Week 6: Mac and Cheese, Sore Throat, and Deep Roots
I’m writing this from Chennai. I’m here for the second time this year for a Visa appointment. It’s all very scary and stressful and dehumanizing and I just want it to end already. I have many opinions about traveling internationally as an Indian citizen, but if I start writing them down they’ll take up this entire weeknote. Let’s just move on, okay?
I skipped writing last week’s note because my brother was visiting me in Bangalore. I cooked mac and cheese for him and a bunch of friends using a recipe Pooja shared with me a long time ago, and it turned out great as always. I’m starting to be known as the guy who cooks mac and cheese all the time, and I ain’t even mad. Thanks Pooja!
Exciting throat update for those who have been following along: last week, my doctor stuck a camera down my throat to figure out if there was something seriously wrong in there. Turns out there is a very slight injury on my vocal cords, but nothing too serious. I don’t have much pain anymore, and I’m able to have short conversations without any problems. If I speak for too long, though, my throat starts to get sore. Saying nothing for two months might have something to do with it, and I’m hoping this problem will sort itself out in a few days. If not, then it’ll be another trip to the hospital.
Hospitals and airplanes. That’s how I’ve spent most of this year. Next year, I’m planning to stay put in Bangalore and prioritize my health over everything else.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this staying put business. Sitting still and just enjoying what I have is something I’ve never been able to do. In life, work, and art, my tendency has been to always move forward, to always keep looking for the next thing.
Learned how to use a new piece of technology? Great, now move on to the next trendy thing. Figured out how to produce a new genre of music? Cool, go check what else is hot on SoundCloud right now. Went on a great vacation? Start planning next year’s vacation before the bags have been unpacked. Reading a book on a lazy Sunday afternoon? Start thinking about how great the next one is going to be before this one is half finished.
Novelty is fun. It’s addictive. Always doing something new means I’m constantly learning new things, keeping myself challenged, meeting new people, discovering and rediscovering the world and, with it, discovering and rediscovering myself.
But I’m starting to get tired of all of this thrashing around. Listening to new music is great, but what about all my favorite music from years ago that I’ve lost touch with? Trying out new food is great, but what about the food from my childhood that comforts me and reminds me of simpler times? Taking up new hobbies is great, but what about the hobbies I’ve already invested thousands of hours—and rupees—into? Making new friends is great, but what about all the friends I’ve neglected to keep in touch with?
I’m not saying I need to stagnate, stop being curious about the world, and stop doing new things. I wouldn’t want to live a life that lacks the thrill of discovering something (or someone) new. No, stasis is worse than this constant turmoil.
However, as I’m growing older and taking stock of my life, I starting to crave deep roots. I crave friendships and relationships built on shared experiences over a long period of time (I’m grateful to have at least a few of these). I crave being part of a larger community. I crave a career that’s built on practical experience gained from years in the trenches, not bookish knowledge picked up from blogs and READMEs. I crave skills that have been sharpened by thousands of hours of deliberate practice.
I crave something that keeps me rooted when things go south, something that’s a constant reminder of who I am and where I came from. Even if it’s just daal makhani or trashy nu-metal music everyone pretends never happened.
I crave a kind of spiritual wealth accumulated by respecting what I have, being grateful for it, taking care of it, and slowing down.
That’s it, I think. I want to slow down. At least for a little while.
Reading: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Listening to: a random selection of favorites from Mitski’s Puberty 2, Run the Jewels’ RTJ2, St. Vincent’s Masseduction, and The Hotelier’s Goodness, among many others.
Playing: Diablo 3 (does this game ever end!?)