One more month. That’s how long I will still live in Amsterdam. Truly an amazing city. To be honest, I only really discovered that as we came to live there, over five years ago. But then I knew it right away: this place is awesome. Not for a moment I needed to get used to the bustle and crowds of people, and all those trams and buses in front of our house really only came in handy. Or take cycling through the city: people not used to that won’t do anything but complain, but I gladly spend my days zigzagging between tourists on their red rental bikes and make a crazy escape from a dangerous traffic situation, every once in a while. These These are the times when I can just hear the energy of the city pumping through my veins. I feel alive. It’s here where it happens.
Like every city, Amsterdam has a lot to offer. From cultural stuff to meeting new people to going out. There’s no way you get bored. Not ever. There’s actually so much to do, that I know quite many people who have developed some kind of form of ‘FOMO’: fear of missing out. Because where things happen, that’s where you wanna be. Me, I’m quite happy with spending evenings on my couch. I don’t feel the need to investigate all the new hip joints in town. I’ll just be watching some Netflix instead.
But, there’s something about city life that makes me feel not all too happy – and it concerns really the only thing a city cannot offer: nature.
However nice and quiet the Amsterdam parks may be, it can’t compete with calm, vast, wild nature. A place where you find yourself to be nowhere and everywhere at the same time. The sad part is, there’s not too much of such a landscape going on in The Netherlands. Besides, if you don’t really know it, you cannot miss it. And I didn’t quite know it, until I went to the Dutch island of Terschelling three years ago.
It was there when it occurred to much how much I love to be out and about in places where there’s so little. Few buildings, few cars, few people – and at the same time all the more expanse and happiness. Knowing you can only get there by boat reinforced the idea of totally being somewhere else. Immediately my thoughts and feelings got brighter. As if I had not only left the city, but also all of the noise in my head and body.
Relax – body as well as mind
This spring I went back to Terschelling. Secretly I was thinking about how it would be to live there. It wasn’t very realistic, because impossible in a financial way, but I did then understand how important it is to me to be close to nature. A few days later I returned to Amsterdam – and almost literally got crazy of how busy it was. All of the energy I had received during the weekend away, immediately disappeared.
A day later I told a friend of how the city used to provide me with energy because of all the fun stuff, but now I could almost feel it get drained away. She agreed on this feeling, knowing it herself too. She also told me that’s the reason why she now takes her old racing bike for a spin on the country side, at least twice a week. Looking for vastness and freedom beyond.
Ever since I’ve been trying to get out more. To the Amsterdam forest, to the beach, or where ever I can go within the little time I have between work and other obligations. You can already guess: this turned out to be not a great success. I’m just too busy, I must confess, or at least I tell myself that.
In one month time I’m going to leave the home that I used to know and I’ll start living in a van. Then we’re going to look up the nature I am so longing for. And with that also peace and quiet – in my mind as well.
This article has previously been published in Dutch on 365dagensuccesvol.nl