It was 2017. I was working for a nonprofit in Nepal when poetry started exploding from me. Although I had been writing stories and rants for a few years leading up to that time it was that year that things changed. Poetry started to come at random, irrespective of where I was and what I was doing. Bathrooms, bedrooms, streets, workroom, etc. It came everywhere.
It lasted for two years.
I respected the impulse and wrote them down in diaries, phone-notes, whatever I had around me. The result was that I published two poetry collections in two years through my new art company called Frawean Arts.
Those two years were productive for my professional life. I had a job at a nonprofit where we did cool some stuff like sending aspiring young boys to play cricket in India to organize a literary panel discussion. I was having fun.
Soon, I was asked to be a founding member of another nonprofit. This one was planned by a celebrity musician who had good links with my boss on the previous one. He also wanted me to help him with his online presence through digital marketing. I accepted the offer.
Now, I was working in three firms and was an entrepreneur in one. I didn’t write much poetry. I wrote legal and formal words though. I didn’t earn much, but there was work. It was fun but a little less.
And then came another initiative.
I started another company with a few friends. It was a tech company. I wanted to do digital marketing through it, but my friends wanted something else. One night I got drunk, spoke badly, we had a big fight, and I was thrown out.
Before the debacle, we took a digital marketing project for a farm/retreat of my uncle’s friend. The owner of the farm/retreat wanted me to focus on his farm full-time. But I had five other projects to take care of. We received some money and created the website before things went out of control and I was out. I received threats from the owner because the website wasn’t ready. I couldn’t talk to my friends because I had anxiety.
This is where I stopped writing poetry. It didn’t come anymore. I was into the business life.
There were no poetry books, but I wrote a lot of notes — on motivation, direction, vision, ambition, etc. In hindsight, I would surely have come up with some stupid ‘You can do it’ book if COVID hadn’t come around.
All the remaining projects crumbled after COVID because a few weeks into lockdown (spent with Schopenhauer, Buddha, UG Krishnamurthi and Upanishad, Nietzsche, History), I decided to turn off my phone. The only thing that remained was my art company. But soon I had stopped caring about it too.
The projects crumbled and the interests died.
I turned-off my phone because I didn’t want business calls to interrupt my connection to the Brahma (or my discovery that god and all theories are human conceptions). I could turn it off because I was living in the privilege of my home with my parents and grandfather.
I had no friends, no boss, no colleagues, no projects, no companies. I had filled a few copies with observations on philosophy and spirituality. No grace from poetry anymore. I had random bullet points and sketches (can’t be called proper writing). There were some stories (which I disliked immediately). I reached to a point where I thought I was Upanishad-enlightened (I will talk about that some other day. You will love it.) Another time, I thought I was Buddhist-enlightened (You will love it even more!)
In hindsight, I would have come up with at least ten books, all of which contradict each other.
I spent a year and a half that way
I remember days when I drank tea with a single thought that nobody cared about intellectual/spiritual stuff anymore and I was doomed for choosing the path. Yet, I didn’t have the sense to go see what was happening in the world (the world was getting into deep stuff) or write.
When COVID faded, I initiated an animation project for a short while. It was fun and productive but I ran out of money to pay the animator. So the project stopped. I recorded my Nepali poetry and published them on YouTube. But I published no books or articles. Even Medium came later.
Here I am today, forcing myself to come up with ideas.
I tried writing poetry a few days back but failed miserably.
No more love from the poetry muse.
No more books.
Why did poetry appear in a two-year period and vanish? Why did I publish books in that period and stopped?
I don’t have poetry inside me as I write this. I have no books inside me.
There can be two things:
- I was lucky in that two-year period.
- There was a perfect balance of work and writing in that two-year period. Enough balance for both practicality and poetry.
If it is the first case, there is nothing I can do. But if it is the second, I need to find ways to get back that balance back. And since we can always try doing things in our life, let’s choose the second option.
Let me go back to 2017–2019:
- I was working for a nonprofit. I was doing research, writing, and coming up with project ideas. I was earning some money. Not much.
- I was writing poetry. Rather, the poetry was coming out of me.
- I had started an art company.
- I made some money and published a couple of books.
At some point in 2019, the writing stopped:
- I was involved in way too many projects.
Post COVID, for a year and a half, everything stopped:
- I did nothing but read and think.
Among these, I would say the post COVID period was the most unproductive. Yes, I had philosophical and spiritual ‘insights’ but I couldn’t have lasted long with that attitude. I wouldn’t have been able to.
A person has to either be ridiculously privileged or a hermit to have that life. It teaches a lot, but it takes a lot away too. Without practical concerns, your mind can go anywhere. It has no boundaries. And when it has no boundaries, it becomes a faulty airplane. It crashes. Think of all the theories created by hermits and why they don’t apply in our lives.
From 2019 to COVID, I got too ambitious. I lost control of myself. With too much practical concerns, your mind becomes robotic. It will create boundaries. And when it has nothing but boundaries it will go nowhere. Think of all the busy and practical men.
Let me go back to 2017–2019:
This was the perfect time because there was a good balance. I had practicality in the form of my job as a nonprofit guy. There was money and social impact. I had enough time to reflect on what I did the entire day and observe the world around me. The result was: productive work and publishing.
Different people are productive in different environments. You have to understand what works for you. You can always recall when you were the most productive and try to bring a similar pattern into your life again.
For me, I can’t have too much or too little of anything. TWO is my number.