I’m taking a little writing break this summer to focus on music.
But please follow my Twitter feed and peruse The Y Variable archives.
See you in September!
The second anniversary of The Y Variable passed a short while ago. Much has happened since the first upload to WordPress. The stream of posts has varied, dependent on the vagaries of life and my other creative endeavours – which I’m eager to show to the world – but one thing that has remained, is the satisfaction I get from sharing my conversational musings with you.
Below, a reflective piece that feels apropos, and that was written for a friend’s online ‘zine, which has yet to debut.
I wouldn’t say that I was struck suddenly by a need to change things in my life. It wasn’t overnight. I slowly drifted into the decision – a decision to make, what I call, a “course correction”. For an outsider though, I was probably living the dream. I volunteered with a variety of great organizations; I was working in a prestigious government department (I still do in fact); I had reputable degrees and distinctions; and I had the opportunity to work on high-profile projects – the kind that might cause some to consider selling out their own grandmother if it meant that they too could have the kind of exposure I had. But – and, of course, there’s always a “but”, isn’t there? – I wasn’t satisfied or all that content with where I had come in life. It’s not to say that I wasn’t (or am not) grateful for my experiences. I knew that I was in a great position in my career, as so many people would say this to me, but something didn’t feel right. For quite some time, I felt like a square peg trying to fit into a small round hole. It became clear to me that my 9 to 5 just wasn’t cutting it. I needed more.
I had this niggling feeling that required a response on my part. I had to address what was bothering me. Through some personal reflection and chats with numerous people I realized that I had embarked on a path that took me away from myself. I considered who I had been in university and I thought about the person I was when I was a child.
I came to realize that what I needed to do was tap back into my creative side and to carve out time to fulfill other aspects of my personality. When I thought of the people I admired most, the vast majority were in the creative fields and they were people who, despite the odds being against them, pursued their path wholeheartedly. I had always gravitated towards and loved writing and music, but I had set that aside to focus on a day job.
I knew that I wanted to occupy a space of beauty, art, imagination and originality and I realized that if I couldn’t find it at work, then I would have to create those conditions for myself outside of office hours. It started with getting back to a regular writing practice – my blog The Y Variable. Taking this initial step opened the door to other opportunities and experiences that I couldn’t have imagined back in 2012. Writing The Y Variable created an opportunity to blog for Huffington Post and to become a contributor to New Canadian Media.
You know the interesting thing about starting one creative endeavour? Others soon follow. You suddenly want to achieve more and continue setting the bar higher for yourself. If I could write and grow a following through my writing, why couldn’t I do the same with music? The reception I received from writing bolstered me and made me believe even more in myself and set goals that would get me closer to fulfilling things that were only in my mind’s eye or in my dreams. I booked a venue (with proceeds to go to charity), invited friends and colleagues, and developed a set list. To my astonishment and surprise, my musical experiment turned into a sold out show, created other opportunities to perform around town, and led me to compose original material.
Taking these creative steps has generated this wonderful snowball effect. I haven’t yet cut the 9 to 5 ties, but maybe the snowball will grow so big I’ll have no choice but to break loose.
While one can get a high during a productivity groove – when you hit that sweet spot and manage to get through your to-do lists and major tasks like an overachieving ivy leaguer on speed – laziness on the other hand can feel oh so good.
The laziness I’m talking about isn’t necessarily that associated with procrastination. I’m talking about laziness in its pure form – laziness as a high art. It is the form that arises when one has no worries or cares, no ticking clock, no alarm bell to jar one from sleep to an awakened existence. It is laziness at its most relaxed. It is almost… beautiful.
Because when you’re in that lazy mood the beat of the heart is steady. The brow is free of sweat, free from worry. The surrounding world moves slow and sticky and sweet like honey.
It is laziness at its most happy, pleasant and delightful point.
That is when it is at its best.
Christmas is over and we’re a couple of days away from ringing in the new year. It’s a naturally reflective period and I’ve found myself mulling over a story a friend relayed to me. This friend heard a story on the radio about a man’s re-entry into the modern world after almost 15 years living in a bunker. Apparently, this man, along with other cohorts from a ‘cultish’ group, believed that Y2K spelled the destruction of the world and so, in order to escape the perils and dangers that they expected, they shut themselves off from society and prepared to remain in their bunkers until 2015 – when the world would be habitable once again.
For whatever reason, this man left the bunker early and, to his astonishment, entered a world that never stopped ticking – that in fact progressed beyond his wildest imagination. Although I never heard the radio program myself, I couldn’t help but imagine the level of regret and sorrow this man must have felt considering the people he lost and abandoned, like his (ex) wife, not to mention his many friends and family; there also must have been numerous “what if” thoughts that traversed his mind considering the time he wasted sealed from society.
It takes a certain level of ingenuity and preparation in order to shut oneself from the world and sustain human life whilst living apart from others. Somehow this group of people managed to survive for so long. Imagine some of the great things they could have done or created had they devoted their energy to really living their lives and not holing themselves up somewhere underground while others in the world marched on?
If someone told me that the world really was to end imminently, I’d hope that I would live – clichéd as it sounds – each remaining day to the full. Of course, there’s no need to wait to hear the death knell. We can all live our lives in a big way, as though we have no choice but to do so.
Personally, I think that for 2014 this man’s story will be my touchstone for the year so that I can remember the importance of really living life – living as though I’m dying or as though the world will end at a moment’s notice – even if it means that I’ll be exposed to the elements and buffeted by life’s waves. I may take a line from Fefe Dobson’s song “Legacy” and use it as my motto for the year: “If I die tonight at least I left a legacy”. Hopefully those words will be true.
I’m really looking forward to celebrating the one year anniversary of The Y Variable this evening with the many friends who’ve supported me on this journey the last 12 months. It’s amazing to think that a few years ago I was sitting in the kitchen of my old condo with some friends talking about a ‘musings’, or writing project that I wanted to begin, but was never quite sure how to get off the ground. I imagine they must have wondered whether I would ever bring the idea to fruition.
Fast forward to today and that ‘musings’ project has turned into something that feels viable and that has opened up many creative doors for me. I feel more inspired and interested in what is going on around me and in the world that I live in. I feel as though I am a more artistic person with more ideas to harness and additional opportunities at my disposal. The Y Variable has been “step one” on the path to being the writer – a status that seemed so elusive previously – that I would like to be. Writing a (mostly) weekly blog – forcing myself to respond to current events, or to write what is on my mind, and not keeping a good idea locked up – is one of the best things I have ever done.
Thanks to The Y Variable, I have felt empowered to pursue activities that may have felt preposterous or out of reach previously. Before, I would have thought it the height of vanity (and perhaps a bit ridiculous) to pursue music and public performance again at this stage in my life. Perhaps the fact that I have people who support me and who seem to like and care about what I write makes me believe that that support will extend to other things that interest me. I’ve been surprised, and, at times, overwhelmed by some of the positive comments I’ve received. All I seek to do with this site is to be myself and to write authentically and I am incredibly grateful to have a community – online and in the ‘real’ world –that supports me in ‘just being me’.
I am not always the chattiest of people in person, so I hope that The Y Variable gives the people who know me, or who will come to know me, a better sense of who I am, what I care about, and what I think about. I favoured anonymity in the beginning of this project, but I’m becoming more and more comfortable entering the public sphere and showcasing what ‘Y’ is all about.
I’m excited to introduce a new, revamped website to mark the first year and to serve as a foundation for the year to come. I have many ideas for where The Y Variable can go. I have no clue as to whether those ideas will come to pass, but if I’ve learned anything in this past year, I just need to push forward and what will come will likely be better than I imagined.
I hope you’ll stay with me on this writing journey – whether it’s on this site, Huffington Post, or elsewhere. Thank you for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy The Y Variable.
Y. (a.k.a. Yaa-Hemaa)