Fragmented thoughts of a fragmented mind

05 Feb 2017

blurry lines

I have been maintaining a one post per week routine for a long while now, spread across this public journal, Medium and the occasional tinyletter. The past few months has made it increasingly difficult for me to keep up with this routine.

It is difficult to write when there is an internal turmoil, because writing requires a certain clarity, yet perhaps writing to gain clarity is precisely needed in times of turmoil. There have been times before when I set out to write on this page with nothing in mind, but something would eventually unfold, even if it is messy. That is why there is a deliberate effort to name this a public journal instead of a blog – journals are effective because they allow us the space to unfold our messy thoughts. Having the commitment to write at least once a week is also helpful, because it forces me to write when I really don’t feel like it, a much-needed discipline in my chaotic life.

I write privately too, over at 750words. So why do I bother keeping a public journal when I have a private one? Because writing in public forces me to be accountable, and it gives light to my darkness. Even if I write insane mumbo-jumbo I would like people to know. It is sort of a reverse narcissism. Instead of wanting people to know about the celebratory moments in my life, I desire you to know of my struggles. Why? It is my one act of rebellion against society’s preference for only highlighting the good and trashing the worst. My struggles are neither good or bad to me, they are just both metaphysical and human.

It has been harder for me to write recently, because I am just very confused. On one hand I know with a much deeper clarity that I need to continue focusing on my self-healing/knowledge journey, on the other hand it feels wrong to focus on one self when the world is burning. But I tell myself everyday that I need to put the oxygen mask on myself first. I wouldn’t be of much use now, and I recall writing about non-action some time last year. The events of the past few years have taught me trying to act with so many deep wounds within myself tend to cause more damage than not acting, even with the most positive intention. You cannot get a bucket with holes to carry water. Sometimes it is a better course of action to take ourselves out of the picture.

I am in a state of limbo. I have just finished a stint with a government agency I couldn’t say no to. Somehow being able to contribute to the public good in a very tangible form has been a dream of mine (weird dream, I know) for a long time now. It has provoked some existential questions I still do not have answers to. I have been a professional designer for 15 years now, and I appreciate being able to devote that set of experience and skills to something meaningful, so I find it difficult to turn these opportunities down when they come by. One of my favourite quotes is by Michelle Obama:

“When you know you’ve been blessed and know you have a set of gifts, how do you maximize those gifts so you’re impacting the greatest number of people?”

…and it has been my email signature for at least half a decade if not more. Yet I am beginning to have issues with the phrase “greatest number of people”, because we can’t measure impact simply by scale. The obsession with scale can have unintended consequences.

I am also tired of being a problem solver. Maybe it is just time to seriously turn that problem solving energy inward. I cannot help but feel like my obsession with solving problems is only but a better drug than say, alcohol. It allows me to avoid facing deeper issues within myself, because being useful to something is one of the easiest ways to bury our own demons.

Now that I am restarting my experiments/sabbatical again, I am curious to know what will I do with myself this time around. There is so much I wished I could do when I was tied down with professional work, but now that my time is freed up once again, would I be able to overcome my own barriers to truly free myself to do what I love doing, versus what I expect myself to do?

Sometimes, the lines are blurry.

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