Every morning when I sit to write, I drink a cup of coffee. It’s my writing stimulant.
I might feel bored before I start. But when my tongue registers the first taste, my mind switches gears. The words come pouring out like hot milk. (Whether those words are good, satisfactory or downright hopeless, is another story.)
Last week, I ran out of coffee.
I should’ve rushed to the store to buy a packet. Instead, I sat down to write without it.
I felt the void, but I was okay.
Two days passed. Then three. By the end of the week, I was okay with writing without coffee.
Not feeling addicted to the drink felt good. But it made me wonder: if coffee has a powerful effect on me when I do what I enjoy, why did I stop needing it?
That question led to larger ones. Because this wasn’t the first time I stopped doing something which made me feel good.
Off my head, I can think of three instances.
For coffee, well, I was lazy. Lazy to step out. So I was okay with not drinking my writing stimulant.
I love writing. It’s the only thing apart from riding that keeps me sane.
One Sunday, I had an amazing conversation with someone about it. So amazing that my mind instantly began buzzing with ideas. I resolved to apply the points I learned and write everyday.
I started on Sunday. It went well. As did Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I just had to write.
But then came Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I didn’t write. I made excuses. About lack of time, exhaustion and responsibilities. But it didn’t change the fact that I was okay with breaking the chain.
I have an ’86 Yamaha RD350. It’s the joy of my life. My pride, my love. When I feel low, I fire her up and take her out for a ride. It takes as much time to feel on top of the world as she takes to get from zero to 100.
Recently, she developed problems so grave that she wouldn’t start. It broke my heart to see her lying in the garage, unattended to. But I was okay with a broken heart.
One day, a friend said, “Looks like the bike is not a priority in your life anymore. You should sell it.” The dialogue felt like a punch in my midriff. Since then, I’ve been taking steady steps to get her running again.
I am in a self-deprecatory mood today. So I can find a hundred more instances. But enough ranting about my problems. It’s solution time.
Here’s the thing.
I often complain to myself that I stay in the same condition for too long. But I’ve realized that it’s nobody’s fault except my own.
Why do I feel okay with not drinking coffee, not writing, riding my bikes, or playing my guitars? Why do I drift each time I get mildly good at something instead of sticking to it and getting to the next level?
Maybe I’m lazy.
Maybe I plateau after a steep learning curve. And I don’t work to turn that plateau into another learning curve.
Maybe I want 10X results for 0.01X work.
Maybe it’s all of the above.
But life doesn’t work that way. And it’ll keep teaching me this lesson until I learn it.
I’m not alone here.
Far too many people encounter the same challenge as me.
We’ve learned addiction is bad. And I agree. Addiction to consumption — media multitasking, substance abuse etc. — is bad.
Build the urge to do something. Show up even when you don’t feel like. Put out what you make for everyone to see. It doesn’t matter if it’s as amazing as Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s foresight, or as horrible as a pervert’s mindset.
I won’t change overnight. Nor will I witness a difference within a month. This is going to be a long-drawn, painful process.
But I must start. Not with action, but with not being okay. Not being okay with not doing what I must. Not being okay with letting fear and laziness handicap me. Not being okay with lying on my deathbed thinking whether people will describe me as “…was a good guy but wasted what he had.”
From today on, each time I find myself not doing what I should, I’ll tell myself, “it’s not okay.” Then I’ll look at my to-do list and get to work. I’ll keep pushing until I get addicted to creating something meaningful — until I can’t not do what fills me with joy.
What about you?