A boringly exciting city adventure

Choices matter

Whether you go left or right, pick blue or orange, talk to someone or not… it can make a huge difference to our day. How do we usually choose and does it really matter who makes the choice? Would you trust someone else or fate to make choices for you? In short: wouldn’t it be fun to experiment a little?

So we had this slightly crazy idea…

My partner Johan and I decided to make some rules for the next day and to surrender to those. We agreed fate and other people would determine the course of our day and wrote down some rules we would stick to. Come along with our city adventure (interestingly enough, especially our minds appeared to be spicing up our day)!

Fate and other people would determine
the course of our day.

‘Leave the house and flip a coin’

It was tails so we turned right. Flipped again and turned left. We were to walk until we found a place that said ‘breakfast’ on the window or on the menu and there we would have breakfast, unless we knew the place so we ended up in a hotel. Here my mind started rattling and dealing with the next assignment.

‘Ask the woman with the curly hair how we are to spend the next hour’

breakfast‘Look, there is a woman with curly hair. That’s good. Although, are those really curls or waves? I hope she will still be here when we are finished. Everyone else has straight hair. What if we are stuck here for hours? How should we ask it? I think Johan should do it. What’s for breakfast?’

What if we are stuck here for hours?

I had to really drag my awareness back into the room and focus on having breakfast and being together. Wow, this was exciting (and confrontational) already! Fortunately for us, the woman was still there when we finished our breakfast and Johan did indeed approach her. She looked surprised when she heard she could determine what we would do for the next hour. And she was kind, because it could have been anything. After some discussion with her friend and other hotel guests, she sent us into the park, to walk to the end and have coffee and then we were to go to the Leidseplein. It made us laugh, as this is the park we live next to and visit all the time. So the mind started commenting: ‘oh well, that’s an adventure! Now we’re in our front yard. We should have made different rules. Next time we must start farther away from our home.’

We should have made different rules.

However, we were also enjoying the walk and observing the chatter in our minds. I was actually somewhat relieved by this sweet and slow start of the day. After coffee we continued to the Leidseplein. As it was too early for lunch, we inserted some rules:

‘Flip a coin and take the tram left or right. When the first person with a non-black umbrella gets off, follow for two blocks’


Now we were getting somewhere, because for the first eight stops, only people with black umbrellas got on. Lots of those. ‘Haha we will be stuck till the terminal! Keep looking. Try and look inside that bag, what colour is it? We’ll look like pickpockets.’ But there she was, the lady with the pink umbrella! When she got off, we followed her to the first… on no, she entered a supermarket! So we sat down and waited for her return.

After a while the lady came back with her groceries, crossed the street and… got back on the tram! ‘O noes, we’re going back! Hahahaha!’ I started to enjoy the ridiculousness and randomness of our actions. (Were they even much different from my other actions?) The next stop we followed her again and then she entered a shopping center, where we lost her. We decided to walk to the other side and continue with our next assignment.

I started to enjoy the ridiculousness and randomness of our actions.

‘Ask the man with the largest dog where to have lunch’

waiting-lunchEasy peasy, right? Not. Whereas the city center and old western part of Amsterdam are invested with dogs, hence the added largest, here were NO dogs whatsoever for quite some time. Not even a tiny poodle or chihuahua. We concluded it must be cultural, since we had seen many muslims, who usually don’t have dogs as pets. Our stomachs began to make the sounds of impatience and it was real hard not to cheat and just enter the lunch place that was right out there. We were obedient though and stuck to our rules. We waited till The Man with the Dog appeared who did indeed send us to that place by the water. During lunch we felt some restlessness and excitement. We were nearing a more challenging assignment.

We were obedient though and stuck to our rules.
We waited till The Man With the Dog appeared.

‘Find number 180, ring the doorbell and have that person tell you what to do next’

doorbell‘If number 180 doesn’t exist on that street, head East until you find one that does.’ That second rule took us for a walk through a small park (no dogs!) and then to a long road with tall apartment buildings. ‘O no, we will have to speak into the intercom. They’ll think we are Jehova’s witnesses.

They’ll think we are Jehova’s witnesses.

collecting-garbageWhat if they ask us to kill the neighbour. Or provide sexual services…’ Our minds were going wild and it was fun to share all the stuff our brains came up with. We got lucky. The kind lady spoke to us from her balcony, no intercom. She thought we were from the local government and wanted us to organize more playgrounds. When we explained we were just private people doing an experiment, she smiled, checked if we didn’t ask for money and told us to pick up the trash on the street and sidewalk in front of her home.

What if they ask us to kill the neighbour.

wine-adventureRelieved we didn’t have to perform any actions regarding other people’s flesh, and happy to be of service, we started picking up wrappers, cue tips, lots of cigarette buds, a Minion, paper, plastic, stones, bottles and cans. A senior lady complimented us on our work. It felt really good. After half an hour we were done and dirty. We thought it time for our last duty: have a drink in the nearest bar. Sitting on a terrace surrounded by smoking men we looked back on our day and already start thinking of our next and more challenging city adventure.

If this inspires you to do the same or perhaps you have done something similarly boring yet exciting, please let me know about your experiences below.

… or perhaps you have done something similarly boring yet exciting





3 comments Write a comment

  1. Love this! How wonderful. It reminds of something I had to do in a training once. We had to go in to the city of Amersfoort and rang a random doorbell and ask whether we could have lunch with them. Just to go out of our comfort zones. It was ‘no’ a few times before we got a yes. But then we had the best lunch ever. And the best conversation. And all those thoughts .. (when we got a copious lunch!) … I felt like apologizing all the time for stealing their time. But they loved it. So it was really my mind chattering to me all the time.

    I actually came up with something similar for a film a while ago but left it on the paper since I am not high in my energy at this moment. But I did feel something bubbling after I read your post (thinking of having people give me 10 words [ten different people, that is] of which I would need to create a short story]. Well, I might do that soon …

    • Ah Carolien, that sounds so scary and wonderful at the same time! Aren’t our comfort zones difficult to leave sometimes and it’s so exciting when we do. And our chattering minds a joy forever. Ahum. Wonderful to hear your idea bubbling again after reading this. I like the idea of those random words being the basis of your story. I look forward to watching the film once you have made it.
      I feel this principle has so much potential for all kinds of creative and personal work. Thanks for the response!

  2. Fun thing to do I suppose. I’ll ask my girlfriend to do this with me, since i guess that’ll be more fun and less of a scare. Thanks for sharing this adventurous idea.

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