'Taking out time for yourself is essential' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Taking out time for yourself is essential'

india Updated: Sep 04, 2009 20:35 IST
Anoushka Shankar

Who knew this column would be the reason for my first moment of relaxation today? It’s close to 10 pm here in California, and this as yet unwritten column is due in a few minutes.

However, I have to say I’m grateful, because it’s thanks to this column that I’m sitting here now. It was too hot to work in my office, so I brought my laptop outside. It’s a warm, balmy night, and I’m staring up at the most beautiful, nearly-full moon: creamy and cool and so bright I can see my way by it. It’s face is reflected in the swimming pool I’m sitting by, and I’ve got my feet up and my computer on my lap. Yes, I need to rush and send this column in, but first, let me appreciate that it’s brought me outside to the still, meditative, contemplative beauty of this night.

It’s amazing isn’t it, how easily we forget to take the time to just sit? It’s a crazy week right now, but being here reminds me that no matter how insane your schedule gets, taking time out for yourself is not actually optional. It’s essential. We all need time to recharge. Sometimes people feel guilty taking that time out, but it’s important to learn that you can say enough’s enough. I have a hard time with that. It’s not that I can’t holiday; in fact, I’m quite able to laze on a beach or take road trips whenever possible! But when I’m working, I take on so much and I’m such a perfectionist that I can get totally caught up in work, forgetting everything else.

I’ve been struggling with the music I’m writing for my show at Sadler’s Wells in London next November. I was supposed to finish the music tomorrow, and last week I realised my heart just wasn’t in what I was writing, and I owed it to myself to start over. So on Monday, I threw out the ideas I’ve been working on for the last three months, and started from scratch. Thankfully (SO thankfully!) it was the right decision, and the music I’m writing now is flowing much more easily, and the very fact that it’s flowing rather than something I’m struggling over, leads me to believe it’s better than before. I can feel myself in the notes, and I’m so happy. But it’s crazy, because I need to write thirty minutes’ worth of music in just over a week! I just need to trust in the creative process and relax; writing never works if you try to force it. Also, next week I start learning and memorising the music my father’s been composing for our upcoming concert at the Hollywood Bowl. I’m looking forward to throwing myself into my father’s music again, and I’ll be conducting after many years, which I’m really excited about. Right after that show, we go on tour again. Where have the months flown?

Deep breaths, starting now….