atelic activity

I learnt a new word (or rather, phrase) recently – atelic activity. An atelic activity is one that’s done without any end goal in mind. Essentially, anything that’s done for it’s own sake. Most hobbies would be considered atelic in nature, even though specific tasks inside the hobby would be telic in nature – you sit down with the specific goal of completing that puzzle, but what’s the overall goal of doing so? It’s just to enjoy (spending time with) yourself.

I found this phrase on a blogpost of a fellow blogger, Colin Walker, where he’s musing on a question asked by another blogger, Julian SummerHayes – is blogging just writing? Essentially, in a world where the act of blogging has been commoditized in many ways – Substack, Medium memberships, Patreon, YouTube sponsored vlogging, etc – what is just the purpose of an eponymous blog?

We’ve done this navel gazing many times about blogging, so instead, let’s focus on the new phrase. I love having hobbies and side projects. But side projects have end goals. Hobbies, do not. I love reading, but ask me to read towards a goal – studying up for anything, for example – and I will be the laziest person you know. But reading for pleasure? Gimme!

The opposite of an atelic activity – a telic activity – will give you some pleasure for sure, but the pleasure will dissipate quickly upon achievement of the goal. You were so focused on ending the activity that you didn’t consider that the end will bring about a state of confusion in your mind.

Instead, in an atelic activity, you focus on the activity itself. Sort of me writing this blogpost. I have no end goal in mind. I’m riffing. The moment I feel satisfied with how much of the screen I’ve filled up with my words, I’ll be done. Right about… now.

Got vaxxed!

white and black labeled bottle

I got the second dose of my vaccine today. It was a breeze! I got there an hour early because I had some free time and the person at the counter hemmed and hawed about when I would get my shot. But there was no one in line and as soon as I settled down, my name had been called.

My reward for the shot was twofold – when I got done with it, I was greeted with thunder and torrential rain. Minutes later, as I gave myself the reward of great tasting natural ice cream, a hailstorm swept through the area, with the Sun twinkling in the background. It was an ethereal state and the weather seemed to be celebrating that I got the vaccine today.


I’ve been having a conversation with myself and with a friend lately. I’ve often thought about what changes I’ve seen in people due to the pandemic. For the most part, I’ve seen depressive states, acting out, bold declarations of the future (a sort of mania perhaps). But I rarely turned my gaze inward. But recently I started thinking about it and I realized what change has come in me.

When I was a kid, my parents gifted me a poster that I hung above my bed. As I would get dressed for school, I would recite the words on the poster. It was a short prayer towards optimism –

Today is going to be a great day. 
I can handle more than I think I can.
Things don’t get better by worrying about them.
I can be satisfied if I try to do my best.
There’s always something to be happy about. I’m going to make someone happy today.
It’s not good to be down.
Life is great, make the most of it.
Be an optimist!

That first year when I got the poster, my class teacher noted in my report card that “Nitin is a very optimistic child”.

Ever since, I’ve thought of myself as an optimist, sometimes blindingly so. Over the years, it has stood me in good stead – an attitude of “whatever happens, it’ll be good in the end” is a good way to coast through life.

Two years ago, I discovered philosophy through a podcast – Philosophize This. Apparently, there’s no better way to destroy ones rose tinted glasses than through a study of philosophy. Yet, for all the knowledge that I soaked in, it felt distant – a subject I’m studying rather than lessons I’m learning about life.

Or maybe the change started then, and the pandemic accelerated it, as it did everything else. I believe I’m now a realist. Every hopeful thought that comes about the future is quietly quashed by the reality of the pandemic. No matter how much we hope that the end is near, the facts and the reality of the situation in the US and India belie those fantasies.

My friend offered that perhaps I’m a rational optimist. What’s that? Someone who is optimistic within reason.

I don’t know if I’m that. But I think it’s a good thing to aspire to. Perhaps it’s time to find that poster and bring that prayer back.


I’ve discovered the joy of reading ebooks from the Seattle Public Library. It’s not only a great way to discover new fiction that I would not otherwise get my hands on, it’s also a good driver to finish what I start. I’ve got a loan right now that I have to return in 14 days. Better get on with it!

Notes for Week 19 of 2014

The last time I did this, it was week 2 of 2014. But here we are again, with a bunch of nice links to share with you nice folks. Enjoy!



Which is the most popular IP among network engineers? It’s, which is Google’s DNS. But this wasn’t always the first IP to be pinged. Before this was Level 3’s not-really-public DNS on Here’s an excellent roundup of the story behind the company across the hill.

Critical Thinking

Here’s a very simple, very straightforward approach to critical thinking. Be advised, I love repeating this ‘program’ over and over again. Do bookmark it.


Here’s an image explaining why religion can be a bad thing sometimes. Enjoy. 🙂

Writing Tools

There are some really interesting writing tools on the Internet. Here are two that blew my mind with their approach – Gingko and Lines. Do tell me what you think about them.


Speaking of writing tools, here’s one of my favorites. It’s a beautiful idea, embodied by the simple example that the developer created called “I Made Tea”. I’d really like to know what my readers make with something as elegant as Telescopic Text.


Dealing With Dust

I went to the hostel today, just to clear out a few things I had kept over there while having moved out to live separately. What I did not realize was that those weren’t a few things which I had chosen to leave, they were a whole Life of me which I had gotten cut-off from since I moved out. Among the important ones were a whole set of my writings which I have never published simply because I never got the time to do so. Also, all my work related to Politics and Philosophy, topics upon which I had deliberated a lot during the course of the first and second years of college and which I had felt were life changing, lay there like a distant past of which I had no recollection, just the knowledge that a few pages with my handwriting were kept there, protected even from my own self, never to be further thought about. About these Ideas and Ideals to which I had once subscribed, I would like to say today that –

“If Man wants, he can include Philosophy into his Life, thus making it a Never-ending Quagmire of Thought, Self-Doubt and the Reassurance that Man is Superior to Animal”

after Four years of Engineering, it has come as no surprise to me that I now believe in Hard Work more than ever. As I step into the part of my Life where I will be a part of the Corporate World, I have now this notion-

“The Simplest and Most effective way for a Person to live is to Work. Nothing else is as Important as working hard. And working hard is what makes Life easier than ever.”

Deliberations on Philosophy and Politics are indeed habits of those who have the Luxury of wasting their time in making their Lives Complicated. The Simple way of Life does not involve these, just a clear understanding of what a Person’s work is and what the resultant thoughts and beliefs are.

In digressing from the topic of cleaning up my Hostel room, I wanted to ensure that the thoughts that went through my mind when I was arranging my things together were noted down. However, the more important detail is about what all I found there.

The second Important thing I found there were some of my clothes. I got very nostalgic when I saw them, discussing with my roommate Lalit the amazing journey I made from being a size 32 waist to a size 38! I know I am fat right now and I am less than proud of it. But it is an amazing thing for me to see myself as a lean, weak boy with cheeks sunk deep into my cheekbones as opposed to a well rounded man with chubby cheeks and friends who keep reminding me that I must join the gym!

It is not everyday that One gets to look at their past and present in such a glaringly contrasting way, but this insight was amazing and has made me rethink a lot about what were my thoughts and beliefs when I was two years less-experienced than I am today and I now ponder over whether in the fierceness of my devotion to my Ideals, I was believing in the right things or not…

After all, today I am happy to be an Engineer, but at some point, I wanted to be a Politician!

p.s. I promise that those unseen writings of mine will be put up soon, complete with my favorite creative commons license!

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