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There’s no time for everything (and that’s okay)

“You can do everything. All that’s missing.” This was an excerpt from a poem by Oswaldo Montenegro that I found on his blog right around the time I came to live in Rio de Janeiro and almost a decade has gone by… For me it was great to be living in a city where everything happened. Every weekend there was at least one big show, one big event. Always a wonderful exhibition or more than one simultaneous, even. Film Festival, Theater Festival, dozens of incredible plays, musical seasons, book launches. One of the most famous carnivals in the country, thousands of blocks, the most famous New Year’s Eve in the world. Outside the beach, always her. It’s not possible to list everything. And, much less, to do everything.

But for a long time I tried. I swear I tried. I woke up before 6am to catch a block in the morning in Santa Tereza, I changed it with another one in Ipanema, I closed the night in Lapa to restart the carnival marathon the next morning. I’ve already faced crowded transport, traffic jams and long walks to see the fireworks of Copacabana on New Year’s Eve. I have already queued for hours to see an exhibition at the CCBB that I had already seen in Paris. I’ve already died of anxiety and guilt for not being able to see all the films at the Film Festival, or all the movies in theaters, or that specific movie that everyone saw, or go to that place that everyone talked about, or the show that was certainly pumping, or to the party that is the new trend, or to the block that was doing open rehearsals, or to the other whose schedule beat, but it was just a matter of running. All this interspersed with work, which has always been and still occupies the most time. Until I realized I couldn’t. Or that I didn’t have to. What was supposed to do me good, was almost doing me harm. I stopped.

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I spent New Year’s Eve sleeping. I’ve spent all of Carnival at home. I missed exhibits that looked really good. I turned down an invitation to some movie previews. I couldn’t go to Caetano and Gil’s concert together. I’ve never been to Rock in Rio (although in every edition I buy tickets – then resell them). I haven’t read all the books I’d like. I give up free online courses I enroll in. I decline party invitations. I trade sunny Sundays on the beach for the comfort of my bed and spend the day in my pajamas. And most importantly, I stopped blaming myself and/or suffering because of it. It does not give. And that’s okay.

Once, at an event I was at, it was suggested that each participant make a list of things/activities that they do out of obligation, another of what they do for pleasure, and another of what they would need to do more, but don’t do. Practically everyone put “having more fun”, “going out”, “watching more movies”, “travelling”, on the to-do list. Of things you need to do! Then a question arose and we started a very healthy debate about how crazy it is to include leisure time on the agenda and not as something that naturally happens… Because when we are swallowed up by demands (I almost always am), leisure is the the first one left, even more so if tiredness enters the dispute.

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And the fact is that – apart from what is really mandatory – we have to make choices. List priorities. Preferably with the criterion of what is good for us. And that can mean, sometimes, preferring to stay at home, or travel and stay in the hotel and sleep, rest. Breathe. There will always be something missing and that doesn’t diminish anyone at all. You will need to travel a little more. And, traveling, you will miss that museum that everyone went to. Or, going to the museum, that work will be missing. Or, seeing that work, there will be no time for ice cream in the late afternoon. Or an extra hour of sleep that, in the weekly or monthly sum, can weigh. It is impossible to do everything, see everything.

In my travels, but mainly in life, I stopped suffering because I didn’t have time for everything or because I didn’t take care of everything. I don’t even make a New Year’s list anymore. I have projects and plans, of course. And I go, day by day, weighing better what is worth it or not. That simple. My goal remains to slow down – but even that process needs to be done slowly. Because life has to be, above all, mine or your way. In our own time.

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* Images: Pixabay

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