The climactic week of 2021 has kicked in and I sit, trying to summarize an unsummarizable year. Here are my thoughts – partly distilled, partly blurry but wholly authentic.
But first, you may have noticed a new address in the URL above. I finally archived my old blog and let a new one, a more pristine one be born. This is my new website and my writing home for pieces that are more than 140, 1800, 2200 and 8000 characters and not meant for social media bits 🙂
To kick off 2022, here are my reflections from a bumpy year that 2021 was.
1. Creation > Consumption
I heard Sadhguru speak on stage once in Jaipur Literature Festival. He said something that stayed with me. I paraphrase it here from my recollections – ‘Every human action is an attempt to prolong our existence. We create to be remembered by people long after we die. Even sex is a mechanism to procreate – to outlive our bodies and create a life that will carry us forward‘
What I do agree with him on is that the day you stop creating is the day you die.
Mindless scrolling, binging videos on autoplay is known to leave us prone to self-loathing and empty from inside. Creating forces us to be curious and explore/analyze/understand/express – the primal forces that evolved hunched chimps into a man.
Let me digress a bit – Last week, I was part of a heritage tour in Mehrauli (Delhi) where I visited the historical monuments and tombs created in the Mughal era. Those minarets, maqbara and forts still stand today as a timeless testimonial of those creators. Even the act of watching them today, while they are not in their best of shapes, gave me goosebumps. If I needed any more conviction in the power of creation, it stood right in front of me as I watched the winter sun setting behind the majestic Qutub Minar.
2. Instant Gratification is Killing our Greatness
I am usually an enthusiastic starter and tend to kick off a lot of projects most of which never see the daylight because I get distracted by short term gains. I have unfinished drafts of multiple books for example. Writing a social media post is so much easier than finishing an essay, a short story or a novel.
This year, I was mindful to finish the ones that mattered.
I took Cal Newport’s Deep Work advice seriously and cut down on my activity on social media to instead focus on my book writing. As a result, I was able to finish writing two books this year.
Our life changes when we realize TV is not for watching but appearing on, that Internet is not for consuming but creating onTweet
What I realized is : no drug can match the high created from finishing a project. Is it not, then, the cheapest and wholesomest way to feel ‘alive’?
In 2022, my priority is to spread myself less thinner and finish things that matter. We all need closure in life.
3. Do the Tough Conversations
There is no hiding from the hard topics where we have the most at stake. Finances, family planning, relationships, ambitions – nothing worth having in life is easy to decide. We think that talking about these will offend/scare other people which, in turn, will harm us but the truth is exactly the opposite. Leaving these un-discussed for long eats people from inside.
I learned to do some of these this year and it has helped me move forward. Do these conversations, get them out of your way.
3. Gratitude Comes First
This is not your cliched oh, always be grateful because self-help gurus say so feel-good advice (oh wait, yes it is). The twist I have is this:
Happy people are not grateful. It is the other way around – Be grateful first and happiness will follow.Tweet
The heartbreaking second wave of Covid left all of us reeling with an irreparable sense of loss. I don’t know anyone who did not mourn a family member’s passing away. I was no exception. Additionally, I heard of a young acquaintance succumbing to cancer.
Death is the ultimate truth – it is better to acknowledge it rather than constantly worrying about it. In accepting our mortality and that of anybody we care for, we are opening the doors to appreciating the beautiful gift of life while we still have it.
In the moments of utter despair and pitch black night, gratitude was my only reprieve. I learned that you don’t need much to be grateful and that feeling grateful is, in itself, a complete state of living. You can be grateful right now and find your peace. The choice is yours.
4. Focus on the Inputs, Not on the Output
In itself, 2021 has been a lackluster year for me. I see no outputs – my work is still unpublished, I did not travel, I did not meet most of my goals.
However, I have a feeling that 2021 was the year of laying the foundation of something that will matter in the time to come. 2021 was the year of inputs for me. Inputs are the only things we can control and therefore, we must maximize them. This, over the time, will automatically lead to better outputs.
Getting books published or having them succeed commercially (output) is not in my control. However, writing and improving the quality of my writing (inputs) is in my control. And that is all there is to it.
There were minor victories to celebrate and in the spirit of being equitable, let me share those as well:
- I signed the publishing contract with a top publisher for one of my books
- My father underwent a major heart surgery and came out stronger and healthier
- My Instagram community continues to grow both on personal and scholarstrategy accounts
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