I observe a new trend. To keep things simple here, let’s call it:back to the roots.
Outdoor sports are gaining popularity, photographs of the most spectacular landscapes are a huge thing on Instagram right now, countries like Iceland and Canada draw more and more tourists.
For years, people have flocked to the cities, and we all experienced an increasing interconnection of our lives. Now it seems like some people, the avant-garde in that respect, had enough of it. The eject themselves from the increasing acceleration, and trade their (real or metaphorical) penthouses with glass walls for cottages. Out of the city, away from all the consumption, away from society, into nature.
Just outta here.
Let’s face it: often, the better a life looks from the outside, the worse it feels for the one living it.
We are stressed, and that’s a fact.
Stressed from work, which is less and less separated from our private lives.
Stressed by the pressures of leisure time that we submit ourselves to by racking up pointless commitments.
Stressed by social media trends, who consume us more than we consume them.
We are stressed, feel under pressure to perform, and time runs through our fingers like sand. One crises follows the other, often the path leads straight into depression and burn-out.
It’s really not much of a surprise that ‘slow living’ starts to look like a real cure to all these malaises.
We disconnect our emotions from consumer items, buy organic food, take a digital detox and spend quality time.
It works for a while, and then stress creeps back into our daily lives. We’re running again, hamsters in a wheel. It happens so fast.
What do we do when a vacation is not enough to counter all that stress? Why bother with detox when we know we’ll feel shit again a month later?
So we decide to change our lives, for real, permanently.
A growing number of my friends and acquaintances are turning their back on their old lives, and try to start afresh. They move to Australia, Iceland or other distant parts of the world. Sometimes they just move out of the city, opt for hiking instead of partying on a yacht in Ibiza, start growing their own vegetables and focus on finding themselves again.
And they look happy! Less is often more, after all.
I have to admit that – some detox experiences notwithstanding – I never really understood that urge, personally. I never dreamed of a cottage, nor di I ever see myself crossing the continent in a camping van. And I don’t have to tell you that I could never really warm to hiking either (Woods! Insects! Mud! Yuck!)
But things change…
Maybe its an age thing, maybe I had to get to the point where city life couldn’t really surprise me anymore. Of course, there’s something going on every day, and there’s an opportunity behind every corner, but my life is so full with intense memories of long nights and incredible moments that I feel I’m going to need some time to digest them all before I can really be open for much more. Yes, I’m tired of all the stress as well, tired of the hectic life, tired of the pressure. Whenever I spend a week in Berlin, whenever I spend a few days mostly at home, it feels like I have to justify my boring life. But all I’m doing is decelerating a little. But if we’re honest with ourselves we have to admit that there’s only so much you can decelerate if you live in a big city.
I really noticed that in Iceland.
As soon as I arrived I felt a sense of calm and inner relaxation take hold of me. I had never felt anything like it in my life before. I was sitting in a comfy sofa, drank hot chocolate, looked out into the landscape and was completely centered in myself.
I was calm, structured and completely clear. My thoughts did not revolve around ten things simultaneously. All I felt and thought was: ‘it is beautiful here’.
Without distractions I was myself, which interestingly enough also made me much more effective. I got much more done in a shorter time, and felt much less stress. Time also seemed to run slower, and felt more intense. And then I understood what my friends were experiencing. This hype I talked about. It took me 27 years to fully embrace the beauty of nature.
I am a city girl. I grew up in a big city, and I always felt it was too small for me. I had the feeling in the end everyone knows everyone, and that got on my nerves. All that gossiping, often enough at my expense. My solution was to move into an even bigger city. Today I live in a metropolis with 4 million inhabitants, and still it seems too small. Maybe a bigger city was never the answer in the first place? The truth is, cities are all I know.
In Iceland I understood what I had been missing all these years: a calm environment to find myself. A sense of seclusion, presence without the influence of others. To be centered in yourself.. sometimes that means keeping a distance to others for a while.
For the first time in my live, the idea of living in the countryside didn’t seem that weird to me anymore.
I’m not there yet, I’m not prepared to leave my super central, beautifully old apartment in a historic building to move to the woods. Maybe I will never be. But now at least I understand the desire for permanent deceleration.Who knows how I’ll feel about it in 10 years.
Never say never…