Coffee junkies like myself probably know that situation very well. If there is no decent independent café around we sometimes enter clandestinely one of those temples of modern so-called coffee culture. Apart from any regional economic, social or ethic questionabilities then we are faced with a simple but nevertheless demanding challenge: What the f*** will I order when the friendly person on the other side of the desk looks at me with big questioning eyes? The range normally goes from a simple plain coffee (you maybe might not want) to an unbelievable ‘Double Ristretto Venti Half-Soy Nonfat Decaf Organic Frappuccino’… not to mention all the regional and brand differences.
It’s the paradox of our time: We have so many – not to say too many – possibilities! Of course I am not talking about those small problems with ordering coffee here… it’s much of a general problem thought. A parodox is well known defined as a statement or a situation which apparently sounds reasoning from true premises, but leads to a self-contradictory or a logically unacceptable conclusion. So what is wrong with having too many choices?
Over the few last days I was thinking about my next destination. As you probably might imagine, Greece turns out to be a far ‘larger’ country to travel than the almost 132.000 km2 Wikipedia is speaking of make you believe. It’s incredibly mountainous and the more than 3000 islands are widely scattered over a far larger area as well. You definitely need some time for traveling here. Apart from Athens at the end of my stay in Greece I wanted to visit just one more region. Here the problem began: island or mainland, south or north, city or countryside,… even if that was by far the easiest choice. Overall, I will have spent a lot of time in cities and therefore I thought that I probably would get a better overview of the country visiting now a rural area with smaller villages – let’s say a larger island. No sooner said than done – I thought. But then I became sort of a victim of the almost unlimited amount of possibilities we have today. No joke: I spent almost two whole days with searching (and finally finding) my next destination. What utter nonsense! Two days I could have done far better things…
Once again I became aware that we are surrounded by literally countless information. Additionally we can retrieve them from almost everywhere and all-day – 24/7 – due to an ubiquitous presence of the internet and its easy access nowadays all over the world. Getting information from different and independent sources is good for sure to strengthen democracy and civil society and to live a self-determined life – however, we don’t use it only for those things. We started to use it for almost everything, even the most insignificant decision. Which mower is the best and why? Which highly sophisticated fully automated coffee machine do I need? Which café or restaurant should I chose for my lunch today? Which island has the most beautiful beach? Which accommodation has the best interior decoration. Which location is the most interesting place? Where do I get an all you can eat buffet? Which… question one could ask oneself even more? Better will always be the enemy of good though…
Have I really been so unhappy while traveling with just an InterRail ticket, with just one very limited guide book in my backpack and without any mobile phone at all – not to speak of internet? Would I have made it better otherwise? Did I miss something important on my former trips? I don’t think so… I just would have spent more time with searching and less time with experiencing…
Don’t get me wrong, this all I am talking about is not meant as a yearning for the good old times. And for sure it is good to be informed. It’s also great to have the choice – but I’m speaking of having the choice between just a manageable number of different options. Otherwise, the crucial point is that it is so easy to get lost in all this. If gathering information about the best possible way to live becomes more important and more time consuming than just living the best available life right now in this moment (even if there could be a slightly better way)… puh, then one might be off the track. At least I am quite a little bit off the track… and I am realising this more and more on this journey.
This combination of information and possibilities – or I should better say the sum of its multiplication – with a certain availability of time and money gives us such an overwhelming number of options to do things… without always being better than having just one single possibility. Or in other words:
“My days were more exiting when I was penniless...”
– Christopher McCandless –
By the way, about my final choice and the next destination I will write in my next post… 🙂