Sunday, August 11, 2013


Motto: If you want to make your dreams come true, the first thing you have to do is wake up (J.M. Power)

On Sunday evening I took the last flight from Bucharest to Vienna, as I almost always do. I do not like to cut Sundays in half and waste both halves, therefore I usually spend the entire day in Bucharest and go to bed late at night in Vienna.

I love this time of year, as I can witness the sunset for the entire duration of this late flight. It does not matter whether it is a cloudy or a clear sky, as the plane does its little miracle, taking me above the clouds and showing me the reddish Sun, just a minute away from sinking beyond the horizon. Such wonderful minute lasts actually almost an hour and a half on the board of an airplane flying west at the right time of day.

I witnessed this several times but I still consider it a unique heavenly treat. The clouds are never the same, the colors are mixed in different proportions every time and … my mind feels free to stroll around dreaming, while my eyes stay wide opened. However, I have to admit that I could not keep my eyes glued to this incredibly beautiful image for the whole time it was there. I also experienced a couple of short naps, and then read a couple of lines from a newspaper offered by the flight attendants, and finally looked around to other fellow Sun-chasers in the plane. The fact is that people get used to beauty, just as well as they can get used to noise, pain, welfare or injustice...

Just one week before, I have experienced the sunset in a car, together with the nice young family of my sister. The colors were so astonishing, so the father stopped the car to go for the camera and get some snapshots. The kids were anxious and enthusiastic, yelling “Come on, Dad, hurry up! It will be gone in a minute and you will miss it!...” The story ended nicely however, as he managed to get a couple of nice shots. The car drove then away into the (almost) night…

Today on the plane I started to smile, as I realized all of a sudden that I am actually chasing the Sun in a Fokker 100. I knew from one childhood story that the Moon has been chasing the Sun from the beginning of Time, even thou they were never allowed to meet. The Moon has to reign the Night while the Sun has to reign the Day, in an orderly manner. As a grown-up, I have reasonably determined that the story is quite a white lie, as sometimes I see the Moon perfectly fine during daylight and the Earth has not fallen from the orbit yet…

Anyway, the physical chase reminded me of the idea of metaphorical chase mentioned in a TED’s video that I have seen recently. The presenter, psychologist Shawn Achor, was describing how our contemporary brain-wiring disabled us from experiencing happiness, as it was always just ‘behind the horizon’. It was a funny and at the same time amazing video, as the guy managed to squeeze in 12 minutes a presentation which would have taken at least 20 minutes to a normal speaker, with regular speaking speed… I will say no more; let you enjoy the experienceof watching him here.

Shawn basically advises people to be happy with their achievements while still spinning the wheel of dreams, wishes, goals and plans. And of course advertises some ways in which his business can assist people in doing so, which is fair enough as he is quite honest about it.

The idea of ‘stop and enjoy’ is not new to me, just as the secret of happiness, which is related to the ability to still want a thing even after you got it. There can be additional traps in enjoying a wish come true, one being to recognize your own wish behind whatever you actually get…

Coming back to the heavenly sunset, this Sunday I understood that I was privileged enough to artificially extend the duration of my enjoyment of a spectacular experience. Shawn on the other hand was privileged to condense his speech in order not to lose the attention of his audience, thanks to his perfect speaking skills. Both interventions on time created beautiful results.

Life does not usually offer such opportunities to play time master with all those hundreds of small little things that are responsible for our general happiness. We cannot extend our first kiss, our kid’s graduation or our brief moments of glory. It would dilute the satisfaction if we did that anyway… On the other hand, we cannot speed up the building of rewarding relationship, accumulation of wisdom or simple cake baking. There are things in life which purely fly by and some other things which take their time if you want to get them right – and we should not tamper with the wisdom of time.

What we can and should do is learn how to master the three time components of happiness – the future (dreaming and planning), the present (recognizing and enjoying results or lessons) and the past (reminiscing the successes and learning from the failures). Those time components feed on each other and are different for each of our plans of existence. They can come successively or concomitantly, waiting in line for something else to happen or overlapping and creating a sense of lovely chaos in our one and only life.

In the end, the beauty of life lies in enjoying every second, every event and every person as it comes. We may find no reason for happiness today, but if we open our heart to the day’s lessons, it will help us become wiser and get happier as the time goes by. Things usually happen for a reason which we will eventually understand, given time and meaningful circumstance. We cannot hurry the understanding of those reasons, but we should not forget to open all our senses in order to let happiness come in.

Today I have had a fair share of happiness and lessons. And (do not forget!) I have been chasing the Sun in a Fokker 100. I have not caught it, however this was never the point…

Georgina Popescu