To Binge, or To Create?
The moral dilemma of a creative person in lockdown.
We have been in lockdown for more than three weeks now, and it’s time to ask ourselves what we have done with it. Blog after blog claim that the world will never be the same once the gates of civilization open once more, or would we still return to debating on the next show to binge-watch?
Restricted from free movement, most of us are forced to go inward. Reflect, meditate, stay mindful of what we do daily. Our choices on our movement could be limited, but are we aware of how limitless our choices are, even behind closed doors?
As artists and storytellers, we play with choices for our characters, and know that each choice has a consequence. However, we are victims of convenience, and would much rather order in fast food instead of cooking ourselves a healthy home-made meal. The choices we make repeatedly defines our identity, the latin word ‘identidem’ means repeatedly.
While staying in touch with my friends, most of whom are creative people themselves. I ask if they are spending the time doing anything productive (an annoying question, for sure). How productive - an actor rehearsing lines in front of the mirror, a musician strumming chords for inspiration, or a writer just- writing. Though many of them claim that the pandemic and the combined barrage of uncertainty, loneliness and paranoia engulf them to lie back doing nothing, let me be the first to declare: I was once a victim of that self-defeating inner voice of resistance myself!
We, humans, are encoded to take the path of least resistance, and in creating, to put the right side of the brain in overdrive, especially in times like this: is a taxing task.
Time is relative, yet absolute. Every human being on the planet has 24 hours a day. However, every single person has a choice on what to spend that time doing. Like a sandbox game, the choices are endless, like an hourglass, each moment depletes slowly yet steadily. Each moment draws us closer to the one moment when we will be reflecting on our life. In that moment, what would you like to remember having done? Will it be how you watched episode after episode of entertainment or will it be on how well you answered your inner calling?
Behavioural scientists call the comfort zone a misery zone for a reason. The more we spend time in it, the more our future selves will curse us for it.
Taking action is not that hard - ask any world-class athlete how their first few days were. Muhammad Ali famously quoted that he hated every single moment spent in training, yet preferred living the rest of his life as a champion rather than languishing in misery over wasted time. History never waits for any one, and history doesn’t have any pedestal reserved for audiences, it only houses those artists who have made it. The only way to even try being the best is to get better day after day.
I breathed a sigh of relief when Ustad Zakir Hussain - the legendary tabla virtuoso - said that perfection is unattainable, try doing your best every single day. If Ustad Zakir Hussain or Muhammad Ali spent their time in front of the television binge-watching, we would never have known to what extent their craft could have gone forward. In that way, getting better at our natural talent feels almost like a duty. We would have to one day answer the almighty on what was done with our gifts. The answer presents itself as a choice. A decision that we must make today. The times might be rough, the news harsh, and the future might look bleak, but there is nothing to be gained from inaction, only everything to be lost.