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Four Lessons From My Hiatus

When you are in it, you cant see it. A hiatus is a great way of examining yourself, your actions, intentions and results from a distance.  Distance brings clarity. I have been on a hiatus of sorts from several default dens. Large parts of social media, large conferences, get-togethers and the like. It has given me to rediscover many facets and dust up promises made. Here are four lessons from my hiatus.

A few months ago, a vague gnawing feeling kept me company.  I couldn’t quite place a steady finger on a particular problem. It presented an opportunity to relook at several things.  In a conversation with a friend, the need to slow down emerged. At the place where the road curved, I realised the need to ‘Play’ more. so much so, that it became my word of the year!  

A hiatus was well in place by then. Most of the social media was (and still continues to be) off my phone. I reconfigured my phone. I cleaned up my bookshelf and the wardrobe. My hard drive remains by far incomplete.  I took a break from many conferences and preferring smaller more intimate conversations.  And so on. I see more and hear more these days. It has been refreshing.

So, the other day, I sat down wondering what all has emerged for me. On a whim, I wrote four lessons from a hiatus. Written more for me and not as a prescription to the world. 

1. The Acceleration Problem:

I thought acceleration in life is tough. I realise that getting off the fast lane is tougher to start with! There are all kinds of fears that dominate. But to have the courage to continue staying off the grid exposes the hollowness of several fears. I cut out the argumentative froth on social media.   The inventive algorithmic persuasion of Facebook and such other apps was evident, as the gaps they left behind on the calendar, helped me read far more. And about staying updated, it was obvious that if it’s that earth-shattering a news, it will reach! Life is beautiful beyond these empty fears.

2. The Accumulation Problem:

As the years roll by we tend to accumulate. It’s easy. It’s a good feeling. We accumulate material possessions, friends, ideas, opinions etc! Of course, the accumulation of fat in the body, tartar in teeth and dogma in the mind, happen whilst we are busy.  If we are not careful, they come in the way of leading a full life.

A friend told me, “you have a problem only if you let things in. You need to filter at the source”. That is prescient advice, I realise.  In a world where information and opinion is cheap, we need to find ways to stay sane. One way is to have strong filters. Works for fat, tartar, dogma or the wardrobe!

3. Default Vs Design:

The hiatus has helped me examine the defaults that have eased their way in. Living life to a design and a plan requires calling out the defaults and elbowing them out! Doing the right thing is not the same as doing the easy, natural thing. To eat right, staying fit, having quality conversations, getting to do quality work, are all products of choices.  They are shaped by disciplined choices in the space of other inviting options that hold allure. 

4. The force of dead habit:

The hiatus brought me face to face with dead habits. I realise that habits that were good for a point in time and that are past their prime have kept me stiff company.  And then there are some plain bad ones that have stuck on too. Some bad ones masqueraded as good ones. Others didn’t find any need to.  Obviously, I am far from being free of these. But I am now better acquainted with them and the stories my mind tells me about them!

The deal with the hiatus is that it gives the time and space to examine. It gives opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t. The thing about insights from a hiatus is that you can’t force it to appear. Insights come with deep reflection, conversation and courageous examination. These require ample time, a free mind and some breeze to shoot. Those are aplenty in a hiatus.

One more thing.

One of the greatest realisations I have is that it is possible to have a hiatus whilst going about work and putting bread on the table. It means making parts of your calendar inaccessible to your regular ways. It requires a commitment to tune in to deeper desires and transcending immediate pulls and pressures.

So, am plodding on rearranging blocks of my life. To roll the log of ‘lived life’ over and see what crawls out from beneath it with curiosity, is interesting. To say the least.

In more than one sense, I am upgrading. It is work in progress and it still has jarred edges. Please adjust! 🙂

My experiments with Instagram

Picture stories have been the nerve centre of this website. It is in the long hard look at images that the words and stories have emerged. Over several years. As my Instagram page begins to hog a dab more of my attention than it did earlier, my experiments with Instagram embolden me to weave more stories.

Ever since the shift in career trajectory, there have been many experiments in the recent times that I have been running. When the view of life in itself is viewed as a series of experiments there is only discovery and learning all the way around, experiments and learning on social are also default. Several of social ones are on my Instagram page.

To try and bring a story alive in what is essentially a siloed and image based medium has been a bucket of work with droplets of learning here and there. I have learnt the power of images and how much they can chew up everything else. The importance of filters, lenses, hashtags and what all they can stand in for, and gently gloss over is omnipresent. But to spot the story behind the dominant narrative, has been such fun.

This house, where many of the young are permanently stationed is often viewed as an abode of narcissism by the old. Ok, older. I am finding it to be a very interesting and different platform. I try and keep the play with filters to the minimum and add some shade, contrast and brightness with words. Especially about the places and people that I encounter. If at all it is about me, it is only through the micro accounts stories that I tell there. “Thats not how the medium works” many have told me, shaking their heads with a smug smile lurking in the corner of their lip. Perhaps, they are right. For the way I use Instagram is not what Instagram has bet its shirt on. Instagram’s soul lies in its filters and the words are clearly optional extras. In more ways than one, I am harbouring some old fashioned beliefs. Some of them go like this : Good stories draw people. Good stories are often a combination of pictures and words. etc. etc.

But who cares. Its never about a platform as much as its about the users, their imagination and what they do with it. So I believe. So my page there is become something of a mini blog. Needless to say, my difficulty in adapting to the ready-shoot-filter-publish model is evident in every post. At least in my head. Sometimes though, I receive appreciation. Like the one today from this gentleman whose work I admire hugely, which read  “Love the stories behind your posts. Amazing patience and ‘care’ “.  That chuffed my heart and set me thinking.

The missus added some sense into the dose of kaapi on an otherwise busy Sunday evening to suggest that I need to consider the fact that some of the ‘short posts’ and pictures merited a ‘fuller’ post on the website. “Not everybody is on Instagram you know”, she began. And then quickly went on to other things like “assuming too much” etc, which I thought was fresh brew from another world.

Promptly this blogpost was thought of and some quick-fire decisions were made. Some pictures and accounts from Instagram will get here as well. Some of it shared on other platforms. In any case, its all experiments. So, if you are still reading, do follow me on Instagram and let me know how the page is evolving. My page on Instagram is here : https://www.instagram.com/kavi.arasu/

For, am going to be at it. Chasing a bunch of hypotheses and relishing whatever emerges. When you don’t break into a  sweat on the numbers of likes or followers and are focused on being present with people, their pictures and their stories, there is joy.

Try.