Jul 252015
 

A week back I was in France with a group of friends, for a hiking vacation. We hiked part of the coast of Brittany, climbing over rock outcroppings, being astounded by the tides (a 6 meter difference!), seeing menhirs. And after the hike there was of course time for playing a game, having great food (awesome mussels!) and just relaxing. In all, the perfect vacation!

While hiking you've got to keep some rocks up at times as well...

While hiking you’ve got to keep some rocks up at times as well…

Though I do my very best to stay in contact with my friends, living on the other side of a sea (even if it’s a tiny one like the North Sea) makes that somewhat more complicated. So the first two days of the hike were spent catching up with everybody, sharing stories, learning what they had been up to, exchanging a bit of gossip.

After those two days I was basically “up to speed”. And I found that it was harder to keep the conversation flowing. Sure, we’d get into something personal a bit more in dept. Or we’d talk about the world, politics, the economy, etc. But there were quite a few silences as well.

As a student I would absolutely abhor silences; I would start to prattle just to have some sound around, much to the amusement of my friends. I’m not quite at that level anymore, but silence still can make me uncomfortable.

What I really enjoy about hiking as well is that it allows a lot of thoughts to be processed in the back of the mind. It seems the legs work perfectly as pistons for the mental machinery…
I think it took another 2 days, but then that feeling changed quite radically. The awkwardness disappeared and instead the silence became amiable: “We are both walking here. We enjoy looking around, moving through this landscape. And the fact that I get to do that with you by my side, makes this an even better experience.”

My friends are my friends because I like them (and I’m assuming they like me back). Having a good conversation most certainly is a part of that, but it’s actually just a small part. Being together, spending time, forging mutual memories, all of that goes towards a beautiful and dense tapestry of trust, understanding and a feeling of belonging.

Hiking with friends is the best! :- )


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.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Jul 092015
 

It’s 8 o’clock as I’m writing this. I’ve done my day of work, I had a bite to eat. My girlfriend is out (of the country, to be exact).

Indeed. Time for a walk outside!

Indeed. Time for a walk outside!

I have 2 to 3 hours to fill before I need to be asleep. 2 to 3 hours to do whatever I want.

But what do I want?

A very big part of me wants to “sit back and relax”. Which basically means watch a series or movie, browse the internet or play a computer game.

And those are perfectly reasonable options. It’s nice to do nothing for a bit, to immerse myself in some alternate world, forget about the real one for a while. And it’s a very easy choice. The laptop is right there (well actually, right here, as I’m currently typing on it), bringing all of that to my finger tips.

I’ll spend 2 or 3 hours at a mild distance of reality. And at the end of those hours I will have lost or gained exactly nothing.

And the question is, is that good enough? I know I don’t need to be productive all the time, time for relaxation is very important.

But I tend to make that choice a lot. To always go for the easy option, the lazy entertainment.

Somehow starting work is so much easier. It helps when there is someone holding you responsible?
And as a result the things that are important to me don’t get done. I haven’t written my book for ages, haven’t been to the gym for well over a month, haven’t taken an evening stroll for way too long, have barely been able to write a single blog post per week. And I’m not happy with that.

Even sitting here now, for the first time in over a week producing a blog post, already makes me feel a whole lot happier than I would have been with a series or some random browsing. And I know that. I know that doing something makes me feel so much better than doing “nothing”. I feel better after the activity, I feel better during the activity.

There is only one moment where doing nothing feels better than doing something. Right before you start.

There is always a hurdle you have to take, an investment of energy, effort, to start. And without a start, there is no middle and no end…

This evening I’ve made my start with being productive. After this I’ll take a nice evening stroll, which will bring me to the gym. This evening will be fine.

Now if only there was a way of making starting easier…


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.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Jun 292015
 

I’ll get to that tomorrow

I do have a tendency of writing things on my todo list after I do them. Just the joy of crossing something off...

I do have a tendency of writing things on my todo list after I do them. Just the joy of crossing something off…

That’s what I’ve been telling myself for quite a bit in the past month.

And though this should be fairly obvious, I found that, come the next day, there would be another tomorrow, just perfect to do that one important thing on…

A month ago I arrived in the Netherlands, my head filled with all sorts of important things I’d do. A whole list of them. A todo list.

It’s not that I didn’t do any of them. In fact, I got a whole load of them done (which I have to admit becomes easier if quite a few are “socialize” (and I still didn’t get to see everybody that I had wanted to…)). And I did some “real work” as well. I set in motion a small renovation, I painted the woodwork at the rooftop terrace (it now clashes horribly with the stonework!).

In fact, I’m quite happy with the amount of work I did in my “vacation”. Still, with a bit more effort I would have been able to cross off quite a few more items…

Procrastination, distraction, laziness. Choosing short term contentment over long term satisfaction.

Thinking back on quite a few of the previous days the process was as follows:

One thing that did work reasonably well was thinking about “things” (work mostly). I’ve found that talking to different people, letting things mull in the back of your head and writing a few things down, all in the span of a reasonable amount of time, does wonders to get that grey mass working. Now to figure out what to do with the conclusions…
  • Get up with all sorts of good intentions on what to do that day.
  • Do a number of the smaller items (interspersed with quite a bit of distraction, such as e-mail)
  • Decide that I’d done a lot and deserved a tiny break; maybe an afternoon nap, maybe an hour of playing computer games. This would usually be at about 2 in the afternoon.
  • Return to reality from either my mental or electronic dreams.
  • Decide that because of all the other things I had to do, I couldn’t possibly start that big and important thing, the one that would really require a few hours of uninterrupted work (even if it didn’t take that).
  • Continue with some small stuff and / or entertainment or / and socializing (hey, if it’s on your todo-list…)
  • Go to bed for the night.
  • Repeat.

So the lesson from this: If there’s something big to be done, start with that, don’t allow yourself to be distracted by other things.

It only took a single semi-wasted month to figure this out. I guess I’ll have to take another working vacation again soon… :-)


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.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Jun 122015
 

Just 2 more days…

At least I would have a new toy to play with...

At least I would have a new toy to play with…

The entire month of June I do not need to be at the office. And in that time I’ve got a lot of things that I want to do, some of which I could have done in London (think about the future, relax, write), but some are only possible in The Netherlands (visiting old friends and family, maintenance to my house). So the choice was easy: I’ll spend my time “at home” (also known as Utrecht (and surroundings)).

So far I’ve been really enjoying it! Seeing friends, having all the space and time for myself that I want (which so far has only involved a single evening of brainless gaming!), not going to work!

There is a minor downside to spending a lot of time in The Netherlands though, one detail that London has that Utrecht doesn’t: My girlfriend.

As she only started her newest job recently, asking for a month off seemed like a bad idea. We have plans to see each other halfway through the month (which will involve not only her, but also her parents and (I sincerely hope) copious amounts of whisky!), but that’s another week from now!

The first few days were awesome: Really being able to do whatever it is I want, not having to take anybody else into account, eating whatever I want (not that she’s a difficult eater, far from it, but still…), spending time with friends without being worried whether she’s actually having a good time…

But then not so slowly another feeling started to intrude. Because yes, time alone is great, but spending a lazy day in bed is better if you can do it together. And dropping by friends for dinner is great, but it’s even greater when you can share the socializing with the one you love.

Not only will I be re-united with my girlfriend, I’ll also be meeting her parents for the first time. I’m not sure if it’s a good sign that she seems more nervous about this than I am…
In London I’d be happy to see my girlfriend after a day of work, good to get a hug and kiss, to discuss the day. But it was the status quo, I saw here every evening, so it was hardly special.

Now however I can’t see her and I’m very actively longing to.

They say: “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone”. This is usually meant for things that are truly gone. But it works equally well for things (people!) that are temporarily gone. And what I’ve come to realize: This is a good thing.

Not seeing each other at all doesn’t make for a good relationship. But not seeing each other for a while, with some regularity, makes you appreciate the other person so much more.

Missing someone isn’t nice. But sweet reunions more than make up for it.

Only 2 more days…


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.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!

Jun 052015
 

My experiment for the past month was “being good”. Time for a recap.

You know, it's not easy finding old ladies you can help cross the street...

You know, it’s not easy finding old ladies you can help cross the street…

The first thing I found was that it’s hard to qualify when I have been good (respect for Santa Claus!). If I didn’t do anything particularly shitty, was I “good” that day? Is doing “a good deed” enough? And how big does that need to be? Is standing up for someone in the underground sufficient, or will only creating world peace do? And if you did something not-so-nice (took that last seat in the underground, right in front of someone’s nose), can you make up for it by doing something good? Or maybe two somethings?

I don’t really have answers to these questions. In general I “scored” a day if I felt I had been a generally good person and had done at least one “good deed”.

The second observation was that being “generally decent” is quite easy. I think this would hold for most people around; there just aren’t that many occasions where you can act like an asshole without going out of your way (maybe it helps that I don’t drive a car?). Or is this saying something about my general (friendly) disposition (and perhaps upbringing)?

The experiment for the coming period: Be productive. I have a month in which I don’t have to show up at the office. It would be very easy to sit back, play computer games, read, watch movies and hang out with friends, but I also know that though those things are great, only that doesn’t make me happy. So, the experiment is to “be productive”in non office-work related ways. I have quite a could-do list, and I’ll let you know how this fared.
Third, being actively good is quite hard. Or better, remembering to be good is quite hard. Mostly my mind would be on other things (myself) and not that many occasions would present themselves (in such a way that I actually took notice). And while some good deeds can be pre-meditated (bringing a flower home for my girlfriend), I feel quite a bit has to be “in the spur of the moment”?

One way around this would be to spend more time in pre-meditation, which is not something I really tried.

Finally, when I actually did something good, it did feel very nice!

Conclusions: I’m happy that I find myself to be generally a decent human being. It’s nice to go out of your way do to something good once and awhile, but it’s hard to remember doing that. It would be worthwhile to experiment further with being more “pre-meditated good”, but I’ll leave that for another time (see the side bar for my current experiment).


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.

If you enjoyed this (or another) post, if you have something to add or to ask, I would really appreciate it if you would leave a comment!