No Time So Good That I Can’t Ruin It
Updated: Feb 18, 2018
About 10 years ago I spent Christmas in the small town of Pokhara in Nepal. Pokhara is an adorable town nestled in the shadow of the Annapurna Mountains. This the sort of town in which water buffalo drag carts with heaps of green leafy items, while being passed by 125 cc scooters. Pokhara invites bundling up for cold nights under heavy musky blankets. Limited development means that the stars aren’t drowned out by the thousands of tiny lights of modernity.
The countryside is filled with farms connected by dusty, potholed dirt roads. When you navigate out to these farms, there is little to no english, so stopping for tea is a bit of an endeavor. I was often invited into homes due to the (perceived) exotic nature of who I was, sort of an undeserved celebrity that comes with white privilege in many parts of the developing world.
During this trip, I was with a girlfriend that was kind and I loved as much as I was capable of doing so at the time. I was taking a year off after my undergrad work before deciding what to do with the rest of my life. I had a Bachelor's degree banked. I had no major bills to pay yet. I was living off of saved money at around $7-10 per day. The hostel we stayed at had a lovely owner who had just made renovations, and was looking to ensure everyone had a good impression of the space. We could walk into town and have delicious crepes and nutella for breakfast.
The truly amazing part of this, is that I spent a large portion of my time in Pokhara unhappy. I wasn’t miserable, but I missed my home. I wrote home about how much I was looking forward to seeing my friends and family. I talked about wanting to “have a closet again” and drive to a grocery store. To re-read my old emails home, is to experience an absolute clarity: the shortsightedness of my previous self.
Repeatedly throughout my life, I can look back at times that could have been perfectly enjoyable, but they were diminished by my constant desire for improvement. Lydia Davis describes this perfectly in her work, “I’m Pretty Comfortable But I Could Be More Comfortable”, Which aptly describes this discursive thought with lines like, The cuff of my sweater is a little damp, and, My navel orange is a little dry.
It has become abundantly clear that we are all the greatest source of our happiness, and, more commonly, our discomfort. This is certainly not a new concept. I am not claiming this as a great revelation by any means. The truth of it, though, is astonishing. How would that time in Nepal feel to me now if I were to relive it? Is there any question that with the perspective of time, I would be able to enjoy it with less constant desire? The real trick here, of course, is that we are all constantly living in this same haze all the time. We remember times when we should have just appreciated what we had, yet we also ruin the present with reckless abandon. A trick of the mind detaches the lessons we have learned, with the practice of implementing them in real time.
We are all, at this given moment, the source of, and solution to, our own discomfort.
P.S. - How about a dope (and totally unrelated) remix of Mr. Sandman?