If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail - Abraham Maslow

I recently upgraded my old MotoG 5 phone to an Oppo Reno 5, since the camera broke on the former. I’m not much of a sucker for tech these day because of the appalling strategies of almost every company wanting to shove a new device on you every 6 months to a year but I had this observation.

The camera on the Oppo is slightly tweaked in its software processing to saturate the colours it picks and create a conventionally more beautiful picture, especially the blues. I noticed that as I went along using it, and I love taking shots of the sky, I kept becoming more sensitive to the blues in the sky even when I am away from the phone. The sky in my mind is tuned to be slightly more punchy off late.

It got me thinking as to how many of the tools that we are surrounded with shape our default possibilities and thinking. Every good looking corner that we encounter is a potential instagram post to a person using insta. Forced to use a black and white camera for long enough, everything around us will become a study in tones. The fact that am writing this blog on a daily basis is making me consider everyday things as topics to be considered for writing and thinking on more deeply. Someone who sketches people outdoors on a regular basis will always be tuned to seeing subjects in their surroundings. Someone who writes fiction prolifically will always see stories and characters in everyday life.

When you actively notice new things, that puts you in the present….As you are noticing new things, it’s engaging, and it turns out….it’s literally, not just figuratively, enlivening. - Ellen J. Langer

And this is a learning that one can apply so very well in their lives. When we understand that our tools and practices shape our perceptions, not by the output they give us but by the very act of using them regularly, we can more consciously curate them to heighten our observations in the areas we want to.

Tools am currently employing : Mobile photography, blogging, sketching outdoors, writing fiction, watching films

In the film Varda by Agnes, Agnes Varda, often called the godmother of the French New Wave shares the driving principles behind her prolific film-making life


She emphasizes that for her a work of art is not complete until it is shared. At once succinct and profound, the power of these lines has stayed with me since. A little elaboration on its understanding

Inspiration - Observing the things around you and within you that make, a stage of proto-creation. Filling your well with the select curation of life and feelings from the myriad flux, based on your inclinations.

Creation - The process of actualizing the stuff that inspires you, moulding them in a medium, like writing, drawing, film, photography, crafts, etc.

Partage - Sharing your work with the world. Allowing the creation to live a life in this world, like a baby leaving a parent’s cozy arms. To interact with others, to allow them to affect and be affected.

I’ve often noticed that many a times we tend to lose out on paying attention to atleast one of these three.

  1. Theres creation and sharing without finding a deeper inspiration.

  2. There is sharing of inspiration without any noticeable mind given to creation itself, in our hyper-sharing culture

  3. Last but not the least the cellars of many a creators are stuffed with creations that are not allowed to breath in the world for fear of not being loved.

In my own practice too, I struggle heavily with sharing, sometimes so much so that the thought of sharing intrudes the process of my creation to the point that I have left many a projects incomplete In the past.

But living is learning and am learning to put this behind me.

Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed. - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow)

Its a nagging feeling I get at the end of every weekend that I’ve resolved not to work. Did I enjoy taking the break more than doing the work, were my weekend breaks more fun than my weekdays? Surprisingly, more often than not I’ve come to crave the mundanity or safety net of the weekday, especially at the end of Sunday, realizing the weekend was a blur of things happening that neither left me happy nor rejuvenated.

One interesting thing Cal Newport suggests in Deep Work is our minds crave less for empty blocks of time in our life and more for a change in tasks. What we really want when we mean we need a break is to stop doing the task at hand and do something else. This is a fascinating thought in itself. That means your weekends are more fun if you know what you are going to do in those days as opposed to chilling out on the couch or ambiguously relaxing.

One can even populate the break days (or hours within a day) with tasks that might seem like ‘work’ to others but is basically offering you a contrast from your occupation. When I used to be a techie, sketching or drawing would offer me a good break from my 9 to 5s but now that drawing dominates my working hours, sketching doesn’t contrast so well with my daily life. I find it much fulfilling to ride my bike, write a blog or learn the guitar for example.

What Csikszentmihalyi seems to say is as long as you populate your breaks with tasks that have intrinsic goals and challenges, you can truly lose yourself in it and be physically and mentally away from your ‘work’. Some tasks I can think of are, cleaning your vehicle, arranging your room, playing a sport, learning an instrument, learning any new skill, cycling, fixing a broken object, crafting a toy, etc.