I try my best to keep writing on the road, but in a constant state of motion it’s not always easy to get into the rhythm of writing and working as I normally do. It seems to be about finding the places that inspire and changing mindsets. That’s when things get done.
I used to have a dedicated office to go to that allowed me to work. If that was the work I was meant to be doing, I’d have been content staying there in that environment. But since banking isn’t my passion (quite the opposite these days), it means I need to cultivate my own spaces here on the road that inspire me. It takes some reflection to find the places that have triggered great thoughts in the past. There’s one place that isn’t too hard to suspect would be a safe haven for productivity on the road -- coffee shops.
Little cafes with style have always done the trick for me. I’m currently on the island of Koh Phangan trying to spend a few weeks here immersing myself in not only the infamous Full Moon Party (which was more fun than expected), but mostly in yoga and meditation. Yet islands aren’t exactly known for their productivity, and coffee shops can be quite hard to come by.
Post-yoga class yesterday I met a woman who mentioned ‘Art Café’. It’s all I had to go by, but just the name of it gave me hope. I’ve been feeling quite adrift on the island, even with all the yoga and meditation. Confusingly, sometimes I miss the pacing of a big city even if it’s capable of sending me into a state of shock.
Yet here I am, early morning, sitting on the floor cushions in Art Café and everything feels right again. It’s instantly beautiful and exactly what I was looking for. Dim lights, natural light coming through the sheer curtains, a mostly bamboo wooden and stone island design, plenty of books, strong Wifi, soothing music, and delicious healthy foods. This is what I needed, and I’m glad I sought it out.
This place brings me into a tranquil state. It lets me return to my thoughts and regain my confidence after forcing myself into new activities on the island.
The past few days have been quite difficult for me to figure out. I’ve been looking for something to rejuvenate me on the island but instead have unveiled my own indecisiveness. I spent a whole day looking for an apartment for the month (thinking I’d do a one month yoga program). This began with me walking with my bags down the dirt roads in extreme heat. I checked bungalow after bungalow, not willing to pay the prices they asked. The sun was nearly setting and I began to worry I wouldn’t find a reasonable place for the night. I finally decided to rent a motorbike and drove up and down the west side of the island looking for places. I eventually took a pricey one for the evening just to set myself at ease.
The next day I gave the yoga a trial run. I tried my best not to compare it with my life-changing experiences in Bali, but it kept creeping in anyway. The school here is big, and classes are so massive that the teacher uses a microphone from the front of the hall. Joining in the final week and missing the introductory theory might have been the problem, but there were a few other reasons that it wasn’t a good fit for me.
Sometimes we have to admit when things just aren’t a good match. There’s no shame in changing course if we give it a solid trial run. I spent two full days trying to integrate with the yoga school. I went to their lectures and followed along in the class. But it didn’t click. And if we’ve given something enough time, I see no shame in walking away. Is it worth finishing a book that you’re half way through if you really can’t get into it? I think I would have said yes in the past. But these days I’m realizing that we don’t have enough time to be so perfectionistic. But conversely, we can’t abandon something without giving it a shot. A balance is needed.
This is where the rhythm comes into play. I was feeling up and down during my time at the school. I wanted it to work so badly (to feel all those claims of evolving and enlightenment they speak of), but you really shouldn’t force these things. So yesterday after the last class, I got on my motorbike and headed to the beach to catch the sunset. I ate dinner facing the water and felt great about just unwinding by the beach. My off-day became the perfect evening, largely because I let go.
Today started better too. I didn’t feel confined to the school and instead rose early and came here, to Art Café. I’ve been here for about 5 hours now, writing, reading, eating, and talking to some others I’ve met on the island. I’m getting back into my natural rhythm by a) being in a physical space that nourishes me, and b) being selective of what works for me in the moment (and knowing what doesn’t).
This rhythm is quite similar to the flow state, but it’s not even about getting things done; it’s just about being at peace with where I am in the moment. For now I’m relaxing in this café, thinking forward to things I might do in the future, and I’m trying my best not to stress about it.
Where are you these days? Are you doing something that you feel off about? Have you given it enough of a chance already? If you feel good about the time you’ve invested, and it’s still not for you- just move on. Trust your instincts on this one. Sometimes we have to change directions in life. That’s what it’s all about. ■
When does your rhythm kick in?