“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”
Another winter season has almost passed by in a flash. Time is flying.
I was back in Lisbon last weekend.
I woke up on Sunday morning to a sea of red and blue. Terracotta roofs were blazing in the morning sunshine catching the pale blue morning sky on fire. My pulse quickened as I started visualising about the day ahead.
Over a delicious breakfast of waffles and coffee at my hostel, I started thinking of all the places I would go. An aimless wonder through Alfama. Maybe a ride on the 28 upto the Castle. Pop into Mercado san Miguel for lunch.
By the time I walked out, suddenly the skies darkened. I had barely taken a few steps and the rain started pouring down. I meekly surrendered and retreated to my hostel room. As the rain poured, I spent an idle few hours on my bed scrolling Facebook. Going through old pictures on Instagram. Reading the football news. Before I realised, it was 2.30pm.
Stomach growling, I waded back into the thin veil of rain. The rainswept streets were deserted. Hunched over , a lady in front of Rossio station was braving the elements and roasting chestnuts. I walked into the nearby Beira Gar cafe. It is an old favourite of mine since my first visit to Lisbon several years back when I was putting together my Luxury Hostels guide. The soup is good here. Plus they do fantastic bifanas : thinly sliced pork, grilled and soaked in a paprika rich sauce then neatly wedged into a fresh bread roll. I sink my teeth into the succulent warmth of the pork and with a sip of ice cool beer, I feel my mood lifting. There is a wonderful feeling of comfort and sense that all is right in the world after having an simple yet tasty meal. Cheap too. After handing over the €3.50, I walk out. I feel a spring in my step.
The rain is still pouring. The streets are still bleak. The rain drops roll down my face and I enjoy the sensation. I wonder aimlessly with reckless abandon despite almost being soaked to my skin. I suddenly stumble upon a cafe that I had planned to visit. It is called Fabrika. They roast their own coffee here and claim to brew the finest cup of coffee in Lisbon. I sit down and with a wry smile observe the sign ‘ We have no wifi. Enjoy your coffee.’ I order a flat white and grab a seat on one of theit leather couches.
The lack of wifi clearly doesn’t deter the customers from looking at their phones. I count at least 8 selfies in the hour I am there. I am no exception. I slurp on my coffee and dive back into my phone. An hour later, I finally emerge from another binge of editing photos from the morning and Instagramming. I see a message from my other half , Sofia asking me how my day had been so far?
4pm. I don’t know where the day went. Somedays are like that. They just fly by without a moments notice. The rain is still falling. There will be no walk in Alfama. There will be no chance today to capture another one of those magical Lisbon sunsets. I’ll go back to my room and maybe watch a movie on Netflix. Wait till Sofia comes back and try have a glass of wine and some soup somewhere.
At 37 I’ve realised that it is good to have these days of nothingness. These travelling days of imperfection. After 7 years of travelling the world, I take great comfort in these kind of days where my wanderlust takes a break and I let some boredom set in.
This is the side of my travelling life that people never see. In this world of over sharing and social media it is amazing how much of lives we keep hidden. I am guilty, I admit.
We prefer not to share the mundane dreary details. Nobody on your Instagram feed is interested in pictures of your bleak dreary view from your hostel bedroom. Only sunset pictures and Wes Anderson inspired pictures of perfect symmetry will do.
Our currency of happiness is likes and new followers. As a friend of mine within the blogging community observed recently, some of us are guilty of creating an illusion of a life of perfection on channels like Instagram. Live the dream, see the world.
People may blame Instagram and social media for having turned us all into a bunch of narcissists with no emotion . However, I think there are deeper issues here. The drive for perfection is an undeniable trait of humans. Whether its getting Instagram likes, finding love or planning the holiday- we are always driving ourselves to the edge of madness in the search of finding perfectionism.
Why do we strive for perfection? Are we trying to create order in the midst of disorder, clutter of our everyday lives?
A corner of sanctity in the craziness of all things?
Question that haunts me.
Travelling the world has its imperfections. Just like any life path you choose.
Somedays the best laid plans will not go to plan. Somedays you’ll have to go through something shitty like having your money or passport stolen. Somedays you’ll wake up to the horrific news like yesterday’s bombing of Brussels airport or the bombing the week before in Turkey.
This shit stinks.
Yet, everyday like yesterday is a test of our resolve. A test of our willingness to live life to the fullest.
Don’t let the imperfections or algorithms of life weaken your resolve to lead life to the fullest. For what its worth, lets try and accept life, with all its imperfections.
To quote Max Ehrmann..
“For all its sham and drudgery it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life