3 min read

Reflections of a park bench ponderer

Reflections of a park bench ponderer
National Park Drents- Friese Wold : hike and create

I gaze out over the pond in El Retiro Park in Madrid. The spring sun is shining, people are visibly enjoying themselves, and some are even venturing onto the water in rowboats. The sound of the saxophone fills the background, blending with the buzz of human activity. Pupils are busy with assignments or lounging on the ground, seniors jog to maintain their fitness, and tourists almost wade into the pond for the perfect photo.

And there I sit, on a bench in the sun. It's Tuesday, a 'regular workday,' and I almost feel guilty. In recent weeks, I've often wondered, to whom do I feel accountable? I'm my own boss. In principle, I don't have to answer to anyone, but the 9-5 work routine is deeply ingrained, almost part of my DNA.

It's both enjoyable and uncomfortable sitting there on the park bench in Madrid. Then, I begin to scribble in my notebook:

Stillness = Movement
(Head)space = Insight
Slowing down = Excelling

Organising my headspace

With a smile, I listen to my wise self, revealing itself when space is created. Last week, I had to visit Groningen for a client, quite a drive from Rotterdam. So I decided to go a day early. Northern Netherlands is beautiful, with more space and nature, so I decided to go hiking in a national park there on Monday. In the car, I began organising my thoughts. First, the simple thoughts, the things not to forget, surface-level ideas, and the noise. Once that first layer was sorted, I delved deeper into myself. Conversing with myself, I discovered the depths of my mind and grew in belief in why I do what I do. It was preparation for what I had to do during my hike. Namely, conceptualising the core of the vision document I'm currently working on. The groundwork was laid in the car, and when I started walking, with the trees as friendly giants around me and the rustle of the wind as a little push, within 20 minutes, all the pieces fell into place. I found the missing piece that glued my thoughts together. 

The power of environment

On the bike, I learned that the combination of introspection, nature, and movement works for me. I had vowed to incorporate these lessons wherever possible, and so I did while walking in the national park in the quiet, or in the hustle and bustle of the park in Madrid taking time to reflect. The influence of your environment is a playing field in which you can experiment what suits you best for the task ahead (I thank Alex Malone for that lesson). The environments were a source of inspiration, ensuring that the vision document, my thoughts, and even this blog, which I’m writing in a bar, flow effortlessly.

Embrace the unease

For a minute let's circle back to the beginning of this blog. Back to my unease and appreciation at the same time while sitting on that bench in the park. Discomfort is something we move away from. It's a reassuring remark after an awkward silence, it's the choice not to do something because you see too many hurdles ahead, it's not having that one conversation because you're afraid someone won't like you afterwards.

However, after discomfort often lies an indescribable beauty, whether conquering a mountain on the bike or breaking through social norms. The beauty reveals itself in different forms ways both physically and within yourself. I try time and time again to gather the courage to face discomfort, to see what information it brings me. Because that's how I get somewhere, and it's a good thing because ultimately, I'm accountable to no one but myself ;).