Rainbow in Svalbard

Today feels like I’m turning 22+10. I know I have used the same trick last year, but this time it has a much different meaning. I promise it’s the last time I do this, at least for a while.

It feels like I’m turning 22+10, and not simply 32, because I know that every month in 2023 I will look back at ten years ago, and remember of something that happened then.

I have probably written time and time again (including in last year’s post) about how 2013 has been the most significant year in my life, so I will not write about it again.

But if I think that 10 years have gone by since then… Well, it’s weird.

It is, however, also a good feeling. While my past self would have laughed at many different aspects of my life today (especially at my unenviable physical fitness), he would also have been super proud and happy.

I can imagine a conversation between my present self and past self, with the latter thinking all the way through that conversation that I must be messing with him.

How can it be possible that so many “life wishes” I had actually came to life, during these 10 years?

I must have found some sort of genie in a bottle, and blackmailed him. There is no other scientific explanation I can find.

I’ve come to realize that true happiness in life means to be satisfied with one’s own choices, whenever you look back at them. Every person we meet, every battle we choose to fight (or not), every reaction to an unfortunate circumstance.

It all matters, even when it seems insignificant or, on the contrary, more significant than it actually is.

You line up all these events in your head, and put everything on a scale: the good things on one side, and the bad things on the other. Then you hold your breath, while the scale finds its balance.

Lucky me… it’s still heavier on the good side…

It is also very strange to think about how the halfway point of these 10 years, the start of 2018, was such a major turning point in my life as well. Let me explain.

In June 2013 I moved to Germany, and I was fairly sure that I would spend there many years. These first years in Munich, and then in Berlin, have been pivotal in understanding what I actually wanted in life: I’ve changed many jobs, met many fantastic people, and still have a hard time wrapping my head around everything that’s happened in that short amount of time.

From 2018 onwards, on the other hand, life has taken a different pace. At first, it was chaotic: I’ve been travelling for work like never before. Life as a consultant was something else, and I knew it had to stop at some point.

The choice to attend a MBA focused around automotive and motorsport was the perfect chance. I just had to take it. And so I did, in the summer of 2019, thinking that maybe I could take the time for another long trip in the following year. This time, not on my own. I was so excited at the prospect.

Well, you all know what happened next…

The whole world went to shit. In my mind, 2020 and 2021 have been such a blur. They’ve just gone.

Sure, many things have happened during those two “Covid years”, if I think about it with a rational mind: I’ve switched jobs, officially moved to Parma, said goodbye to Germany. I was lucky I did not to feel the heaviest consequences of the pandemic, either on the personal level or on the professional one.

However, if I think about my life from 2018 onwards, only one aspect of it trumps all the other ones combined: finding the person you always want to go back to. The person who makes a house feel like home, and who makes five years go by in an instant.

And that is why I feel weird about this past decade: the first 5 years feel like they lasted twice or three times as long as the last 5.

Usually it’s the other way around: the further you go back in your memories, the more blurred everything feels, and the passing of time seems faster than in the more recent years.

But this time it’s the more recent years that are mixed together in a salad of FFP2 masks and vaccines, peppered with way too many idiots to count or care for.

This is not to say that what happened from 2018 onwards is less important than in the 2013-2017 period. Far from that. It would be silly to rank our years in terms of importance: we are always the product of everything that’s happened to us in our lives.

So why am I writing about all of this?

I’m not sure. It’s the type of self-reflection that I’m comfortable with sharing with those unlucky enough to read or care about it.

Maybe you find a bit of yourself in what I just wrote, thinking about different years or different stages of life. I hope you can share my feeling of deep happiness that is born from this self-reflection.

It is a privilege to feel this way: I’m aware of it and feel grateful for it. Maybe even a little guilty, as if I was unjustly taking happiness away from someone else and do not deserve it for some reason.

That’s ridiculous, however.

We all deserve all the happiness we can get, and enjoy it while it lasts.

You never know whether or not you’ll be given a second chance at feeling this way, like you “know you’re in the good old days, before you’ve actually left them” (Andy Bernard – The Office).

This is my birthday wish to you all: that you can find this type of happiness, as well as plenty of “good old days” to cherish with your loved ones over the years.

Take care.