Feeding My Soul
Maybe some day, I’ll think of the years between 2009 and 2019 as a lost decade. It was a decade of development, when I came of age, when I left home, when I made my home in so many different places in the world, where I tried on different ways of being, as if they were seasonal coats, or swimwear.
Things are different now.
When I was least expecting it, king tides subsided and became gentle lakes. The weather is rarely frosty or humid, it’s mostly even-tempered, and cool. I have time to sleep, exercise, meditate, and eat well: I am no longer scurrying from here to there. I know how lucky I am.
I got to recover from a chronic illness that not only took away my physical abilities for a long while, I also got to bounce back mentally from it. From insomniac mania, I now have a well-rested, even-keeled, decently-paced life (and personality). When I think back to those years, to 2012 and right after especially, I wonder how anyone ever kept up with me. I barely did. (Autoimmune diseases are a bitch. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.)
I have work that is engaging, challenging, and evenly paced. I have the weekends to discover and explore. Surprising to everyone, especially to myself, my new hobbies are fun, slow and old: birding. Cycling slowly. Walking slowly. Hiking. Being in nature. If I’m optimizing for anything (throwback to my startup days!), that’s it.
So many weekends spent around the Bay Area wandering about with friends and people I love. Sometimes I look at birds. Sometimes I look at fungi. Many times, I am just happy and so damned pleased to be out and about, and alive.
In line with the theme of ‘finding joy in things I have always loved’, like playing my piano, saxophone, clarinet for fun, I started picking up my camera again. Over there, on my microblog, I’m documenting all the ways in which my brain gets to have fun. I’ve forgotten how nice it is to just make things, tell stories, and do things for fun.
I’m done with the hustle.
The hustle that I want to spend time and energy on is the one that’s about nourishing my soul. I’m working on some long term writing and photography projects. While it’s tempting to think of 2009 - 2019 as the lost years in which I did not do very much creatively, I think it’s given me the experiences and time to really become the kind of artist that I want to be. In recovering from chronic illness and hustle-related illnesses, my mind is now clearer than before: I have the headspace now to work and make things the way I want.
It’s still too early to share what I’m working on, but know that things I do in this space will always have something to do with one or all of the following: immigrants, California, India, Southeast Asia, food, culture, festivals, climate, nature, mushrooms, birds, queerness, bicycles, music, and maybe more. Those are all of the keywords to my life, these are all of the things that keep me going. Until then, snippets of my creative brain can be found at the microblog, and sometimes also on Mastodon (especially at the #FilmIsNotDead hashtag that I sometimes use).
So instead of focusing on status, success, money, or hustle and grind culture, I’m going to explore all the ways in which I can immerse myself deeply in all of the things that I love, some or all of them at once. And I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do this.