On introspection and writing

I have long been aching to write but every time I tried to, I just couldn’t get past the first sentence.

I wanted to write about this fork in my career, this plan to resign from being the head of reservoir engineering in a renewable energy company — to toss in the air this supposedly enviable career track — and pursue my MBA instead. I wanted to write about how waiting for the results of the MBA scholarship is tearing me apart every single day; the results will be out next week, and the wait is nothing but excruciating. I wanted to write about my father’s death about a month ago, how even if I hated him most of my life I’m missing him now, and yes, how I’m wishing to have reconciled with him sooner. I wanted to write about how even after 28 years of existence, and despite my accomplishments, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. I wanted to write about how sometimes in the middle of the night I would wake up and find myself pleading to God not to take my life yet.

I wanted to write about so many things but was not able to do so. Cannot do so. Maybe because of stress at work. Or because I’m not ready yet. Or maybe I’ve become too conscious again of my writing. I honestly don’t know.

But I’m glad I’m able to write again. And that words are once again flowing. And I kid you not, I’m on the verge of crying right now just because I can feel again this joy that writing brings forth.

I am not a writer, that is a given. And I find my writing dull and stale. I wish I could write better than this but this is all I have, these bland and uninspired words coming out of my heart.

I’m currently reading Seneca’s “On the shortness life”, and one of the things that really spoke to me was when he wrote that “preoccupied minds, as if under a yoke, cannot turn around and look backward; therefore, their life disappears into an abyss. Just as it does no good to pour any amount of liquid into a vessel if there’s nothing at the bottom to receive and keep it, so it makes no difference how much time we are given if there’s nowhere for it to settle.”

It struck a chord in me because in this fast-paced times, especially at work — I go from one meeting to another, rush around to beat a deadline only to move on to the next, tick an endless to-do list, catch up on an overwhelming number of emails — it’s so easy to drown in the whirlwind of busy-ness. I am always preoccupied, always in motion, always squandering my time and energy chasing after inessential things.

It has become very difficult to find time just to sit still, gather my thoughts, and absorb everything that’s happening in my life. To make sense of things and appreciate the moment and be thankful for this miracle of being alive.

Amidst all the noise and chaos, indeed it is difficult to find time for self-introspection and for writing down my thoughts, but I believe it is not impossible. Which is why I have decided to block every Saturday morning just to quiet my mind and reflect on my week. To stare at my soul and reach into my guts and ask questions such as: What did I achieve this week? Did I minimize doing non-value-adding things and focused instead on doing what’s essential? Have I become better compared to last week? What lessons can I learn? How can I improve? How can I live a life of significance?

I don’t want to get old and end up asking myself, “Where did my life go?”, and then regretting that I didn’t make the best out of my one and only life. I want to be fully aware, to be fully immersed in this life. And the only way I know I can do that is to take time for introspection and write down my thoughts. Of course, this is so much easier said than done. Because my default setting is to do things mindlessly and go through the motions. That is no longer acceptable.

Seneca wrote that “it’s not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it.” It is my hope that by constantly taking time to reflect and write about the way I’m living my life, may I find the courage to only pursue the things I deem essential, and in the end find that my life has all been worthwhile.


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