Learning to not care

Should we write or perform for likes and praises? I have been guilty of it. Every writer or singer or dancer or actor must be. But what works in the short term, doesn’t always work for the greater cause of creativity or skill development. Many actors / writers have been known to wish that they were not famous, so they could be free to experiment. And writers often take the cover of anonymity and pseudonyms perhaps for the same reason.

Yet today it is easy to be famous. If not on national TV, we can be famous in our own social groups, schools, offices, friend circles, etc. While praises and likes from our friends (turned into fans) is a great motivator to keep churning out content, it makes us want to stick to what works. We may become skilled at being liked, not so much at the art itself.

I believe that the habit of producing content regularly itself is not so bad. It keeps us on our toes. We keep learning and improving. It stops us from becoming complacent. But to do so one must first learn to cut out the flow of both positive and negative comments. CEO of VaynerMedia, Gary Vee who has a following of 8M on Instagram, and has become a source of motivation for many entrepreneurs and artists, often talks about not caring about the opinions of other people. In fact he even believed that Instagram should take off the likes button.

It would make a lot of sense then to have a time for posting content and a different time for logging in again and going through notifications for that post. Just so that we can remember that we were not performing or writing for the sake of likes.

What was the point of it?

I lost all this time in my childhood when I was struggling with many things. And now that I am finally free, I still feel that others have an upper hand. And somewhere I keep wondering what advantage must I have gained by what I went through in my past. If I lost out on precious time, I must have gained something. Wisdom? Empathy? I don’t know what it is. But I find myself desperately holding on to my past for this reason. Trying to search for some unique quality I may have gained by my time spent on it. Because while others were busy honing their talents, I was busy overcoming struggles. So that seems like my talent?

That doesn’t mean my share of struggles have come down now. Far from it, my struggles have caused unhealthy behaviours in me that still make me more susceptible to struggling more in life. Unfair isn’t it?

Perhaps one way is to switch off expectations. Let each moment, both good and and bad happen as an experience. And keep watching my own life like a TV show. Because it probably isn’t getting better by a huge degree. Or maybe I’ll manage to make one or two changes that will bring some shifts towards good. But it will always be unfair. There will always be others who got a better start, as there will be others who got a worse start.

So here’s to smiling every moment and experiencing it without feeling disheartened.

How to get what you want.

Instead of running behind something you want, try and make the best of what’s there in your present. May be you badly want Job B, but first do Job A really well. There is no way to Job B through escaping Job A. First be the best at wherever you are. And do whatever little you get of Job B like it’s gold. This is something I have been working on lately. To do whatever’s on my plate with utmost dedication. It’s not easy to do this. But prayer helps. Gives me the emotional strength to put this into practice.

I must sound crazy for putting “how to get what you want” in the title like I am some life guru. But I believe this is the secret to getting what we want from life. We chase some esoteric or complicated solutions. In the process, we sometimes forget the present and I believe the universe knows what we want and builds the way to it, if only we focus on giving our best to the present moment.

Power of identity

I see myself as someone who can produce written content very easily. And with that end in mind, I am planning to have more extempore writing in my life. I see many hurdles here in making this a reality. Unpredictable and busy schedules, volatile moods, etc etc. But I think this needs to be a part of my identity. What I do every day. Write on a topic. Any topic. I can expand this later to include a poem or news comment or something like that. Just to extract more benefit out of the routine. But for now it is a preparation-less writing. To keep that outlet of expression open and active. I don’t want to discover later that lack of use has made it impossible to get anything useful out of my writing without getting a tonne of junk along with it.

I bought one more book on my flight back from Chandigarh. For the thousandth time, I bought a book that I would never read again later. Can you blame me. The book called “Reflections” is a compilation of Swami Vivekananda’s speeches, both speeches by him or about him. But I didn’t finish the book, so don’t take my word for it. It’s a difficult read.

Reading is a bed time activity for me. Yet somehow I fall asleep more with my phone than with my book. That needs to change.

So yes this writing exercise, is around the idea that I attract more situations in my life that revolve around how I see myself. Do I see myself as someone who can write easily. Then I will be presented with more opportunity for writing. Same with singing. When someone asks me to sing a song I feel unprepared and unpractised. Also right now I have very less singing videos online. (You can check it here https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGZlBikGn-b1oh1Q6oMFD0A?view_as=subscriber).

But the reason for this is, I feel I have to prepare a lot before posting each video. I want to be someone who can sing off some song every day on demand. So I plan to make videos every day where I sing a song that comes easily to me. That way I’ll slowly have an identity of someone who can sing a song easily.

Of course this means that the quality of my content may seem to suffer in the beginning. But I think it’ll catch up in time. Also I can always keep deleting content.

Keep going even though it seems dark. You have nothing to prove to anyone. You just owe it to yourself to complete what you have already started. Don’t give up just yet!

Perspective

What makes me unique? Despite everything? I don’t give up and I have love in my heart for music. And I am living in misery, some of which I created myself. Yet everyday I drag myself. And if I ever have a family, and if I ever make it to the top, I’ll have the strength. May be. Or may be I need some friends. May be friends are important. They are the anchor that keeps you from drowning. Family is important. When you have an unsupportive family, you will definitely be weak.

So no. I am not strong. Determined yes. But I WILL break down easily. Struggle has not made me stronger. But perhaps it has made me wiser. And I could write a story. May be it has made me kinder. When i do have friends and family, may be I will value them.

May be this is necessary for art. To have a life that’s different. To feel pain and be able to write and sing about it. But I have lost the ability to empathise. I am so lost in my own pain. May be combine my pain with empathy and may be I can write stories. May be if I could view my own life as a story. And be a viewer. May be then I would be able to see. May be then I can step into shoes. Become a completely different person. May be then I would jump quickly from one experience to another, instead of being stuck on one for days even after it’s over.

May be that’s what is missing. Perspective. The ability to view my life as a story.

Space

Okay so I am writing this post in the capacity of a singer. But I think it applies to any one doing anything creative.

Honestly I couldn’t understand the importance of deep focus. I used to do all my vocal practices, scales, breathing exercises but with a lot of distractions. Would take breaks every five minutes to check my phone or watch some TV show. And I had convinced myself that as long as I am doing the required practices, it didn’t matter what I did in between to keep myself going.

But my attempt today to shut off all distractions and only focus on my vocal practices made me realise how important it is for the creative process. Not to mention, the time I save and the number of things I could do today despite the brief period of depression in which I kind of lost control and switched on my phone. I think being forced to confront your feelings of boredom or fear or past issues can have that effect. But it also made me come out of my default automated settings.

I started thinking about what I was singing and what practice I was doing. I thought about how I could do these things in a better way. I spent time listening to music and observing how each emotion is represented in the language of music by different artists. My mind had the space to think about all these things instead of being focused on mindless entertainment fed from TV shows or mobile applications.

And getting the space to ponder over things and being able to confront emotions and channel them into creation is so important for the creative process.

Look at my blog too. I wrote three posts in one day. Because I have been thinking about things, I have been struggling with emotions and I have been thinking of solutions at the back of my mind. And some of it found it’s way into my writing.

Basically deep focus gives space for us to be human. The difference between human beings and any other animal is the thought and effort human beings put into everything they do. That is what I was able to do with my music, thanks to the space I gave my brain for thinking without distractions.

I think I have made my point now. Hope it helps some people. Have a good day 🙂

Deep focus

I have been fascinated for a while with the concept of deep focus. Giving your 100% to a work, without distractions. Completely isolating yourself. And then I met a guy who does exactly this. That was enough motivation for me to finally try it.

I lasted half a day. Then suddenly I crashed. Pinged all my friends, watched three episodes of a movie series, ordered junk food. Then started going back into depression. It was good till I crashed. I was working on things with focus. But towards the end I started questioning my work, why was i working hard? For what?

I know why I am working hard. For success. To become really good at what I do. But still there is some factor missing in the motivation.

Any thoughts?

Instant Gratification

The rush of dopamine is what many of us live for. I’ll admit, it happens to me, when I post something on social media. I wait to hear what people think of it. But if I am able to surpass the urge. Look beyond instant gratification and keep working. A bigger gratification would come. My way. I know that. That is why it is so important to overcome the temptation.