"The doodling has indeed helped me dispel, albeit for a brief while, the clouds of anxiety and dread that we are all familiar and grappling with currently," says HDFC comms chief Rajiv Banerjee.
This is a habit cultivated ever since I realized I love doodling and cartooning, which is, a good 25-year-old vintage now. A corner of a page in any book, paper or even tissue paper becomes a canvas for me to just scribble. Sometimes, it is random zigzag lines that eventually take some form or shape after some zigzags, sometimes, it is drawing faces with different expressions. Sometimes, it is drawing a rocket or a missile, yet another time, it is drawing planes and helicopters.
Of late, one common doodle that I have seen in my diary is an image of a swimmer in the book. I flip back the pages and see that I have drawn it many a time. A circle with a few lines to denote the swimmer and triangular like waves around it. Perhaps, it is me trying to tell myself to keep moving, motivate myself and remain afloat in the trying times we find ourselves in currently.
The doodling has indeed helped me dispel, albeit for a brief while, the clouds of anxiety and dread that we are all familiar and grappling with currently. Ever since the first wave, from March 2020, my doodles have been my constant companion in my free time. It has helped me to try and cultivate the habit of training my mind to think of ideas, keep building on them in my head and doodle them on paper, sometimes even on the walls of the house. Yes, sketches now also adorn a couple of electric switchboards and also one column of a wall at my residence.
The ideas can come from something I read, have heard or observed or even from a memory stored deep in my head, which suddenly comes to the fore. Before the idea simply vanishes into the vast ocean of overlapping thoughts running inside the head, I try and follow what renowned cartoonist Ajit Ninan advised me. ‘A good idea can strike anywhere, anytime. So try and put the thought or idea on paper immediately, even if it is just a few lines or a rough sketch. It will stay with you and you can give it a final shape later,” he said. I try and follow it as much as I can.
As I sit to give shape to the idea on paper, I have realised that nothing else is zooming in and out of my head. It is the sanctuary that I safely ensconce myself, even if it is for a few hours. It is a mechanism that allows me to hit the refresh button, rejuvenate myself and get back to the real world. Sometimes, the doodle becomes so elaborate that it is mentally exhausting, which I believe is a good thing, for all you want to do after that is rest and you don’t want the pistons in your brain to starting firing again immediately.
Sometimes, I want to doodle, but don’t have any idea in my head. I just pick up the pen and stare at the blank paper, drawing wavy lines or shapes in the air above the page. Sometimes, I hit the jackpot and a thought emerges, but most of the time, it is just an imaginary doodle in the air. But even the waving of the pen in the air helps in trying to live in the moment and not be overwhelmed by other thoughts.
So why am I sharing my thoughts on doodling? Well, in an environment, where everyone is looking at ways to ease up on the stress and anxiety, as an amateur cartoonist and doodler, I strongly believe that even a concentric circle that keeps growing as the pen goes round and round can be therapeutic, even if it is for a brief moment.
I have doodled when I am stressed, have also doodled when I am thinking at work or addressing an issue at home and it’s helped me focus even better. And I have expanded my canvas as well; from doing simple black pen cartooning and doodles to experimenting with charcoal pencils to even attempting caricatures, which I must admit is the most challenging.
In the end, this is not a sure shot panacea or solution for the problems or the anxiety prevailing around us, but if a pen, paper and a little bit of doodle-shoodle helps you replenish your batteries and face the situation; just do it.
The author is VP & Vertical Head for Corporate Communication at HDFC Bank and an amateur cartoonist.