Recently, I’ve been suffering from something that can best be described as: a longing for longing. Here’s why. Seven years ago, I bought a teeny-tiny beach hut with a friend. My divorce had just gone through, my friend discovered a beach house that was for sale, we counted our euros, we put our money together and we bought it. There was no electricity, no toilet, no shower; it was actually a 3 x 3-meter shipping container with a door. But that didn’t pose any problem whatsoever. It was ours and it was our very own idyll. Our mini stretch of beach. Our very own sea view.
I was so happy. Even when the hut wasn’t at the beach (it only arrived in April). In January, I began my countdown; in February, I made plans on how I should organize the hut better; in March, I checked to see whether all the posts were already there; and in April, I decked it out with sleeping bags and clothes. I realized that it wasn’t necessarily me being there that made me so happy, but rather the longing for it. The promise of many summer evenings spent there with a glass of wine. The promise of romantic nights with campfires. The promise of weekends lounging around with the kids in that little booth. I enjoyed the longing for the days that were to come.
But gradually something ate away at me. Because the weekends were always filled with the kids’ sports activities, I hardly had time to go, and if I was able to go, it rained; and so increasingly, I felt a sense of guilt that I did not go often enough. A friend of mine worked out what it actually cost me per night, given the limited number of nights that I spent there. Then came the news that the floor was rotten and that we had to invest a lot of money in a new one. After endless deliberation, I listened to my common sense rather than my heart: I could use the money better, I did not have enough time to enjoy it, and it was time for something else.
And I was instantly relieved: I had made a wise decision.
But now, now it’s April. And now I miss it so. The promise of what might come. My longing for that longing. I can really feel it.
Irene, together with Astrid, is the founder and creative director of Flow Magazine. She lives with her children (10 and 13, co-parenting) in Haarlem, the Netherlands. Each Friday, she writes about how various Mindfulness lessons apply in her daily life.