I took last week off and spent it in my family’s cottage house on the countryside, between Enköping and Strängnäs, about an hours drive from Stockholm. Arriving Friday evening for ten days of peace and quiet. I spent the first six days alone and then had company over the weekend before going back home together.
November has been mild so far. No snow and almost too warm to wear a winter coat. It’s grey and lifeless after the leaves have fallen off the trees and no snow that lights up the darkness that hits you by surprise every winter. Isn’t it weird how one can forget what winter feels like every year?
Every summer, it feels unlikely it can ever become cold and white with a darkness that never lets go, but every winter you wonder how it is possible to ever get warm again. In this weather, walking around in shorts and a t-shirt and sweating seem impossible.
A few times a year, I think we need some time on our own. To get away, turn off our phone. Not checking e-mail or facebook. Just sit in a couch and be bored. Spend our days reading, going on walks, sit in front of a fire drinking tea. Not read newspapers about sovereign debt or watch tv shows. Not go shopping or running from activity to activity.
I have found, that the best inspiration comes from silence. We are so used to constantly being bombarded by sights and sounds and consuming experiences that we never really allow ourselves time to let things sink in before we are well in to the next thing. When we take a time out we let this happen, start the sorting process inside us where everything automatically finds it’s right place. It becomes the foundation on which we have new experiences, a self-correcting therapy, and when we get back changes come by themselves without our intervention or force.
To sit down by the water of lake Mälaren watching the sunrise is both better therapy and considerably cheaper. No matter how many museums we go to, how many beautiful paintings we see or how often we go through the centre of Stockholm with it’s beautiful architecture, we humans will never create anything as wonderful as what we are surrounded by daily. A sun rising is worth more than all the Rembrandts’ and Picassos’ combined.
We live without breathing sometimes. Thinking we enjoy all the activities we are in the middle of but they never really satisfy, and because of this, we need to repeat them, over and over, throwing ourselves into new ones constantly. Better and faster than the ones before. While we are watching a movie, we are thinking about what we will do when it is over. When we eat our dinner we think about the dessert and while eating our dessert, we think about what to do when it is finished.
In silence, there is no after. In silence there is no before. There is only now.
The first days I feel restless. But eventually it gives up and I become bored.
I am bored because I am so used to doing things all the time. But I realize that boredom is not about not having something to do, but rather to constantly be looking for something to do. And when I close my eyes and stop, let go of all the thoughts of doing something, all thoughts about what has been or what will be, boredom disappears.
I no longer remember what happened last week and no thoughts about getting back show up either. Being here feels like an eternity, like every second lasts for hours so I can savour it, enjoy it fully. When I get back home, I feel like a new person.
It has only cost me some of my time, but the pieces swirled up in the last few months has finally found rest and everything feels clear. I notice the difference and I am filled with wonder that all of this came on it’s own.
Now I will go back to activities, experiences and doing and I find myself enjoying them more than before.