No matter how much I plan a trip, sometimes I miss one of the must-see places by very little. I check ticket availability too late. I queue at the wrong place. I do not research enough about all available options. How come you visited X and did not see Y? A feeling of frustration comes up. And of wanting to make possible the impossible. What if I wake up very early tomorrow morning and still find a way to go? I frenetically check schedules. Departure times. Distances. All that just makes it worse. This irrelevant first world problem is however a great training for the things that actually matter. The times when we want something important to be in one way but it turns out different. The mental muscle that allows one to let go of that must-see place is the same that later helps letting go of fear, loss, and pain. The moment one manages to be at ease with what is, instead of obsessing about what could have been, is wonderful. Better train that muscle with simple problems.

Sigiriya Rock. We queued at the entrance that included some frescoes we could have skipped. The intense heat and the huge crowd forced us to give up on reaching the top.

Caves in the Gulf of Orosei. I assumed that all boat tours stopped at these caves which are only accesible by boat. It turns out that only some of them do.

Château d'If. I verified that tickets for this castle on an island were available. What did not come to my mind is that the boat that takes one there sells out fast.


I have to admit that smart watches are useful. They are great to soothe anxiety. I can quickly check that no one called. That no message is waiting for a reply. That no email is left unseen. And most importantly, smart watches also show the time. Not just any time, but the reference time from the worldwide synchronized time network. A quick glance at the watch appeases all fears and worries. I am on time for the meeting. For the train. For the flight. A smart watch is the ultimate tool to anxiously confirm and reconfirm that all is good. That all is on schedule. That all is under control. But the other day, it ran out of battery. And what seemed like a catastrophic event, actually felt like an incredible relief. I felt at ease not knowing the exact time. Sure, knowing is important sometimes, but not all the time. As with everything, balance is the key. Not too much, not too little. Unfortunately, lately the trend seems to be to fall for the extremes. In daily life. In politics. In everything.

Paradoxically, timeless sunsets require precise timing to not miss them


I felt the addiction. It was not extreme. But it was there. I spent about 20 to 30 minutes every day browsing Instagram, even though I had a full schedule. It was procrastination. A way to delay the next task, wanting to believe that it was not there. But of course, the task would come back and cost me double the effort. It was a bad habit. It provided me instant gratification, but made me feel bad in the long term. I remembered a technique that I learned from meditation. I never thought that it would work. It is so simple, that it can be boiled down to one word. Enough. The key is to shift the focus from the ephemeral gratification to the subsequent hangover feeling. Once the mind is there, changing the habit is effortless because one does not want it anymore. And to my surprise, it worked. It is widely applicable. Junk food. Doomscrolling. Procrastinating. Being a couch potato. You name it. Once one becomes aware, bad habits just vanish in thin air.

And saving twenty minutes every day, one ends up with time for a day trip :-)

A Rare Event

I guess we both hoped to have the compartment for ourselves. But even the seating carriage on that NightJet to La Spezia was almost booked out, not to mention the actual sleeping carriages. We both knew that a rather sleepless night was ahead, given the limited comfort of the seats. I am not sure how the conversation started, but it got deep very quickly. We talked about many things. About traveling. About work culture. About meditation. About life. While the situation may sound like the cheesy start of a romantic movie, it was not, and that was the beauty of it. Across me sat a guy of my age. No romantic interest whatsoever. It was the perfect example of a yellow soul, as in Albert Espinosa's The Yellow World, who had popped up out of the blue and would disappear to nowhere. An interaction with no hidden (or not so hidden) agenda. No romantic, economic, political, or religious intention behind it. A real conversation with a stranger. Unfortunately, a rare event.

The final destination was Roma Termini, with a change to a high speed train in Padova

Flooded Wall

The wall looked empty. Even visitors said it. The offer from Saal Digital came very conveniently: get a free wall picture in exchange of a fair review. And here you can see both, the picture and the review. I took the picture back in 2019 at Starnberger See. It was a lucky shot. I just saw the scenary, pointed the phone, and got a surprisingly good result. This picture was the perfect candidate for that empty wall in my little apartment in Munich. I just dragged it into the software from Saal Digital, chose the aluminium canvas, and five minutes later my order was out. They gave a quite optimistic delivery date of four days, which they missed by one day. This was no problem in my case, but it may be good to plan for some headroom if you have a strict deadline. Other than that, I am very pleased with the result. Hanging the picture was very easy since it comes with a steel frame attached to the back. Now the wall has a window to a lake that one day may flood it.

The wall picture is 30 x 45 cm


I still recall the exact moment when I said those words to my mother. I said that I would be away for at most two years. That I needed a change, but that I would be back. I landed in Munich shortly after. That was today, five years ago. Five years of waving goodbye behind the security check at the airport. Five years of welcome and farewell hugs. Five years of something that was meant to be temporary. Away, but not away. Abroad, yet still at home. And one broken promise. After all this time, I feel that I arrived at a crossroad with difficult decisions ahead. Staying, or going back. As Mark Manson writes in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, at some point a decision must be made. Leaving all doors open to do it all is the same as not doing anything. And that is the real danger. Even if the paths at the crossroad are very different, the good news is that most of the happiness they may lead to does not really come from the path but from how one decides to walk on it.

A picture from the day I arrived - an empty desk for a new start (March 31, 2018, 16:39)

Anonymous Lives

"You bought all the healthy stuff". I woke up from the routine check out process at the supermarket and withheld the pre-programmed "with card please" just in time. I managed to produce a "I try to" along with a smile. The cashier looked anxious. "I should too, for my mental well being", she said. A few months earlier, the other cashier of the store had praised the reusable nets that I use for fruits and vegetables. He looked exhausted back then, and still does. Beyond the compliments, which of course felt good, what remained in my mind were the burnout signs. They reminded me how much we suppress those allegedly undesirable signs to the strangers (and not-so-strangers) around us, while the actual solution would be to talk about them. We come across hundreds of people every day, yet are more disconnected than ever. In the few seconds before the next customer arrived, I tried to formulate some encouraging words for the cashier, and went back to the anonimity of the city.

Sadly, some selfish interest underlies the vast majority of interactions we experience, like this letter from a Jehovah Witness, personally addressed to me in 2021

Acrylic Nice

It sounded like a fair deal. A 100 Euro voucher from Saal Digital to test their professional photo album service in exchange of an honest review. The latter is what you are reading right now. A few minutes after clicking on the corresponding ad on Instagram, I got everything I needed: a voucher code and a deadline. I decided to make a photo album of my trip to Nice last summer, but of course, I left it to the last moment. Time flies and by the time I realised, I had just one evening left to actually work on the album. I used their software Saal Design, which I had criticised some time ago, but this time I had no complaint. The design process went smoothly and I submitted my order within a few hours. Most of the time went into selecting the right pictures out of the hundreds that I had taken, which is of course the hardest part. Once the pictures were ready, placing them in the album and finalising the layout was a piece of cake.

I was very curious to see how the acrylic cover would look like

I chose the 30 cm x 21 cm Professional Line Photo Book with acrylic cover and silk photo paper. Saal Digital also offers adding a gift box, but I skipped it because it felt quite overpriced. Once the order was placed, the delivery time was amazingly fast. It took them less than 48 hours to produce and deliver the photo book. I imagine that the process is fully automated, but still, I think this is impressive. Even though the shipping company stuffed the book into my mailbox, the packaging was really robust and the book arrived with no damage. I was pleased at how well the acrylic cover turned out and at the high quality of the photo prints. The silk photo paper gave the album a particularly nice look and feel. Overall, I was very satisfied with the result. A professional photographer may disagree, but for me as an enthusiast, the quality felt excellent. The 100 Euro voucher of course contributes to the satisfaction, but still, I have no complaints on the result.

The acrylic cover gives the photo album a nice finish

The binding allows the pages to lay flat, and thus pictures are fully visible

As expected, the acrylic cover does make the album significantly heavier and thicker


I did not understand it when I first read the book. I even wrote here about other topics discussed in that book, but it was not until months later that I entirely understood what the title meant. The unbearable lightness of being (Milan Kundera, 1984) starts with a discussion about the light and the heavy. We obsess about making life heavy because that provides meaning. And we desperately desire meaning. Anniversaries. Contracts. Conflicts. Love. We feel that turning a round number of years is a big thing. Our heart sinks when we sign a contract for many years. We feel hurt when someone criticises us. We want love to be forever. But all that heaviness is only in our minds. We just turn one day older. Contracts are often widely ignored. Conflict vanishes as soon as we stop caring about it. And love might be the most volatile feeling one could think of. That lightness clashes with our obsession for heaviness, making life meaningless. And that is unbearable.

We just need to be as light as the wind to make the heaviest wind turbine turn

The Eternal Garden

I usually do not remember my dreams. But this one was so vivid in my mind, that I cannot forget it. It was her who came up with the idea. At the beginning, I was not fully convinced. Still, I decided to give the suicide assistance a try. "We will spend the last hours of our lives together. It will be beautiful", she said. We were healthy and we had a good life. "But it will be something new, and we will be bound forever".

The entrance. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

The place was a garden with nice corners to sit down and reflect on one's life for the last hours before it ended. We arrived there and they explained their offer to us. On arrival, they would inject us the remedy. It would take 24 hours to take effect. During that time, we would feel nothing, and we would be able to enjoy our time in the gardens. Once the 24 hours elapsed, the injection would make effect without pain. If we changed our mind before the deadline, they would give us an antidote.

Time seemed to stop in the garden. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

It felt as if we were booking our next trip in a travel agency. She looked at me and her eyes were saying "this is going to be great!". We signed the papers in a little temple with a marble table. It was surprisingly little paper work. We were all smiling. Light flooded the temple. It was a celebration.

All done with a simple signature. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

We went to a bench under a beautiful tree. I don't recall how many hours we spent there, but the light in the park felt like an eternal sunset. It was not too warm, but also not cold. It was just perfect. She lied on the bench, with her head on my lap, looking up into my eyes while I played with her hair. We had nothing to worry about, since in a few hours, there would be nothing left but just an eternal void.

Our last bench. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

I do not recall what we talked about. Maybe we were in silence. But after about 12 hours, she got up and said that she had changed her mind. I accepted that. They gave her the antidote and she came back to me. I was unsure what to do. I had already made up my mind to die in a few hours. Should I change now, too? She said that I should do what felt right for me. I doubted for a while, but then I decided to go ahead with the original plan.

The nursing room was right next to the bench. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

A few more hours elapsed. Growing doubts invaded my mind. Is this really what I want? I could not decide. Somehow, both dying and living seemed equally good. The feeling was similar to the stress of having to choose among two dishes on a restaurant's menu, not being able to identify which one would be better. And like in a restaurant, I left the decision to the last minute. Two hours before the deadline, I requested the antidote, too.

A hard choice. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

While they were willing to give me the antidote, they said that I should reconsider my choice. It was very late. It would work, but it would be very painful. The remedy had already spread within my body, and stopping it now would be a very unpleasent experience. This was a relief, because it made my choice easier. I followed their advice, and accepted my scheduled death.

I would spend painful hours on this bed. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

In the last hour, a guide took me through a series of locations in the garden. She came with me, supporting me in my last moments. At each location, they showed me a particularly relevant aspect of my life. My hobbies. My childhood memories. My loved ones. The guide smiled all the time.

Each temple housed one memory. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

I felt that he was smiling too much. I looked at him and asked "This is not real, right? I am not going to die". He looked back at me. His smile grew larger than ever. "That is right, but don't tell anyone. This place is to make our patients realise and value what they have in their life. The things that make it worth living."

The Eternal Garden from above. AI-generated with DALL·E 2.

I felt an enormous relief, and woke up.