It took me some time to assimilate my thoughts after last year’s physically and mentally taxing adventure. I think I have hit that point where I can ponder over the question, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’ without having an existential crisis (or what people often refer to as mid-life crisis).
Over the years I have developed varied interests. Each time, I had picked these hobbies quite seriously and put a lot of effort individually to elevate them from the status of some silly ‘hobby’. Painting, music, programming, comic books, travelling, cycling and writing. I think it’s a problem with me that I am not easily satisfied with banal stuff. However, no matter how I look at these, I can’t call them as anything other than a hobby. If an activity doesn’t pay, it is foolish to call it anything other than a hobby.
The issue with having such a broad spectrum of activities is that I do not have enough time anymore to devote myself to each of these activities. I have a job that pays me decently. I have to toil eight hours a day for five days a week to justify that payment. Other than that, I need at least eight hours of sleep. Then there are things that are necessary for survival – viz., daily and weekly chores, cooking, shopping and commuting; collectively consuming at least two to three hours every day. With whatever time I am left with, I do not have enough to devote to each of these individual activities such that I am satisfied with the outcome.
I started noticing this with painting in the second year of me joining a job. I wasn’t able to sketch ideas anymore. Back when I was in college, I had a few drawing books with sketches and ideas. I have used them for many things – for the competitions I participated in, for the floor arts that I had designed, for the mural in my hostel room. Truth be told, these take time and energy and then some more time. In the last three years I was so disappointed that I decided to stop painting altogether. I bundled all my stuff and gave them all to a colleague who was interested in getting into it.
I can see that I am not able to give music the time it deserves. After Dark Project disbanded, me and Sudipto met many times to compose and record pieces. The sessions were not complete waste. However, I was not happy with the output. I believe that in order to be at one’s creative best, one has to put a lot of time and effort into preparation – this may involve practicing, actively listening to other artists for inspiration or maybe just fiddling with the instruments and effects. I haven’t been able to do that. I don’t see myself investing my time in that in the near future either.
This is a particularly hard thing to do. The more I think about it, the more I realise that it’s just my mind trying to cling on to something that has given me years of joy.
I must mention that no hobby is cheap. Once you get past that learning phase, you are into the domain of serious money. Even something as simple as sketching becomes expensive once you get into the realms of acid-free archival grade papers, primers, fixatives and finishing sprays, good quality pencils and all the paraphernalia needed to keep the sketch surface taught and erect. It is easy to extrapolate that cost if you were working on mixed-media like me.
Now imagine how much money will it take to set up a small home studio of sorts! (Workstation, monitors, interface, microphones, amplifiers, keyboard, guitars, effects, etc.) Wait till you start travelling (and have to carry a camera to photograph and a lightweight laptop to write stuff). Or what about cycling? (Maintenance, apparel, upgrades, etc.) Collecting comic books? (It’s serious money if you are into collecting rare stuff.)
It is quite easy and cheap to get into a hobby, but I have seen that the cost involved in doing it well escalates very fast, very quickly. Law of marginal gains is true no matter what hobby you would want to pursue. On top of that, living in a country, whose currency is weak when compared to the places where the equipments and paraphernalia are manufactured, puts me at a huge disadvantage.
What about the house where you would have to keep these stuff?
I don’t want to post photographs but I can say that I do not have proper space to store my comic books. They are all kept in cardboard boxes with naphthalene balls placed in them to keep of silverfish and cockroaches. A lot of space is occupied by by recording and playing setup. Then there are those two bicycles and the whole toolkit required to maintain them. Apart from that I have stuff that are absolutely essential to survive.
One way would be to move to a larger house. However, I don’t want to do that. It would not solve the fundamental problem. Instead, it will give me more space to hoard stuff. Not to mention, the additional rent I would have to pay.
Let me think about it. I will come up with something radical and concrete in a few days. I may or may not write about it but it is time for me to narrow down my range of interests and devote time to a few of them. That way I give the activity the attention it deserves.
I may also have to think hard about where I would want to put my money. Also, in what order.
Decluttering will not be an easy task. More than anything, it will challenge my emotional attachment to various things.