Thoughts From Toothbrushing

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We hopped onboard a sailing vessel one weekend. It was a boat we knew from before – an old, unique sailboat that was first used for sailboat racing, then turned into a vessel that was the home for a couple that sailed around the world three times during a time period of twenty years. Now the boat is owned by the nephew of that couple, whom we had learned to know through our common interest in films and photography.

It was nice to be back on that boat. We didn’t put too much pressure on the sailing part and enjoyed life instead, staying in harbor when it rained and taking long mornings if we felt like it. On the second morning, which unfortunately was our last morning (this only being a weekend trip) I felt a satisfying sensation while brushing my teeth on the island we had stayed that night.

A thought came along with that satisfaction: I could do this for a longer time.

Fight Or Flight – But What Does It Mean?

Lately, I’ve been feeling restless. As if I’m waiting for something to happen, waiting that time when I’m able to take the next step, move on to the next phase. I feel unsatisfied with what I have and think that there has to be more to this life, there has to be a place or a way of life that won’t leave me feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. And it isn’t the first time I’m feeling like this. It’s a feeling that reaches me regularly – and it isn’t really a nice feeling.

I haven’t figured out yet what it means exactly. I do know it means I’m not satisfied with what I have at the moment – but what I don’t know is if I’m reacting to the feeling in the right way? Up until now, my solution has often been moving from one city to another or making changes in career plans. But it feels like I’m escaping rather than taking the action that is needed.

It’s like the classic situation of fight or flight. I know how the flight part goes – but what about the fight? How do I fight these feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction and how do I overcome them?

Usually these feelings disappear for a few months after I’ve moved to a new city or when I start a new job or continue my studies after some sort of break, i.e. after a change. But they always come back, suggesting a change: move to another apartment, quit this and start that, change this.

And I wonder, for how long can I manage this feeling of restlessness? When will I finally find what my gut feeling is looking for? When will I find something that keeps the uneasy feelings away for good?

The Search For Alternatives

So, as I was washing my teeth on that island and the rays of early sun reaching towards me through the pine forest, I thought how wonderful it would be to wake up in a new place every few weeks, look at a map and consider the alternatives for the day. Check the wind and weather forecast and adjust my plans according to the observations.

My days would go by sailing and maintaining the boat, cooking food, being creative, discovering things and always pushing myself outside my own comfort zone. Because sailing would be just that – always adjusting, always trying to find new creative or better ways to do things and see something that is so different from what I’ve experienced for the past 24 years.

A camper van could have the same effect, so I might consider it as an alternative as well. But after a few road trips I’d still have to say that nothing beats the fascinating physics of sailing, the gentle rocking of a vessel on anchor and, if the weather’s warm, taking a morning swim in the sea from your backyard (that is, the cockpit).

Reality Check

I have enjoyed my thoughts on full-time sailing for the past few weeks, letting them take over the realities of life for now. But I’m aware that buying a boat isn’t an alternative at the moment, neither is a camper van.

Instead, I’m in the final year of my Master’s Degree, determined to finish my studies. The thesis-writing will begin the next week. After that my plans will be more open for other alternatives. Which means I’ll keep on floating on those gentle waves of dreams, but trying to keep the balance with the things that are in my power at the moment.

One question remains – how to keep myself going until that day of graduation comes and I can start figuring out the next step? How to keep those feelings of restlessness and dissatisfaction at bay, and what are the things I can do right now to keep calm and focus on what’s important at the moment?

The only thing that comes to my mind is that I need to keep on writing. Holding on to the hours that I can write fiction or blog posts, and in that way keep the dream alive while focusing on something else for a moment. After all, nine months (the time I’ve planned to dedicate for my thesis) is only a short period of time in the life of a human being.

 

The Time On Your Side

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They say that Time goes too fast, that there simply isn’t enough of it for everything you wish to do.

They say that if they only had that time they would watch more movies or catch up with people they haven’t heard from in ages. They would read books, play the piano, write their journal, do yoga, take their time drinking coffee in the morning and enjoying the moment. They would finally be able to clean the apartment thoroughly.

If they’d just have the time.

But they don’t.

How come they don’t have the time, I wonder. In order to find an answer to this question, I start observing people and what they do with their time.

I look out from our apartment window. In the afternoon, for two hours straight, there are cars standing on the street, waiting in line for the lights to change – they are all on their way home. A trip that takes about fifteen minutes without traffic takes double as much time with all the other travelers. While waiting for the lights to change from red to green, they listen to the radio, take a smoke or check their phones.

In the school cafeteria, I observe two guys who sit near me. A moment ago they were talking to each other but now they’ve both reached for their phones. The plates are already empty, lunch has been eaten, but they take a minute (or five) to check what’s happened on their mobile extensions of themselves. One of the guys is playing a game on his phone, similar to Bejeweled Blitz.

Another day, and different people at the cafeteria. Two girls are talking while checking their phones. The other one wondering if she should buy a used iPhone: ”It’s only 500 euros and the battery is still long-lasting.”

The other one encourages her to buy it for that price because ”it’s cheap considering the brand.” Then they decide to drive to Ikea, maybe to buy a new plant for the apartment or a cheese slicer, or just to get an ice cream for a coin.

It’s Saturday. A friend comes over, and when there’s a quiet moment, she sits on the sofa and checks her phone for the latest news. She reads out loud a long article about something that happened on a German airport – a story that doesn’t have an interesting ending but the article sure gave away that there would be. Ten minutes have gone by as she has read the article.

And that’s how easily the Time goes. You binge-watch Friends or How I Met Your Mother, update your Instagram and Twitter, or simply refresh your feed again and again to see if there’s something new for you to see or read. You text with your friends about who you’ve seen and what you talked about, what happened on that event last weekend. Or you go to the supermarket because you’ve once again ran out of milk.

So, people say that they simply don’t have enough of Time to do everything they’d like to do. Is it any wonder? From what I’ve seen, minutes and minutes go by to things that shouldn’t take up your time.

Minutes turn into hours and suddenly you realize you’re late for your yoga class or a friend is coming over – and you haven’t had the time to tidy up the apartment. The Time clearly isn’t on your side.

Or maybe it’s you – maybe the Time isn’t on your side because you aren’t trying enough?