A few days back, almost a week perhaps, I noticed slight fatigue in my body. I ignored it as being signs and symptoms of a hectic lifestyle, overtime work and inadequate sleep. It followed, and increased with each passing day. Soon I had headaches that started as a light tap on the back of my head. This turned into a full-blown jackhammer that wouldn’t leave me alone. Needless to say, I was clueless, worried and irritated at being ‘distracted’ from work. I carried on, hoping that it would go away. But it didn’t. Soon I had a take the weekend off, and rest. Hoping that it was not some infection that I was fighting and that it would go away soon enough. I stopped using my laptop, didn’t watch much TV, and slept insane hours of the day. It eased the pain a little. I had to conserve my energies for the football finale, which Germany won. A slight consolation. On Monday I took an appointment with the optician for the following day. When I went there the next day, a series of tests followed. At first I thought that I had acquired the need for spectacles, owing to the symptoms and signs. But it was not so. “Your eyes are perfectly fine”, the optician had claimed. No power, no corrections needed. Which means I did not need to wear glasses. But then, I did have an abnormally high amount of strain on the eyes. So I was advised, strictly I might add, to limit my exposure to devices to 6-7 hours per day. Which means I could not use a laptop, desktop, watch TV, use a mobile phone or read a kindle for more than 6 hours combined.
For me, it seems barbarian. I am used to being in front of a screen for at least half the day. Yes, that’s 12 hours. Which is probably why I reached the current situation (this, and my careless lifestyle). So now, I must choose and prioritize my time. Research and its associated tasks come first, have, and always will. Other endeavors, whether social or academic, must take a back seat for the time being. I must turn back to paper and pencil to sketch my ideas. And the most painful (or perhaps, helpful), I must proof-write algorithms and programs on paper before I type them on screen.
I feel handicapped. Yes, I choose to use the word ‘handicap’ being fully aware of its exact meaning and implications. I also know and respect the use of this word for people with disabilities. I mean no disrespect towards them. But I do feel that way about my physical inability to do a lot many things, primarily on my macbook, which I am used to do. It is a painful experience. It hasn’t even been a few hours since the time I was made aware of my new restrictive schedule, that I have been annoyed and irritated by being cautious about how I use my ‘screen’ time. I’m confident that in time, it will teach me patience and perseverance. But till then, I’m afraid that I will suffer a large drop in productivity. It’s depressing.
But me being me, I will look to do a lot more fun things as well. Such as more photographing. More dreaming, more thought experiments. And physical work. It’s not a waste of time. There are a great many life experiments to be done outside the virtual world. But I do hope that all this will not contribute towards taking my research down-hill. Because I’m sure that there is a great use for what I do, what I dream of. And that, precisely is what is keeping me awake these nights.