What happened that morning is still fresh in my mind. I had got up with a lot of ideas that disguise themselves as dreams. Some of these ideas had also arranged themselves into sentences and I was eager to write all of them on my laptop before other activities decided to bully them into jumping off and swim away. You see, the mind is like a diving board over an ocean and once ideas decide to take the plunge it is impossible to find them again.
To my horror, the laptop that I had left with the browser open, appeared to swirl and whirl like a party-goer who has had more swigs, quaffs, slugs, and stuff than it could handle. ‘Your laptop doesn’t like bad breadth, I think. Restart it,’ advised Specky, my wife, ‘As it readies itself you can brush your teeth.’
Such stories can be rather predictable and if you’ve guessed that the laptop went into its update-mode when I restarted it, you’re right. Specky stood there watching and smiled, ‘Even laptops need their #MeTime, you see.’
Is this #MeTime?
Yes, even laptops need time to unwind and reboot and probably get into some form of a phase of self-discovery to be as productive as they want to be… which is fine because all this is essential for user-gadget relationships, I guess. Without updation and without their self-imposed re-structuring would gadgets really be able to handle all the problem-solving that we thrust at them in a never-ending stream?
As I watched my thoughts going in favour of what I concluded to be an uncannily eerie behavioral pattern of my machine, Specky said, ‘The laptop isn’t on a vacation but on but just redefining and repositioning its interaction strategy.’
‘Yes,’ I replied weakly, ‘I only hope my ideas don’t decide to jump off the plank and swim away! I think the laptop wanted some free time and not me-time.’
What is Free Time?
Is free time the bridge between Human-Environment conflict and Human-Environment harmony? I don’t think it is because it isn’t necessarily #MeTime. I know a lot of office-goers extracting time between tasks to rush out and buy essential groceries… housewives glide out between chopping and frying in the kitchen to catch up on what’s happening on their favourite serial on the television… kids browsing the social media between school and tuition… and so many of us stuck in traffic jams while going from one social visit to another. There are umpteen examples of free time that cannot be defined as me time in any way and yet we erroneously assume one for the other. Free time does have the potential to evolve into me time only if we have the courage and common sense to hop from one to the other. This shift isn’t difficult though we need to be clear about what this really is. A few sips of kava shot can also give you a mental break from these feelings and help you refocus, try today.
More about #MeTime
The Oxford dictionary defines me time as ‘time spent relaxing on one’s own as opposed to working or doing things for others, seen as an opportunity to reduce stress or restore energy.’ My laptop wasn’t confused about #MeTime at all… it had forced me to give it some time to relax and take actions that would reduce its own stress and help it restore energy. In human terms it just wanted some time to be alone. Its action was all about understanding leisure and personal care… and as a result it emerged completely refreshed and ready for tasks that would have been beyond it had it chosen to go on without forcing me to restart it.
So the real mantra about #MeTime is encapsulated in a single word: Restart. If you’re a writer and have been pounding at your laptop for hours, you need a restart. If you’re a professional sprinting from one meeting to another you need a restart. If you’re a student surrounded by theories and analytics you need a restart every once in a while. If you’re at home cleaning and cooking you too need to get away from it all and restart.
The point is that restarting isn’t the same as taking time out to watch a movie, punching in likes on facebook, getting stuck in traffic, or even discussing office politics over a cup of coffee with your professional friends. All these are activities that pull you into focusing on a different plane that never leave you alone to rejuvenate. Even entertainment cannot restart you if you are linking it with some other task to be done later. For instance, if you are reading a book to prepare for a lecture you are not restarting. If you are watching a play to write a review later you are missing all the opportunity to restart. If you are walking or jogging or doing yoga and thinking of how you will solve the riddles that the day will present you are not restarting.
The secret of restarting
The basic principle of restarting is simple. While doing yoga just focus on the breathing in and breathing out and then you are alone with no one and nothing to distract your focus. If you are reading a book, just sit and flow with the plot. The same goes for movie-watching or the times when you are listening to music. Let the notes of a melody traverse through you patting all tired cells to sway in a rhythm and forget everything, even the most mundane moments. Stop searching for tips and clues to make your life better when you are on a vacation. I have seen travel enthusiasts busy clicking pictures of moments and never being a part of them even once… as they remain poised waiting for that elusive moment to photograph they are missing hundreds of other moments that go by unnoticed. These moments that have disappeared are the ones that would have stayed on in your memory even as they helped you bring order to your life in disarray.
In simple words, when there is nothing to do, do nothing. If there is a mud-pie before you, just let your taste-buds have fun. There will anyway be hundreds of similar-looking mud-pies clicked and shared on the social media. Get the point? Even when you are trimming your nails, just be a part of what you are doing without letting in other pending tasks to bully you into thinking about them. This means that even when you are preparing that vital strategy report on marketing inputs at office, there is a huge potential for #MeTime moments to enter and place you in a cocoon that doesn’t let you be hassled and never leaves you distraught. You emerge out with success plastered all over and you have actually restarted your being to walk into the rest of the day with your head held high.
17 July 2018