So I began a Facebook fast, and I can’t help noticing the irony that this post will post to my Facebook timeline. It’s as if I need the constant validation that someone is reading my story. That YOU know that I am NOT on Facebook. I have become addicted to telling everyone how much and how far I have run to bragging about my Spartan run. Like those goals wont matter much if the 500 plus people on my social media don’t know about it. It’s such a relief not to check constantly to see what I missed in the past few minutes, but on the other hand, I have played the crap out of Words with Friends. Tried tweeting, but really it feels like a bunch of status updates that no one responds to (really 500 followers and not one of you has anything to say to me?)
Yet really what it really comes down to (and yes here comes the excuse), is that I am a writer. And writers write to be read. Which led me to realize that I had completely stopped reading. It was as if I had decided that I no longer needed to grow up. Yet it was reading and write that caused me to analyze who I am as a person and who I wish to be. As much as I talk, I really don’t say much to the ones near me. I spend a lot of time in my head, and for those closest to me (cough, cough my wife), it can be highly aggravating.
I don’t know when I became so social and introverted as the same time. It’s as if I am saying nothing, just taking up space so you know I am here. I shared too much of the things that don’t matter, and not enough of the things that can make relationships stronger. It’s as if I am talking on mute, and there are no sub-titles.
Hello? Anyone there?
Another Monday, the memory of the Jassi Sidhu party and the Spartan run already fading away as well as my cold and the aches and pains that came with it. It’s funny when you are in the thick of things, it all seems to important, so urgent, but when it’s done, it’s just another task. I am proud of myself for once not getting myself overly anxious about the party or the run. Perhaps it comes with experience or my daily meditation. But really it comes from the realization all this will pass. That nothing is ever really an emergency. There is absolutely no reason to ponder things that you cannot control. It can be tough not to wonder, I admit. Yet, more than that it just is accepting that what’s happens is gonna happen no matter how much you stress about it.
I rediscovered reading again. In the past 2 weeks, I have managed to read 3 books already (Think Like A Freak. The Son by Jo Nesbo, The Book Thief), and now starting The Sleep Doctor by Stephen King. I forgot how much I love reading a few pages, and then putting the book down and truly just enjoying the satisfactions one gets from the imagery presented the authors. It is probably one of the few times that I know I am truly enjoying myself. I am already looking forward to getting a new stack of books. Although I have a Kindle and the first generation Ipad, nothing is quite like holding a book in your hand or putting that CD in.
Yep, I am officially old school. I still buy CDS. I am still buy hard cover books. I still make my own playlists, and download (mostly) legally. I still promote events to people I actually know rather than just bombarding it on social media. It’s funny but what once was cutting edge is now just quaint. A very big eye opener.
August has turned into a busy month already. From partaking to weddings, to running 4 times a week, I have now added doing a bhangra show early September. Yet none of it feels like work (except for some of the weddings), and I realize that I still miss writing daily, still want to do things with wife, still want to do all the other things in my life. Yet, this moment, more than anything else I need to be here for this moment. It’s so easy to live in the past and future, thinking of what has been and what is to come, and not just enjoy the current moment for what it is. So I am using the post to just be. To know that all is well. That it’s not about me what’s going in my life. That all I have right now are my 5 senses, and this present moment. Am I tempted to think about the Jassi Sidhu show or the 13 miles run coming up? Yes, of course, but then I catch myself just sitting here and being grateful. Alive. Present. Happy. Fulfilled. Determined. Focused.
Zen Habits is teaching to try to slow down, to see what the moment is about rather than focus on what’s ahead or behind. Too often, it becomes about expectations for myself and others instead of just realizing that at end of the day, nothing really matters except for the relationships with yourself and your loved ones.
My name is Sanjay Sabarwal, and I am a word stealer. I eavesdrop everywhere I go, and put away the snippets of conversation I hear. I read various articles, stories and magazines, and pocket away interesting verbs and action sentences. I squirrel away images that come in front of me when I walk my dog. I hide away tidbits of friends’ conversations for some future use. Again, and again I steal words. Some days, I am melancholic about my need to be such a thief, but then there are the days when I am sitting in front of the laptop, and those words come out from various from their hiding places and help me weave together an altogether fictional story built on truth.
I am tempted to warn my friends to watch out for my habit . When I was a novice, I didn’t have the sense to edit out contexts and emotions which made me a biographer, and the brunt of many a fight about why I didn’t just keep my mouth shut. Then it hit me that I didn’t need to be a recorder just a thief, and so I began stealing. It has been my most satisfying tool in writing. I no longer have to worry about words, just how to use them.
So had my first nightmare in a long time. It was surreal as it started in the middle. I am sure I was dreaming of something else, but I see a guy passing by, and for some reason. I call him a pussy. He keeps walking, but I know he is going to come back, and sure enough he does. I am on some stairs, and he begins walking up, and I begin blubbering that I was kidding, and didn’t mean to say what I did but like in dreams, suddenly there are 3 more people, and one grabs my hand, trying to force my wedding ring off while another grabs my watch, and then third has a razor blade. The old school kind that my father used to use when he shaved. And I start mumbling that I really didn’t mean it, but the razor keeps coming towards my right eye. The only one with a contact, and I don’t want to be blind. I don’t want to be squinting out of left eye which sees mostly blurs lately. I knew instinctively that they wanted the good eye, and as I woke up, there was an immediate fading idea that if only I had a gun to equalize the unfairness of the situation (there goes my liberal card).
The weird part is that I didn’t know any of the men well except for the first guy who suspiciously looked like the Reading Rainbow Gentleman Levar Burton (chucking anti-racist card as we speak). Yes, I did try to figure out the dream, and I am pretty sure the entire dream was an allegory of my recent in ability to read, write or do anything workout related the past few weeks. Each day, I have this vague goal of writing and running, and while some days I am successful in writing for 20 minutes and exercising for 15, I know that’s not going to get it done if I want to be published or be in any sort of shape for the Spartan Beast which is fast approaching in September.
But, and this is a big but, I know I am doing something which is still infinitely better than the nothing I was doing before. So thanks to the Zen Habits, I practice self-compassion. I am giving myself a break even if they give me nightmares.
Almost every day, I get the urge to blog. Yet it is not always so that I write. I can’t remember how many blog posts I have written in my head. I often wish for a machine that could just transcribe directly from my brain on to paper. I am pretty sure I am not the only one to fantasize about that.The worst is when I get ideas for a stories or essays, and in that one magical few moments, I can see the entire thing already completed. And then the next moment, poof, it’s gone. Sometimes my brain is smart enough to jot the idea down in my phone, but after a few days when I look at those words, it’s like they are gibberish. Yet the urge to write keeps striking, and so many days have gone by that it no longer made sense to wait. So even though life is not always so, today I am going to attempt to make sense of some of my thoughts.
So much has happened this past month. A good friend recently put together a great event called “The Empty Hands” tour. When first approached about it, and after listening to the video that was created, I knew I had to attend. The concept was simple. A listening party at a generous friends place along with mini stories about gratitude, love, and forgiveness. The concept riveted me. Nimo Patel (formerly of the desi hip hop group Karmacy) has been living in India for almost 7 year now, and although he thought he was done with music, his experiences at Manav Sadhna struck the creative chord. I am going to admit, the old me would have dismissed all this as hokey and too New Age crap, but Nimo’s sincerity is not only infectious, it is inspiring. It is rare to find so many like-minded at the event who gave them time, attention and love all in the name of being better.
I cringe at the my inability to share the joy and admiration I felt to be part of that event, yet here I am trying. I am learning that is it not always so that life will be as one pictures it. It is not always so when the day will go as planned or the people in our life will treat us the way we wish to be treated. All we have are moments of the present to enjoy what’s out there. So New Age Sanjay says that while sometimes it may feel or look like you are holding nothing in your hands, that is they are empty, but often than not, they carry our hopes and wishes as well as gratitude.
BK Shivani said that just like you don’t yell at others constantly, we also need to be gentle with ourselves. Take a moment, think of all the negative sub talk that is going on in your mind. I know I am guilty of it. There was a constant river of berating myself for not being focused, not working out, not writing, not working, not being good enough, not eating well, not keeping up with friends, not being better and on and one. This was the soundtrack of my daily life. And I am pretty sure it’s yours. We are constantly beating ourselves for what we are failing to do. Yet we don’t take the time to be grateful for what we do have and what we are doing. I know I was guilty of that. I also know how silly one can feel being grateful for what we have. It just seems natural. It’s there. I want what I don’t have. We have this need for what we cannot ever grasp in our hands, yet each moment that we pass without thinking of what we have, we move further away.
Two years ago, I was perhaps the furthest I have ever been from writing and reading. Two very simple things that I have done most of my life, and at first I dismissed them as simple things that I would get to. Then I became addicted to social media, constantly checking and rechecking other’s updates about images, stories and things that in the long run did not add much value in my life. Don’t get me wrong. I am not bashing social media, but for me what I thought were simple things to ignore allowed me to use shallow posts to become my crutches.
So I began reading, then writing every day. Now I struggle with how much I can do each day with me adding learning Spanish, Meditation, and working out. I say all this not to brag, but that instead of the negative self-talk, I accept who and what I am. Yes. there are days, many of them infact, that I don’t get to all that I want to get done, but you know what? Its OK. I give myself a break. I now see that even when I dont get to do all that I want, I still get something wonderful, like an hour long phone conversation with a great friend, or getting to know something about Preeti that I didn’t know, or doing something completely new.
In a nutshell, be gentle with yourself. Stop the negative talk. Enjoy the moment. Take a breath. And then keep moving.