Yesterday after work I spontaneously went to the cinema to watch “Murder on the Orient Express” (my best reason: it rained and I couldn’t find a parking spot in my street so I continued to drive to the cinema – when I came home a few hours later, I could park very close to my house). I found the film entertaining, although the actors were stronger than the plot. At one point I remembered that I had once seen the Orient Express train in Istanbul. It was in September 2012 when I took a walk through Istanbul’s Old Town and saw the train standing in Sirkeci Station. Even though a trip with the Orient Express was too expensive for me, the luxurious train fascinated me. It was so beautiful and like from a different era. I believe there was only one very special and pricy trip a year at the time I saw the train. The historic Orient Express was actually a daily and normal train, but it stopped running to Istanbul in 1977.
Related to this was my wish to one day take the train from Istanbul, specifically from Sirkeci, to Thessaloniki in Greece. A normal passenger train. But I waited. In 2010 when I had just arrived in Istanbul, I wanted to explore the city itself. In 2011 I continued doing so and thought that I would take the train at a later date. I thought the same in 2012. And in 2013 they stopped serving Sirkeci altogether when they dismantled all the rails. Even though the Istanbul metro now stops there, train service still hasn’t resumed to my knowledge.
Another example for when I missed an opportunity similar to the train trip is this: In Turkey we used to have two weeks of winter vacation and about ten weeks of summer vacation. In January 2011 my friends and I considered spending our winter vacation in Syria. Other colleagues had been there before and raved about road trips to Aleppo, Damascus and everything in between. We really wanted to go, but we also thought that our plans were a little spontaneous and we should spend more time planning that trip. Instead we went to beautiful Iznik and Bursa, just across the Marmara Sea from Istanbul [here]. Very few weeks later the Syrian Civil War started.
Both examples have me realize how easy it is to miss opportunities, like things that have been on my bucket list. It neither looks like I will be able to take a train from Istanbul to Greece in the next few years nor like I’ll travel to Syria. If ever. The Turkish government doesn’t think highly of trains as means of transport. Aleppo and many other sites have even been destroyed. I wonder if I missed out because I changed the emphasis or because I actually couldn’t make up my mind.
When I think about it, I see that I didn’t decide between several awesome opportunities. I would rather say that I was too lazy. Too lazy for almost three years to just set a date and book a train ticket. Too lazy to go online and organize a trip to and a road trip in Syria. I wouldn’t say that I suffer from fear of missing out in general. I am not (yet) even interested in traveling the whole world. I have my bucket list and every now and then I add a new place or event. At the same time I also love going to my same favorite places again and again. There are times like right now when I travel very often – but in between I have those quite passive phases. Like when I thought I would explore Istanbul instead of going to Thessaloniki. I definitely explored the first, although maybe not to such a big extent as I wish. I could have done that even with going to the latter for a long weekend in between. I would have found the time to take the one and half hour long ferry ride across the Marmara Sea on any day off. But twice I couldn’t decide to just sit down and organize the trips. At least twice. Because surely more missed opportunities would come to mind if I thought longer about them.
They say you should not cry over spilled milk. In these cases I don’t find that easy. I regret having missed both amazing opportunities. There are plenty of other ones I haven’t dwelled on as long. In order to not facing more regrets, I need to be more attentive, more decisive. I might always feel a little tired, but that might not change until I retire. And I can’t wait that long before I start to seize chances. This is about overcoming my own laziness, at least always when work isn’t too demanding. I have the feeling that I am doing quite well these days: In October I went to New York City and Montreal. Now in November I spent a weekend in NYC again and again I am going to Montreal. In December I am flying to Germany and Turkey. I am at home between my trips and that feels good, too. It might even feel a little better because I appreciate it more when I return home. Also, I notice that I get the same things done. I am just a little faster because I am a little less at home. This Wednesday I prove to myself that I can even change my everyday life routine: It was a very long day at work, and from there I directly went ice skating on the Frog Pond in Boston Common. When I eventually got home, I went almost straight away to bed. I was very happy. And that is really all that counts.