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Enjoying procrastination and the in-between spaces of thought and life

I’ve had one of those weekends that did not have a brake. It just went careening, slithering, joyriding past me, leaving me completely pooped on Sunday night. I’m not complaining and I’m glad I’ve had a night’s rest.

But the hectic pace of the weekend creates that type of Monday morning when your to-do list is way long, but your mind has lost its power to prioritize. Thoughts wander, focusing on something, then unexpectedly rushing off in another direction. The to-do list sits there and mocks me, and I smile, knowing that the mind will settle, surely, but slowly. I need to give it that time.

And so I write my blog. The flow of words, bewitching, lyrical, so comforting. The process of squeezing them out of your gooey Monday morning brain and laying them out on this WordPress menu, in straight horizontal lines, not at all similar to the patterns in my head right now, which resemble a bizarre twisted painting!

Why do we procrastinate, then? Does it serve a purpose, this in-between state of mind? Or am I wanting to believe in the value of this warm-up session only to drive away the guilt of staying away from stuff I really really need to do! Guilt, so overrated, so unnecessary and yet driving so much of what we do, who we are. I want to put guilt into an air-tight ball and hurl it into outer space. I want to be selfish, but kind. And I want to trust myself and my ability to flow via abstraction into clarity, into and through the realm of thought into the arena of action. Inside me, I do believe the in-between space of life, of thoughts, of cities, of everything have as much meaning as the formed, tangible elements. And so I will enjoy my moments of free-flowing procrastination, on a sunny winter day when everything in my world is positioned to be joyful and meaningful.

From hopelessness to a sense of purpose: Musings on a sunny November day

Self-confidence and motivation levels have a lot to do with how I feel, on any given day. Small things can disturb my usual sense of buoyant well being. This morning, I woke up feeling I’m not doing enough with my life. It was a holiday for the kids and all the little creatures were out in the park, soaking in the sunshine and running around happily. Watching them, I felt strangely disconnected.

It was a return to a phase that I went through a while ago, when I constantly doubted myself and lived in a state of anxiety. I was transitioning from being an entrepreneur and a content writer to I didn’t quite know what. I did know that urbanism is something I wanted to work in and that I thought about urban issues all the time. But to get a foot into the field when I had been outside it for years was quite a challennge.

Today, I have already been working in the low income housing sector for a year and a half and am actively researching urban issues related to poverty and housing, plus teaching a few hours a week. And in general, I feel a huge sense of achievement about all of this.

However, I do sorely regret the absence from the sector and feel it acutely at certain moments. The grounding in research that my masters degree gave me has been blurred inside my head and I find myself groping to find the level of clarity I need in my work. And of course, I’ve missed developments in theory and practice that happened in the interim years between graduating and returning to the field.

Focus has always been a problem. I am given to see the inter-relatedness among things and to narrow my thinking down to a single hypothesis is daunting; worse, I don’t believe narrowed-down hypotheses reflect reality in most cases, but I also know this sort of narrowing needs to be done in the interests of arriving at conclusions!

I’ve spent the day, and indeed the week, worrying about my naivette in trying to find low-income housing solutions in a city like Gurgaon, where land prices are prohibitive, the development pattern driven by private developers and political will is seriously in doubt. This sort of work is bound to push me into a sense of hopelessness, helplessness; but I need to believe that this research will yield something of use. I need to constantly remind myself that it is through constant endeavor to challenge existing notions of practice that new solutions might emerge. And most all, I feel strongly that we need to listen to the people we wish to accommodate, help, include in the development process. I would be happy if my research would offer a clear picture of what migrants experience and aspire to with respect to housing when they come from rural (and often far flung) areas of the country to a confusing, alienating city like Gurgaon. The findings would help us think about how we could help them, as planners, as city administrators, as politicians, as citizens….I do, despite the chaos, believe there is a possibility to weave government, private sector and civil society together to create a more inclusive and sustainable model of growth.

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