Sunrise and sunset are chasing each other, battling on who will be able to inch closer towards midday. The same fight every year. Every year after heatwaves and exhaustion, autumn comes to soothe. I can feel autumn approaching, I can feel it as the icecold wind on my arms in the morning when I bike to school. I can see it in the warm evening light that illuminates the wooden houses and the trees in the forest. I can see it in the apples that seem to be everywhere and that people put in front of their garden fences with little signs saying “Varsågod”. You’re welcome.
I’m thinking back on how summer was. I’ve never been a fan of summer, to be quite frank. For me it was a time of desperately trying to kill Time. Of purposelessness. Autumn meant “back to school”, back to reading and learning, two things I enjoy so much. And now it’s autumn and I’m reading again, learning.
I overdid it, though. I stayed up nearly every night in the past two weeks to get my reading done. I read until midnight, went to sleep, woke up at seven and read until my lecture started. After school, I came back home to my books. It’s true that we have to read a lot. But this was not coming from school, this urge. It was coming from my inside.
I am pushing myself more and more because I need to perform, I need to be good at this. I need to take everything in as fast as I can, as much as I can. Now. And when I take breaks I calculate the trade-off. How much time did I lose during this break, time lost to read and write assignments? I have accelerated a lot over the years. I have become more efficient in my work. I read fast. I type fast. I think fast. But this did not aide me to calm down because I would be able to bring the results. No, it encouraged me to do even more, because I could. “You’ve always got by, haven’t you? It was always ok when you took on an additional task, wasn’t it?”
I had two visions in my head the other day. First, I didn’t know how old I was. I didn’t know how I had got here. I got my bachelors degree two weeks before I came here to Uppsala. I am a masters student now but I have had no time to process that. I didn’t know how I had got here. To Uppsala. My new home.
And then I envisioned my life in the future. I would sit in some small room with blank walls with all of my degrees but with the big question in my had: “How did I end up here?” Because everything had been a blur. Everything had gone so fast. And is still accelerating.
It’s ironic because in my course literature, the authors often discuss that “growth” is our interpretation of “progress”. We need to make more money in less time, with less workers, exploit all the resources that we can. GDP growth, yay! I’m doing the same. You could say, in economical terms, I’m growth-addicted. I’m accelerating, maximising output. The problem is that I don’t consider my inputs of time and mind space.
There have been many authors advocating for a steady state in our economies, for a balance against the unlimited exponential growth. Because we cannot go on like that with the limited resources we have: clean air, furtile soil, clean water. I need to do the same. I need to find a balance in my life, between working and just enjoying life. I need to acknowledge my most important resource: Time. Time for friends, time for long walks in the forest, time for knitting and painting, time for ridiculously long philosophical chats with my friends back at home in the middle of the night, time for just being in the moment.
A friend of mine said: “I could never do what you are doing. I need my time off, going on holidays to some city and just eating cake for a week.”
For whoever needed it this week: Breathe. Take your time. Eat some cake. It’s going to be ok.