Chopping a Tree Down (Letters to Myself)

A letter, dated 10th June, 2017, at 6 in the morning. About taking on big tasks and working on them bit by bit.

Hi Vaibhav,

It’s been forever. In my last letter to you on 17th April, I talked about being more committed to your fitness goals.

A lot has changed since then. You relapsed into ugly eating quickly afterwards. We turned 25.  You went to the Toastmasters district conference and you came back inspired. Meal preparations began, and you found it much easier to eat healthy. As last night showed, you even reduced your appetite by a small bit. Great job!

This time around, we need to talk about chopping down a gigantic tree.

There are a lot of herculean tasks in your life right now. As you fully embrace adulthood, we have found that your excellence in handling small and quick tasks has become only an above-average skill. You see true excellence from mediocre people around you – the ones who accomplish big things because they have the one thing you don’t – persistence.

They chop the tree down stroke by stroke, while only you harvest crops. You’re great at harvesting, but ultimately, without the field being cleared of trees, your farm won’t grow. Isn’t that a terrific metaphor?

Let’s talk about your trees – eating right, novelling, office work, fitness, speaking skills. You’ve got a forest of ambition in your hands. Like every muppet, you hope to accomplish great things.

And you cut one down.

At work, you committed to scrubbing a 41 chapter book for a mind-numbing task by yourself. Are you crazy? And yet here we are, four days before the deadline, and you have only 2 chapters left. You’ve almost handled that big thing. You’ll finish for sure.

Is this the first time we’ve handled a task that required months of effort? Well, no, we went through college. And we did defeat depression last year with science and persistence. Backs against the wall, you thrive, otherwise you don’t.

Yet, you’ve been a trooper here.

You didn’t need to do it all yourself, but being committed, you did it. You found a way to win, which makes you a winner. Shall we move on to the next tree?

I want you to keep working on your meal preparation every Sunday. Learn lessons from the mistakes you make throughout each week, and improve the next. We have the lessons from this first week already, and I want to see you have a much better second one. We have never been this primed to be fit ever before. DO NOT LET THIS GO!

Meanwhile, make more time to write. You’re doing a decent job of journalling and of documenting your nutrition on Instagram. Keep the blog alive, and try to write everyday. You’re doing a good job – even I recognize that now (because you beat that sensibility into me during depression recovery).

I’ll speak to you again soon.

Love,
Vaibhav.

Ice Cream

A letter to myself about a tone deaf ice cream commercial and health goals.

Dear Vaibhav,

Inspiration can come from anywhere – you know that. You now have enough to self-sustain.

Every corporation in the world wants your money. Every last one of them, and they’re happy to let you feel like shit if it means turning a profit. You received this tone-deaf email from BigBasket about ice cream, right after you read a story about transformative health and fitness.

Ice Cream
You NEED it.

“Go ahead and drown your sorrow in food, and pay us while you’re at it.”

Half your stress these days are because of your weight. The recurring depressive episodes and anxiety attacks are most often caused by underlying concern for your weight.

You’re fitter than last year, but it’s not nearly enough. The body requires a lot more exercise than you’re giving it. You’ve spent half a year educating yourself on nutrition and exercise. You’re better equipped to be healthy now than you’ve ever been.

You are ready for your late twenties goal that you have been writing about in private.

You’ve given enough patronage to KFC and other food outlets out of sadness. Now, if you decide to have KFC or ice cream, you will do it consciously, acknowledging that you hold the power and you will deal with the consequences of your decision.

Whenever you feel like shit and decide to order more food, come back to this article. You are now able to get back to the same level of motivation as you have while writing this.

This current week is about your habit tracker and only that. Everything else is secondary.

Go shred yourself,
Vaibhav.

A Trip Down Bangalore Road at 1AM

In Hyderabad, there is a special, very exclusive tour service known as Gagan ki Ola.

In Hyderabad, there is a special, very exclusive tour service known as Gagan ki Ola. The chauffeur Gagan is an excellent tour guide, often taking you on long trips gratis, usually ending with hot chai.

At the dusk of my friend Paritosh’s birthday, Gagan took us on one such trip. Driving back from the restaurant, we passed the house, opting to take a round around the block. This came at the behest of my co-passengers (Gagan ki Ola Share), Sheena, Shruti, and Riddhi. Continue reading “A Trip Down Bangalore Road at 1AM”

Letters to Myself 6

Letters to Myself 6 is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. I use it to track what I’ve done while learning to love myself.

Dear Vaibhav,

I wrote you an angry letter, but the world doesn’t need to see that. Suffice to say I’m very angry. So instead, here’s a toned down version.

 

Quickly reviewing the week – Good job on getting Recipe Lab out. We had some great recipes and you executed the presentation well. We received some good feedback, and you got SOME of it done in advance so it was a lot less stressful than last month. But, we missed a day and posted late.

Besides that, decent job on Toastmasters. You executed your role well but didn’t speak this week. That’s fine. We haven’t written our P1 speech yet and that is not fine. It’s a high priority.

Decent job on office work/meetings but it needs improvement. You helped out the new co-workers, and you took a session – well done.

Bad job on exercise. No gym this week. Missed one class on Friday as well. This is horrible. Get it together. Next week’s goal is 4 gym days and 3 classes.

We have a problem of consistency. The second you feel accomplished, happy, or satisfied, you loosen up. You build up all this anger and sadness and motivation and channel it SO WELL into doing tasks. You do it time and time again. But then one shower or one good meal later, that motivation is gone, because you’re happy in the moment.

Besides, it takes you a second to resort to your crutches. It takes a second to open up Youtube and order food online. I didn’t let you last night. Remember how we felt last night. Remember and keep that thought strong.

So get up. Clean and rearrange the house – this is your current top priority. Make a weight plan, and form your consistent exercise habits over the next month.

Write the blog posts for the entire month in not more than two sittings this weekend. Make your theme and your category landing pages. Plan out the goals of the month of March completely. Keep the anger – keep it and don’t let it go.

Regards,
Vaibhav.

 

Letters to Myself: Reply 1

Letters to Myself: Reply 1 is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. Replies are the other me telling the first to chill.

Hi Vaibhav,

It’s high time I wrote a reply to you, and as usual, we’ll discuss the week, only this time it’s from my point of view.

It’s been a highly productive week, relatively. Let’s get into it.

Dance class. The reason this letter is late. I held it back on purpose so I could report on Saturday’s event. I went to practice at a different, farther location since the show was this weekend. You got in the way on Thursday, so we missed that practice. More on that later. But the show was FANTASTIC. So much waiting, and tiredness, and adrenaline, but our troup and us gave a great performance. The teacher was really happy. I was ready to collapse after getting off stage, and pulled three different muscle groups, but sir said I was very good, so that’s worth it. And we were fine two hours later, so no harm, no fowl.

Toastmasters. Our first foray into roletaking, and you knocked it out of the park as Grammarian. You kept the focus on the speakers and listened carefully, and got great feedback at the end for your report – good job on interpreting the role in an enhanced way, and do the same next week with the other role. I messed up at the table topic, LOL. Oh well. Next time’ll go better.

Gym! I killed it at the gym this week, doing long continuous cardio sessions, the last one being 40 minutes on the elliptical. Keeping you out of the way was key, so I used music, and let you practice our P1 speech by yourself so I could concentrate on working out. I went 4 times this week… I think.

Here’s the weird bit. I don’t remember what we did on Tuesday. Did we go to office and the gym? Or did we work from home? I recall going to the gym and getting some work done in the office, but I also recall watching WWE Raw, like we do every Tuesday, and we usually do that working from home. Maybe we watched after coming back – I can’t remember.

Anywho, all in all good week. Except Thursday after the Toastmasters session and the gym. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM? For the brains of the outfit, you’re clearly denser than a log. We’re having a great week – we’re doing so much work, and so much satisfaction and achievement. Why do you get depressed and feel lonely and just shut down?! You had to talk to 4 different people to feel mildly better. It’s like I can’t even bask in the glory of getting tired. I ease up a little, and you just come in and shit everywhere. Seriously, control yourself.

That being said, we’re fine now. Keep it that way. I’ll stay in touch.

  • Vaibhav. <3

Letters to Myself 5

Letters to Myself 5 is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. I use it to track what I’ve done while learning to love myself.

Dear Vaibhav,

Hope you’re doing well. This has been a not-so-bad week, kind of a mixed bag. There have been some great highs and some cringy lows.

First of all, congratulations on joining Toastmasters and winning your first ribbon for Best Table Topic speaker. I wish you continued success, and look forward to you becoming a better speaker as you go through your Competent Communicator track. Let’s aim to finish that track by the end of the year – 10 speeches in 9 months (starting April), is hard, but doable. Let’s keep the fallback milestone at CC7, so 7 speeches is fine if we can’t do 10.

Secondly, you hosted your sister while she was here for a college event, and it’s been fine. Some fun times, some fighting, blah. Glad to know you’re taking her to Deadpool today.

Next Saturday is the dance performance. And then the following week is RecipeLab week. Prep yourself – the coming two weeks are going to be tough.

The main low this week has been the difficulty you had in getting blog posts up and going. In a way, it’s good because you’ve been busy with the above activities, so you’re living an active, full life. But we made a commitment to this, and this is our primary interest. Try to get this together – Recipe Lab is coming up and I don’t want a repeat performance of January with cooking every day at 2 AM.

All in all, it’s been good. I’m proud of you for making progress, and as we continue this journey with all these exercises that we do, I hope to see you become better and better.

Love,
Vaibhav.

Letters to Myself 4

Letters to Myself 4 is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. I use it to track what I’ve done while learning to love myself.

Hey Vaibhav,

It’s been a while since I last wrote to you. Nevertheless I want to keep this short.

You’re ill. Take care of yourself – it’s the mark of an adult who can handle his business by himself despite sickness.

You retired Fiction Friday without warning. I support the decision, chiefly because 5 posts a week was taking its toll on you. 4 is good enough, and you want to stay motivated enough to do this for the rest of the year. You should trim fluff that is hard to write and only acts as an obligation – it ends up being a drain of willpower rather than a motivation. The Life is a Game article said as much about willpower being the intangible.

Perhaps you could write fiction and publish it intermittently in its entirety. It’s been a while since we wrote a big juicy story.

Toastmasters was fun these two past events this week. It’s great improv practice as well. You should seriously consider joining for real.

Work is picking up too, so all in all, decent week.

You had that fleeting moment of panic on the stairs on Thursday. You should write about it. Also, it’s time to set some goals again. Not making lists really slows us down. Get to it.

You caught up with sleep this week, which was really necessary. Our body shut you down pretty quickly on Sunday and on Thursday, so you better start listening. A productive life starts with eating, sleeping, and exercising on time.

Your schedule is outdated. Take the time to sit down and reevaluate. I’d insisted we do it on a weekly basis, but neither of us has done that.

That’s about it. Get well soon.

In tune with you,
Vaibhav.

P.S. Links: Life is a Game.

Letters to Myself 3

Letters to Myself is an exercise in forcing myself to step back and look at Vaibhav Gupta. I use it to track what I’ve done while learning to love myself.

Dear Vaibhav,

Well done. I’m surprised, but well done! You changed my mind, this week, quite literally.
Continue reading “Letters to Myself 3”