A recipe for reflection

About two years ago, I cycled to my science journalism class from Amsterdam Central Station and along the railway. It was snowing and the cycle path was slippery. In my homebound train later that day, I was looking at the cycle path, and saw other cyclists carefully managing the snow.

Suddenly I realised that I had been one of them. It was almost as if I could see myself cycling from a distance. A special feeling, and maybe a powerful tool for reflection as well.

Closing your eyes and looking at yourself generally helps in reflecting on your behaviour. But this process takes place in your mind only. Looking at a real world place, where you actually performed some sort of behaviour, might make the picture of yourself in this place stronger.

Sometimes these memories are like snapshots. Like when you pass a bridge over a river that you once rowed on. You blink and it is gone.

I wonder whether distance plays a role: would you reflect in more detail about yourself if you can see the location in more detail? I mean, if you picture yourself as a tiny puppet on summit of the Mont Blanc (which I never climbed, but of which I was lucky to take a picture during a recent flight), you cannot see the exhaustion on your face, can you?

2014-07-26 17.26.10

It might be a good recipe for moments of deep to superficial reflection: travel routes you have been before with different means of transport. And look if you show up around there, from some time in the past.

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