I made a visit to the temple down the road from my home midweek. March was a hectic blur, and my mind’s eye was clouded by small servings of doubt and fear. Did the month feel longer or shorter than usual, or just the same? I decided I needed a wise mind to help me distil the grains of cognitive chaos on the shores of my psyche before they turned into a psychological sandstorm. “What do you fear?” the monk asked me after our meditation. I had neglected my mindfulness routine for the past two weeks. It felt great to have a small spark of clarity, to nudge be back onto the Way. “The past,” I answered.
I began 2020 in dire circumstances. I had just left a job with a highly toxic and abusive work culture. which preceded a stay in the hospital to recover from psychological burnout. My doctor warned me that I was suffering from chronic dehydration and my liver was at risk of failure. I had partially lost my ability to read and write. It took months of rehabilitation and exercise to regain most of my physical and cognitive abilities.
Just as important as my physical and cognitive abilities, I had to rehabilitate my love for writing and filmmaking. Two years of 20-hour work days had drained me of all my creative juices and passion, to the point that I had begun hating my craft. Filled with anger and disappointment, I returned to yoga and meditation to make peace with the inner pain and embrace my brokenness. As my physical and mental energy slowly returned, I felt the electric excitement fill me again when I played a film or a TV show – the hope that one day, something I write and make will end up onscreen.
“Now, I’ve been given the opportunity to jumpstart my writing and filmmaking career, to mould projects in my image, to create things that share the same beating heart as me. Still, I hesitate.”
The monk listened to what I had to say in silence. When my train of thought ended, he asked me: “what’s now?”
I was at risk of being blindfolded by the past, losing sight of Now. Despite having a fully recovered body and mind, I was still hesitating from immersing myself completely in my work, holding myself back from absolute fulfilment. Was I balancing work and life right? I realize now that work-life balance comes not from measuring the number of hours you spend on each, but the amount of fulfilment you get from either. Working exactly 9-6 everyday won’t contribute much to work-life balance if you aren’t putting your heart and mind into your work and hitting your career goals with aplomb. And if you’re doing what you love, you wouldn’t be working a single minute of your life.
All plans fail contact with the Past. I shall leave the Past to rest.