"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." - Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Freitag, 6. August 2010

Homecoming - Worldviewing

Looking back on the last five months, everything seems a bit unreal. It seems unreal that in March I sat in Kathrin's apartment in Berlin and she did tarot cards for me. That in April I took my first swim of the year in the Adriatic. That in May I slept on a beach in Albania. That in June I roamed the streets of Istanbul. And that just a few weeks ago in July I had coffee on a small market square in Kosovo. It even seems unreal that now I am writing these lines in Munich. Is it quite possible that all of that was me? Or was I a different person in all of these situations? I cannot seem to quit re-traveling all of the places I have seen in my mind. I have written out the list of countries I visited in my travel journal maybe a dozen times. To me it is precious beyond words.

When I took stock at half time, in Albania, I wrote about what I have gained on this trip and through this trip. I have lost a few things as well. Two t-shirts. Quite a bit of weight. A ring. A tiny part of each of my ears for two new ear piercings. The key to one of the hostels. My long hair. My fear of public transport in strange countries. My clearly cut out career plan. The urge to be in control of my life - that might be the most important one.
When you travel the way I did it, you quickly notice that nothing can be controlled. Plans never stick. And why would I forcefully hang on to a plan if what life has in store for me offers new, maybe better opportunities? I always thought I was flexible. Now I think that I didn't know what flexibility was before I traveled. I will never cease to make plans - but what I learned on my trip is to enjoy the moment when a plan fails because it has been replaced by a new, maybe a better plan. A plan is not a law by nature. It is supposed to guide you to a destination. The less clearly defined this destination is, the more enjoyable it is to move between shifting plans and pick the one that suits the circumstances the best. And what my trip has also taught me, literally and figuratively, is that you always arrive somewhere. It may not be your favorite place - well, then you can pack your bags and leave. It may be the best thing that ever happened to you - well, stay and enjoy it for a while. This goes for a journey and for life.

I feel like I have lost a lot of heavy baggage and exchanged it for a myriad of experiences that are light to carry, but have an immense impact on my life. Every now and then pictures come to my mind out of nowhere, memories of pure bliss. People have asked me a lot as of lately if I never had a really bad experience. Of course there have been the occasional rip-offs by taxidrivers or the obligatory ignorant people in hostels, and the asthma attack on the bus between Berat and Saranda in Albania wasn't my favorite moment of them all. I wouldn't want to miss any of that. In fact it is almost scary how smoothly everything went.
Yes, there were moments when I was unhappy. However, there have been infinitely more moments when I was unhappy in my life in Germany. Did that make me want to leave the country? It did not. Neither did the tough situations on my trip make me want to come home. I was never homesick. But then I feel that being homesick is just not a disposition of mine. I know home is always there waiting for me. And isn't home more than anything else a place where there are people that I love and that love me? I am in the fortunate position to have such a place, in fact I have more than one. And now, after my trip, the number has risen once more. Yet again, the world has become a little bit smaller, and that is because of two reasons:
Firstly, I have friends in the Balkans now that I know will welcome me again at any given time, people who I will see again in a nearer or more distant future that I share a special connection with. They have shared their lives with me and helped me to approach this region that I am fascinated by and that I have come to love with all my heart and soul. I truly wish to welcome them in my world one day and allow them to see why it is that I love my home country as well. My last couchsurfing host Nina, upon me singing "Đurđevdan" in her yard by the fire, said: "You have strange hobbies for a German girl. Shouldn't you be working in a Hypo Bank and have a boyfriend that you just see once a week?" There is lots to learn about Germany. Now that I am back here, I appreciate on a deeper level what it has to offer. I can be a traveler inside my own country, recognize and acknowledge its beauty and share it with other people.
Secondly, meeting people from all over the world has put places on the map that I didn't know of before and that now I want to visit. Traveling has put me in touch with people from backgrounds that are very different from mine. There is an infinity of lifestyles to discover, and my trip has enabled me to get a vague idea of some of them that I want to understand more thoroughly. It has also restored my faith in the fact that there are many many good people in this world. There are a lot of bad ones too, but why focus on that when I know that there are so many places in this world where I have never been to and where I will be welcomed by friends that are willing to let me be part of their lives?
The people, in the end, are what made my trip what it was. All my couchsurfing hosts, all my travel buddies, all the wonderful travelers I met at hostels, all the hostel staff. Places supplied me with beauty, with atmosphere, with a feeling of being at home. The people I met gave me life in all its richest form. I have too many to thank to mention them all here. I am extremely lucky.

What will happen to me now? Where will I go, what will I do? I do have a plan. It is rather vague, it may be more of a bunch of ideas than an actual plan, and a few months ago with a plan like mine I would have felt lost, like I was without orientation in a confusing world without anything to hold on to, swimming in an ocean without control over the force of nature. How important perspective is! I now feel like I can surf the waves on that ocean with ease and that they will bring me to a new shore that is mine to explore. I do hope that this feeling will last and that returning to a daily routine, to artificial lights in libraries and to a cold grey German winter, will not steal this energy from me too fast. But when life puts me down, I know what to do. I have to get on the road again. Because the road is where I can find myself.

I have always loved the last scene of the movie "American Beauty". I love it more then ever now because it comprises the feeling that I have come back to Germany with. To all the people that made my journey what it was, I wish that they will at one point in their lives experience the feeling of fully understanding this quote:

"It's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst. And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life."

Kommentare:

  1. Eine sehr schöne Zusammenfassung, die deine Reise nochmal von einer anderen Seite zeigt. Ich wünsche dir, dass das Licht, das sie in deinem Innern zum Brennen gebracht hat, nicht mehr erlischt!
    Trotz allem schade, dass du es nicht her geschafft hast. Na, wir gehen morgen auf Reise, also: Dir liebe Grüsse, leb dich gut wieder ein und fühl dich gedrückt!

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  2. oh mariella...das war so schön!!!!

    hab dich sooo lieb,meine süße!!!!
    bussi*

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  3. I'm fascinated dušo moja!
    Thank you for the kind words! And you will always be welcome in my home as I already welcomed you in my heart! Hope to see you again soon!
    Puno poljubaca iz Beograda draga moja! I drago mi je što si malo bolje upoznala sebe na ovom putovanju!
    Ask Stefan to translate this to you! ;)

    Alex

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  4. What beautiful words, how strange a feeling, naježio sam se. That quote made my hair go up ;)
    I hope you cherish and nurture this feeling of yours and it grows, it grows into a life of it's own.
    You are with me in my thoughts. Take care.
    Davor

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  5. Ma Saško, molim te! Ona je sve razumela :)

    Nadam se da ćemo nekad da se sretnemo svi zajedno - i da govorimo srpski/bosanski/hrvatski :)

    Puno poljubaca iz Tübingena za Beograd!

    Stefan

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