Finding ones rhythm in life

January 26, 2022


Q: Thank you George for participating in the biannual fireside chat in The Long Island Book Club. One of the most frequent question is what are benefits of journaling and regularly writing? Do you personally find that it helps you and if so can many of the seniors in the LIBC benefit from it and last but not least is writing difficult?

A: Let me start from the bottom up Alfred. Is writing difficult? No. Anyone can journal and write. But like everything we aspire to do, be it gardening, hiking, cooking or carpentry. I think consistency is key. And this brings into focus the importance of – pace and rhythm and not get too distracted by how well others write or even feel discouraged or intimidated because we don’t seem to be making any significant progress. One needs to be slightly thick skinned and even indifferent to the opinions of others in a positive and polite sort of way and that simply means – you write exclusively for yourself and not for the audience. Or to seek adulation, publicity and chase all those ego traps. Most budding writers commit the mistake of writing for a target audience or readership because they say its valuable feedback. But I feel very strongly that sort of distraction can only take them further away from crafting their own style and truing their own line of thought and most importantly developing their very own pace and rhythm of how to write consistently. At the end of the day. That approach will lead to a dead end. As since it steers one to be someone who is so fundamentally different from who they actually are and probably meant to be – they can only end up very lost and confused and after a while, they just throw in the towel.

Q: Sorry to break in George. You mentioned. I quote, ‘I think one needs to proceed at one’s own pace and rhythm and not get too distracted…’ This thing about pace and rhythm is something that features very prominently in your writing. And also in how you approach work as well. I remember a few years ago. I asked why you didn’t collaborate more frequently with the pool of writers in the Zep Club and you mentioned roughly the same philosophy, could you perhaps expand on this need for pace and rhythm.

A: What one aspires to do well. It’s worthwhile setting aside some time to find out one’s natural pace and to set a happy rhythm – how to do it. This is the only way for any activity to be mentally and physically sustainable in my opinion. Doesn’t matter whether it is studying, working, running your own business, lecturing, writing, golf, cooking, playing a musical instrument, memorizing lines etc. This is the Tao or as you say Alfred the philosophy of how I go about doing things. And this is also how I see harmony and symmetry and structure in nature, activities, things, people and situations. Let me give you an example. In the past, I hiked in a group. But due to Covid restrictions that prohibits group activities where I am. I found myself having to hike alone. At first, I found it very difficult to pin down my natural pace. Now when you go in a group it’s like going on a group tour – it’s easy. As the dynamic of the herd or pack has a pace and rhythm of itself. All you have to do is follow like sheep. May not be the optimal pace or rhythm. But its like buying a tuxedo from M&S it will fill you up in all the right places. Only don’t expect a bespoke Savile Row tailoring. But when one hikes alone. Because there is no herd or pack, one is forced to develop a keen sense of pace and rhythm. Without this. Its like a car running with the pistons out of stroke and that means it can’t synchronise with what the carburettor is supposed to do. The long and short is the car can still run. Only it runs rough and you will probably have to put up with a really jerky and uncomfortable ride. That’s how I see it. And that was what was happening to my solo hikes. I would get really exhausted and it was rough, no matter how put effort I put into my hikes, my progress would be at best patchy. I wasn’t enjoying it. One day when I got caught in a torrential rain and I could make out the vapor of my breathe. I discovered by sheer accident that if I paced how I put one foot in front of another by following the rhythm of how I inhale and exhale. And to do this one has to be very mindful of one’s breathing – doing just this alone and nothing else. Suddenly what was once labored and jerky started to smooth out and soon I found myself cruising. Of course I am simplifying the whole process of self discovery. I had to experiment alot, keep a tight journal and even track my progress on a smart watch to get to really know my strengths and weaknesses and familiarise myself with the many unknowns, constraints and opportunities of the trail etc. My point is this. It was only when I focused on determining the right pace and rhythm for my hikes. That was really the sweet spot, when I began to look forward to my solo hikes. Had less injuries as well and this is a perrenial issue with me, since I was straining less and learning how to shift my weight gently with the help of my rhythm hack. Had no more burn outs days that used to leave me so drained that I need one other day just to recover and most importantly that was really the point when I finally began to enjoy my solo hikes more than ever.

EP 991092848001 – George Chong / This is an excerpt from LIBC 2021 N.Y /USA 2021 – THE AMERICAN SCHOLAR PUB 2021

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