From vices to voices

Harsh Maskara
5 min readJan 29, 2021

All of us have vices which we try to reign in to a certain extent. We could be smokers, runners, gamers or drug addicts. After a point in time, we tend to recognize our vices as personality traits and accept them as part of who we are. All our vices have a story to tell. We could be imitating what we saw our parents do when we were children, there could be a seed planted in our minds from a conversation that took place when we were in school or we could possibly find our self-expression best suited for that particular activity.

We can understand so much about ourselves from the vices that we exhibit. Behind the runner there could be memories of struggling with weight through school. The gamer could be hiding behind a façade to tackle his social issues and poor handling of relationships. The drug addict could be a dreamer with a vivid imagination who is struggling to find his place in the world. The trouble with vices is that we allow them to exercise a vice-like grip on us. Instead of analyzing why they exist, we simply deal in their excesses. This is a tragedy.

Vices start small but they spread like a bamboo tree which once established spreads very quickly. Much like a bamboo tree, the vice is omnipresent in daily life and soon a person becomes defined by it. One may wonder how a healthy activity like running could be a vice. Any activity done to its excess is a vice. All activities have a positive and negative side to them. Smoking and drinking are physically harmful but they act as social glue. Gaming can be damaging for the eyes but can help develop logic and reasoning. Running obviously has benefits like weight loss and fitness but can lead to insomnia.

It is not the vice which is important as is what we do with it. Vices are part and parcel of our life. The sooner we accept this fact, the better it will be for us. An ignored vice is as harmful as an active one. Vices make their way inside the recesses of our mind and take safe haven there. Sometimes, the people with active vices look more fortunate as they seem to be dealing with their demons. It is the inactive vices which can eat you up from inside like a termite.

The best thing to do with a vice is to allow it to flower. Push yourself to the limits and see where it takes you. The ultimate objective is to control the vice and use it to help find your voice. All vices whether they be in the form of stimulants, physical or mental activities test your capacity for self discipline and expression. The road to realizing your self and the potential you possess invariably passes through a minefield of vices. These serve as a barrier to understanding your voice and expressing your true self.

As you allow your vice to take its course, it is easy to be overwhelmed by it. The vice invariably leads to physical or emotional gratification and we can’t seem to have enough of a good thing. This often leads to injuries, burn out or physical and mental problems. The trick lies in knowing where these extremes lie and to stay clear of them. This is easier said than done. It is a bit like walking a tightrope without really knowing where the end lies.

However, with time there comes a sense of discipline and will power to, in a sense, tame the vice and find your voice. We all come armed to the world with a unique sense of skills and our vices are simply the tools to share our voice with the people at large. It would be unjust for us to simply drown in the ocean of our vices without harnessing them to express our true selves and share our voice.

As you tame the vice, the sense of exhilaration which the vice used to provide at an earlier stage gives way to a subtle experience of freedom. True freedom requires discipline else it is simply escapism. It is easy to tumble down the hole of escapism because it is tempting. However, it causes more problems than it solves and complicates matters. Freedom leads to a sense of self expression and finding your voice as an individual. It may sound ironic but at times we seem to be floating from one vice to another because we find freedom to be intimidating and difficult to grasp.

True freedom however comes when we have come to terms with our vices. This requires acceptance as well as action. We need to dig into the reasons behind a vice and why it exists. Almost invariably there are some memories from our past which are cloaked behind a vice. It is painful to peel these layers from a vice but it needs to be done. Once we do so, we will realize whether our bond with the vice is indeed strong enough for it to turn into our voice. This process is exhilarating and remarkably freeing.

As we get set to move from a vice to a voice, we will invariably see certain changes within ourselves. Details begin to matter and the larger picture starts to come into being. We realize that life is a process of uncovering ideas and exploring yourself. Vices are simply a route to expressing our true voices and engaging with the world as an artist. At our core, we are all artists who are mediums for ideas. We could be expressing these ideas as sportsmen, businessmen, musicians or painters.

Our individual selves are a storehouse of rich ideas which are itching to be shared with the world. Our vices are simply the locks to our individual voices. The key to these locks lies in self exploration, discipline and analysis. Of course, the most important ability is the ability to dream that you can make a difference through your voice. Once that conviction is obtained, the rest is simply a matter of course.

Originally published at on January 29, 2021.



Harsh Maskara

Runner, Tennis enthusiast, idea hunter, people analyst, qualitative researcher, wordsmith, traveler, dreamer, listener, connecting dots, theater goer