It was past eight in the evening when I decided to go out. I guess I needed it, anxieties and thoughts have been building up ever since I got back from Strasbourg yesterday. So I put on some warm clothes and stepped on the bike. The sun was just beginning to set, and wouldn’t be gone for an hour or so.
It was cold outside. But surprisingly windless. I pedalled quickly, in the direction of the beach at Scheveningen (try pronouncing that properly, and you’re a true Dutch(wo)man). The colours of the setting sun drew me there. There’s always such a rush when I cycle fast. Maybe it’s the wind in my face and hair, maybe it’s the speed at which everything flashes past me, maybe it’s the bumpy feeling as the tires go over the tiles underneath or that soft grinding sound of the tires against the tarmac that deepens as the speed increases, or maybe it’s a combination of all those factors. It’s simply so liberating. At least to me. I like the feeling of being able to control (or steer) where you want to go, and how fast you want to get there. Probably because in ‘real life’ I often feel out of control, especially at the moment. But really, who is in control of their life, let alone destiny?
I was not disappointed at the beach. It was empty, despite the fact that today is the Queen’s Birthday, which is a day of national celebrations and craziness in the Netherlands. Here and there, couples, families, friends, lovers walked on the empty beach. I tread on the soft sand, felt the salty breeze brush against my face and hands, and made my way toward the waves. The sun was hidden behind clouds, but its reddish and orangey glow lit up the horizon in the distance. Waves came and went, came and went, drawing me closer and closer to the water. Each time a wave went, it was as if the sand had been moistened and smoothened into a mirror. You could see the reflection of the sky above, with all the dusky colours of the sunset, in glistening in various shades of blue, orange, white and pink. It was something I didn’t seem to have noticed before. Such discoveries make life meaningful, I guess.
Earlier in the day I was somewhat defensive (and aggressive) on the phone while calling home. I knew the issue of why I was away so long would come up, and it did. And again, as expected, my parents were pestering me about applying for a study for the coming year. I became very irritated, mostly because I felt they distrusted me and doubted my actions and judgements, and seemed label me irresponsible. I simply told them to please stop worrying about how I lead my life, and just accept that I’m already old enough to know what I’m doing (…though, admittedly, sometimes I really have no idea), and to trust that I know the difference between what’s ‘bad’ and what’s ‘good’. Please, I’ve been living alone since 13, and if I wanted to go astray I would have done that a long time ago! I am just sick and tired of having to hear the same naggings and reminders. I need encouragement and guidance, I need understanding and support! I need advice on what to do next, what to study and what to do with my life, and not just blunt and unfeeling instructions (or commands) to go study, study, study!
It helped to be alone, and to be alone in such an empty and open environment. It cleared my mind, emptying it of thoughts about the conversations, events and worries I have been having lately. Truth be told, I am worried, and quiet clueless too. It’s already May, and still I don’t seem to have progressed much in terms of finding a job or suitable study. It’s not like I don’t try. I’ve done all I could on my part to apply to internships, but it’s waiting for the references to go with the applications that is preventing me from going further. If any professor is reading this, please think of the poor, desperate and anxious student next time you decide to drag your time in writing a letter of recommendation.
It must be the broad, open sky, and the endless stretch of sea and water before me, but as I stood there on the beach, I felt so small, so insignificant. It’s a powerful feeling, enough to clear away the clutter of thoughts and worries piled up inside my little head. A little perspective, a little time out and away from everything, does help. It won’t give you the answers and solutions you’re looking for, at least not from my experience this evening, but it will make you clear your mind, and all the troubles that seemed so big and terrible.
You never know what you’ll come across, and what may inspire and delight you.
And unexpectedly I did see a sign which inspired me. Very simple words, but words that will remain for a long time:
(trans. “(S)He who writes, remains”).
And these words too will remain.