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.
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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.
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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?
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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…