Fluctuating Habits

Maintaining a blog is much like a ritual: ideas are generated, they’re turned into content and then it’s rinse and repeat. You have to keep that habitual fire stoked, until there comes a point when you think you hope for the embers to turn into flames without stoking them. It is possible, but the odds are definitely not in your favour there. It’s your blog, so it’s up to you to keep it alive.

I recently posted a video on IGTV speaking of intentions and actions in reference to maintaining a blog or any social media account. There are so many things we set out to do with the best of intentions – we either make it or fizzle out. Or we fluctuate.

Click here to view the video on my profile (mobile link): Lost & Found

I still love reading and it’s horrible to say still love. I woke up today and wondered if I have forgotten how to read because I can’t seem to get into the groove. I have been stuck with reading Life of Pi since December 2018. I have been carrying the book around, from bag to bag, just to grab as many reading minutes as I can. I have been re-reading the same pages, with no recollection of the narrative. It’s like being stuck in a Chemistry classroom within my mind.

I switched to two books to see if Life of Pi wasn’t capturing my interest, and off the top of my head, I can’t recall the names of the two books I picked up. I don’t know what it is. If you have any ideas, please do leave them in the comments below.

Back to the blog, I love it and I do love writing. I enjoy taking time out and rocking out to songs while I write. Okay, I rock out on the stage in my mind, but it’s awesome nonetheless. I know what I want to write about and I have lists of ideas tucked away here and there. When it comes to executing said ideas, it requires me to read before I can write anything, especially when it’s book-related. Or I write posts like this one, which could be an outcome of rumination or not reading, in this case.

My blog stats showed me what I am capable of when my habit is consistent, like the time I wrote (almost) everyday in March. It’s not easy being consistent and we forget that. Once an activity becomes a habit and we are on a good streak, we forget what we used to do without that habit once the streak fades. That’s where I am at right now. I used to take two days or a month to read a book and I had nowhere to talk about it. Now that I have a blog and an Instagram account, I feel like I am answerable to my own account. It’s my own account and I forgot that! I began perceiving it in the way you’re answerable to the firm that has hired you. I laughed at myself when I became aware of that thought. I haven’t hired myself and this isn’t my livelihood, though I would like for it be. I wanted a space to reach out to people who love doing what I love – reading books and writing – and my blog is that space.

I may be stuck with a book and that has lead to no book review, but I can still write and people still interact with older posts. What I have written before doesn’t become irrelevant when I write a new post. The time before I had this blog consisted of reading multiple books based on my mood and I would take my time. If I didn’t feel like reading that day, I would journal or try to paint or grab my skipping rope. The aim of building a solid habit of maintaining my blog, I left out other activities that I enjoy just as much. And now that the reading and blog habit fluctuated, I forget all the other things I used to do.

I can be accountable to myself, but I won’t be as hard on myself as I would to a second person accountable to me. Working for yourself and doing what you love sound magical, however they still demand consistency and unwavering habits. On a practical note, those habits can fluctuate, and it’s okay if they do. All you have to do is find something else to complement those highs and lows so you’re not stuck with one thing at a time. In that manner, you still have a headcount of your habits even if they aren’t all up and about at the same time.

I will continue reading Life of Pi till I finish it and I will do so because I have waited a long time to find the edition I now own. I didn’t watch the movie for I wanted to read the book first. I didn’t read the first copy I found at Landmark because it was the movie poster edition and the original cover was  hard to find in second-hand book stores. It took me over a year of scouring book stores to find a copy that I wanted and now I am stuck. At least I am stuck with something that makes me happy. For all that excitement, I owe it to the experience of finding that book to complete reading it. There are times when you will go to lengths to find something and that’s turns out to be more interesting than the thing itself, don’t you think?

Let your habits fluctuate. Let there be gaps that push you fill them up with something worth your while. To illustrate, in all the time I didn’t spend reading, I visited bookstores over and over to look for those editions that you’ll find when you aren’t looking for them and I now have 10 more books on my shelf that I know I will read, be it in two days or a month. However I read, that habit will fluctuate, but it’ll never die out.

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To the Ones Who Didn’t Know Better

Dear Dreamers, you may send this letter to anyone who needs it 🙂

To,

(The ones who didn’t know better)

I have been stepping around myself for years now. I have been careful with my memories and my current experiences. We put away so much to be dealt with later or we choose not to try something new for the fear of a repetition of the past. There comes a time when the slightest inconvenience can undo your tall and carefully built pile of unattended emotions. Unfortunately, or fortunately, that time has passed for me.

I look back now, with courage and a sense of calm, which is new to me because I have always been afraid. I have been apprehensive of saying I am afraid. I look back and see all of the you who didn’t know better at that point in time. Having said that, I don’t mean I’ll ever forgive all of you, but I also don’t resent you all. All of you don’t matter and haven’t mattered for years, coming up to this moment. 

I wish I could ask you all questions to understand your perspectives, but I have mostly just wanted to give you a piece of my mind. I broke myself down to zero, and stayed there, realising there was no where lower to fall. It was easy to lay low, but it hurt to be put there by people I trusted. It’s not that I was different or better than all of you; I was just not a piece of the puzzle that all of you were a part of. I came from a different puzzle box altogether. I shaped myself to be a piece that fit, and all of you helped with your share of damage. For years, I told myself that scrapbook version of me was beautiful and stunning. No more of that, now. I am my own design.

I am now wiser, more aware and I have learnt kindness. I still don’t leave my comfort zone or my shell, but there are a handful of people who are welcome into it, like I am welcome into theirs. It’s taken a village to help me find my core and I am glad none of you ever tapped into that. If you had known any better, you would have known that your words were acidic fumes and your actions were like the magnifying glass under the sun; both taking their time to inflict pain and discomfort. 

Wherever all of you are now, I hope you never learn of how you dulled someone’s spirit and how you picked on someone you considered lesser than you, for it’ll be too much to wrap your narrow minds around. I would never wish my closet of fear and unattended emotions on anyone, not even the ones who filled it up. 

If there comes a time when our paths cross, be sure to know that I will never offer you acknowledgement. There is no point in salvaging the past when you have the present you have chosen for yourself. I suggest you do the same and not feign interest in my existence. You may know better now, but you don’t know me, and you never have. You only knew the person you created and she’s long gone.

 

. . . . . . . . . . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Someone Who Can’t Let Go

Dear Dreamers, you may send this letter to anyone who needs it 🙂

To,

(Someone who can’t let go)

I will always be a part of you, just like you’ll be a part of me, wherever I go and I would like you to remember that. I am thankful for all that you’ve given me and done for me and I hope I can do the same for you someday, and perhaps for other people, but with a difference.

Humour me, for now. When you have a garden or even a couple of potted plants, you become mindful and you pay more attention to it than required because you don’t want anything to go wrong. Days pass and that attention dies down when you come to see that your plants are doing fine. For days on end, you water them, you do away with weeds, you trim and prune and then you become complacent. You forget that the season has changed and you didn’t change the way you cared for your plants, thus causing you the loss of some.

In our own garden of people, we forget that they change. We treat them the same over the years and overlook changes because that’s easier to do than make some changes in the systems we create between us. We love them, nurture them, go out of the way to make things possible, cheer them on, guide them and criticise them when needed. In spite of these interactions, we step over the moments when there is a need for space or a change in needs.

I will never ask you to change who you are for me, even if I disagree with you on some days, and I can’t change myself to suit you either. It is equally stifling for both of us to do that. In the garden that we have created, there are times when I needed a little more sun than the others or a quiet corner instead of being in the centre, and that’s okay. We look at our plants when they don’t survive and wonder what we did wrong, but the point is we do what we think is right. There are some plants that flourish in spaces we never think they will and some survive in typical spaces in nature, especially when left wild and seemingly free. Sometimes, the right thing to do is to offer that change and understand that the garden can’t always accommodate every need. 

The truth is, any space I create for myself will always have a reflection of the one we’ve made over the years, it just won’t be a replica of it. I will always carry the aspects I’ve loved and I will add to them with my own experiences. One day, I will have a garden of my own and I will have a reserve of courage and understanding to set my plants free when their needs change, even if I love their presence.

Change is always seen like a replacement of sorts, and it is sometimes, but more often than not it’s a rearrangement. In doing so, you may find old things you’ve loved, along with new ways of loving what you already have and that’s nice, you know? So try it, and and give it an honest shot.

I’ll see you around.

Love,

. . . . . . . . . . 

To Someone Who Runs Away

Dear Dreamers, you may send this letter to anyone who needs it 🙂

To,

(Someone who runs away)

I hope you’re fine. I worry about you on so many days. Some of those days include the times you’re sitting right in front of me, but you’re far away. You dodge my questions and act like you didn’t hear me over the phone. I let it be. I let you run.

While you run away, whether mentally or physically, have you ever looked back? Have you ever considered that the people you run away from might want to run away from you? Instead, they wait for you to return and then it’s too tough to run away from you. It’ll seem spiteful, right? And you’ll run away all over again.

I might sound angry and impatient, but that’s warranted. I am trying to be kind, yet assertive because as much as it may relieve your pain to escape, it hurts the people who watch you do so. Everyone has a heart and a brain.

It is understandable that you’re not in the frame of mind to see things objectively, but there is only so much space on a wall to accommodate other frames that you exhibit. You could to try to make space for a frame with something to help you, instead of reminders of your discomfort.

We could talk, or not talk about what bothers you. We could share some silence over ice-cream. There is so much we can figure out together, but it’s not together without you.

I’ll be waiting, as I always do, but if you don’t find me there, it’s because I am doing my share of running, too. Don’t worry, though, for I’ll be back. I just hope you find the energy to be waiting for me.

Love,

. . . . . . . . . .

 

The Joy of Reading

My second-grade teacher continued scribbling words on the board. ‘Difficult Words’ she called them and I loved them anyways. They didn’t seem so difficult, for all I had to do was join the sounds of the letters and test out pronunciations till one of them felt right to my ears. I noted the words, happy about the fact that I now had more words to play with.

Fast forward two years, and I am being handed a sheet of weekly vocabulary comprising 20 words, in the fourth grade. I looked forward to the weekend to be able to sit down with a dictionary and look for the words and make two sentences with each of the words. The excitement could be compared with that of receiving a Lego set and thinking of all the models that could be built with the pieces. Vocabulary was a vacation!

Librarians became my friends over the years and that was important because there was no other way of getting extra books issued to you. They would trust me and issue a book on their card for me. I wanted to read EVERYTHING. 


The first books I read were abridged and illustrated versions of children’s classics. I remember reading Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and I would read them over and over again till I had the lines memorised. I played the stories out in my mind and it was pure joy to be able to do that. The more I read, the more it felt like a superpower to be able to watch it in my head. Of course, I thought I was the only one who could do that, and let’s say a part of me still believes that.

I just finished re-reading Winnie-the-Pooh again and it was wildly exciting. There is so much wisdom infused into children’s books; even if doesn’t make sense to the children reading them, some of it influences their logic system and adds to their personality.

At the age of 25, I believe I am fairly experienced when it comes to basic thought processes and types of people. Milne came along and changed that. Pooh is such a voice-in-my-head character and though you know he is a figment of imagination, you give him credit for having a lot of brains for a Bear of Very Little Brain. The concepts they illustrate seem ridiculously simple, but isn’t that the point of books for children? From time to time, I switch to children’s classics just to feel that simplicity in the way ideas are stated.

The books we transition into as adolescents and adults are quite complex and comprise multiple layers for us to cut through before we get to the feeling that was intended upon reading the book. We begin calling books an experience, instead of a book that just told you something that you didn’t know. That’s all I want on some days – the joy of reading about something I don’t know.

That’s how it started for me – a set of Childcraft books, an encyclopedia for children. The set covered everything from Nature to History and I couldn’t stop reading it because there was so much to know. The feeling of encountering something new is what lights me up and fires my soul and brain. It’s exhilirating!

As I continued reading, I began to see that new concepts or thoughts can come as a result of characters in stories as well, and not just through facts and general knowledge. I was critically reading stories and novels long before I learnt Criticism in Literature classes. I considered the characters and situations as reality and that changed the way I interacted with people and situations.

There is a famous quote by C.S. Lewis that goes ‘We read to know we are not alone’, and I never was. I always had my books to turn to if I didn’t understand something or someone. I would look for parallels like a detective looks for clues and it was rainbows when I found one. I seemed quiet, but my mind was a riot of new words and stories.

Re-reading books is a magic of its own kind, as is the way our perspective changes the book. Our change in perspective shows us how much we’ve grown and morphed into people we wouldn’t imagine would be. My books help me see that and I know where to find joy whenever I need it. It’s right there on my shelf ❤


[Photo Credits: Fictionographer <– Click here to view more of his amazing photostories!]

I would like to thank Mr P a.k.a. Fictionographer for capturing my joy! It’s one thing to feel it light up my insides, but it is fantastic to be able to show it through this beautiful photograph.

To Someone Who is Always Around

Dear Dreamers, you may send this letter to anyone who needs it 🙂

To,

(Someone who is always around)

Thank you for always having my back and being there for me, no matter what. There are days when I fear that I may start expecting you to be there, however, that fear fades away. If I ever expect you to be around, I will stop appreciating the fact that you already do that of your own accord.

I love how you surprise me for no reason. The smile that you break into when you know that your plan has come through is pure magic. Now, multiply that by 10 when you surprise me on days that are ours to remember. You say it’s a matter of luck, but I think it’s the fact that you put your heart into each second that makes it possible.

Each day isn’t a bright one, but there are fireflies in my brain and heart when you call just to say ‘Hi’ in the middle of day like that. You light me up, is what I mean, but I am sure you understood that; you do even when I don’t say anything.

I always ask you how you say the right things, but I believe it feels right more so because you’re there to offer words of wisdom, comfort and criticism whenever needed. For that, I thank you.

It means the world to me when you literally go the distance to put a smile on my face. You have conjured incredibly unforgettable moments when you or your letters find me at the exact moment I wish you were there. You fulfill wishes before I make them and that blows my mind.

I will never ask you how you do it, how you are always around and how you plan to do so. Your presence is my share of magic on this planet and I shall always be thankful for it.

I hope to make you smile in my own ways and I promise to always be around, too.

Love,

. . . . . . . . . .

Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Mark Haddon)

Author: Mark Haddon

Published: 2003

Language: English 

Genre: Mystery, Family Drama, Murder Mystery

Rating: 4/5

Note: No Spoilers! Read Away!

Once in a while, I find a book that has perspective to offer. It’s not the kind of perspective that puts me in someone else’s shoes, but the kind that shows you a pair of shoes you didn’t know existed.

I didn’t know of Mark Haddon when I saw this book, but the title was a winner. It did all that a title is supposed to do: it made me stop, made me pick up the book, and I fell in love with the cover, too. As usual, I didn’t read the blurb until the moment I began reading the book, and I was in for a surprise.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time isn’t a book written by Mark Haddon; the author is, in fact, Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy with ‘behavioural problems’, as he describes himself. There is no mention of what causes these problems, which leaves us to focus on Christopher and his narration.

I instantly fell in love with the way Mark Haddon paid attention to details to write a novel from Christopher’s perspective. At no point in the novel did I think of Haddon as the author; I believed in Christopher. The novel revolves around the murder mystery of the neighbour’s dog which makes Christopher write a book in order to solve it. There are other hairy details that I’ll leave you to read!

This child has an autism-spectrum disability that isn’t named in the whole novel, but you do get to understand the effects through Christopher’s eyes. He understands that he has special needs, but that he is smarter than other students with special needs in his class. He prepares for A-level exams in the book and describes concepts in Math that were beyond my capability. There are certain everyday interactions, like telling jokes or making small talk, that he can’t seem to carry out, but his analytical skills are incredible. The fact that he is aware of what he can and cannot do is most definitely my favourite bit about the book.

In addition, I forgot about his special needs as I read. It takes time to understand and settle into someone’s logic bubble, but once you do, you won’t notice the differences like you did before. It is all a matter of making something so common that it doesn’t seem alien anymore. Christopher’s world felt unique, at first, because I had never experienced it, even though I do read up on learning and behavioural disabilities. It’s one thing to know the theory of it, but a whole other world of real experiences exists, and it’s too vast to be recorded.

Haddon has cleared out a space in the reading chamber of my heart, and he’ll be there to stay. I’ll be looking forward to more of his books and I hope this review has sparked an interest in you to give The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time a shot!

[Photo Credits: Fictionographer <– Click here to view more of his amazing photostories!]