Enter The Summer Void

This summer will be so productive and creative (she says every year)

Enter the Void, 2009. Image from here

It’s probably not very accurate to compare the sense of anxiety I have before summer holidays to the drug fuelled, bizarre, terrifying  experience of Oscar in Enter the Void, but I thought it made a good title. I dread the moment in the future, when my holidays have just ended and I realize I have done hardly any of the great projects I have planned. Maybe if I externalize the plans* I have for this summer, I will definitely find some sort of subconscious drive to stick to my word and make it happen this year round. Definitely. It’s like when you want to quit smoking or lose weight, tell people about it, and then perform because you are avoiding their judgement or disapproval . And once it becomes a habit it will be a breeze. Easy.

And yet all my doubts remain. I’m sure i’m not the only with this issue- it is perfectly reasonable and doable to get creative and learn more during a 3 month summer holiday right? And sadly, it is also perfectly normal that procrastination, complacency and distractions take over (I don’t have many friends but the things happening in London are very tempting).

According to this any goal needs to engage our brain on both ‘why’ and ‘how’, each of these activating a different side of our brain, making it difficult/impossible to focus on both at the same time. So shifting up and down the hierarchy when I get stuck (ie. digging down into the how to find an easily achieved task, or taking as step back into the why to confirm to yourself that this whole thing is a good idea) might be helpful.

The thing is, I am usually a very hard worker and pretty driven- I do know what it feels like to get joy and happiness from experiencing flow or from creating and learning. But for some reason, once summer arrives it all becomes very difficult. I found this quite interesting in trying to figure out what my brain is missing now that I am on holiday. It might be that my goals are too big and I therefore don’t reach levels of accomplishment very often, not getting that surge in dopamine. But maybe it is the lack of seratonin, endorphins and oxytocin as a result of being alone and not laughing alot? Who knows…

Or I could just take on a completely different perspective to put my mind at rest- embrace my laziness. There’s a beautiful word in German, “Müβiggang” which basically means engaging idleness or pointlessness, and instinctively has a negative connotation (a privilege of the rich, and a sin in the days of industrial productivity). But it is also seen as a critical basis for art and culture, and Aristotle’s idea of ‘bios theoretikos’ or ‘vita contempliva’ in Latin, suggests that doing things for no specific cause or outcome (wealth, fame) but simply for happiness is the best way of living.

Dolce Far Niente (The Sweetness of Doing Nothing)- Painting by John William Waterhouse

I guess the conclusion would be the usual, unsatisfying one that it’s a balance between the two (ie. in keeping busy but also staying happy and relaxed). I get bored easily, but I also get stressed easily, so it’s a bit of a dilemma. I think I will keep Kierkegaards (a danish philosopher) quote in mind:

“In itself idleness is not the root of all evil- it is infact a somewhat godly life as long as one doesn’t get bored”.

(Roughly translated, found here)

* Over the summer I want to:
Volunteer with kids/communities

Learn the basics of Rhino 3D
Learn the basics of Adobe AfterEffects
Make a small sci-fi graphic novel
Improve my water colour/sketching skills
Find a broad direction for my final year project


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