Aug 272014
 

What’s the worst mistake you made in your life? Or, if you could go back in time to change one thing (in your own life), what would it be?

Ok, probably she would've been scared out of her panties (hehe) if I had this in store for her...

Ok, probably she would’ve been scared out of her panties (hehe) if I had this in store for her…

I like thought experiments like this, the “alternate history”. What path might my live have taken if I had kissed that girl (I was 16 and way too shy)…?

Two things.

First: I’m happy with my life (well, mostly) and I wouldn’t want to run the risk of ruining what I have now by changing the course of history in such a way that I end up somewhere completely different (those who have seen “The butterfly effect” or “Sliding doors” should know what I mean).

Second: When is something a mistake? If you look back on an action (and it’s subsequent string of reactions) and you’re not happy with the outcome? But that’s too easy, as everybody can predict the past.

Given the information you had at the point of deciding, would it have been logical / reasonable to have made a different decision? If so, then yes, it was a (very stupid!) mistake. But most of the time, it’s not. You take the information you have and you do what you think is best at that moment. It doesn’t always come out the way you expected (much less hoped for), but does that make it a mistake? Personally, I think not. It’s just the unpredictability of the universe making itself felt (which is a good thing too, imagine that the future was perfectly predictable. How boring!). You learn from it and you move on.

It does happen though that you make a decision you know is not in your best interest. I should have kissed that girl and I knew at the time that I should and I did regret not doing so. My emotions hijacked me from doing the “right” thing (fear in this case).

Would you change anything from your past if you could? And if so, what?
But even here we deserve some lee-way. Fighting against your own fear (or other emotions) sounds very nice on paper, but is extremely difficult in practice. Who has never stood there in front of a beautiful girl (or guy, if you’re so inclined), knowing what you wanted (and quite sure what she (he) wanted), yet did nothing? Should you beat yourself up over your stupid mistake?

I think it’s better to take this as anything else that the universe throws you that doesn’t go quite your way: Learn from it and move on.

I did learn. Not too long after, this horrible mistake still fresh in my memory I had another chance and (after due courage-finding) I took it. A kiss never tasted sweeter…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. This blog is meant to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Aug 232014
 

What do you do when you have nothing left to wish for?

I have a roof over my head (two actually, in different countries), enough yummy food to fill my belly ten times over, a never-ending tap of water in my kitchen and an almost-never ending tap of beer in my local pub. I have family to love and to be loved by. I am happy with my work, enjoy the intellectual problems that it brings, get satisfaction from the interpersonal challenges it presents me. I feel cherished as a friend and respected as a colleague. If I want I can travel the world (and do so with some regularity).

"Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it..." But what if I wish for something to wish for?

“Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it…” But what if I wish for something to wish for?

And still…

Something is missing.

What do you desire when you have everything? What do you strife for when there is nothing left to strife for?

Sure, I could attain more. More money, more time, more friends. More…

But in the end, does it make a difference?

One of the most striking accidental insights I’ve gotten through this blog was when I wrote “I’m always happy, never content.” This one line struck a chord, stayed with me and has helped me understand myself in ways I never did before I wrote it. It still helps me to gain further insight in myself; it was the discontentment itself that made me happy. The idea that there was always more. Not to have, but to do. To experience, to feel, to give.

That feeling seems to be gone.

I’m well aware that I haven’t experienced, felt, given everything there is. But it does feel as though what is still out there is just “more of the same”.

This is a feeling. Intellectually I know that the chance of that actually being the case is minimal. It’s more probable that I simply don’t know what’s out there. Or perhaps won’t allow myself to think about it; though I love adventure, it still scares me to death as well.

I’m well aware of the irony here: I’m discontent with the fact that have nothing to be discontent with. Or maybe it’s slightly less irony if I say that I’m unhappy with not having anything to be discontent with?
And that is perhaps the crux of the matter. If you have everything that you desire, the only thing that can happen is that you lose some of it. Or: when you’re at the top, the only way is down.

I have security, safety. It encapsulates me, keeps me warm and safe. But perhaps in a way it also restricts, keeps me captive?

Am I willing to give up (some of) that safety? Would I trade it for the chance at a new source of discontentment? What would I give up for happiness?

I can’t answer these questions right now. But I have a feeling that I may be able to some time in the not too distant future…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Aug 162014
 

For the last few weeks I’ve been taking sword-fighting classes. You take a plastic sword, a plastic buckler (small shield) and you cut, stab, parry, riposte and other things I know the name of but have clue how to actually execute.

One more skill on my list for becoming a real pirate!

One more skill on my list for becoming a real pirate!

Last class was dedicated to sparring. 1-on-1, trying to score a hit, whilst not getting hit yourself. A score on the limbs is 1 point (or 1 life off of the other person) and a score on the torso or head (fencing mask!) is 2 points / lives (it feels a bit like a real-life Super Mario game…).

Being the least-experienced I wasn’t getting my hopes up of actually scoring any hits, resigning myself to being out before I could really get my sword up.

I could’ve played in two ways. The first was to keep on defending, biding my time for that perfect opening. The second was to go all out, try to stab them before they stabbed me.

As I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and I wouldn’t see an opening if it bit me in the ass, the defensive way would’ve just meant that I was defeated slowly. Going on the offense however gave me at least a fighting chance (so to speak).

The motto for the sword-fighting club I practice at: “…because one day the bullets will run out!” I feel more prepared for the Zombie Apocalypse already!
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t actually that hard to score a hit. Many a brave knight fell before my sword! The thing that was very difficult however was not to get hit back at the same time! I fell before many a brave knight’s sword while they were falling for mine…

Still, I managed to get in a few hits in without getting decapitated (figuratively) myself. Woohoo!

Life, as any game, can be played in two ways. You can play not to lose. Or you can play to win.

Personally I’m happy to always play to win. In life that means taking your chance, even if it means you leave yourself open to the sword of misfortune.

Trying means you can fail. Not trying means you won’t ever succeed. Which is worse?


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Aug 102014
 

I remember the very first time I got money in my bank account from my real and full-time job! I can’t really remember exactly how much it was, but it was loads! In my memory…

Gold isn't strong enough to hold someone. The problem is, you don't want to escape...

Gold isn’t strong enough to hold someone. The problem is, you don’t want to escape…

Probably if I got that amount now I’d still be very happy. If however I would have to live on that amount for a month, it would be very tough!

That money became “normal” very quickly. And where as a student I was perfectly happy to live on a fraction of it, it wasn’t until long when I couldn’t do without it. I had a real job so I could get a real apartment instead of a student’s room. I could afford to shop at a “real” supermarket instead of the discounters I’d been going to. If I wanted something new, hell, I’d just buy it!

A year later and I got my first pay raise! Which I got used to as well. Quickly too, I might add.

So it went through the years. Every bit of additional monthly income very quickly became normal. And while it’s very easy to get used to having more it’s definitely not easy to get used to having less.

Did all of this bring me more happiness? Sure, I enjoy going out for dinner or getting fresh strawberries even in the dead of winter. But is that happiness? Is ever more consumption the thing to go for?

The one “raise” I got that really made me happy was when I moved from one company to the other. At the first I had a 40 hour workweek, at the second it was 36. Half a day off every week, which in practice became a day off every other week. A mini-vacation every other week: Pure bliss!

I just saw that it’s been more than a week since I posted anything. It’s quite uncommon for me to go this long without having something on my mind that desperately needs sharing. Having just spent a weekend doing absolutely nothing, I’m starting to realize maybe I have been trying to do too many things in too little time…
“Buying time” however isn’t that easy either. Not as a freelancer anyway: I’m expected to spend a full week at the job, else they’ll just get someone else.

Or… That’s my assumption. You see, I never tried. Never tried asking whether I could work for 4 days. Or even less? I assume that I won’t get the job if I don’t put in the hours. And I’m sure there will be some gigs where I really would have to put in my 40+ hours. And then the question becomes, am I willing to say “no” then, to let something interesting pass me by, hoping for something that better suits what I would like?

It’s scary. Luckily I’ll be “stuck” in my current assignment for a bit longer. I’ll give it some more thought…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!

Jul 162014
 

Today I did algebra. And calculus. And a bit of stochastics.

Yeah baby, you wiggle that differential equation real good!

Yeah baby, you wiggle that differential equation real good!

For most people this would be a description of a horrible day. For me it’s a good one!

I studied mathematics for 6 years (ok, I was a student at the faculty of mathematics for 6 years. Let’s not get into how much time I actually spent studying…). And then I spent another 8 using it in one way or another for my work.

It still stumps me, horribly so at times. But I also have the confidence that I’m able to get it. If I just keep hacking away at a problem (or even just a bit of theory), my mind will (eventually) wrap itself around it and I’ll come to some new insight.

Even though I know I will eventually get it, I need to work hard at it. It’s right there at the edge of using everything I have to get to the end point. It’s what gets me in a state of flow. Give me a good problem, some time to work on it and an internet to look up papers and definitions (yay for Wikipedia) and I’m happy!

I studied mathematics for 6 years, worked with it for 8 more. And I only just now realized this!

Funny thing, life!

Two functions are walking in the forest. “Look out, a differential operator!”, shouts the first. “Pah, he can’t hurt me, I’m Exp(x)!”, says the second. The first function ran and lived. The second perished. The differential operator was d/dy.

If you didn’t get that: Congratulations, you are not a math nerd!

“You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone”. Or in my case: “You don’t know what you missed ‘till it’s back“. My previous two assignments (spanning a year in total) were interesting, but not mathematically challenging. And as such I didn’t always enjoy them to the hilt.

The question is, what to do with this information? Only look for mathematically challenging assignments? I like mathematics. But I also know that no matter how hard the problem is, I will eventually solve it. Each individual problem is a challenge, but on a more meta-level there isn’t really that much of a challenge anymore.

In some sense mathematics is easy. Numbers don’t change their mind, don’t get angry, are always there. People throw fits, are gone when you need them, or in your face when you can’t use them. People are much more interesting.

Something with both people and mathematics (no, I do not want to be a teacher!). I’ll keep my eyes out for something like that coming on my path…


Bastiaan ReininkI’m Bastiaan. I write this blog to give you some insight into the things I run into and perhaps to inspire you to go in search of your own life extraordinaire.

I love to connect, so if you have thoughts, ideas or questions based on this (or another) post, please leave me a comment!