew me as well as I do, you might even think that this is not inconsistent at all. This is, in its very core, true balance.

This is what brings order to a chaotic universe.

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

Word of the Week #168:

Dilemma

Generally, I pride myself on two qualities which may seem rather paradoxical:

  1. My ability to plan and prepare such that I never have to get things done at the last moment.
  2. My ability, whenever required, to always get things done at the last moment.

However, there are instances when I happen to disregard the former and rely on the latter, and while I do get the job done, it comes at a cost.

Today, I could have written a post earlier in the afternoon and had it scheduled to be posted around midnight. Instead, I chose to spend my time doing something that, for the life of me, I cannot recall.

I can get it done at any time I want, right? I am good at this.

And now, with less than half an hour to midnight, I am typing away on a touchscreen device just hours after having dislocated my left thumb.

Yes, it hurts.

No, I won’t go to the doctor.

Now, shall I conclude that I am struggling to get things done because I chose to wing it and should never do that again, or should I always chose to wing it because I can always get things done regardless how much I am struggling?

Either way, considering I started 28 minutes before my deadline and finished with 14 minutes to go, I think this is a good choice to have.

Word of the Week #167:

Dredge

You know, life is like a cake.

Now, now, stay with me. I’m going somewhere with this.

You see, first, you spend a lot of time getting the ingredients ready. You might have a lot of specific ideas about the ingredients you want to choose but, in the end, you have to take what you get and work with it.

Then you work the ingredients such that they are ready to rise and grow.

Then you put everything in the right conditions, and you hope everything goes well.

Lastly, you add icing and sprinkles and, well, whatever you think you want to make this cake perfect.

Now, I would say that the icing represents the romantic relationships in your life: Some cannot imagine a cake without the icing, while others couldn’t care for it one bit.

I believe I understand cakes well enough to tell a good cake from a bad one, no matter how well you try to hide it under the most flattering of frostings. 

Nonetheless, I won’t imply that I prefer cakes without frosting.

Just, it should be a good cake and a good icing, and the two should match.

Now, when do things go bad? When you try to add icing to raw batter. While the results may be edible, it is not what you wanted, right?

So this is generally sound advice: Don’t add icing to your half-baked life. It is a recipe for disaster.

Word of the Week #166:

Paragon

“This is my everything.”

“That is my entire world.”

We have all heard such lines being used in popular art, right?

The concept is quite common in books and movies and songs. But does it really exist? And if it does, is it really a good thing.

If you cease to function without something, or someone, is that really healthy?

I think we have been conditioned to want things that we do not need, and, often enough, even things that are positively bad for us.

What do you need in a relationship? A fairytale romance? No, that is what you want, not what you need. What you is trust, mutual respect, stability, all that boring stuff that doesn’t quite jump off a page.

How often have we seen people give up on something beautiful, or at least promising, just because it was less than ideal?

How often are we seeing young couples getting divorced less than two years into marriage?

How often are we seeing new recruits quit their jobs within months?

Of course, I’m not one to stop someone from quitting something that is not good for you; indeed, the sooner you do it, the better.

Nor am I one to ask someone not to pursue what they want, or seek to change anything they seem necessary to make their lives better.

Knowing the difference between what you want and what you need is, according to me, something each one of us needs to learn.

I, for one, have always needed to pursue my craziest of wants, irrespective of practicalitities and feasibilities.

I am but a crazy guy, and I would rather die of passion than of boredom.

Honestly, sometimes I think I might be just one bout of extreme boredom away from being a comic book villain.

Wait… What was I talking about?

Eh… Nothing really matters… To me…

Word of the Week #165:

Trepidation

We all fear different things, right?

Actually, I fear a lot of things.

Most of it is normal, you know. Snakes, worms, and other creepy crawly things, heights, lightning, strange people, getting trapped under an oppressive theocratic regime… You know, normal.

However, I do have one fear that might seem rather unusual, though I find it quite rational. I am afraid I will start writing in American English.

It may seem unlikely, even unreasonable, but hear me out.

Over the past few months, I have been working on a lot of projects that required American English, and while I did not enjoy doing it, I managed to trudge through it anyway.

Now, for those who do not see what difference it makes, allow me to offer a sample.

British: “That is my ex,” he said, pointing towards the woman with ‘crazy eyes’.
American: “That is my ex,” he said, pointing toward the woman with “crazy eyes.”

That IS a big difference.

American English is dumb. Ergo, I will start being dumb.

Gah! If that didn’t scare me, I don’t know what would.