No time? Listen to it instead
I’ve started reading comic books again. There’s a lot that I’ve started doing again. Before I get into all of that, I want you to do something. I want you to think long and hard about the most defining moments of your life up until now. These are the superhero moments; the moments when something particular happened and altered everything going further.
The Everyday You
When done, I want you to push all of them aside and look between all of them. I want you to look hard at the things you did and the things you believed in between two or several of those defining moments.
Look at the daily you right before something course-altering happens.
- What did you believe in then?
- Had you recently picked up a hobby?
- How did you go about your day?
- Was there something you were working on then?
Now, I want you to check your current life for the same questions.
- What do you believe in today?
- Have you recently picked up a hobby? Is it still the old one?
- How do you go about your day?
- Is there something you’re working on currently?
I want you to note how different (or same) those answers are, and now, we’re ready.
That’s Where The Comic Books Come In
Now and then, comic book writers realise that they’ve made a grave mistake. They write their characters and themselves in a corner. The comics and the stories start to make less and less of sense to most readers, and I’m guessing, to themselves.
That’s when they do something that (probably) only comic books can manage to do. They reboot the story. However, they don’t go restarting the story itself. Instead, they start a comic-wide event.
A larger-than-life, cataclysmic situation in the story that involves most of their characters, and then changes the characters’ very personalities and existence in the aftermath. Not only do they write themselves out of the corner, but they also do one particular thing to their characters and their stories.
They keep what works, and they let go of everything that wasn’t working for a while.
It’s an odd explainer to the readers, but ultimately everyone buys it, and all of a sudden, you have two Spider-Men who used to be in different universes working together, and nobody bats an eye.
Let’s Look At Everything Again
Remember your answers to the questions earlier? I want you to dig deeper and list everything that worked for you over the years. These could be habits, points of views, things that just got left behind because things happened.
I realised that we live our lives in sort of phases. These are what we usually talk about when we say things like, “I used to listen to a lot of podcasts back in college but I don’t anymore” or something along those lines.
I realised that we don’t have to live our lives in phases, and there’s a treasure trove of our personalities lying right there as things I used to do or things I used to believe in or things I used to enjoy. These aren’t things that consciously stopped. They just did with no rhyme or reason.
We let our individual stories go on autopilot, and then, we wrote some of the good into a corner.
Here’s Your Comic-Wide Event
Nothing cataclysmic has to happen to you for you to reboot. All you need is a pen and a paper, or if you’re like me, a laptop.
Now, you take a period, say the last five years, and you start listing things about yourself. There is no specific limit or category, and you can go with it as you please. All we’re doing is asking the daily you at particular points in time to tell us about them.
I did this exercise some weeks ago. Here’s some part of my list. I made this for the last five to seven years.
- multiplayer gaming
- lifestyle challenges
- long walks
- daily journal
- read in the library
- eat at the mall
- talk to my cabbies
- blogging regularly
- didn’t drink regularly
- brain-training games
- impulsive ideas
- speak to my baristas
- kept to myself
- funky T-shirts
- disliked parties
- loved winters
- read comics
- no beard
- liked Dr House
- random courses
- sit in the metro for no reason
- Sunday hikes with friends
It was a long list and exhausting activity. That is because we’re often so focused on the more significant events of our lives, we forget the little projects, life-changes, ideas, habits, and so on.
However, things like regularly tuning in to podcasts, reading comics, taking up impulsive ideas, and random courses without an end-goal are things I only held vaguely in my memory. I’d forgotten about how much I enjoyed them.
I’d forgotten how I loved studying something because I felt like it and not because it’d help me with something.
Until I made this list, I had long forgotten that I went out of my way to search for lifestyle challenges and took them on. There are some things I don’t want to do from my list because they don’t make sense anymore.
I’m not inclined to follow extreme minimalism now
, nor do I identify as an atheist now. I consider myself agnostic now. (It turns out, I did go back to my atheism eventually.)
It’s your list and your story. You keep what you want to keep, you bring back and retcon things about your life, and that’s just it. If you’re feeling adventurous you could give it a name like DC did with Rebirth or Marvel did with Secret Wars. I’m calling mine Glory Days because why not?
Just like in the comics: keep what works, leave what doesn’t.
You could even take things up, check if they work in your current life, and then decide if you still want to continue them. You could also go further and take up things you did as a child. For me, off the top of my head, one activity I loved would be painting.
I got a chance to paint without any motivation or final result at a festival back in February, and it was an exhilarating experience.
It’s amusing when you pick up old stuff sometimes and get reminded of the old times. The app I used for listening to podcasts had my progress synced even now. The app I used for brain-training games said it was happy I was logging back in after such a long time. The little things only help you further embrace the good stuff that got lost in time.
We’re often so caught up in the significant events of our lives that we tend to forget the little things we believe in or enjoy. Over time, these become stories of things we used to do. No rule says we can’t start again, though. If we write ourselves into a corner, a reboot is always possible. The canon of our lives is up to us.