This is the second day in the same week that I managed to do one thing that I really love: sit down outside for hours reading, watching life happen, and eventually working. This used to be how I read most books since my days at the uni. I’d sit near the sea, or at a coffee shop, and just read.
I read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation while sitting on concrete blocks overlooking Icaraí beach and the Guanabara Bay. I read World War Z on a tiny Palm Pre2 on the bus commuting between cities. On the old ferry boats that crossed the bay, while they still had balconies on the side with park benches, I read Snowcrash. Drinking mate, eating pão de queijo, and reading some eBook was a staple of my weekday mornings in Rio.
Once I moved to the UK, I kept trying to recreate these moments. It was very easy to find pleasant places to read for there are a gazillion parks and nice coffee shops near me. What became harder was actually finding the time to do it. See, while I was living in Brazil, I was living family-owned property without paying rent and was earning in American Dollars. So due to the favourable exchange rate, it was quite easy to work less hours and free time to more pleasurable activities. My job still the same, I’m still paid in Dollars, but now the exchange rate and the obscene rents of London work against me.
If there is one thing that this whole pandemic made evident to me, besides how incompetent most governments are and how selfish and stupid a lot of people behave, was that we’re here for a short period of time, and if we don’t carve the necessary time to be happy, we won’t have that time later.
A lot of people derive their identity and happiness from their jobs and careers. I have friends to breath and exhale their jobs in a mist of bliss, completely happy where they are and how they are. I’m not really on that camp, I don’t loath my job, I just don’t find fulfilment in it and it is no longer a part of how I define myself. In summary, my job doesn’t make me happy and I need to find enjoyment elsewhere (like most people to be honest).
A large part of my happiness originates in storytelling, both absorbing stories and also telling them. At the beginning of the year, I decided that I was going to begin a long transition from being a software developer who enjoys storytelling, to a storyteller that occasionally plays with development. Part of this transition process is finding more time to enjoy reading like I used to. Not stealing some hours between jobs to quickly read some pages from a book, but to actually spend long and dedicated time to just sit down and enjoy the scenery and a book.
This brings me to today. An ordinary day in Islington, raining horizontally and with the temperature at about 13℃. By most accounts these would be a day to stay inside, and readers would attempt to stay cozy under blankets reading from the comfort of their homes. I’m outside, on a coffee shop enjoying the wind and rain and writing this blog post before returning to my book.
I’m tired of pretending that I don’t enjoy the wind and rain. As a Brazilian living in these islands, I’m kinda expected to denounce the weather as evil and cry over the loss of our beloved tropical paradise climate. I’m supposed to be cheerful in Summer and Spring when this land approaches temperatures that would be classified as Winter where I come from but that are the best we can get here, and be depressed and salty during the rest of the year. I refuse to do that. I enjoy the wind and the rain just as much as I enjoy tropical climates, I can find pleasure in both.
And it is with the peltering rain falling in the fountain near me, hearing the slow buzz of the wind, and drinking from a nice cup of coffee that I find myself having a wonderful time. I’m at my best alone time when I’m outside. We often talk about quality time, and having it with our loved ones. We don’t often talk about having time for ourselves and being able to enjoy our own company while doing what we want. This is my quality time, enjoying a book outside regardless of the light and geometrically-challenged rain.
Finding blocks of time like this is something that I treasure. From now onwards, I expect them to once more become the norm in my life and not a special occasion. This is the second day that I managed to get out like this, I hope that every week has at least two days like this.