Janus is the Roman god of thresholds and beginnings, entrances and exits, watcher of archways, pauser, dawdler, time-taker, looking both sides before crossing any portal, poor Janus, will he ever go anywhere, doesn't he know that you never look back. Cautious, two-headed Janus is the opposite of lustful, five-headed Brahma. Brahma's heads extend in all directions so he misses nothing, so nothing misses him, all his creation proudly puffs itself into his chest, his lungs breathing in the wonder of his own creation.
This blog like so many mythical beings has born, died, reborn, remade and sprung eternal from the internet godhead or ether that fills everything multiple times. But it's current incarnation begins with a post on the first day of 2017. 2017 is now over. The first post was about resolutions. None of them have been achieved. 2017 was nasty, brutish and short but that's not an excuse. 2017 was also lush, lyrical and long as well. It was all things for all people. As time usually is.
I resolved to do three things: publish 365 blogposts (I did 46), learn Tamil (I did not), write a long-form non-fiction story (nope).
Let's be a bit more like cautious Janus for a moment and pause.
Why did I fail?
.#1: All three things were hard and taking on three hard things simultaneously makes it harder to do even one of those hard things.
.#2: I didn't actually create the systems that would enable me to do accomplish these things. Habits over goals?
.#3: I didn't prioritize them over my actual day-to-day money-earning, status-serving, conscience-salving or spirit-nourishing.
Three reasons, one for each resolution, as I slavishly fit my thoughts into obscure symmetries, hoping that they represent deep cosmic truths. Lucky for me, they do.
While it may not be possible to sit now and sketch out a plan for personal flourishing in 2018, the desire to find some Nehruvian balance between Soviet-centralization and American-pretend-seat-of-the-pantsism leads me to ponder a new method. Not to envision resolutions unlinked from the superstructure of the rest of my life, orphaned thoughts sprouting ad nihilo and going nowhere. But rather envision a totality and colour in a certain amount.
My life is an agglomeration of many things. Time to act like it.
Reponse to #1 or the problem of taking on three much: Articulate one central activity and then laundry list out all others so that they can be ogled at but, like the Indian constitutions' directive principles, will be mostly for reference.
Reponse to #2 or the problem of systems: I like the idea of scheduling my priorities in time periods that bookend sleep. Whether or not it's true, the romance of having the thoughts roil through my subconscious, melting, reforming and waiting for me when I awake, is terribly exciting.
Response to #3 or the problem of priorities: Assuming that I will have to work three days a week at the very least to maintain myself in similar state of mind and body at the end of the year as I was at the beginning, that gives me atleast two days to devote to these passions. This is a gift and gifts are responsibilities to the universe, to myself and to society. Honour them, I must.
My primary habit, goal, resolution, activity and commitment is to work on my novel in 2018. It's a relief to have this clarity. If I wish to give 2 working days to this novel, that would be 16 hours a week. 16 hours spread over 5 days is about 3 hours a day. 3 hours to be split into 2 sessions - one in the morning, one in the night. Typical wisdom tells me that I should try 2 and 1 and while I'm unsure if it works my own personal circadian rhythms, I'll test it out.
I will have to respect this commitment and treat it as sacrosanct in a way I have not up to now. This has to be what my working day is about. I will have to defer meetings, side projects, movies, people and the comfort of my bed for these hours. That will be a challenge of discipline. I bow to my enemy. I take stance. We dance.
Photo Credit: Groume on flickr