In Part 2 of my Year-End Review, I’d like to talk about the most important lesson that I learnt throughout the course of this year.
Some of you may know that I stopped blogging some time in the middle of 2013. That was the time when my previous blog grew very popular.
It attracted attention from certain groups of highly undesirable people. Several people (including acquaintances) reached out to me in the name of “developing” friendships (yeah, right…). They’d invite me out for lunch/dinner/tea or something so that we can “catch up,” when in reality, all they wanted was to benefit from the potential publicity that I could give. I don’t mind it if we did these kinds of things on a professional level (don’t mix personal matters with business). But it really disgusts me that people would deny it, and say that they are genuinely doing it for the sake of friendship. How do these people live with themselves? Are they content with such superficial friendships? Have they no shame in the way they conduct themselves?
It was the way these people did it, and the number of such people doing it that really overwhelmed me with great disgust. Maybe I just wasn’t mentally/emotionally prepared to handle so many disgusting and selfish people in such a short span of time.
Maybe… But the experience was so bad that one day I decided that I would stop blogging.
That was, by far, the worst decision of my life.
As I wrote this last sentence, I stopped typing for a while and thought deeply if I was exaggerating this claim. Looking back at every “bad” decision I made or regretted, I still would rank this as the single worst decision of my life ever. At least every other decision produced many learning insights.
When I stopped writing, I realised I lost a big part of myself. I seemed to have lost a deep connection of myself as the self-as-immersed-in-the-world. I realised that as soon as I stopped writing, I failed to give structure to my thoughts. They are scattered all over, disconnected one from the other.
Writing is very much like a meditative process for me. As I write, I focus on the idea developing word for word, and see it appear before my eyes on the screen. And every minute or so, I go back and review what has been written, and ponder deeply on it again and again. Does this make sense? Is it coherent? Could there have been a better way of expressing it?
This process of writing, forces me to meditate on the issue that I wish to discuss. It connects my deepest self – mind and heart – to the words on the screen. It links the thoughts in my head with the issues around me. Writing helps me to draw the connections between the scattered ideas in my mind, and when the dots are all connected, I gain insights into the matter.
This process cannot be replicated from speaking out loud, or simply from thinking to myself. A word, once uttered, is lost in the air. A thought, once entertained, fades away. I don’t have the words – critical feedback – appearing before my very eyes so that I can judge and evaluate each sentence, each word, in the context of its entirety.
What a big difference it makes to the way we think!
Not writing for months. That really affected me a lot. It got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore, and so I decided to start a new blog – this blog – under a new name. A fresh start, so to speak. Unfortunately, as I had not been blogging when I transitioned from student to employee, I never developed a routine habit from the start for my writing activity. It has been difficult trying to write now that I’m working.
But I’m glad that I have those moments, every now and then, to retreat from life and work, to this little user interface on my screen, where I can pen my thoughts. These rare moments allow me to get in touch with myself and have a deeper understanding of moments and issues around me (and even of myself).
This idea of the importance in writing was further emphasized when a professor one day mentioned that the only way to develop one’s mind is to read a lot, discuss a lot, and most importantly, to write a lot. That resonated so deeply in me. I’ve been reading and discussing, but have been feeling a deep lack within for quite a while. Indeed, read, discuss and write. That is critical to one’s growth.
So yes, the big lesson of 2014 (at least for myself) is this: Don’t stop writing. Pick up your pen, or your keyboard, and write. Let the words flow, let your ideas develop. Don’t worry about perfection for perfection is an abstract ideal with no concrete parameters that will enable you to see that you have arrived at your destination. Just write, and write intimately so that you can hear yourself, and be deeply in touch with yourself.
Don’t stop writing!