We all know them, and most of them have them somewhere. The pictures of the 2 sunbeds with the umbrella on the deserted beach or the jetty extending over the water with the sunset behind it. The pictures you buy at Ikea or some other middle priced department store. You stare at them in your hallway, your bathroom or maybe your computer screen as a screen saver. They are a means of escaping your usual nine to five reality for just a second, a window into another side of life. A side of live where we are not constantly confronted with the 9 to 5 have-to’s. Some of us go to the place of the sunbeds and the jetty. We spend two weeks there, maybe three. We do exactly what we want to do, which is usually a whole lot of nothing, interspersed with good dinners and a book. We need this time doing what we want to, to recharge before going back to our overbooked life of have-to’s .
In our normal life we are always busy with these have-to’s. Yet the best weeks of the year are without a doubt the ones spend on your own variation of the sunbed looking at your preferred jetty & sunset combination. So why is it that we so desire to escape the life we live 350 days of the year? Why do we put ourselves in a position, a life, from which we constantly want to leave? It’s obvious, that the sunbed and deserted beach represent freedom from the have-to’s. But when you live in those pictures, doing a whole lot of nothing for an extended amount of time you start doubting the glorification of the sunbed reality. Although the beauty of intense green jungle and turquoise sea will never fade, after a while it all becomes a bit empty and your hands start itching to do something.
Travelling confronts you with so many things that make you feel like you’d want to change them, or contribute to make them better. I can think about the rubbish on tropical beaches, the poaching of turtle eggs or the eagerness of young girls in Indonesia to learn English. Lying down on my sunbed today it became more and more clear that the ultimate goal in life is not a busy life full of have-to’s neither is it doing nothing on that sunbed. It will be a sort of in between, where you reduce the have to’s and create time to focus on the want to’s. The want-to’s that will make a difference in your life and the lives of others.
Maybe what I want to say is that in our 9 to 5 lives we spend all our energy on the things we think we have to do. Then, at the end of the day there is no energy left to figure out our want-to’s, let alone make them a reality. Now being on a trip like this, exposing yourself to other cultures, having conversations with strangers, seeing places, going through hard times, it makes you realise what really matters to you. It gives you perspective on your want-to’s, which makes it a lot easier to accept the have-to’s that come with that.
It’s one of the things people say most about travelling, especially travelling for a long time with an unusual type of vehicle: “I wish I could do that, but I have to…” We know we can all fill in the blanks, we all have the have to’s. We talk about it as if we don’t live life, instead life lives us. The question is, if you constantly surrender yourself to the have-to’s, will you figure out what you actually want to?
So here is the sunbed revelation. Take your time finding your want-to’s, otherwise you’ll spend your life doing only the have-to’s, while longingly staring at pictures of sunbeds and sunsets, glorifying the life of doing nothing. Meanwhile, if you take a little break from all the have to’s, you might just see what you really want to. Then life stops living you and you can start living your life.