„You didn’t see them? Oh, we saw them! Three times. They showed up after 00:30 every night.“ Milla shows us a picture on her phone.
Green lights in the night sky.
We are wrapped in warm, floaty, puffed suits on the little boat, enjoying a bumpy-in-a-good-way ride and a fun conversation with the newly weds in front of us. Just minutes before we breathed in and out with a sperm whale who rested on the surface close to us before diving deep into the trench in search for squid.
Everything was great until now. Until we realize we have missed the Northern Lights during the last days. When the weather was still good.
The emotional temperature shifts and the way to shore suddenly feels very cold. I wrap the scarf around my face.
“We saw them.”
We drive back to our camping ground, an orange golden sunset shining through the windows to our right on the curvy coastal road.
The darker it gets that day the more the frustration about the missed opportunity takes hold of the moment. I can see, hear, feel Bridget’s disappointment. We knew it would be hard and involve a lot of luck to see Northern Lights in the beginning of September.
Until today we thought we were just unlucky and already planned a proper winter adventure – just for the Northern Lights. Until today it was what it was.
„We saw them. You should have stayed up late!“
We stay outside for a while. The stars are hidden behind a thick grey layer tonight. It is our last night on the Lofoten islands before we turn south again. I go back into our cabin around midnight.
Bridget stays outside and watches the cloudy sky.
„I am so angry at us that we didn’t stay up longer the two days when the weather was better!“
The cabin is cold. It takes me some time to warm up the bed sheets. I stare at the dark ceiling. Bridget comes in around 1am. We don’t talk much. We cuddle to stay warm and drift to sleep at some point.
The melancholic veil still lingers over us during breakfast.
The cuddles on the husky farm, the birds following the boat to the open ocean, the gentle whale – everything beautiful that happened yesterday seems far away.
It is weird how the feeling of a missed opportunity or the fear of missing out can grab you so tight it takes a day to recover.
“I wish she wouldn’t have shown us the photo.”
Some context and notes
I wrote these lines on the same day we came back to our little cabin and I remember how sad I was how this beautiful day had turned out.
The fear of missing out – FOMO – is a not so old type of social anxiety caused by worries that others may have more satisfying lives than themselves (e.g. Larry Dossey, 2014). It is something I have seen in myself and others way too often during the last years. Since I have stopped reading Twitter or spending (much) time on Facebook or Instagram it is definitely better. While traveling I tried to hold back with pictures and recommendations or “oh, you missed that???” talks which also helped. Reframing these moments with old and new found friends into beautiful stories we enjoy sharing and listening to is also a great way.
I mean this time we really missed a great moment. But we had so many great others in exchange for getting up early and seizing the day.
Let’s face it, Leon: There’s always something different and exciting happening somewhere else at that particular moment. But spending thoughts on it distracts the energy and joy from the here and now. It is not fair towards others – and myself.
I am still in the process of building fear-of-missing-out resilience. Or rather practicing it. It gets better.