270621 – Morning Pages

After the longish post yesterday, I am sort of black. Don’t have a lot to talk about. So, a non-meaningful update.

6:15 AM. Up a while ago. Tried sleeping at 10 but by the time I finally hit the sack, it was 12. Lemme start by recapping the mile-long rant I wrote yesterday and how I am faring at various things I talked about.

  • Filled water container and bottles. To a point that I don’t think I will have to order in for the next few days. Good!
  • Since I couldn’t work from my place, went to a friend’s. Promptly fell asleep. Lol!
  • Saw no Netflix. But ended up seeing almost all the videos on this channel. You must check them out! Bad.
  • No coffee but had a RedBull. Bad.
  • Ate one meal of just Dal. But then ate chips and assorted kachra throughout the day. VERY bad.
  • I think I need to find a non-carb thing that I can munch on all the time. I use chewing gum often but it’s either too sweet or a ball of rubber in the. I prefer something savory. Or something like Diet Coke 😀
  • Did 3 minutes of meditation and 5 push-ups (in 2 reps. For someone like me, 5 is like infinity. Super stoked. I need to be able to do 500 in a day. You know, if I want to build strength in my arms! Good!
  • Walked some 3K steps. The plan is to get out more and reach some 15K a day.
  • Slacking on work yet again. I still haven’t figured this as an answer.

So, more bads than goods. But then some goods nonetheless. So that’s a good thing. Need to have more goods and less bads. And then monitor these closely so that I only have goods and no bads. Ok, enough of this good and bad wordplay. Has stopped making sense.

Lemme think what I want to talk about today.

Wait.
As I write this, I am back to listening to Singh is King title track. On loop.

In highlights, along with AD, I started with the Podium Writing Fellowship. The idea is simple. We want to add a leg at Podium by adding text content. Now, the niches we operate in (entrepreneurship, marketing and more) has enough and more competitors to even get started but we believe that the content we have is so good that we can rehash is. The first rehash we’d do is text-based content. You know, newsletters etc.

The trouble with it is to find people to write it. For starters, writers are a rare commodity. It’s tough to find great writers. Second, even if we find some great writers, the way we run The Podium, we don’t have enough cash flow to find writers sustainably.

So AD came with an idea to identify young writers and help them get better. Of course, the responsibility to do so is on my shoulders. I have never delivered a longish course to help others learn but I think I am excited. More than anything else, this would help me improve my writing! In the world where AI would eat creative work (you know, GPT-3), this is an attempt to remain sane by actually doing work that creates meaning.

Ok, I am digressing.

The point is, at The Podium, we are taking so many shots and doing so many experiments that I am hoping one of those will stick and make this struggle worth it, at some point. I just hope we can make enough money for everyone that works with us at The Podium. And of course at all other places where I put my time and energy.

So that.

I am back to listening to discourse by Dandapani. Today’s its this video.

He talks about finite among of energy and attention, life purpose, people that uplift you, importance of attention (over money), death (and the finiteness of life), energy vampires, staying affectionately detached to people (super important for me!), passing on the burden of responsibility, happiness (and pursuit of lifestyle that create happiness).

I love how he talks.
I love his content.
I think I am a fan!

Lemme try and take a stab at this. What is my life’s purpose? At a materialistic level, I still want to make a billion dollars, climb Mt. Everest and while I do both, inspire a billion people! In terms of a little more metaphorical level, I want to enable others I know to do well. Do well is an open-ended thingy. I define it by saying that whatever is your end-state that you want to achieve for yourself (make films, travel the world et al), I want you to enable you to do that!

I seek my happiness in yours. I want to see you succeed and I want to derive joy from that. I want to ensure that you live, grow, thrive on a day-to-day basis and I do whatever it takes to enable you to do that.

No, I dont have the resources to do this for a lot of people and for a living and I still need to make my ends meet. Maybe at some point, I reach that place. Whenever that is. Let’s see.

Need to think more. Need to act more.

Guess this is it for the day. Here’s streaks…

  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 196
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0
  • #noCoffee – 0
  • #noCoke – 108
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • Surya Namaskar – 0

260121 – Morning Pages

What if you could treat life as a video game? You know, you play the game of life. And not just live or go through the motions.

7:09. Woke up about 10 mins ago. With a stomach ache. I think it’s the Maggi and Coke combination that is fucking my system Or all the coffee I had. Or the heartburn from the lack of Internet and all that. Something has to be done about the food situation.

Anyhow. So yesterday was super eventful. I had some million calls to make and in between had to sort a billion other things. And as expected the Internet decided to not work. The Vodafone signal decided to disappear. People decided to be at their worst. Sigh.

But then there was this silver lining as well. The opportunity to talk to a few entrepreneurs that are still building their business, thanks to Spotlight (an event that we at Podium have cooked to get aspiring entrepreneurs and investors together). It was so gratifying to talk to them and try and see that there’s so much that I can do. This is what I have been gunning for, all my life! I wrote this thread about it. It is here.

The larger thing here is that this looks close to what I want to be doing in life. You know, life purpose.

Which is what? Create opportunities for others! I have realized that I may not be the kind to go super deep into things but I am definitely the one that can look at the large picture and recommend simple shifts and nudges. It is amazing to see the aha moment come on their faces when I point out these simple things!

Of course, I am not the only one that is doing this. There are so many more people out there that do a better job. But then that does not diminish what I do. And I think I need to scale these things.

The other thing that happened and what I want to sort of write a #SoG on is equating life to a video game. Lemme give some backstory. As a kid, I loved those 8-bit Nintendo video game machines and game cartridges. You know, Contra, Mario and all that? But these were expensive things and you couldn’t buy either the game or the cartridges. So we’d rent them from local stores. This was probably my early exposure to timeshare, I guess. And because these were rented, we’d have limited time with those. Which meant that within a day or two I had to play out the entire game. I had to play to till my heart was full, till I had killed the boss, till I had got to the princess, till I had found all the hidden easter eggs, till I had found the bug that gave me unlimited lives in Mario, till I could boast that I have cleared all of 8 stages of Contra without losing a life. All this had to be done in a limited time. The time that I did not have – I had a school to go to, watchful parents, one family TV where I could hook the machine, the enmity on the cricket ground and I don’t know what all.

But somehow, I could manage the game.

Yesterday when I was thinking about things in life, somehow this dawned onto me – what if I treat life as a game? What if I am in the game? I need to play it out. I need to defeat the Boss. I need to get the princess. I need to find the wrap zones to help finish the game faster. I need to master the moves. I need to find the equivalent of up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start for this game called Life.

And suddenly, all the fuckery, all the issues in life, all the things that have been affecting me started to look like problems that I could try and solve. And to the brain I’ve been given if you throw a problem at me, I will try to solve it and find an answer!

So that!

What if things that affect you, you try to look at those like a problem that needs to be solved? What if you play it like a game? You know, learn for the first few stages, level up your skills, acquire new powers, solve challenges that are increasingly tougher, get rewarded with coins that trick your brain into releasing dopamine. Listen to this clip. Do you think you feel good instantly?

Oh, man! there are so many of these people playing the Mario track. I just went down the rabbit hole. There is a guy on the guitars, another on two guitars, there an entire orchestra, there is a guy beatboxing! I can waste an entire day listening to these. And as I type this, I have this silly smirk on my face!

Wait. Coming back.

If I you treat life like a game, things probably will look better. Life’s a game and you have a limited time with it and you need to play and learn and evolve and beat the boss. As simple as that.

Guess that’s it. There is more that I wanted to talk about. Lemme try quick bullets. Dont want this to become a tome.

1. I realized that working for someone else comes with its challenges of managing other people’s egos. You don’t need to be just good at what you do, but you have to know how to navigate the corporate jungles and dirty politics that people engage in.

2. The freelance life doesn’t exactly set you free. You are still exchanging your time for money. What sets you free is a thing that makes money even when you are asleep. Like Naval says, you need leverage. Need to get to that.

3. For a change, I am not inspired by anything to do with the Republic Day. Far cry from the staunch nationalist that I was growing up. I think this is a good thing and a bad thing. Good – I am not being a jingoist. Bad – I am sort of losing my identity! I am as Indian as they come!

4. I saw that I had written in the last few days on #freewriting for #book2. I realised that most times, what I write for book2 is inspired by what’s happening in life around me. Now that’s not cool. I am not here to write a biography. The idea is to write a fictional story that entertains people!

So that. I wish I had the time to write more. Each time I write, I get some more clarity. I think I think the best when I am either writing. Or talking.

Chalo, onto #freewriting for #book2 for the day. I hope today’s post is not something that happened to me! I am at 8:45. Will write till 9:15.

Here we go…

“You know Chintan, love for me has to be that all-engulfing fire that rages on. I want to be consumed with it. I want to revel in the misery of knowing that you are around and yet you are not.” Rujuta was getting poetic.

Chintan was anything but poetic, “I get it”

“No you dont, you liar. How did you even keep that straight face on TV?”, Rujuta slapped his wrist.

“I was naive. And the cameras were of shitty quality back then!” Chintan replied plainly and ran his hand through her hair.

This was their first time they were alone after they had sort of acknowledged that they were more than just acquaintances. Both of them had scars from their previous relationships – Rujuta’s gashes were deeper than Chintan’s. Their scars had made them nomads, they were drifting through life aimlessly. But both of them were now at a point in life where they felt the need to have that comforting person to come back home to. No, they did not acknowledge this yet. Not to themselves. Not to each other. Not to the world. There’s time and place for everything.

“But you know, Rujuta, life’s not as simple as we make it to me.” Chintan egged on. He had still not told her that he was still married. Not that Rujuta would care. But it was still a big deal.

“You’re telling me?”

“I know what you’ve been through but Raju there’s a lot more about me that you need to know.” Chintan had started to call Rujuta that. In her entire life, no one had ever given that as a nickname. She wanted to hate it but she couldn’t pinpoint a rational reason to do so. There was nothing wrong with it, except it sounded like the nickname of a man. She was still not used to the name though and it still felt alien, impersonal.

“I know I need to know more of you. You need to know more about me. Isn’t that what relationships are about? Each day you discover more of your partner. You get more obsessed with each other. You cant take your mind off each other.”

“Bro, you are talking like a 16-year old romantic in conversation with her 42-year old lover.”

“You are 42. And you make me feel like a 16-year old!”

The playful banter was going exactly how they had imagined it to. If Tarana could see Rujuta reveling like that with another man, she would probably sleep better!

***

Ok enough. Was tough – romance is not my strong suit.

Over and out!

As always, if you want to get these updates on your WhatsApp everyday, lemme know. I will add you to the broadcast list.

Hope today’s better!

080121 – Morning Pages

Among other inane updates (about life, time, writing, work et al), I finally get started with writing book2. With a tiny paragraph. Yay!

8:34 AM

Woke up some time back. At Rajesh Sir’s place. Came back after spending two long days and a night at a hotel. For some reason, it felt like coming back home. Home this has been for over a month now. I have seen the quirks that a place offers. I have started to remember what buttons switch on the fan or the lights. I now can reach em in the dark. I remember I saw Naseer Sir do that in his living room when I met him a couple of times for a film that I was hoping to have him feature in. Damn, that was the closest I was being a Bollywood celeb. Anyhow.

As I was writing this, I realized that it is the 8th of January. Of 2021. Time is flying like crazy and I seem to be chasing it. Perpetually. All the time. Of course, not ranting but that’s how it is.

So, yesterday, I decided that I would write a para for book2 on these morning pages each day. That’s the only way I will get something done. So here I am. Para 1 for book2. I call it FreeWriting. I don’t think about the story or the character or anything like that. I just start typing whatever comes to my head and then see where it goes. No edits. No filters. No judgments.

Here we go…

Book2 – FreeWriting

The first thing I noticed about him was his firm handshake. You did not expect a man that looked 70 to have that. At that age, you should be counting your days and not trying to pick 20-year old girls at your neighborhood bars. Nonetheless, he was. He clearly couldn’t walk straight even before he came in and once he was there, he guzzled I don’t know how many beers. Each time I served him a can, the grip seemed to get stronger, the hand seemed to linger a tad longer, the eyes seemed to water more. I have been bartending for a while and I could handle ten such men without batting an eye. This time, however, I was not sure. I was clearly not attracted to him. I wanted a man in his 40s. A man who knew his words and had the gift of the gab and can outdo me in a drinking bout. That. Someone like Chintan.

Even though Chintan’s been here for more than a month now, I haven’t been able to figure him out. It is not tough for me to do so. Men are predictable like that. Not him. All this one wants is his one Gin and Tonic for the night and I don’t know how many glasses of water. So much so that Mrs. Gomes has asked me to put a couple of bottles of water next to him. Which I promptly did. I wasn’t going to miss any excuses to linger around him. Basant would laugh at me all the time. As per her, these were all juvenile attempts at getting attention from a man almost twice my age. Fuck with what Basant thought. I liked Chintan and I’d like to be around him as much as I can. Even if he’s lost in his papers all the time. He does need a refill of his water bottle. He does walk across the courtyard to use the loo.


Ok, that was tough. Hope tomorrow’s paragraph is easier to write.

So that. Phew.

While writing, I realized that I such with could and can and had and has and so and so forth. Must study grammar.

I also realized that I love it when I am writing or editing. I am not sure if that could be a vocation – I am not the best, to be honest. I recently started working on an idea that is making me talk to young content writers and I am amazed at their ability to craft words into narratives that you don’t want to stop reading! It is humbling and it is inspiring. I mean there is this kid from Calcutta and if you read what she writes, you would want to adopt her! Ok, I am probably being patronizing here and drifting away from the agenda. Lemme make a final point before I move on. If you are talented and you know it, it’s criminal that you do not work hard to hone your skills and sharpen your craft and deliver things that spread joy. It is your moral obligation to work on it. May be I need to double-down on writing? I mean writing does give me joy but I know that I suck at getting an audience that is willing to pay. #tnks hardly sold any copies. SoG had to be discontinued for lack of response. The blog I’ve been writing for 16 years now hardly gets any readers. I have easily given in more than 10000 hours of focussed attention to the craft of writing and yet I am far from seeing commercial sustainability from what I do. If I had infinite time, I would probably belt out a Shakespeare. But time’s something I don’t have. I am almost dead in the world full of bright, energetic, action-oriented 20-year olds.

See that’s the point.

Our lives are so short that you spend decades learning a discipline and when you know enough to start contributing, you are half-dead. And for people like me that want to do multiple things, one lifetime is not enough. It plain sucks that we can’t stop time. We are all sitting atop a ticking time bomb that will go off someday. And to make matters worse, we don’t know when this bomb will go off. There is no timer. For most, it goes off unannounced. Poor souls.

For some lucky ones, the bomb gives you a warning and often gives you time to get your affairs in order. You can say your goodbyes, lament the potential you were sitting on, think about the time you could’ve used better to do more things to make life better and easy for others. When I go, I really really want to have a warning. In fact, I am thinking I will put affairs in order by Jan 1, 2026 and disappear. For the ones that care for me (if there are any left by then), I’d be gone. I’d give them closure. I’d not appear again. And then treat each minute here as a bonus.

Sounds like a cool idea. I already have a will, in case the bomb goes off without a warning. But if I can disappear by 2026, I would be 44-45 or something and I would have some useful years left and that would be a great place to do it. May be I will walk into the woods?

And with this, over and out. See you guys on the other side.


PS: Just realized, I spend more than 10 hours a day on my phone. I need to stop with that. May be that’s one of the reasons that I am perpetually short of time? Today on, I will try to stay away from it. Let’s see how the experiment goes. And, expect a delay in replies.

PPS: I think this is what morning pages ought to be. Reflection, ideas, thoughts. I need to talk to myself about things that I am thinking about and allow those to crystallize. And then act on those. And talk about how those actions have helped. Let’s see.

Day 5. 151220

Day 5 of Morning Pages. In this one I talk about it’s started to become a habit and how I was looking forward to write when I woke up.

I did something different today. When I woke up, I did not directly start thinking about the morning pages. But got to work and finished some tasks that have been pending since yesterday. I normally do not leave tasks open but since I do not have internet here, it becomes tough to get things done. And no, things I do can not be done without the internet. The only way I have is to use a connection tethered to the phone. And that too is a pain!

As a result, I am missing out on deadlines, productivity is getting hit like mad and I am in general listless. Yeah yeah. I am that attached to the Internet.

Plus since I don’t have the phone in general either (again, the signals are shit), I cant do a lot of other work that can be done on just the phone

So that.

Sounds like a rant but more of a frustrated comment than anything else.

Coming to the morning pages. Today is day 5 and a funny thing happened. While I was on the bed, drifting towards sleep, I realized that I was thinking about what would I write in the pages when I wake up. I was actually excited about this! Wow! Maybe it’s the excitement of a new project, may be its my way of getting to talk about personal things to someone (something), or may be it’s just that love of seeing my fingers dance on the keyboard! Whatever it is, as a writer, it is good for me! Yay!

The thing that I am worried about though is that these morning pages do not become a blog. In fact, as I write this, I no longer know what is my blog (that I have been religiously writing since 2004) or what is a journal (that I have written intermittently over the years), what is my website (again that has more text than anything else) or what is my public portfolio. Lately, as I have started to interact with more people that are not from a similar background as me, I have come to realize that it’s super tough for me to describe who I am and what I do. Harshit does it really well when he says he’s the happiest man ever. His thoughts have become his identity. Shikha does it well when she says that she’s a filmmaker and runs a film community. Her ambition and her work has become her identity. Sonali may say that she’s an aspiring artist. Her aspiration is her identity. Nupura says she’s an ex-event manager hoping to get active in the cultural space. Her work is her identity. Rajat says he’s a storyteller and wants to be happy. His thoughts are his identity. Heck, Jason Statham says that he’s a transporter. Wow to that!

Coming to self, in my case, I don’t know what is my identity.

Thing is, I don’t have a singular thing that I do. I don’t have a singular ambition. I am motivated to make the world a better place. And make an impact. And live in abundance. I don’t know if any of these could be my identity. Or a conversation starter. Or something that allows others to place me. Slot me.

I am unable to find one thread that binds them all.

Am I a storyteller? Isn’t storytelling an oft-abused word now? They say there are as many stories as there are people. Am I a people-connector? Do I represent an opportunity? Am I someone that gets things done? Do I inspire? Do I make others entrepreneurs? Some people have called me a life coach (I know life coaching works and I’ve friends that are life coaches but I hate this term). Do I teach others how to live better? Wait. Do I live well myself? Lol!

Funny that this note has become a dialogue with self. Funnier that am ok to put these rants on paper and share with the world. Well, not share per se. But talk about these on the public domain.

Coming back. Morning pages. I like them so far. My identity. I don’t have an answer but I would love to find it. My writing. I know I need to get more active with the output. Book 2 is stuck for I don’t know why or how. I can’t write short stories for life. I have been thinking about writing stories of interesting people that are settled in Goa. Thanks to Nupura and Nikhil, have bumped into numerous interesting people already/. Maybe need to act on it.

Let’s see when. Right now, there’s a lot that needs to be done on the book am editing and the consulting gig that I am on. If I only had a stable internet connection, I would have pulled off things easy. Ok, back to ranting. I promised Vivek and Vanita that I would not. I think I am not. I am merely expressing shit in my head ;P

Ya right!

So yeah that’s that.

Over and out for the day. See you guys tomorrow.

Day 4. 141220.

In this one, I talk about my #lifeGoal of telling stories of fascinating, non-celebrity people that we often miss.

Yo Morning Pages.
Day 4.
7 AM.
I woke up about 30 minutes ago and unlike when I was younger and I could wake up and jump into action the next second, it has taken me almost 30 minutes to reach a point that I can type this. Old age sucks!

Anyhow. So the thing that I am thinking of since last evening is that there are so so many interesting people in the world and I need a way to be a magnet to those. I mean some people enjoy getting drunk and getting lost in the reverie induced by alcohol. Some like the idea of eating the most exquisite things that they can put on the plate. Some like to merely showoff the company they keep. In my case, what excites me is the opportunity to talk to people that are, well, interesting.

Interesting is an interesting word. I don’t have a definition for this. Just that these people are the ones that are different from the inside. When you look at them, they could be the most regular ones that you may ever know – you know, look and feel like regular people with boring clothes, drab jobs, sleepy routines. But they have stories that remain untold most times. Not for the want of storytellers or the occasions to tell those stories. But because these stories don’t travel far and wide!

And why don’t these travel?

Well, first, these stories are often told in closed circles. I mean why would a banker who retired at 40 tell the world about how he fleeced his bank and amassed a fortune that has allowed him to make a home at Goa.

Second these stories are told to people that are not natural storytellers. No, I am not saying I am one.

Just that stories need to be passed on.
And they are!
But mostly orally. Sometimes, in written shape. Rarely on film.

They have to be passed on, lest they get killed. I suspect that more stories get killed for the lack of a medium than anything else.

Side note. I think my work at Podium and as a writer could be to tell these stories. These stories, if told well, could inspire the listeners, readers, and others. These stories could make the Kumbhkaran wake from his slumber. You know people like Humans of NY and all that? They tell stories of non-fancy people and ensure those are archived for posterity and all that. And in doing so, they allow the world at large to hear these stories and get inspired and probably ink their own!

That!

I’ve often lamented that I would like to inspire the world. I want to make them see their potential. I want to make those people look forward to their lives, even though life may be meaningless in the grand scheme of things. But I want to. I want to stand for opportunity. And I thought that that the easiest way to do so could be the role model that they could look up to. You know, if Saurabh can, why can’t I kinds?

The trouble of course is that I need to do well for myself. And I know I have tried and failed at it. Multiple times. So not sure.

But, what I can do is, gather these stories. Tell them. And try to send them to more places in the world than the micro-plastic particles have reached. You know, to the deepest trenches in the ocean and the highest point in our atmosphere!

Ok, coming back to why these stories don’t travel, the third reason is all the social media and content revolution clutter. Everyone has discovered the power of a search engine and storyfying what they do. They even say that any company that needs to survive in the times to come has to tell their story more than they hawk their wares. And this means that there are more stories than people. And often these stories are made-up, uninteresting, car-salesmen-ly and more. And in all this noise, the signal gets lost! So that!

Next, I think telling a good story takes a heck of a lot of time. And that means you can only tell so many. I mean if I could meet one interesting person daily, even then I won’t be able to tell a million stories. Ok, not a million. Let’s say 100. Let’s say I want to tell a hundred fascinating stories of people that are seemingly commonplace, how much time would I take? I am guessing I would need atleast 3 years to do so if I do it full-time and with all earnestness.

Do I have the luxury of 3 years? I don’t know.
Do I want to tell these 100 stories? HELL YEAH! Why 100? I’d love to tell a thou, a lakh, a million. Tell so many of these that when people are seeking inspiration, they just hop onto these stories and they go back inspired! No, I am not talking inspiration in the TED Talks inspiration manner where they share ideas. I am talking about humanizing people and talk about our frailty, our perseverance, our grit, our most irrational actions, most “immoral” thoughts, things that chase convention. Things that need to be told and heard and all that.

How do I even get started?
May be by taking up the challenge to tell stories of the 100 most interesting people I know?

What do you think?

– SG
14 Dec 2020
Baga, Goa

PS, when I did a grammar check on Grammarly, it told me that I was sounding worried! Lol!