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Embracing the open schedule

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
- Abraham Lincoln

I spent the last two weeks in a manner that is starkly opposite to how I spend my normal weeks. Without a schedule. No calendar. No planning. No goals. No laptop. No emails. No social media (except for uploading some pictures). No WhatsApp (except for keeping my parents posted on my whereabouts). No sim card. No Internet (on some of the days). It was just me and my head and the people around me. 

I did have withdrawal symptoms. The first couple of days drove me crazy when I found myself with hours and more unplanned hours that I knew not what to do with. And then I adapted. Be it on the beautiful beaches of Corsica or the lovely hills of Innsbruck and Salzburg or the relaxing atmosphere in Munich and Vienna, I had more hours with myself than I have had in the entire year till then. 

After coming back home, I feel that this time for reflection is something that I've been missing. I've previously been an advocate of a packed schedule and of not having unplanned hours in the day and have been religiously following that by planning my weeks to the hour. 

While that had its advantages, it wasn't leaving me with time to sharpen the proverbial axe. I was always chopping. And suddenly when I had the time to sit back and relax, I didn't know what to do. And all I did was think. For the first few days. And then I wrote. And the words came gushing out. Unrestricted. It was as though the flood gates had been thrown open. The most liberating of experiences. 

When you have to create something, you need to experience, then reflect, then give your brain the time to transform it (this process is called in layman terms as thinking), and let it out through your medium of expression, be it poem, prose, song, music, painting, sketching, dance or something else altogether. 

Experiencing is something we all do. We are always consuming. Every waking hour. But more and more people drop off as we start moving towards reflecting, and thinking and then creating. 

And when we are always consuming, we are not thinking, and when we aren't thinking, we are preventing ourselves from creating. And when we aren't creating, we aren't adding value. And without that, we are nothing as living and loving is all about adding value. 

After coming back home, I've decided to change my approach to planning my week and embrace a more open schedule. I will have multiple hours each day where nothing is planned and this won't be the time that the planned tasks can spill into. This time is to create the equivalent of sitting on the rocks by the sea in Corsica and looking into the horizon, hearing only the waves, until stars begin to appear in the sky. Time just to think. 

Only then will the art come tumbling out.

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