I have recently moved back to my permanent address — the place I have been calling home for the past ten years. It was precisely a year ago that I had shifted to my original hometown. My wife and I wanted to be closer to our parents in these uncertain times. Good that we did. We ploughed through some of the toughest times with the support of the extended family. The sheer burden of the unknown and uncertainty would have crushed the lonely and separated souls.
Even though the closeness to the family was welcoming, the place you call your home always lends innate warmth. You feel calm, at home, free of some strange burden. Possibly, it is because of the familiarity of the surroundings. Or maybe it is because you have fallen in love with your abode over the many years of togetherness. Whatever the reason, things generally feel right.
That has been the experience for me for the past week. The period when I was away from this place appears way back in history. Is it not spectacular that you can so easily get habituated to the change in your surroundings?
That said, the drive back was full of anxiety. The ride, itself, was uneventful — instead, we welcomed the chance to spend a pleasant 12 hours on the road. It was the inside that was churning with thoughts. I was petrified, thinking about the state the home would be in. Would it be covered knee-deep in the dust? Or full of cobwebs? With pests running everywhere? The fear of the unknown was nibbling my heart within. Just the thought of the sheer work we may have to put in to make the place liveable made me uncomfortable.
As I unlocked the main door and stepped inside, I realized I was foolish to let these thoughts burden my mind. Of course. Our home is not somewhere in the wild, open for unruly animals to pry at. It is part of a gated community. No cockroaches or spiders were running around the house. The dust that I was so terrified of was barely visible. I could feel it was there. But cleaning that was far from the back-bending chore that I imagined it to be. The home was just the way we had left it, our own. Calm.
Anyway, the place is back to being our home again. Now, this is also a time to settle into a new routine. A change of setting calls for a change in the way I was leading my life for the past year. I have already got my mornings back — a familiar, peaceful morning is when I am writing this letter in. Now, it is time to handle the other phases of the day.
With that update out of the way, here is the selection of three brilliant essays on life for this week.
[I]t is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head (may be happening right now). Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliché about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliché about quote the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.
I’m always super-aware of how whenever I go out into the world, or whenever I get involved in a relationship, my idea of who I think I am utterly collides with the reality of who I actually am. And I continue to go out even though who I am always comes up short. I always prove myself to be less generous, less charming, less considerate, not as bold or energetic or intelligent or courageous as I imagined in my solitude. And I’m always being insulted, or snubbed, or disappointed.
And yet, in some way, maybe this is better. Each of us could suffer the pangs of withdrawal from other people and gain the serenity of the non-smoker. We could be demi-gods in our little castles, all alone, but perhaps, deep down, none of us really wants that. Maybe the only cure for self-confidence and courage is humility. Maybe we go out in order to fall short, because we want to learn how to be good at being people, and moreover, because we want to be people.
A failure or so, in itself, would not matter, if it did not incur a loss of self-esteem and of self-confidence. But just as nothing succeeds like success, so nothing fails like failure. Most people who are ruined are ruined by attempting too much. Therefore, in setting out on the immense enterprise of living fully and comfort- ably within the narrow limits of twenty-four hours a day, let us avoid at any cost the risk of an early failure. I will not agree that, in this business at any rate, a glorious failure is better than a petty success. I am all for the petty success. A glorious failure leads to nothing; a petty success may lead to a success that is not petty.
You, my reader with a keen eye, must have noticed that this issue looks slightly different. It does because I have moved my newsletters to the Ghost platform. Without going too much into details, let us just say that I wanted to challenge myself to write more long-form essays. I do plan to do that on Ghost.
I have published below essays since I delivered the last issue of the newsletter. Given that I recently started publishing with Ghost, these posts are meta thoughts on my choice of platforms.
You can also receive my essays along with the newsletter issues, if interested. Just let me know. I will deliver every essay I publish by email. Or you could, of course, also subscribe to the good old RSS feed.
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Thank you for reading and sharing.