Wandering Thoughts from Holland


I just spent some time alone in various parts of the Netherlands, trying to regroup and figure out where to go next with my life. I posted some non-Amsterdam photos here.

The following are a few of my thoughts while strolling around the nice little country.


While You’re There

These solo trips are always frustrating because I think I need to see certain things in the area while I’m in one spot, but I don’t like touristy things and try to create my own adventures. Yet these adventures, even when fun, feel forced; forced by a travel god telling me to do things so I can say I’m doing things. It usually ends with me randomly walking ridiculous distances in city streets and getting lost in remote towns and, besides one or two significant meeting people-related incidents, usually lots of time is left completely to myself to worry over what to do next. It’s usually a mix of “any way the wind blows” and “any way the wind blows that also sounds like a perfect fit,” and the endless possibilities can be a bit overwhelming. Should I go to some obscure, barely accessible location and take pretty pictures? Should I go out and talk to some locals? Should I have an interesting adventure? Should I use the opportunity in this new place to figure out my life? I do not know how to choose anymore, so whatever I do ends up being completely capricious, and I’m always left wondering if I should be doing something else. There are plenty of downsides to being a drifter when you tell yourself you’re doing something more profound than just escaping.


Any Destination Required

I woke up and decided to drive from Amsterdam to Germany to see some mountains and pretty scenery and stuff. I hopped in my surprisingly fast Renault stationwagon-ish thing and looked for any random location in Germany on the in-car GPS. However, the rental car company only had Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg) locations on its GPS.

I decided instead to drive to the Lux because I know nothing about it, and I embarked on side roads through the foggy Dutch and then Belgian (and for like 3 minutes German) countryside. Even with 1200 km of driving in two days under my belt, my shifting was still choppy because the lip on the heel of my left all-purpose-while-traveling hiking boot got stuck beneath the clutch every time I released it.

Anyway, after 7 hours of driving, I couldn’t find a place to park in Luxembourg City and got weirdly trapped when a main road suddenly turned to a parking garage and, upon having no other choice but to hit the “give me a ticket and I’ll pay before I leave” button, I was notified in French on a screen that my car was not allowed in the garage for some reason, and I was forced to awkwardly reverse the Renault back out of the long and narrow passageway and onto the busy hilly road with cars converging directly onto the entrance from both one-way sides. I then drove through the drizzle and couldn’t find parking or a place to stay, so I eventually (after about 10 minutes) just decided to drive like 4.5 hours directly back to Amsterdam.

But I thought about the GPS again. I needed to be able to choose some destination and go with it, and it made me extremely anxious to not be able to pick a spot in Germany. I guess I’ve done this since I started driving. I can’t leave until I know which exact direction to head for my inexact adventure. Without a destination it’s stressful in new places because I feel like I must take every exit and see every sight until I find something perfectly suitable. Of course, it’s never really been about the destination. On this trip, the high-level insight I gained was that European petrol is very expensive, and I had to return the car before going broke.

Then it dawned on me that the GPS thing is like my life. There have been so many freaking side projects I’ve started or just envisioned for a few minutes but end up discontinuing due to no motivation, no passion, and the idea that I can’t do something I consider to be “on the side” until I have the main thing figured out yet. I don’t accomplish anything when I have an extended period of free time. There are too many possibilities, too many other exits to take before the sun sets, and I can’t ever settle on one specific endeavor. Well, maybe I’d actually make progress on all things if I simply had one major thing in place acting as support beam. This has proven true in extremely limited instances in the past, but then I leave or quit the main thing and all the secondary things fall apart.

Now, it’s time to plug something in to the ol’ GPS so this journey can be fun again.



Racing through the streets of Amsterdam in this crazy thing. Speed bumps and intersections, narrow passageways, pedestrians and bikers. Unsure – 1st or 2nd gear? Need an in-between gear, it seems. Want to choose speed first, then put in necessary gear, not the other way around. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to want?


The Window

I see you in there. You see me out here. From the longing looks on our young faces, it is apparent we have a lot in common and a lot to learn. Why do we continue doing things we don’t want to do? We keep looking through windows, seeing things – moving anythings, stationary everythings – all of which merge into one overwhelming idea of reality, realness. We feel unreal, incomplete, incompatible with our surroundings, and yet we’re stuck in this alien world, begging to feel alive like all the things we see, regardless of what they might be. I know you know I don’t care about what you’re doing, but that you’re at least trying to do it. I know you know I feel imprisoned by my current “freedom,” that it is one of the many possible suboptimal routes I chose. I know you’ve been on this side of the glass too. You want out again? I want in again? I thank you for providing me with the escapism that I needed, and you’re welcome for yours. But let’s make a silent pact to stop looking there and start looking here for the answers we need.




Fairly Innocuous Pathological Lying

Many of you out there would say you’re honest in person or only tell social lies, but whether it’s out of fear, awkwardness, impatience, or boredom, some of you are profuse liars in situations with strangers you probably won’t see again. Let’s look at driving and buying, for instance.

A pathological driver is an expert in a very fine art; his underlying deceit is seldom seen. The pathological driver’s skill can be best demonstrated in exit only lanes or lane closures. A non-expert tries to pass in the exit only lane because it’s open and he can move up in the line of cars, but the other drivers quickly sniff him out and make it extremely difficult for him to get back in. A pathological driver, on the other hand, is welcomed back into the lane because he “genuinely” didn’t notice he was in an exit only lane. Or, he “honestly” changed his mind immediately after moving over. The story is substantiated through a calculated spectacle including dramatic hand gestures, misdirection, and other exaggerated acts of confusion. Sometimes, even the pathological driver himself doesn’t believe this was just a clever ploy to move up a few cars.

If necessary, further embellishments are added to remove doubt from the minds of onlookers (because said driver believes everyone is watching him). For example, the pathological driver will occasionally end up taking the exit for fear of giving away his true intentions. If the pathological driver has a passenger, the acting job is taken a step further. The driver gets food and gas. The driver gets groceries. The driver subtly mentions the planned nature of this exit on the real or fake phone call he is currently making. The part is played to perfection. The driver acts completely unnerved even though his true attention lies on getting back to the road as quickly as possible.

In the same vein, there’s the “pathological buyer,” someone you might already be familiar with. Instead of saying he isn’t interested in the product a salesman is trying to sell, the pathological buyer insists he will definitely purchase the product later that day when his girlfriend, who of course is the actual end user, arrives from Australia, or notices a stolen credit card or a lost wallet, or has to make a quick phone call but an emergency on the other end leads his surprised self to run to his car, and the whole act is being closely watched and critiqued by the company’s entire fleet of salesmen. Just to prove to the salesman he isn’t lying and to avoid facing the awkwardness of walking out of a store without buying anything, the pathological buyer sometimes purchases the product.

When returning an item, a pathological buyer’s genuine intentions of using the product are never in question. He is only returning the immaculate merchandise because his grandparents coincidentally bought the same item for him without his knowledge.

If your inner pathological liar needs an outlet, I would suggest these alternatives as opposed to lying about important things to people you have some sort of acquaintance with.


What are some other examples of ridiculous displays of deception in public interactions?