I was a hyper kid. I find it hard to sit quiet, doing nothing, still somehow I like it – so I work on keeping my butt down.
In the last 4 years I’ve kept to myself, except when I travel. I’ve been drawing and working almost exclusively at nights. I like working in long uninterrupted stretches – usually drawing, reading or studying for 8 – 14 hours a day. Sometimes I keep drawing for a few days till I cannot move another muscle and fall asleep. If I work during the day I lock my house gate, jump back into my compound and continue working. There were times I’ve fallen asleep under my drawing table.
If the sun is up and there is light to see the world around then again I’m sitting with my sketchbook or camera making notes and observations of what I see, hear, think, sense and feel. Such behaviour allows me to rarely meet people or keep in touch with them at their paces. I’m grateful to the friends and family who have come, opening the gates (sometimes shouting, singing loudly till I open my doors), visiting me and giving me the human company.
Since college I’ve drawn, designed, collaged, etc almost exclusively at nights.
Performance was the one consistent activity that demanded a change to a productive daytime routine with fellow people – which I enjoy, which I miss.
It is not hard to imagine that such working is stressful. I love it. The flip side is that I got hungry every two hours (all consumed in drawing I was living on bananas, ground nut balls, tea & ciggies) as the head and body is kept working all the time. I got angry that I had to keep cooking and feeding myself. I’ve argued with myself that the body does go without food or sleep for long. “Monks eat a meal a day PC! What are you, a cow?”. I find it hard to accept that I have my limits. The IFA Grant has allowed me to afford food and a doctor to tell me that I need to eat and sleep if I so wish to keep existing! Now I’m packing in some kgs and sleeping at night. It is odd.
And then my vices!
Between all this is I make bite size efforts to meditate and sit still. It continues to be a challenge. Over the years I have been doing some amount of personal inquiry as my stupidities stump me and I’m curious about life. I’ve had moments of insights here and there but no enlightenment involving cool graphics.
In high school we had a 40 / 45 minute class period called silent time, to be silent, sit being silent, look around, watch within. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I treated it as alone time. I kept to myself as best as I could (there was much gesturing & giggling if I crossed company), I walked, climbed trees and hung there for a bit, sang loudly, talked to myself, fidgeted dragging sticks in the sand and then sat down eventually from boredom, fatigue or general sulking and gaped my way through the rest of the class. I’ve been in many moods and states during these classes – from thinking the class to be a terrible imposition towards wasting time to enjoying it occasionally especially if I remembered to look. Sometimes I looked till my eyes hurt.
It was during one of these classes that I began the habit of keeping a sketch book. I found I liked recording my thoughts and ideas. My first sketchbook was a black leathery hard bound A5 book with lovely thick paper gifted to me by my then classmate and still friend Ponni Arasu which she brought for me all the way from USA. That book made me very happy. I slowly filled the book across the next 7 years until I got the big fat bond papered A4 spiral bound red sketch book which was a gift from my friend Ashwin.
This April I went for my first vipassana after mulling over it for 4 years and getting ample reassurance from other vipassana goers and my therapist. It was a first time to sit with 30 odd people quietly for around 100 hours and 10 days of no talking. I enjoyed it very much.
This book and its core enquiry on “quiet” gave me the push to give vipassana a fair shot. I was meditating quite consistently before. Ironically, two months post this session I have been circumventing my meditation corner. The sitting has been different. I don’t sit in my assigned corner anymore but I sit when and where I feel I want to experience being still. This is nice.
APRIL, MAY, JUNE 2017:
I came back to Chennai post the session to spend some time with my family and my niece. My health needed some tinkering and I wanted company. I am eating my way up to sunshine. To be back in a city for the third month in a row after consciously staying away from it for six years does something.