One thing I have succeeded in bringing back from my holidays is the desire and determination to blog. I’m trying to lower the bar, and not worry too much if I seem to be rambling on more than crafting content. I’ve always loved the “interaction/expression” aspect of blogging – over “communication”. Anyway, it’s cold here in Switzerland, and dark, and gloomy, and did I mention it was cold? Today was my first day back at work. I’m a bit disoriented, to be honest, but it went OK enough.
At home tonight I listened to The Secret of a Long Life (a Radiolab episode). It is about our sense of passing time, and how it is linked to memories and novelty. You know, the way the first few days of holiday go slowly by, and then everthing speeds up and suddenly you’re on the plane home? During the first days, everything is new and memorable. So it feels like the days were long. But then your days are less and less different from one another, and time starts shrinking. Taking the research on the subject literally, Sindhu goes off to try and live a week of absolute novelty. Doing only new things, eating only new things, sleeping in a different place every night.
Having just made the decision to spend 10 days of holidays in the same bed in Rajasthan every night instead of in a different place in Nepal every night, of course this had my attention. It also had strong echoes to my early 2019 realisation regarding making memories (yes, another podcast episode involved). Following that, I remember I had been very deliberate, when Aleika came to visit shortly after, about planning various activities to make for more memories. I must admit that over the last years, my focus has moved more towards creating routine and stability. I need it, but I know I also need novelty. How does one find a balance between the two?
All this reminds me of another podcast episode, Making the Good Times Last, which I listened to a few months back. It is about the science of savoring, and this connects with an idea put forward near the end of the Radiolab episode: it’s not just/so much doing new things that counts, but focusing our attention on them. You can see how this fits in with some kinds of mindfulness practice, or the importance of sensory perception in hypnotherapy (yes I still need to write about hypnotherapy).
As I try to navigate through life, I find myself cooking up plans (mental plans) to organise and schedule my life and activities. For example, I brought back a recipe book from Rajasthan: how about I cook one recipe from the book every week? Or, doing new or unusual things. Maybe I should make sure I do it at least once every month? Peak experiences: should I go to the cinema more often, for example? The list can go on and on, and the problem is that if I did try and put this into practice, I would probably quickly end up suffocated by everything I want to do. (I already tend to, just as things are – thanks, hyperactivity.)
So, how much routine? How much newness? How much simply paying attention to things differently? How do I navigate life whilst at the same time respecting my need to spend time in my comfort zone, and my need to discover new and exciting things, and hold down a job? Should I move the furniture around in my flat more? (23 years in the same flat, heavens.) I feel I already don’t have enough time to do all the things I know I enjoy doing, how many more should I explore?
So many questions. I didn’t take a photograph of the lake and the clouds and the mountains with snow on top this morning on my commute – it was stunning – so I’ll leave this post without a photo, for once.