Why is it that we love the places we visit on weekend trips, the places we travel to for short periods of time, the events in life we know are unrepeatable?
Yes, partially we enjoy the novelty, and those places and events are unique. However, it is also our state of mind that heightens the positivity of those times.
I would like to talk about how having limited time in a certain place magnifies its good, but not because it just “happens” that way – we make it so. Why? Because we live it to the fullest. We pack the best of the best into the short period of time, knowing it may be unique in our lives: We visit the coolest places, eat the best food, skip moments of inertia in order to see and do everything we can’t miss out on, forgo sleep to live the magic of the night after a full day of activities, do things on an adventurous whim, bring out the best of our spontaneous sides, spend a little more money than usual, risk a little more socially because we are leaving anyways and no one can remember our awkward moments…
We feel so alive.
But we often forget to do this in our daily lives. It is natural – we have our routines, our go-tos, things (especially boring things), seem infinite, we “just want to get through” the day/week/month, forgetting to live life as if our time in this place were limited. Why are these thoughts coming to me now?
I was in my last few days living in a southern Italian city, a city I will only have spent a total of two full months in, but at times, my days here seemed endless.
My work turned out to be unstructured and unfulfilling. The small-city vibe started to feel repetitive, and after my first attempts at joining my favorite activities were shockingly bad or unpromising, I fell into a rut. I felt lost in endless days, in a city where I felt I had seen all there was to see, where the things I cared about did not exist in a way that made me love my daily life.
Then came an opportunity to move to a bigger city. Much more chaotic, touristy, full of all kinds of people and big-city things. Indian and Korean restaurants, yoga classes, dance hall clubs – things unheard of down here. I stalled with the opportunity to leave; realizing that life here was not so bad. And although I know moving was the right decision, I am seeing an irony in the last weeks of my time here, as they have been – by far – the best.
I finally went to teach guest lectures at the school my friend works at – yes, it meant waking up at 6 am and preparing things until late at night, but it was the most amazing and rewarding professional experience in Italy to date. My days started off with a purpose, I felt valuable.
The dance classes another friend raved about – but I had eyed skeptically due to strange experiences with other dance studios here before – turned out to be amazing. The last day possible, I awoke from a long nap (after an exhausting and wonderful morning at school) in order to run to my last opportunity to try the class. It was incredible. I spent the rest of the evening floating on my much-missed dancer’s high.
I reached out to have dinner with friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and adopted the “treat yourself” attitude a little more. This meant a break from cooking twice a day, and the luxury of going to a restaurant once in a while.
The pancakes I had been dying to make for my Spanish friend were finally made. With so few lunches left, it was now or never. He loved them, I was in pure joy just making the simple batter, and we ate them together as one of the best, simplest, America-reminiscent meals in Italy to date.
I think you get my point – I did all the things I had been putting off due to sheer lack of urgency. Things seemed to drag on, and so my spirit and adventurousness plummeted. The very real notion of leaving is what finally recharged my batteries, and ironically, I now discovered things here that almost made me not want to leave. However, I know they were magnified in their goodness because I knew of my imminent departure. Moments always seem precious when they are scarce and fleeting.
Lesson learned – live your time as if you were leaving wherever you are in a few days. Or as if you had just arrived. I know that is not always sustainable as we need to rest, and it is completely human to have bad days and sluggish moods, but try to not make those permanent.
When you realize how precious your time anywhere is, you discover little things that you can then build into your daily routines… and make you never want to leave the life you generally live. Imagine not constantly wanting a vacation from your daily life, not wanting to leave… not complaining so much.
Try, for a weekend, or a couple of days (say Tuesday and Wednesday, or choose a Monday!), to live life a little more vibrantly. Risk it – try what you’ve been hesitant to try. Just send those applications and take that “free trial class”. Go to the movies alone if no one wants to see the film you’re eyeing (I personally love this). Atrévete!
I wish you the best of luck and precious moments. No get off the computer and soak up the world as if it were to forever change tomorrow… which it will, I promise you.