Cheers to nothing
Here we say cheers to Thijs’ first big project in Sri-Lanka. Redesigning a large villa close to the Matara-Polwena road and next to the beautiful beach of Hiriketiya. Fully equipped with a barbecue, rooftop terrace and an infinity swimming pool. Twenty rooms, a garden and a nice attached open kitchen. Plus complete artistic freedom.
But we did not.
After we said yes to the project all the alarm bells were ringing. But it was a great opportunity, so why just not go for it? We do not know. By the time we arrived in Sri-Lanka we were restless from the course in India and especially from the fact that we had nothing to do anymore. Just having a good time? Not for us. So we said yes to the project and to everything that came with it.
Business worked a bit different in Sri-Lanka then back home. With the start of the project we also got a complete staff with three gardeners, two cleaning ladies, a full-time driver and a cook. Plus the Islamic owner of the company was calling us ten times a day. We spend all dinners talking about the concept and already started to make the outlines for the new design.
Before Thijs was going to get started, we decided to take a couple of days off to relax and surf in Hiriketiya. We had a few drinks and were enjoying the sun and waves. Though we had an unconscious feeling that something was grabbing our throat. We joked that it must be the ridiculous humidity there that got our brain so wired. But then we woke up in the middle of the night screaming to a silhouette standing in the door overlooking us sleeping. Was he trying to rob us? We came away with it, but it was an awful experience.
The morning after we cancelled everything and booked our tickets back to Europe. Call it a gut feeling.
Roads not taken
We always talk about the roads and decisions that we took. Not about the roads not taken. But life is a play without any rehearsals. The outlines you can only draw once. So you never know if the road that you are going to take is the correct one because we have not lived another life.
We experience everything once without any preparation. So what is the meaning of life when the first repetition is already life? I think that’s why we like to design our life so precisely. However, the concept of design means that you are already preparing the outlines, which you in fact do not have. The German proverb einmal ist keinmal means ‘once does not count.’ So to say that a single event is not significant or a single failure does not count. So why do we put so much effort in our decision making process?
Rational actor model
In western politics and society we prefer things to be logical, neat and linear. Let’s call that the rational actor model. Widely used in foreign politics as well. You set a goal, determine your options and take actions in order to succeed. But the problem is, life does not play according to our rules.
That’s why light is a good example of life. It behaves paradoxically. Light is elusive; you can see it but you can’t hold it. Only when reflected you’re able to see the light that’s already there. Unfortunately these reflections are hard to imagine.
So why not trade our rigid rules for a meaningful life for a more flexible approach? Because most people I know (including myself) would like to leave an indelible mark. But at the same time they are so stressed about that they like to believe Alan Watts saying:
‘The meaning of life is just to be alive. And yet everybody rushes around in great panic as if it is necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.’
That is true in a way. But to the extent that we are able, self-discipline and willpower needs to be exerted. Ultimately with decision-making, the joy comes in knowing that we are in the driver’s seat rather than the passenger seat. Whether free will is an illusion, the feeling as though you have expressed your will is better than walking mindlessly around. Taking responsibility feels better than seeking to blame.
Head or heart
Do we need to go with our head or with our heart? Do we need to think fast or just go with our gut feeling? That is the question. We don’t know. It seems that being grounded and consistent is considered as a good thing nowadays. But the only thing permanent is change. Truth and confidence may be find and grounded in facts & figures but truth and trust can also be find in what is not visible for the eye.
For now, we follow our algorhytm of the heart