A needless recap
Needless for me to repeat, the year 2020 has been a year filled with anomalies. The Covid-19 outbreak changed our lifestyles to a degree we could have never imagined. From maskless faces being illegal to spending months at home. At an individual level, many did find ways to entertain themselves, be it social media, hobbies, or learning skills online. But on a global scale, the pandemic changed the face of many nations and multinational companies. Institutions went “online”, and the previously professionally disregarded “Work-from-home” concept became a thing of everyone’s daily routine. Continuing on the same timeline, 2021 has more or less been a similar happening.
For the students
As a student, this year has been a rollercoaster. After a year spent in virtual mode, exams were delayed, some canceled and some held online. After all the commotion students faced, the last thing one would want is college being delayed indefinitely, all thanks to the pandemic again.
My fellow first years and I at Manipal have been coming across news of being called to the campus only to realize, for it to be false news or delayed further. Adding to the disarray of events, new variants of the virus have emerged. During these days of uncertainty, where time seems to lose its one-dimensionality, I would like to suggest literature as a coping mechanism to deal with the anxiety that befalls us during times of the uncertain future.
I read, therefore I am
One can begin with the literature of the genre they like- be it fiction and fantasy, folklore and mythology, or novels and stories. Literature doesn’t discriminate nor it is hard to find in the “online” world. It unites us with works of creative geniuses. To read what the great authors have to offer is to touch the wisdom of our culture. To read something written by someone great is to appreciate the good of Humanity. You can live in the life of Percy Jackson, be part of History, or travel into a fantastical world. Books are a portal to a world beyond the present.
A common problem, amateur readers find is reading itself. Silly as it sounds, but it is the truth. In the present scenario where the world is almost on the brink of becoming a virtual reality (Metaverse is a thing now), the act of sitting down and reading a book requires levels of concentration that many just don’t have naturally. (Thanks to social media and OTT platforms). One can start by asking a question why? Why do you want to read? Maybe, you want to learn a new skill, develop your vocabulary, learn something new, or simply entertain yourself. Following the same line of argument, you may answer the next question what do you want to read? It could be a fascinating storybook or a biography of someone great, or simply today’s newspaper. Once you have posited a goal in mind, your reason has been set up. People can start with eliminating distractions and aiming to read a few lines with their predefined goal in mind. Use methods such as the Pomodoro technique and define a reading space for yourself; you can then boldly start to develop the avid reader in you.
Same world, another dimension
Literature is not limited to reading; it’s writing as well. It’s often a good habit and in fact, a scientifically proven one, that journaling down our thoughts helps us manage stress reduce anxiety and cope with depression. Finding it difficult to decide on what to do? No problem! Grab a pen and paper, and write down the best and most productive thing you could do right now. And go do it! To merely think is to live in a wonderland, to write is to start living.
One cannot deny that writing is a challenging exercise for many of us, but the challenge is what makes it engaging. Some might miss out on vocabulary, some on ideas, or some might not have anything to write about. To deal with such challenges, the trick is the same. Set a goal and work with it. I call it the “Back from the Future” trick. Instead of thinking about how to proceed in the present, one can look into the future and follow back into the present. Dream of writing an engaging essay with a set limit of words and putting yourself into it. (And needless to say, the internet is always your friend, haha!)
No doubt online classes do not offer the same experience as offline do. We all are unaware of campus reopening. It’s easy to degenerate into utter hopelessness in such a scenario. Reading and writing are tools not just to communicate with others, but to communicate with ourselves. A language is a tool we often fail to value. So, why not, start now, beginning with small and reasonable steps and articulating what you would love to see in the world. That’s an excellent place to start.
As an easter egg, for those who are desperate for seeking a serious writing exercise, I would like to suggest the readers try the Self Authoring program. It has been thoroughly researched and developed by the famous Canadian psychologist Dr. Jordan B Peterson and has helped thousands of participants. The program is a guided writing exercise for people to articulate themselves and plan a reasonable future for themselves. The link to it is given below.
On a concluding note, I invite everyone in the crowd to the world of literature and see it as a door to potential. I suggest people seek literature in the face of failure and destitution. To find the wisdom of culture in history and fiction, through reading and writing.
About the Author: Dhiviyansh Punamiya is a first-year student at Manipal Institute of Technology.