It’s such a rare thing in life to have nothing to do. In our culture, just about every moment of our day is segmented by what we should be participating in at any given time. We know approximately how long each activity should take. What time we’re expected to do what. Our lives are a serious of colored bars in iCalendars, breaking up our day, our week, our year. Wake up, eat breakfast, drive to work, meeting, meeting, meeting. Maybe a coffee break, a happy hour, a workout, a TV show or two. An errand, dinner in or a dinner out, a load of laundry, or maybe we’ll save that for the weekend. After brunch. Or a bike ride. Or some shopping. Imagine if you met a friend for lunch on a Tuesday and wanted to stay for three hours. Or went to the gym with your spouse and left after ten minutes. Or stayed at a Sunday brunch until the sun went down (okay, maybe that one has happened). Most of the time, it just doesn’t work like that. We share unspoken rules for when and how we do things. (And Spain completely defies most of those rules for us, but that’s another topic).
Reece and I awoke this morning to face the first day on our own in over five weeks. No friends to play with or plans to execute or errands to run or expectations for how the day might unfold. While truthfully, all we both wanted to do was sleep all day, we begrudgingly decided to meander up the highest hill in the city - atop which a giant statue of Jesus overlooks the perfect panorama of two bays joined by the gothic old town. I swear, I think you could live in this city for years and never run out of new and amazing views of it. Every corner you come around is more perfect then the last, every panorama making you fall in love with San Sebastian a little more.
After the short but exerting walk to the top, we sat soaking in our surroundings for some time. And a strange sensation came over me when I realized I could sit there for as long as I wanted. Five minutes or five hours. It really didn’t matter to anybody. Nobody would be calling to find out if we would be home in time for dinner. Wondering why we had taken so long. Questioning why we left in a hurry. It seems like a simple concept, one that we can all appreciate whenever we have time off, in some form or another. But it felt especially odd coupled with the forever-ness of this particular circumstance. Of having no job to return to. No round-the-world ticket or timetable or solid plan. I know we’ve done the long-term travel thing before, but this time it’s different. In 2010, we had a route and a budget and a goal and home at the end. This time we feel a little like loose cereal in a box. No idea of how or when or where it will all end. Staring into that horizon, of San Sebastián, of our lives.
I read recently, “When your eyes are softly focused on the horizon for sustained periods, your brain releases endorphins” (Maria Semple, Where'd You Go Bernadette). I think I stockpiled all the endorphins I need for a while. And I bet you are going to google that now, to find out if it’s true J