Dec 132015
 

It's hard work being constructive, but the sense of achievement is a big rush!

It’s hard work being constructive, but the sense of achievement is a big rush!

I love to go travel. Whether it’s a weekend in a nearby city, a day of hiking or a few weeks in an exotic country, give me a ticket and I’m happy!

When I first started traveling I would think long and hard on where I wanted to go. Because travel is expensive and so you have to optimize the opportunities it brings. But many trips later and I’m far more agnostic on what the destination is. No matter where you are, there will be something awesome to see, interesting people to meet and adventures to be had.

What I’ve found that the traveling is actually not the main thing. It’s the freedom that travel brings.

Go see the sights? Good!
Bake on the beach? Fine!
Read a book at the pool? Sure!
Sumptuous dinner and partying? Of course!

When you travel you have a number of days set aside in which you don’t need to do anything specific, meaning you can do anything you like.

A few years back I went on a sabbatical, 8 months of the above. As expected, I absolutely loved it. But after the first few months something started nagging at the back of my mind. Yes, this was great. But after a while it started feeling selfish, hedonistic even. Everything I did was geared to personal enjoyment. And though that is certainly something great, it’s not the only thing in life. 6 months in and I started longing for doing something constructive, something useful again.

And so I went back to “real life”, back to work, quickly filling my days with responsibilities and expectations, pleasing customers / clients, saying yes when I wanted to say no. Needless to say, the joy that I felt while traveling quickly evaporated (though I did have a sense of doing something constructive!)

Perhaps the most important thing to learn in life is what makes you happy. The second would be how to find the courage to actually make that happen.
So travel is awesome, but at some point it becomes empty (and both in the mental and the wallet sense). And working feels constructive, but allowing another to dictate what you do will quickly crush the joy out of life.

Is there nothing in between? Is it possible to have freedom and to be constructive at the same time?

This is a question that has been in the back of my mind for a while. I don’t have an answer, but I have a hypothesis (or perhaps I should say two):

  • An important part of happiness is freedom. Freedom can be the full absence of responsibility, but it can also mean having a strong influence over what your responsibilities are.
  • Being constructive means doing something that makes other happy (external) and learning new things (internal).

I’m hard at work to launch a startup. It will help me to test the hypotheses above; I’ll have a lot of control over what and how I do things, it means building something that people (hopefully) will enjoy and I’ll certainly be learning a boatload of new things.

I’ll be sure to let you know when I find out whether I was correct or not.


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 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 012015
 

Maybe I shouldn't complain too quickly, at least I'll never get -this- hot.

Maybe I shouldn’t complain too quickly, at least I’ll never get -this- hot.

On the tube home I happened to catch part of the newspaper of the lady sitting next to me: “Temperature in London underground higher than would be allowed for cattle transport.”

I’m not a cow, so I generally get to make my own choices. Including to get on a tube with an ambient temperature hotter than my own blood.

As sweat trickled in a small river off of my forehead I was seriously doubting the wisdom of that particular free choice. Of course, not getting home isn’t fun either (or walking for three hours through the heat outside. At least underground there was no sun)… So how much choice do you have in the end?

Maybe being a cow isn’t so bad after all…


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!

Apr 032015
 

Time equals money. And there are few places where this becomes as obvious as in London.

I still expected money to be heavier than time though...

I still expected money to be heavier than time though…

Every major bank has an office here (many minor ones do as well). Those banks hire lots of people and pay them a very decent salary indeed. In return, all that is asked that some time be spent at the office. Considerable amounts of time actually, with working days of 10 hours being quite normal and staying longer not being much of an exception. And weekends, well, they’re sortoff the buffer for the week anyway, right? Someone once remarked to me: “My most important skill here is going without sleep for long periods” (that didn’t last by the way…).

Time at the office = (lots of) money.

Time spent at the office also means there less time to do marginally important stuff like cooking. That however need not be a problem, as London also has a very good selection of supermarkets selling instant meals and of restaurants catering to anyone’s taste. And luckily, all you need to make use of those is a bit (or a lot…) of money!

Now, the good thing about making a lot of money of course is that you can buy a nice place. Something close to work and not too far from all the cool things that London has to offer. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people with money and they all want to live in the same location. The result is (as a good bank employee should know!) a drastic increase in house (sorry, flat) prices. And then the choice becomes spending a very large percentage of that big pay-check on your 2 bedroom apartment, or living slightly further away. As in, an hour or two commute further away. And you’ll still be paying enough to buy a small villa somewhere in the country side.

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but having more money than your neighbor at least allows you to feel smug. Another reason why it’s bad to live in a place where a lot of people are affluent…
So you make long hours to live in the margins of a city that has a million things to offer. Unfortunately, after the long day followed by a longer-feeling commute all you have energy for is shoveling a microwave meal into your mouth and watching the telly before going to sleep, to do it all over again the next day.

Time equals money. Money unfortunately does not seem to equal time… And in the end, which is more important?


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!

Mar 112015
 

Travel is one of the most wonderful things you can do with your time. No matter whether it’s a weekend away in the next town over, or a few months on the other side of the world.

The monkeys far away are so much better than the gorillas at home...

The monkeys far away are so much better than the gorillas at home…

I know there are some who are not particularly fond of traveling, but for most of the people I’ve met in life vacation is one of the highlights of their year. Dozens of times I’ve heard: “It’s so beautiful there, the people so friendly. I could live there!”

The interesting thing is, it doesn’t seem to matter where “there” is; Italy, South Africa, Peru (my own pick), Vietnam, Australia, even the USA! Any place is better than “here”?

I don’t think that’s actually the case; from experience I know that when you live in a place for a while you start to see the downsides to it (in Lima you are immediately (and genuinely) somebody’s best friend, but after a day or two you may very well have been forgotten again; in London there is always something cool to do, but it’s draining at the same time).

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” (Terry Pratchet)
More than that though I think it’s not so much the place that people fall in love with, but the feeling. Specifically, the feeling of freedom. When you’re traveling there is nobody to tell you what to do (when writing this down I realize this most strongly holds for my own backpacking style of traveling; when doing a group tour you do follow a pre-set itinerary, but within those boundaries you still get to decide what you do). There is no boss, no house-work, no cooking, no social calls, no nothing, except what you make up yourself. And all the time that saves, you fill with reading, seeing beautiful things, eating out and other ways of enjoying yourself.

Unfortunately, traveling is expensive. Or better put, there is no way of gaining an income (it’s definitely possible to spend significantly less per month while traveling than when living in Western Europe).

That however is not the only thing. Taking a break from work and social obligations is absolutely great. Doing without them for the rest of life is less so; friends and family are important, “being constructive” adds to a sense of well-being.

Deep down we all know this. Because no matter how great the trip was, it’s always nice to arrive back home!


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!