THAT THING YOU DO

 

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Mr. George, my English teacher in junior college, once caught me reading a novel discreetly placed under the desk during one of his lectures. Instead of reprimanding me, he casually asked to see what I was hiding. “That’s a great book you’re reading,” came the soft remark, “but I’d appreciate if you continue with it after class.” I was thrown by his tact and kindness; needless to say I never read during class again. He proved that faults are best corrected by love. Once a week, Mr. George would conduct ‘rapid reading’ sessions in class and he invariably picked me as the female lead each time. That was his way of acknowledging and encouraging my love of books. At the time, I did not really understand how deeply words affected me and had no clue I could write. I just reveled in them because they made me happy.

I first fell in love with words at age five when Dad got me a copy of ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’. It was a beautifully illustrated book and took me to places I had never dreamed of before. I realized that there was a whole wide world beyond the one room house I lived in. It opened up infinite and offbeat possibilities. Sometime during middle school, I discovered a small library. It was a 15 minute walk from my home. Getting a membership card there was a big deal and I treasured it like it was a ticket to paradise. Sure enough, the tiny store did turn out to be my wonderland where I lingered among the piles of vanilla scented books every once a week.

Years later, when I discovered my flair for writing, it all went back to those sun-drenched words on interminable summer afternoons. It’s weirdly aberrant that one should take that long to discover what is innate to their soul, but better late than never. “People are strange. They are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice,” wrote Charles Bukowski, a very influential German-born American writer. A jarring thought, isn’t it?  Now when people ask me what I do, and I say ‘I’m a writer’, they seem suitably impressed. They want to know how I found my passion. “I didn’t really find it, it found me,” I say. It’s true. I never planned on being a writer. It’s just an extension of my love for words.

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Discovering what you like isn’t all that hard. Like kids being led by nothing but curiosity, you just go about doing whatever interests you.  If you like it you pander to it, if not you stop.  In my late 20s and all through my 30s, I dabbled in a lot of things. I signed up for drawing classes, took music lessons, enrolled for dance class, took precisely six swimming sessions, learnt yoga, reiki, tarot, finished a creative writing course and later a songwriting course. Believe me, your heart sings when you do something you like. So no one can say they don’t know what their passion is. All you have to do is pay attention. And then prioritize.

“So, do you earn from your writing?” comes the next question. But really, when it comes to passion, it doesn’t have to be your source of income. You can still continue with whatever you are doing and use your free time to do what you love. If you’re lucky you might hit gold and start earning from it; if not, you still have the satisfaction of not having given up on the one thing that you adore.

I first signed up for a creative writing course when I was working a 9 to 5 job. My daughter was about five years old. On my way back from work, I would pick her up from day care, stop at the grocery, go home, tackle the housework and end up exhausted at the end of it all. The only time I found in my chaotic day was my lunch break. So I would shut myself in one of the conference rooms for an hour and work on my assignments. Or I would read. The point is, when you truly enjoy something, you find time no matter how crazy your schedule.

During a conversation with a talented painter friend recently, I asked why he doesn’t paint anymore. He said he has no time. What I heard was this: That he is denying himself the one thing that defines him. The one thing that can restore him from anarchic days.

Jes Allen summed it up beautifully when she said, “That thing that you do, after your day job, in your free time, too early in the morning, too late at night. That thing you read about, write about, think about, in fact, fantasize about. That thing you do when you’re all alone and there’s no one to impress, nothing to prove, no money to be made, simply a passion to pursue. That’s it. That’s your thing. That’s your heart, your guide. That’s the thing you must, must do.

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As for me, I love a lot of things. But the one activity I plan my day around is reading. It’s my absolute favorite thing to do. As I write this, I’m eyeing the pile of books that have arrived in the mail this week. I can’t wait to pull up a chair by the window, bask in the muted warmth of the winter sun and let my next read inordinately color my world.

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33 thoughts on “THAT THING YOU DO

  1. Nice article ren….we all reach a stage in life where we feel now u shd follow ur passion… Good u hv bn able to do so nd doing it so well… Gr8 going….nd njoyyyy…

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  2. Hey we share the same passion. I love reading anything and everything except fiction
    I love my medical books .I always read them nt as my study material but with passion
    I would say my passion for reading made me what I’m today
    I cannot sleep without reading
    I love it it’s my lifeline

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  3. Nice piece renita. It reminds me that among all the professors, George Sir was the only one I could interact freely with. Very nice person.

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  4. Following the heart puts the soul into ecstasy, isn’t it ? Good that you listened to the heart, otherwise we would have lost a great writer who has put balm on so many aching wounds.
    If everyone of us follow their passion, the world would be a better place to live in.

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  5. Beautiful read, Aunty! I can’t help but just smile after reading this; and feel like reading it all over again & again. You’re that good :). And the quote at the end, just sums up this beautiful & soulful expression of yours. Very very well written, Aunty! You’re work just gets better and better. Big big fan of your work! 🙂

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  6. Baaap re tune itna sab kuch kiya kya? excellent thought of listening to u r inner world nd doing it so superbly (passion of reading nd writing). Well told, money comes nd goes but the passion remains for ever. Best of luck 👍continue with the same passion, proud to b a writers frnd 😊

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  7. Enjoyed reading your blog Renica. Very impressive.
    Reminded me of my childhood days. I loved reading as well. Everytime I would visit my cousins place they used to hide books and novels because i would then not talk to my cousins .. just sit in one corner and find joy in reading.

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  8. I simply loved this piece..It is something which anybody can relate to but very difficult to pursue.
    Feels superb that you are bringing your passion out to the world and that too in such a beautiful way 🙂 Hats off sis!! Waiting for your next article…Kudos Cheers!!

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  9. Excellent! Hats Off to your writing and presentation! Its the Presentation! Impressive in every way!!!

    Credits to your English teacher, for bringing you here to write for us to enjoy reading your precious writings that’s also inspiring! He has been your hidden mentor, who showed you where your passion is!

    Each para is carrying stories that seems unrelated, but yet chained to the one before !!! Amazing!

    A small library, 15mins walk from home, membership was a big deal! Exactly same reflections from my days! I did find my passion from two authors, whom I made my mentor !

    Your Book is in Progress, you know it or not! Time will come for everything! Pack & Print them inside a book!

    As usual Inspiring with No Words to Define !!!
    Keep Writing Keep Inspiring!

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  10. Your love for reading is clearly seen in the way you write too somehow. You have a way of playing with words and what makes it worthwhile is it comes straight from your heart (experiences). Another masterpiece!

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