The Rich Vegetarian

An Examined Life

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Category: This and That (page 1 of 291)


I’m a fan of effortlessness. I like things to be smooth, natural… like it’s how it was always meant to be. Not to break a sweat, not miss a line, or skip a step.

I had that attitude as a student too. As my sister sweated out the final hours leading to the exams, I’d chill. I’d tell myself, relax. It’s too late for anything to make a major difference. I’d read a book, or watch a film. Anything to take the edge off. Pretend that it’s just another day, nothing to stress about. And that’s how I’d go take the exam. And I’d wonder why my sister was stressing so much. It was only an exam.

In the 10th grade, I scored 99/100 in Samskrit. I am a fan of Samskrit, and I worked hard at it. But it never felt that I was working hard. It simply felt like I’d discovered my groove, and I slid right in, easy and smooth. It again felt effortless. I had a similar experience with Math too. I worked hard but it hardly felt like work. It came easy, and I simply had to put my mind to the task.

Thus I became a fan of effortlessness. But now I wonder, was I simply lazy all the time?

My husband is a great fan of “applying yourself,” a phrase that means/meant nothing to me most of my life. He has had to “apply himself” a lot. Not everything came easy. He had to work hard for nearly everything. Of course, there were a few sweet phases where there was ease and convenience (relatively speaking), and things came smooth to him. For most part, though, he has had to work hard to get what he wanted.

Now, that is not my story. Most things I have got have come easy to me. I haven’t really worked hard. I have always viewed “working hard” as doing something you’re not particularly inclined to, but you keep at it, long and persistent. That felt very charmless to me. I have zero qualms about working hard but I draw the line at mindless slogging. Now I know that “applying yourself” isn’t mindless at the least. But I have a tendency to discard things that don’t come naturally to me. If it’s hard at the beginning, I sometimes think it isn’t meant for me. This isn’t always true, though. I was in deep love with the idea of learning martial arts, and I spent months trying to figure out Aikido, until I wearily realized that that form wasn’t meant for me. I “applied myself,” and I am sure my husband would agree too. But I had to give up eventually. I was sore and exhausted… and not enjoying it at all.

So, here I am… nearly 40, and trying to figure out what it means to “apply myself.”

I have enjoyed success in my early years in terms of performance at school, extracurricular activities, etc. I was a quick learner, good with language and articulation and math, and I wasn’t very ambitious… so I didn’t set lofty goals or have major aspirations. I was mostly cruising on my relative smarts, and then I hit a wall. And then another. Suffices to say that by the time I graduated at 21, my confidence was at an all-time low. Then I joined the fun world of software development. I was determined to give it a real go, despite the fact that software held no charm for me. But I stuck on, tried my best to make it work. I couldn’t. I didn’t give up, though. Took another role, then another… it was so soulless for me. But I was sure that I was the one who had to make it work.

What a darned waste… or not.

Anyway, I am not quite convinced about my husband’s “apply yourself” credo. Perhaps it works for him. For me, I think I need to find what charms me, what brings me joy and beauty and nourishment. I am drawn to fulfillment in ways that are not about “applying myself,” or ”stretching” or “pushing boundaries.”

I kinda have to figure this out my way. Because you see, it is the only kind that actually works for me.

An Unlikely Rebel


Talking to a friend about Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Quiz, I remembered that I had taken the quiz myself, a long time ago. Turns out that I am a Rebel who, as per the definition, “resists internal and external expectations.”

Now, let me be very clear. I am no Rebel, or perhaps I should say, no regular Rebel.

I see myself as a fairly conformist personality, chugging along gently, playing her own tunes, drinking and vastly savoring her daily chai, dreaming and meandering and sauntering along… occasionally going off into a reverie.

I have hardly rebelled against anything. My parents are the sweetest people in this world, and they didn’t deny me anything I wanted. I realized quick that it was far easier to ask for what I wanted (and get it too!) than put up a fight OR sneak off behind their back OR lie about it. All I needed to do was ASK, and they would say YES. It was that simple. Why rebel, in that case?

It was the same response when I presented a guy to them, explaining that he was The One. They were perfectly happy about it. Now, career. I picked a perfectly traditional line of study (Civil Engineering), and went on to find a job in Software Development. Nothing remotely unorthodox or daring about any of this so far. Of course, I quit all of it and went to study Mass Communication when I was 29. Began a new career with a reduced pay, and all that. And now, children. Neither my parents nor my husband’s have ever asked me — No kids? Why not?

So you see, my life has been pretty vanilla.

So where does the Rebel come in?

I suppose my method of rebellion has been fairly blah. I broke zero norms because I saw none. I didn’t overcome any kind of societal/familial pressure because I hardly ever felt that I was subject to any.

I have been lucky that I got the time and space to follow my own ideas (as fanciful and quixotic as they seem), so I wasn’t always aware of the ideas set forward by others.

There you go, I didn’t break a single shackle… I merely floated out them, even if they were the ones I clasped on my own wrists. I think the prime factor here is that I have always been an Air-Space personality (I only realized it a few years ago), and these elements are not the easiest to shackle down. That is, in fact, the real issue (if there is one) to overcome… To learn grounding, to develop rootedness and stability, to be steady.

So here I am, an unlikely Rebel of sorts.

On Writerly Ambition (Or Lack Thereof)

I often get suggestions from many friends and well-wishers who ask me why I don’t submit writing pieces to magazines, websites, blogs, etc.

I think of a good response, then another… and because I am a good writer, I can give a nice-sounding explanation. I think they walk away convinced, believing that that I have a solid reason why I don’t submit my writing to other outlets.

Actually, here is how I think about this.

I am a lazy writer. I believe in inspiration. I believe in writing hard and fast, as rapidly as I can…. before the genius sprite flits away. I will do all that I can, give it my top best shot, write and edit, write and edit, be a willing servant to the creative spirit, put my fingers and words and typing to good use.

But something within me rebels at the idea of getting feedback. No, I am not terribly enthusiastic about placing my writing before an audience and getting their comments, and “improving my writing,” so to speak.

Does that make me an arrogant writer? Perhaps.

It’s just that I write for myself; I have always written for myself. I am positive that there are fabulous mentors out there who can help me, and who can guide my writing to a truer, clearer, more beautiful place.

But I have to find that one mentor. Or rather they have to find me. Because I am not looking, really.

For me, writing is life. In life, I have pretended to take guidance from others. Actually, I have taken guidance from others. But now, it has all come back to me. The inner voice is often timid and shaky, sometimes unclear… But it is there. She is there.

Similarly, I have always looked within to gain insights about my writing. Perhaps this makes it seem like I write in a vacuum of sorts, my own little cocoon or bubble.

Are all writers like me? (I am sure the answer is No.) Am I the only arrogant, so-called writer with an attitude problem?

I don’t know.

Do I need to “grow up,” mature as a writer… seriously think about improving my craft?

It is so darned difficult!

As I said, I am such a lazy writer. I answer to no one’s call except my own. I heed no other’s suggestion except mine. Does that make me arrogant? Or utterly and totally self-validated?

I don’t know!

Last year I attended a writers workshop, thinking that I could (or should) learn from fellow writers who, like me, traverse the path of part-time writing and a full-time job/other responsibilities, etc.

I came back uninspired.

(Really, what IS wrong with me?)

It feels like I am a solo player when it comes to writing. I will happily cheer for others but I am not particularly interested in playing with them.

I think it is simple. Writing is immensely soulful for me. I am not the least bit interested in anyone else’s critical feedback. For me, what comes naturally is referring back to my own voice, my unique creative process. This process is still a great mystery to me. So my endeavor has always been to seek and find my own voice, write it, then again, and again.