Time Capsule | Ft. A Pause
Time Capsule is a series about ideas, conversations, memories and random things that I want to revisit in the future.
I’ve published a new Time Capsule episode !
It’s been a while since the last one, and I know some of you were probably expecting an episode from the other series Timesheets (I promise, something is in the works).
This episode more so than the others is something I definitely want to revisit in the future. It’s a reminder for my future self, and I hope you get around to listening to the episode !
I recently told a friend that I haven’t looked up properly since work started. This episode comes from that conversation. I hope you like it !
I’ve stepped outside my hostel room. I’m on my way to meet friends for dinner at the college mess. It’s a short distance and I’m rushing. I want to get done with it quickly. There’s a couple of deadlines to meet, a project submission to be made and I have not even started. The plan is to have a short meal and rush back to my room.
As I head towards the mess, I look around me and I look up.
The night sky is stunning. The starry night gets me to smile. Jodhpur skies always seem to. They have the capacity to embrace you with comfort and kindness, you didn’t know you needed.
I stop and for an extremely short second I’m lost. I remark to myself - wow.
I continue walking towards the mess where my friends are waiting. Throughout dinner, we exchange random stories of the day. Our table is filled with laughter. My friends are great storytellers - at least that’s what I think. I could be biased, but the passage of time is lost on me as I listen to their stories. Time taken for dinner at the mess can never be measured. A memory is being made right now and my deadlines are forced to wait in the face of our collective enjoyment.
I appear to be living a lot in my history these days.
Memories from my recent past always seem to flash on the most random of occasions. These are memories from my time in college, but also imagined experiences from all the days snatched away due to CoVID - I’m living in those lost possibilities.
There’s a quote I often mull over. I came across it on a vlogbrothers video and it's been stuck in my head ever since. Kurt Vonnegut says-
“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.”
I don’t think I’ve done what Mr. Vonnegut requests us to do. My capacity to notice joys hasn’t been at its best since CoVID and for the past year, I’ve had to deal with this transition from blissful days of living in ignorance to days consumed by work and burdens. It hasn’t exactly helped with my ability to relish occasions of joy.
My memories of the past year have one underlying motif - a shadow of dread and nonchalance pervading through each day that I lived. I concentrated all my energies into surviving work. I was always worried about screwing up. If I didn’t focus, I thought I was failing. At what exactly? I don’t know. The thought of failure was the only thing that kept me going. Dread was always around the corner.
I can’t tell you if I noticed instances of happiness, these were scarce. I could however point you towards the shadow of dread that was following me even when I innocently stepped away from work to buy groceries. I always paid attention to the pressure, which was my constant companion when I took a break to drink coffee. I never noticed or exclaimed - what a nice day it is. I always thought, in the words of Shikamaru - what a drag !
I speculate that reviewing contracts, and loan agreements has somehow diminished my willingness to notice things around me, to notice things beyond work, to notice a world outside of Times New Roman and Microsoft Office.
Once I accepted this state as my default, it got simpler. It was easy to skip meals. It was easy to tell my family and friends, I’ll talk to them later. It took me no real effort to lie to myself - that I will focus on my personal time, after I finish sending the email. It felt natural to constantly be overwhelmed by dread. It was normal now, to not pause or take a few moments for myself.
I’m rushing towards the printing section in the library. I have a project submission due at 4:30 PM. People will be crowding up to take their printouts. Everyone remembers their deadlines at the same time. I have to be fast or else I’ll be late. I’m running towards the library and briefly, I look around me and I look up.
There it is again.
That gentle blanket of deep blue. I’m captivated, as usual. The skies force me to stop scrambling. I must pause now. You don’t ignore these skies, you gaze and get sucked in them for at least one moment. I smile and I slowly walk towards the library - the printing can wait.
Is that a true memory?
I don’t know. I don’t have vivid recollections from college now, my archive of those memories appear to be fading. They only dawn on me at odd moments during the week, particularly when I’m struggling.
What I do know is, I learnt to stop. I found delight by taking a moment. I noticed things around me. I looked up. I didn’t rush all the time. Once a day, in one way or another, I found something to be amazed by - a story, a new song recommendation, a delicious meal, a dark joke, some conversations, shared silences or anything stupid and weird. It wasn’t perfect but I know over a period of time in college, at least once a day, I paused.
I think about the words of Mr. Vonnegut a lot because I know he’s right. I’ve failed at his rather simple request quite a lot in the past year. It sucks. I got stuck in a spiral of dread. I was avoiding and distracting myself through the drudgery of work. It was simple because the default state was to ignore everything else.
It is difficult but I don’t want to forget about all the things you can be mesmerized by. I want to pay attention and put in the effort that is required for noticing the delights around me. I yearn to look up and soak in - the skies, the people I am around, or anything else. I don’t know but I don’t want to stop trying.
I’m writing this to remind myself - to notice when I am happy and murmur to myself, exclaim or even think - if this isn’t nice, what is !
That was it for this Time Capsule.
I hope you take a moment to pause today.
If you liked this, do share it with your friends and don’t forget to subscribe. I’m going to be sharing some more stuff soon.