On my flight home from Stockholm the other day, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed. Not because of a stressful airport experience, but because my mind was in overdrive.

After a long weekend of parties, guest lists, cool hipster bars, museums, meet-ups, hanging with friends, wandering the streets late at night, drunk food, gay pride, Tori Amos sightings and more than a few Instagrammable moments, I needed to give my brain a rest. I spent an entire weekend doing one cool thing after another, with barely any time to process just how amazing my life (and, the world) truly is. In our social media generation, we tend to jump from new thing to new thing, without taking the time to process it all.

In any single day, we have a hundred thousand different experiences. And, as a writer (but perhaps more pertinently, as a social person), I have this tendency to want to share and to discuss each of those experiences with someone else.

* * *

An example: on Sunday I went to the Photography Museum in Stockholm—an absolutely incredible museum with long opening hours, a beautiful space along the sea and some of the world’s best photography exhibitions. I went to see the third installment of Nick Brandt’s photos of East Africa (nature photography). It’s an exhibition I’ve already seen part of, at a small gallery in Berlin, but after walking into the museum, I stumbled into a different exhibition. One I didn’t know was going on and one I wouldn’t think I’d normally enjoy: fashion photography from Inez & Vinoodh: Pretty Much Everything 2015.

I must’ve sat in the exhibition hall for two hours, watching some of their music videos on loop, staring at the picture-perfect and surreal photos of beautiful people in imaginative situations. It was funny, that feeling that fashion photography—so clearly commercial—could be so artistic, so impressive, so captivating.

And then I went upstairs to Nick Brandt’s photography. Stunning images of majestic animals. I suspect there were a lot of crowds there because of the recent news of Cecil the lion. Brandt’s patience in photography allows him to capture images up close and personal, really personifying the animals that he manages to get on film.

And then I had Sweden’s unofficial national food, the shrimp sandwich. And then I went to the Nobel Museum—a bit boring, but interesting to see some of information and history about Alfred Nobel and his prestigious namesake awards.

And all of that was just in the span of four or five hours on a pretty regular Sunday.

* * *

All The Amazing
On the flight home from Stockholm the other day, lost in another world (and a million little thoughts) up in the sky

We live in some pretty fantastic times. There’s a lot to see and do in the world. And at the rate we have new experiences, it’s really amazing that we have time to accomplish anything. I spend so much time trying to DO, that I don’t often have time enough to THINK. I move from friend to friend, event to event, city to city. And with hardly enough time to figure out the whys and the hows.

And don’t get me wrong, I realize I’m pretty well off in the “experiences” department of life. I’ve got this pretty awesome job which allows me to live abroad, to travel far. And really, I’m not doing so awful in the “money” part of life, too (mostly because I’m quite good at ignoring that pesky little fact that I should be saving for my future). I don’t say this to brag or to gloat, because, if you read my recent post, it’s not all rainbows. But I think this is something we can all relate to: there is just too much amazing in this world of ours.

This relates back to everything from art and literature to places and people. I could spend a lifetime reading all the books I want to read—the classics and the contemporary. But then there are approximately 6,000 new books published every day (omg too much amazing). How could I ever do anything?

I meet a handful of new people every week—at meet-ups, at cafés, from Twitter, or wherever really. And I have this tendency to want to be everyone’s friend. Because you know what? Just about everyone I meet is amazing. But with every new person I meet, that’s less time for the already-amazing people I know and love.

What kind of job will allow me all the time in the world to do everything I want to do? All the time, every day? Life for all of us has become unsustainable. There’s just too much to do and the way the world works now, we don’t have time to do it all—let alone to think deeper about it all. What are we supposed to do? How do we do everything?

* * *

Listen, I know we can’t. It’s just impossible. And you’re probably going to say it’s all about priorities. But I had a pretty fucking amazing week and I haven’t had a moment to sit and reflect about it. Because guess what? This week is pretty fucking amazing, too.

In a perfect world, the hour or two I take out of each day to write is where I’d be able to reflect on all that I’ve done, to find the deeper meanings behind all those amazing things. But in reality: there’s just not even enough time to write it all down, whether here on my blog or in my secret journal. What actually happens: I think out loud on my Twitter, sending out thoughts about this crazy world in 140 characters or less. That’s what’s happening. That’s where we are. Maybe that’s not bad. I like social media. I like what it’s done for the world. But there needs to be more time for reflection, for deep thoughts, for analysis and understanding. That’s how we connect things we wouldn’t normally connect. That’s how we advance. How we go further.

Let’s do that.

But first: I’ve got to go check out this really cool thing I just heard about…

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23 comments

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  1. Pingback: An Art Weekend Trip to Copenhagen & Malmö

  2. Wow. Very well put… I guess the problem with doing so many amazing things is that amazing then becomes normal. And you need ‘extra amazing’ to get that ‘oh my gosh am I really here, doing this?!’ moment.

    I feel like this too… I can remember how out-of-my-mind I was to travel overseas for the first time, or go to a new country. Everything smelled different or had a certain glow. Now I’m so used to it. But I still get a ‘wow’ when I look back at photos or think about which city I was in this time two years ago.

    I don’t know how you’d keep the it alive in the midst of the cool… perhaps by training yourself to focus on the specific space you’re in, in that specific moment (instead of all the noise and what’s-next-on-my-list)? You’ve given me something to think about ;)

  3. Pingback: In Defense of Not Knowing

  4. Sounds like a pretty good problem to have :) To live a life doing ‘too much amazing’ stuff, is a life worth living!

    • FACT!

  5. So true! As travel bloggers we get fantastic opportunities to be anywhere we want to be. The trick is to do it in piecemeal AND slow down! That’s one of the reasons why I’ve been to Milan probably 6 or 7 times! If I haven’t seen whatever I want to see this time, I can always go back again another time. And I do.

    I’ve just returned from Budapest and Prague. Prague I know extremely well as I used to live there but still, I spent 5 days there and 6 days in Budapest. Most importantly, I didn’t go anywhere else. I took my time, I had long dinners, I went to a couple of bars and drank my wine or beer extremely slowly and I took my book with me.

    Whenever I travel, I always have a little book in which I describe what I’m doing and how I felt at the time plus, I spend a large amount of time just reading, people watching or strolling about so I can remember things and feel a part of the “action!”

    • Traveling slow is definitely one of my favorite ways to experience the world, as well. Remembering things is always a struggle because I just do too many things, but keeping a journal is a great idea.

  6. You are totally right sometimes you we all need to stop and enjoy life for me sundays is time for relax

    • Sundays are a great day for slowing things done! I used to shut off my phone on Sundays and pick up a newspaper – less often now, but still something I’m always trying…

  7. So true. I started to make a detailed scrapbook of 2015 but only got to February before I ran out of time to ever complete it. Everybody needs time to reflect on the incredible things this world has to offer.

    Danielle / http://www.escapingessex.com

    • Reflection is SO important and we often forget it!

  8. Claude

    I tend to experience what you’ve described in my imagination when planning travel. The enormity of opportunities is overwhelming. You mentioned not having much time to read. May I recommend W. G. Sebald? if you’re not familiar with him, check him out and see if you’re not intrigued.

    • Thanks for the recommendation Claude – I’ll look it up!

  9. Brad

    My best memories of my recent trip to Europe (which ended yesterday) were of “doing nothing.”

    For example, sitting in a Berlin bar, enjoying drinks, and watching the world go by, or going to Strandbad Wansee, and watching the people/world go by.

    You can’t do everything, so just pick a few things and immerse yourself completely.

    • Hi Brad – the days of doing nothing are indeed good days. And you’re right: it’s impossible to do everything. Something I’ve struggled to learn but I’m getting there…

  10. Gabriel

    Too true. I take a pocket-sized memo book around where I write random moments. What I’m feeling, what I see, what I smell-no matter how simple or profound. The result is a book full of wonderful memories and reflections that only I can understand. I challenge you to give it a try!

    • Hello sir! I love love love this idea – definitely am going to start doing it. I often keep a paper to-do list on me and scribble things down throughout the day, but I’ve never thought to really do it so regularly. Going to pick up a small journal this week! Really excited to try it out :)

  11. Yeah, all those amazing experiences are tiring. I spent a few months travelling a while back and by the time I got to Vietnam, nothing was amazing me. The excitement and novelty of new cultures and experiences in a constant whirl just wore off. It’s a shame really, but that’s why I blog – to relive those moments and remember that they actually were special!

    • Hey Dannielle – Definitely a problem with long-term travel. Things start to seem less exciting after a while… True about blogging, too! It’s a great way to keep the excitement levels up – just wish I had time to write about all the amazing things I’m doing!

  12. elliot

    Great post. I think there’s a general problem when travelling that one wants to do everything. Mustn’t miss anything. While this makes you feel you get the most out of a city, it also means you don’t. Because places should be enjoyed.

    There’s a lot to be said for doing nothing… sitting in a café and people watching, or sitting by the river and watching the boats, or (especially with the hot weather at the moment) sitting at a lake with a good book or your Kindle, and sunbathing.

    I try to remember: less is more!

    • Thank you Elliot! I agree there’s a lot to be said about doing nothing. Just wish there was time to do it!

      And your comment about traveling is spot on. When I was backpacking around the world (years ago), I felt so funny moving from country to country in the span of days or weeks – it was so hard to understand where I was and what I was doing, back when I was traveling that way.

  13. We went to the Photography Museum on Saturday. Very cool! You’re right, of course, we need more time to sit and reflect. I could probably use a whole day just for that after Stockholm.

    • Glad you also went to the museum Sam! This was my second time visiting and I just loved it all over again. Definitely planning to spend some time over the next few weeks to sit and reflect!

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