This is going to be a long post. So, for all you peeps of the 21st century who are in a constant rush, I am going to break it up into 2 parts.
I started watching The Art of Getting By Gavin Wiesen, and just one minute into the movie I liked where it was going.
The movie commenced with the quote “We live alone, We die alone. Everything else is just an illusion.” This bold declaration was then followed by a challenging question from the protagonist: why then spend so much time conjugating French verbs or figuring out how to find the square root? According to him, there are better things to do with his time.
Coincidentally, I’ve been asking similar questions. We are all caught up in what we are supposed to do. Wake up in the morning, eat 3 meals a day, go to school or work, do what they say, finish your assignments, work, work, work, because after all, it is good for you, whether you like it or not. And then? Spend your afternoons with people snapchatting your social life, eat dinner, finish any pending work, brush your teeth, go to bed, and repeat. That is life. Bonus points if you wore cool clothes or went to a fancy restaurant.
But what if you love art and want to paint every hour of the day that you are not eating or sleeping? Just because it does not follow a school’s system, or will not necessarily get you an office job, should you not do it?
But if you are willing to work on it with dedication and passion, does it matter? If it gives you joy, then that is the end of the story, right? Of course, we need to pay rent, quiet our rumbling stomachs, and have a relatively normal life. So is it not possible to do something different and still pay the bills? Perhaps no bonus points of fancy restaurants. But instead, you get to live a life you love.
So find a way to spend the time between living and dying in the way you want. Because everything else is an illusion.
Here I am, on a solo adventure. Before I ventured out, all I knew is that I wanted to try getting out.
It was a head knowledge, not really a heart one. You know, when you know something is true, but you’re too lazy?
So to push myself out, I created a list of a few questions to discover:
- Will I be able to motivate myself enough to actually get out?
- Would I be able to have meaningful conversations with people?
- Who am I? With unlimited time, all alone, what do I end up doing?
- Would I give up and return to the mindless comfort of my room?
- Do I enjoy it enough to travel alone, like I believe and always say?
Well, here I am. I left college at 9:15 in the morning. It is now 3:15 pm.
I’ve wandered all around. I took a bus to Bravo, then a bus to Oud Mehta, followed by a metro to Fahidi, and then finally walked to, well, nowhere in particular. And where have I reached?
Firstly, I’ve realized that I do feel a bit lost at times. For almost an hour and a half, I was walking, looking for a chill spot. Just to sit, or have tea. And it was hot, and noisy, and loud. But, I suppose moments like this will help me be more decisive. I had to pee twice, and shamelessly entered random restaurants (which I will agains), heading straight for the washroom. Besides that, I have been walking for hours through the same streets, passing the same shops, and crossing the same people. Obviously, I have been noticed. And that has also made me feel conscious.
But right now, I finally had enough. I realized, what is holding me back from sitting wherever I want, or passing the same people again? Why am I conscious? Because I am alone? That maybe I look lost or aimless? Or that I am a girl? Or because I am a very queer girl, with a big, conspicuous Adidas backpack, who is itching to settle somewhere and pull out her laptop to write, in the middle of bustling, noisy, market alleys?
Well, too bad. I might be one interesting character that inspires people. Maybe someone else wants to bring their laptop to the creek, but thinks it might look weird. Well, for that person, I hope to be an example. Maybe a normal looking girl, in jeans and a shirt, wants to sit in a narrow alley, and chill. And there might be weird men around. Well, I hope she sees me and I give her the confidence to reclaim masculine spaces. What am I apologetic for? Being alone? Being a girl? Exploring? Having my own adventure and answering to nobody? Breaking societal rules?
I always talk about wanting to do that anyways; living in a manner that isn’t dictated by predetermined norms and conventions. And if I can’t do that in front of a few strangers, well then I most definitely won’t be able be different in front of people I know.
… aaand, now, I need to pee. So I think I may move to another, more chill location.
I thought of slightly giving up and sitting in a cafeteria where I can be comfortable and type at the same time, but that’s normal; I can do that anytime. So I might end up in a slightly uncomfortable spot, and I may have to carry tea there, and I may have to walk a bit and again attract attention and pass people who have noticed me, but too bad. It is my day and my adventure and I am next to the creek so I want to see the water.
So, until I reach that spot!
I went to that spot. Next to the water. But there were weird people there. Shit! I just realized that I had decided I wouldn’t care. God. Well, I could have sat there for a while there, but I didn’t.
As a result, I found a cafeteria in a back alley to settle down into. It is basically a dead end. But now that I am here, suddenly the adjacent table is occupied by a group of guys. It is a little annoying. Haven’t they seen a girl before?
And my peace has kind of been destroyed. But you know what, I am not going to let it; let me shock them a little more.
Why do people affect me so much? I get conscious of strangers and what they will think. Seriously, if they haven’t seen girls around, they should get used to it. And I’m too tired to move again. Hence, no matter how weird they make me feel, I am not going to go.
I just lit a cigarette. And I am not like them to stare and figure out their expressions, so I am not sure what they are thinking. But hopefully I have broken a few stereotypes, and maybe made the world a slightly more accepting place.
Lol, such high hopes. But, it just takes one thought in one mind at a time.
Back to today’s lessons. The most notable experience was sipping on an avocado shake with a newly-found friend, discussing life. I began a conversation with the usual, ‘where are you from?’ Well, he looked Punjabi, so to be precise, I asked,’ are you from Punjab?’
And, as Punjabis get quite excited to connect in a foreign country, a bond was made over our commonalities and an opportunity was born. However, I had to remind myself that I had decided to skip all the small talk, no matter how many trivial similarities existed between my company and me. So, after digging through my brain for the correct Hindi words with much difficulty, I asked him what one piece of life advice he had to offer. His answer: to be honest.
And that was the start to a long discussion.
He told me how honesty leads to success, and that if you dig potholes for others, you will inevitably fall into them yourself.
He discussed the Gurus of Sikhism, and how one must follow God. He spoke of Modi’s new policy eradicating 500 and 1000 rs notes, and how the rich, who earlier didn’t have a penny-or a rupee, my bad-to give to a beggar, were now standing in bank lines, anxious to deposit all their cash. He spoke of a hope that finally things now may be more equal between the rich and the poor.
When I asked him what his son plans on doing, he answered with something that I always thought I believed in, but I suppose haven’t been living. He said, we will see. You never know what will happen in life. You can never trust life. Recently, not far from where we were talking, a signboard fell on a man, abruptly snatching his life away. Similarly, my new friend had lived a normal life in Amritsar, worked there, and had a family. One day, an unexpected opportunity to work in Dubai arose. He never knew, he never planned. Life happens. And you can never trust it.
A great talk to have with a stranger, on a random morning, no? It all comes down to what opportunities you give yourself. Ask real questions instead of engaging in small talk. Don’t stop at, where are you from, and what do you do. After those questions are answered, what next? An awkward silence? And then any chance of getting to know your friend any further is strangled.
Get out of your comfortable bed, in your settled room. It may be comfy. You may not have enough confidence to get out. Where will you go? What will you do? What if you get hungry or tired or need to pee?
Well, I will tell you one thing I learned today. There will be moments when you are exhausted, when you can’t find a decent place to sit, when you feel lost. And you might walk for two hours doing nothing, just searching. But, answer this: how many collective lazy 10-minutes would you waste in your room? How many times do you enter, tired, and just sit down and daydream? Or stare at your phone, utilizing the endless supply of wifi, staring at random snapchats, and scrolling through Instagram? You will be tired in your room too. You will waste as much time in your room too. You might feel lost and restless in your room, too. And at the end of the day, you will go to bed, after going through the same monotonous routine, with nothing learned, and nothing experienced.
Alternately, though, even in the worst case scenario that you hate your excursion, still provides new experiences, new sights, new sounds, new thoughts, new ideas, and new perspectives. And novelty is the nutrient that the human mind and soul requires to grow.
And in the case that you like it? Well, then it’s a win-win, no?
PS. Remember how I was uncomfortable in this cafeteria 40 minutes ago? Well, now I am very settled. I finished my second tea here, im charging my laptop, im resting, and im writing. I broke a few stereotypes, and now I am barely noticing who is passing me, much less what they might be thinking. It is pretty chill. So what’s the conclusion? Give it time. Even if you feel uncomfortable, stay. Persist. Be determined. What seems daunting will soon be a piece of cake.
Oh, and things I learnt:
To be shameless and reenter same restaurants just to pee
To be decisive
To not overthink
To be comfortable in my own skin
To make big talk, every opportunity I get
Non-Indians out there: Punjabis are quite boisterous people coming from the state of Punjab
Our Indian Prime Minister, Modi, recently made a change in the financial policy in our country, eradicating certain bills, which caused quite a stir.
link to making ‘big talk’ as opposed to small talk (its a TED talk, that was the driving force of this adventure and made it so much better) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDbxqM4Oy1Y
Hello lovelies. Here is part 2 to what I learnt from The Art of Getting By. This post focuses on two quotes from the movie that, to the dismay of my stomach, paused the past hour’s mechanical motion of my hand stuffing popcorn into my mouth.
What am I doing here?
“I don’t know what I am doing here [Morgan High School].”- Dustin
“At least you admit it”
It is not a bad thing feeling like you don’t belong somewhere. The robots we become when we follow everyone else stop questioning what we are doing and why we are doing it, especially if it is an accepted stage in life. Like, oh, I am ten years old, so I should be in school. I am twenty-five, so I should be out of college. I am thirty, so I should be married. I am 40, so I should be having a good career. I am 60 so I should be retired. I am 100, so I should be dead. Pretty nice life.
If, for some reason I wouldn’t be able to fathom, you don’t agree with the life described above, the first step would be identifying that you are out of place. That you don’t belong in this cage. That you are made for something better, something unique, and something meaningful. And once you realize that and admit it to yourself, only then can you fly up and soar away.
So, it’s ok if one average day, while putting your fork into your mouth during lunch break, you suddenly question what the hell you are doing with your life.
Express yourself creatively
“I don’t know what to paint.” – Dustin
“You’re going to have to start using that brain of yours to access that talent of yours to show that beautiful heart of yours.”- Art teacher
“Even if you’re not feeling it, gotta do it or it will never happen.” – Dustin
Ah. Being an artist, this struck a deep chord, especially this past month during the INKTOBER challenge. Many days saw me sit down, sketchbook and pens ready to create magic, and leave the paper as empty as when I started.
Then I would search pinterest, because I didn’t know what to put on paper. This became normal and I was happy with my beautiful duplicates until someone stopped me and asked me what in the world I thought I was doing; it’s not like I didn’t have anything to say. I shouldn’t be proud of doing something that I had copied. Anyone can do that.
So I had to think. I am still not amazing at coming up with what my heart is trying to say, but slowly, with practice, I am getting better at expressing myself. Working your creativity is like dancing. At first, even if you don’t feel the song, you need to practice the routine. Repeat the move again and again and again, with no feeling. And then, suddenly, you will get it, and the passion will engulf you and you will be able to flow without thinking. That’s how all creativity is. So some days, when I feel nothing, I will still sketch something. It might just be the scene in front of me, like my boring desk and laptop. But, at least it is original, and it will get the creative juices flowing.
So for you creatives out there, think, get in tune with yourself, and spit your feelings out. And if you can’t think of anything mind-blowing just yet, don’t fret. Practice with whatever you can, start somewhere, and the first hundred times might be useless, but with dedication and perseverance, you’ll ultimately unleash your originality.
you may have noticed i haven’t written much.
well, im getting ahead of myself here. that is, if any of you follow this blog :p
if you do, im flattered.
and as you can tell, i am not going anywhere with this.
but the point is, at least i am writing. it’s taken me a lot of effort to open my laptop and click on a new draft. and i don’t have some deep thought to share. all i have is an average girl’s average day.
This morning, I finally awoke to my alarms, and as a result had some breathing time before classes. So I took my tea outside, sipping it while watching the morning sun rise above the campus boundary wall, slowly transforming from an orange glow to a yellow, round form. It was a peaceful start to the day.
Time passed, as it always does, turning the day into a slightly hectic, annoying list of things to do and teachers to talk to and end-of-the-semester assignments to take care of. by time I finished it all, of course i needed my afternoon tea. but that wasn’t enough for the writer in me. it needed some more warmth in a cup to hold on to. so i headed to the newly-opened coffeeshop nearby for some of that lovely peace you get in a cozy cafe, with the quiet murmur of people all minding their own business, together.
that was a good decision.
looks cozy, right?
today was just a day i had to take step by step. Sometimes it is necessary not to think of the past, not to think of the future, and just focus on the moment. And by past and future, i mean literally, five minutes before and five minutes after. I know that today, I can’t. I just want to sit and enjoy my foamy cappucino. it doesnt matter if i just had tea and a muffin half an hour ago.
so here is my deep thought of the day (they always come out in the end, don’t they? :P)
forget about your obligations and your responsibilities, and the logical thing to do. Forget that it is mealtime or study time or sleep time according to the world. Just do what you want, right now. Just take it one step at a time. Not one day, not one hour, not one 5-minutes, but just one step at a time.
and i am glad i got down to writing, as well. it lets out some of the steam, even if it isnt perfect or beautiful or fantastically intelligent. any fellow writers empathize?
(SPOILERS! Anyways, this post will only make sense if you have watched both the movies)
What makes these movies so brilliant? (don’t ask me why I haven’t watched them earlier. And yes, it is assumed that everyone thinks they are brilliant; that’s not up for debate.)
Maybe it is the fact that we sit down with popcorn and friends (or alone with cookies, like me… whatever floats your boat) and suddenly we see ourselves on screen—ourselves in that prisoner of twenty years and in that maniac.
We are all a little messed up. We all have a Tyler Durden within us. (or is it just me?)
It takes some of us a lifetime and then the deathbed in the hospital to figure out what we want out of life. At least Andy does it in 20 years of confinement.
At the end of it, the prisoner, the insomniac, you, and I all have a simple choice: get busy living or get busy dying.
The irony is that although Tyler Durden is MESSED up (I am definitely not promoting him), he is what gets the Jack* to figure out what he wanted to change in his life. He went through an immense pile of foul crap, but in the end he put the dangerous voice in his head to death, and I still doubt he returned to his IKEA condo. Ignore the collateral damage, the dynamite, and the chaos, and the end is a win-win situation.
And that’s what Andy did. In the midst of a different hell, perhaps another form of the condo, he decided to get busy living rather than dying. He prevented himself from getting institutionalized. He hopes for an escape and dreams of a life near the Pacific. And what else does Jack’s job and perfect apartment symbolize? And the guy in the convenience store? Both institutionalized.
To think about it, even Project Mayhem institutionalized those fighters. After all, what does being institutionalized mean?
It’s when you stop using that big oval-shaped goo above your eyes and just decide to let some external collective thought tell you what to do; when your cells start following the instructions of some other leader, and your body starts obeying a master other than you.
Exactly what you want, right?
But what do we do? Don’t we watch Andy build that library in prison from scratch, and think “woah, amazing that he was able to do that in prison” or admire him as he procures beers for his friends and then wonder why we can never be as clever? And what do we feel, during our institutionalized movie nights, eyes glued upon the bright screens, when we slowly begin to comprehend the brilliance of his escape plan and begin to swallow the amount of persistence it would have taken him to act upon it? Just transient admiration; nothing strong enough to make us get out of our own institutions. But if Andy was institutionalized, he would have just sat in his prison cell, stared at the posters on his prison wall, and lamented his prison life.
So get busy living.
And escape that institution.
** PS: The image is copyrighted, created, thought of, and everything else by me. Please do not steal. I know you won’t because you are all nice people.