After finishing my cycling trip in Japan, having given up my entire life and planning to return to Holland, I thought of all the things I wanted to do when I got back. I had a lot. First and foremost on the list was to surprise my parents with a glorious arrival at their home on my fully loaded touring bicycle. That didn’t turn out very well. My mom didn’t notice me and my dad took the other entrance and never even noticed my bicycle. So what else did I want?
Well, what with my obsession of having and organizing data, I planned to preserve our family history digitally. I had a big plan to buy or rent a professional film scanner and spend some time every day scanning our family film archive. Another thing I wanted to do is write down all those stories that my dad tells me, or the stories that my granddad told my dad. I figured I’d at least get the stuff typed out in some document on my PC, then later I could make a wiki page for it, put it online and share it with the rest of my family, who could also add their own anecdotes and stories either directly through the wiki or by e-mailing them to me. My final family-related goal was to learn how to make chicken soup the way my mother makes it.
None of those things ever got done. I’ve asked myself why, as these things seemed quite important to me while I was cycling. One explanation would be to invoke my own laziness, but I’m not going that route this time. While I am usually the first to point out my laziness to others, I have in fact done a lot of other non-lazy things during this time period. As the title says, my explanation for me not doing all those things is that I mistook the importance of these things.
I’m not saying that the things I’ve mentioned are unimportant. However, I realized that most of those things on my list wouldn’t really change my everyday life. A family archive would be mostly about people I don’t even know. People that don’t influence my life at all. The part of my family that did influence my life is already here, contained inside my head. No need to write that down as it wouldn’t be of use to anyone else. Although our family chicken soup is awesome, even my mom rarely cooks it because it’s such a hassle.
While spending at home I did completely different things. I refreshed my knowledge of Android, I’m working on a website in Python+Django that taught me a lot of new skills. I still make time for cycling and running (although that’s decreased a lot recently >_<;). These things did not appear on any of my to-do lists or goal lists. When the time came, it just became clear that I should do them. My life has a self-sorting function, essentially. Any time I spend trying to disrupt my natural order of things just messes up my life. I can only follow the flow, any attempt to influence it is just an illusion. Don’t forget, the brain is a very complicated neural network. By trying to predict what you’ll want to do in the future you’re essentially creating a less complicated representation of yourself, which might not be entirely accurate. If you let things come to you naturally you are using the full power of your _real_ neural network, and things make a lot more sense. Don’t use the pretend-you to predict goals, use the real-you to find them naturally.
You don’t really know what you want, even if you think you do. But life knows, and you’ll end up going in the direction that you want even without thinking about it.