I really don’t want to get into this whole ‘2016’ with you….but I’ve had something of a revelation in regard to the passage of time and such, which involves 2016, so bear with me. For me, 2016 was roughly broken up into 2 sections: an action packed travel section featuring Australia, Denmark, Greenland, Belgium, Germany, & The Netherlands, and a static work section based out of London. Let’s say the year was roughly divided into two halves, for sake of the example. Both periods had their highs and lows, pros/cons.
Personally, I am not really an advocate for staying in one place and swapping time for money as a lifestyle choice (especially inefficiently, the way I usually do), but in this case I was looking forward to the respite from wandering and I feel the time served me well. As one would expect, that static period of the year was, generally speaking, much less exciting and action-packed than the adventuring period. Being constantly put in new and unknown situations, an endless stream of new characters and languages and stimulus. Every day presenting fresh unexpected challenges. It’s thrilling, but also exhausting.
Staying in one place, on the other hand, one has the opportunity to establish routines, spend regular time in the same places and with the same people. Looking back at the year, I think that does something to your brain. When I first arrived in England to ‘settle in’ for a while, I was weary. I felt as if 2016 had lasted FOREVER. And not because of anything to do with dead celebrities or primates. My brain was just crammed full of powerful memories, unfamiliar sights had become the norm. Looking back at the year in my mind was jumping from peak experience to peak experience, featuring strange unscripted moments. Many of those moments can never be replicated, they were perfect little imperfect snowflakes in time, which have now melted. And those kind of snowflakes stand out strongly in the memory, like bookmarks in the mind. But as I began to spend more time in the same spot, I noticed something odd ; time began to speed up. Months just kind of peeled off the calendar, and before you know it, we’re in 2017. I think when we find ourselves in familiar environments, doing routine activities, the brain somehow clumps those memories together easier. Less book marks in the chapter, so to speak. So, even though time does fly when you’re having fun, for me looking back, the mundane section of my year passed much more quickly than the adventure section. Which, as someone looking to squeeze every last drop of life out of life, I find to be curious. I’m not saying one section of my year was ‘better’ than the other. I needed some routine and stability. I was tired from whirling about the globe. Maybe I’m getting old?
But as much as there are tremendous benefits to routine and consistency, there are dangers and concessions also. Putting this into the context of travel is something of a dramatic example, but the theory can be applied even if you do happen to stay in the same part of the planet most of the time. Regardless of how you do it, I believe bringing new stimulus into your life and brainspace is extremely healthy, and seemingly adds years to your life. Or at least a deeper perception and appreciation of the passage of time, which is probably better anyway. So, perhaps it won’t come in the form of a trip to Greenland or hiking the Himalayas in flip-flops or swimming alongside Orcas off the coast of Japan with Brad Pitt…. But our world is absolutely overflowing with new exotic stimulus. Our brains can only process so much at one moment, so a lot tends to get blurred into the background. In making the effort to disrupt that process, bringing the background into the foreground, we change the details, making new memories and our fabulous brains are less inclined to go clumping things together. So this year, I’ll be aiming to have a balanced approach between consistency and chaos. Familiar and exotic.
And whatever kind of lifestyle you lead, I hope you can find a way to bring in some new stimulus, and be open to whatever changes come with it. Perhaps something as simple as keeping a diary, or taking ballroom dancing lessons. Maybe trialling a different position at work, or switching up your BJJ game and becoming a butt-scooter for a month. Ways lead to ways, and sometimes a little change takes you a long way.
Happy butt-scooting boys and girls,
Until next time
Peace, Love, Triangles