I think what I really needed was a chance to turn my thoughts inwards for a while. A year out of med-school was never an option, and with the workload and responsibility ramping up year-after-year, I really didn’t see a solution in sight.
But then the pandemic happened.
I’m in no way saying that anything about what’s going on right now is good. It most certainly is terrifying, and has really brought into focus how quickly all of the cogs that compose our intricate lives can fall out of the machine, leaving everybody scrambling to pick up the pieces.
But for me personally, I really needed a break, or perhaps more precisely, I needed a situation where I’d be stuck at home indefinitely, with no stress from medicine work, and no chance to go out and distract myself making photos.
A strange set of conditions, but here I am, with all the boxes ticked.
So…what have I been doing?
First off, I’ve been reading – a lot. I think I’ll discuss my recent literary adventures in another post, because I’m concerned I’ll run out of ideas here quickly. But I’ll say this – reading is one of the most important things you can do in life. Apart from having the chance to completely lose yourself in stories (when watching TV or movies, the images are right there in front of you, so they’re limited in scope compared to when reading, when your boundless imagination has to conjure them up by itself), you also have the opportunity to absorb the wisdom of the greatest minds that ever lived.
I bring up the latter point, as I’m currently reading ‘The Daily Stoic’, which is based around the writings and teachings of some of the great philosophers, such as ‘Marcus Aurelius’ and ‘Epictetus’.
It’s an phenomenal book, perhaps the most important one I’ve ever read. You could live your life by it and be pretty content with how it all works out.
Apart from reading, I’ve been learning french on ‘Duolingo’. It’s really fun, and I think the language is beautiful. I’m hoping that in this time away from uni and exams, I can make some meaningful steps towards being able to hold a semi-decent conversation, and perhaps one day (if I work hard enough), even become fluent.
It’s a small dream of mine to spend time away from normal life in a secluded place in the south of France, and being able to speak the language would make the experience even better. It’s a cliché aspiration, but without aspirations, life isn’t worth living at all.
I’ve been trying to spend time away from social media, both because it’s ultimately a waste of time (I just don’t care what people are doing) and it’s quite brain-numbing being bombarded by everybody’s updates, along with the 24/7 news cycle, all of the time.
At the moment, I still browse Reddit a bit (guilty pleasure), and I do scroll through Instagram a bit, too. The latter is being fixed by creating my new Instagram account (you’ll never guess the name).
The fact is, I like Instagram mostly because it’s a place to organise and showcase my photography. Making photos provides me with a lot of meaning, and having a place to show them to the world is also important.
So I’ll slowly move my photos from my current account that’s littered with selfies and cries for attention, to a more focused space, where I’m hoping to attract the types of people that enjoy amateur photography, and who would otherwise been turned away by the sight of a pale british kid who posts pictures of himself at a much higher frequency than pictures that matter at all.
Once the big move is done, I’ll just delete my old account, and continue on with my new one, foregoing the ‘selfie days’, and just focusing on photography – I just don’t believe that posting selfies and subsequently getting dopamine kicks from seeing if people (click) like (in response to) the way I look is a healthy way to live.
On top of this, I’ve been listening to my record collection which has sadly been gathering dust for a good while. I must say, it’s incredibly satisfying to lie down for 40 minutes at a time and just enjoy the music I love, whilst getting to hold the album art in large format, reading all the little notes and descriptions that are only really found on record sleeves.
My favourite album at the moment is ‘OK Computer OKNOTOK 1997-2017’. It’s pure genius, and perfect for when I’m in a bad mood. In those cases, it’s like looking into an emotional mirror, and having my exact state of mind, along with anything I could think to say whilst there, all reflected back to me. Bliss.
So that’s all I have to say at the moment. God knows, I’ve missed writing.
Sorry this is a bit of a ramble. You’ll soon get used to this.
I hope everybody is staying safe, sane and is looking after themselves.