As I said the other day, all through 2017 I was drawing out my stress. One day, after an incredibly difficult meeting I came back to my desk, and took a few minutes to quietly straighten myself out.
- 01: Soo: Thankful I can draw
- 02: Soo: Ah…Instagram…
- 03: Instagram post
- 04: Soo: Quickly finish this then go home for the next meeting
- 05: Soo: Ma? Umm..hmmm
- 06: Soo: I’m OK, I’m at work. Such a bad –
- 07: Ma: Oh you’re at work? I saw your post on Instagram – I thought something was wrong with Orin! Bye!
It was early 2017 when I first started to use my drawing to deal with work stress.
I was still grumpily trying to understand what my role as a Design Manager should be, and the anteater, as usual, gave his sage advice:
Sometimes all you need is a different perspective on life, like The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman.
And I also finished reading M Train by Patti Smith around that time.
While all this helps momentarily, there’s actually larger causes for work stresses which need to be carefully resolved. But of course, I didn’t know that then…
The last two years have been incredible years of growing for me in my professional life. Challenging work, difficult situations, and always the need to build trust from bottom up.
These are some of the earliest drawings from those days:
What kept me going was the long game, and guiding myself with
Progress, not perfection
which I learnt from this 99u talk by Effie Brown.
I also draw myself out of stress, since drawing is nearly therapy for me. The 2017 and 2018 sketchbooks are filled with “stressy” drawings – as my friend Uli would say – like this one:
After a while though I got used to it, and learnt how to survive difficult days
Though our man, the brown boy, did have the last word:
“Ultimately, it’s all about having a good time. Later on if you feel you haven’t enjoyed yourself it’s not worth it.”
A year or so ago, I used to have a morning ritual of waking up and reading some poetry with coffee. Once in a while I would read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and during that time, I also read White by Kenya Hara. (It’s such a meditative, beautiful book, and it was rather a spiritual and other worldly experience for me.)
One of those mornings, I read this poem by Denise Levertov. Though it’s about immersing our human consciousness in the natural world, to me the last few lines evoked how we continue to voluntarily lose ourselves in the virtual world.
“No one discovers
just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again
–but we have changed, a little.”
From the sketchbook called Finding Soo • August 2016.
This is a series that begins from 2014, drawings that I wasn’t able to share until now, until I was able to grow a necessary sense of detachment from then.
Looking back, I must have been terribly grumpy when I started this book! Was I not drawing the happy memories from that time? Was I only using the sketchbook to work out my darknesses?
“The whole day. It really wasn’t bad. I was doing my own idea and it was going well. But there’s this utter sense of discontinuation that is no one’s doing.
I guess I am always meant to be a loner among peers.
I miss a lot of people who are away. And wish we could go on a holiday.”
03: Feels like someone else’s life
“That body I must take care of. At least I’ve lost this need to be cool. You must be so happy, and I a different person. Feels like it’s someone else. Oh this bloody heat!”
A little clue that I had just become pregnant then. And scared of children, scared of giving birth and scared of being a mother!
04: Another Sunday
Why was I making such a big deal about being pregnant? You know half the country can get pregnant, since they have the necessary apparatus. In my case, though I didn’t smoke in college (because I wanted to have a healthy baby when I was 25) I never really wanted to have children. I did not like them, I was scared by their non-verbal communication, and intimidated by the general unpredictability. However sometime around my thirties I started being more open to the possibility, probably because we started acquiring nieces and nephews, and the brown boy is a complete and utter baby person. Around 8 weeks, I finally started getting more used to the idea that I was growing a new human being!
Another Sunday that I spent mostly in my own head. Thinking a lot about my 30-year-old relationship with my body. And my imagination reducing slowly but surely.
I should be happier, I know. So many good things are happening.
Friends are such a great support. Here’s Anitha:
Anitha: Do things that make you happy.
Me: But what? So hard to find something like that…
Anteater: Or you’re already doing happy things, like me?
06: 8 weeks baby hungry little tadpole
Helpful books, advice and food from 2pie and Snehasis.
I never left drawing, but I did find it difficult to share drawings after my pregnancy. Not sure where that came from. Was it a loss of self, a disconnect from the past, a need for solitude?
Perhaps I’ll never know for sure. But here’s the latest sketchbook:
Nothing special, but a milestone for us new parents.
Coming down from the theatre after the movie we saw the old Adobe building from the staircase window and felt deeply nostalgic for the life we once had.
It never ceases to surprise me how many firsts are still left in life – a new activity this year was a trip with friends who are artists in their own right. Believe me when I tell you it was most refreshing.
And here you can catch the brown boy in action.