Depression and other story tellers: The stories they told!

Depression and other story tellers: The stories they told!

Dear Mila,

Guess what? You were not the only one reading my last letter to you. In fact, all of a sudden, it seemed like an incredible amount of people were interested in what I had to say to you. It was as scary as it was wonderful.

I went from feeling like no-one would care if I died to receiving thank you messages from strangers for writing my letter. Isn’t that strange? First my friends told me that they thought I was brave and how much they liked my writing. But then, all of a sudden, I received messages from people I hadn’t spoken to in a long time or didn’t even know at all.

And the most astonishing thing happened: as a reaction to my letter, people of all kinds and from all places started reaching out to me, telling me about their own stories. All of a sudden, it wasn’t that depression was the story-teller, THEY were. And stories they told me!

The world travelers who suffered from anxiety or depression their whole life and still managed to become impressive and magnetic people who devoted their lives to adventure.
The athletic suffering from a chronic illness with a usually very low life expectancy.
The women’s rights activist who used to suffer from low self-esteem and fought anorexia. Or the academic who proved that everyone can find their place no matter what your burden is.
People who all of a sudden fell into a dark hole of anxiety of depression without any previous trauma or incident, struggling to get their life back together, that had so suddenly fallen apart.

What had been just a letter from me to you, to get it off my chest, had become a motivation for those people to write to me and reveal themselves to me. Most I had never seen or met before. Many told me that it is easier for them to talk to me about it because they didn’t know me and they knew I wouldn’t judge. Which is not entirely true.. I did judge! I judged that all of them were incredibly brave humans who deserve someone to listen to them and understand.

I was so moved and overwhelmed with all the responses I got for that letter! As much as people are thankful for me writing it, I am even more grateful for their responses. It made me feel less lonely. For the first time in a long time I felt something like pride again. But most importantly, I was able to help! Obviously it didn’t have a big impact on each and every reader. But if just one person picked up a phone instead of a bottle of pills after reading it, or if someone felt lighter after telling me their story, it was a win!

Only through this did I realize how small deeds can help. How listening really helps. How many people are just waiting for someone to listen to them and how, by doing so, you may just safe a life.

In my online dating profile it says that I’m an “activist”. For a long time I thought I was just lying to myself. But now I realized that you don’t have to chain yourself to trees or throw paint at people’s coats to be an activist. As much as I’d like to do those things (I’d really love to throw red paint at all those fur coats!), I can’t right now. I am still limited by my body and my mind. But what I can do right now is listen and write and share my story.

As an adolescent and young woman I was always told not to reveal so much of myself, not to tell all my secrets. I was a talker and often confessed my most honest thoughts and feelings to everyone who would listen. They warned me that people would use it against me and try to hurt me with everything they knew about me. I didn’t understand.

And they did use it against me and they did hurt me with it. But you know what? That’s ok! I kept and will keep telling my truth, my story, my thoughts. Because I don’t want to live in a world where people have to hide their reality from others out of fear of being hurt. My story and my past are not something to be ashamed of. Neither are my thoughts. And therefore, there is nothing I need to be afraid of.

Mila, being vulnerable is ok! Sharing you story is important! Speaking your truth, your inside and talking about your experiences is crucial. It is who you are. If we all did, maybe a lot of people would feel less alone, less hopeless?

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity. 

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Novelist
Now this all sounds so lovely and candy-cotton-fluffy. But is it? No, it’s not. Reading my letter did not heal anybody from depression, anxiety or any other illness. Getting such wonderful feedback did not all of a sudden cure me from my depression or pick up the low self-esteem I have accumulated over the past 27 years. But it’s a step. Writing it helped me heal a bit more. Reading it and telling me maybe helped someone else heal just a little bit more, too?
It is now time for me to tell my story. I think it does matter, after all.
You will see that maybe I am not who you thought I am. But I hope you will love me, still.
Until the next letter
-A.
Advertisements

Depression And Other Story-Tellers: My Year Without Life

Depression And Other Story-Tellers: My Year Without Life

Dear Mila,

There’s a story I’d like to tell you. Part of a story. Basically the latest chapter of one. Mine.

For the whole past year I’ve been writing to you about the world, my discoveries, my life.
Today, I will tell you about my death. And my resurrection.

But first, there’s something you need to know: I like people with stories. People who had to fight. And people who’s fight made them kind and compassionate.
I look up to people who know about life’s ups and downs, it’s hidden valleys and treasures. People who only ever have a good time are suspicious to me. How would they relate to the many people suffering in this world? They seem to be avoiding life in it’s full immenseness. Seem to avoid hardship and are not fully aware of what’s happening around them.
People who think they are strong because they have never fallen have no idea about the strength of the people who get up and fight their demons every day.
If you know how a heart can shatter into a thousand pieces of sharp glass, you’re my kind of person. Because then you know how it feels to have your heart swell and fly, like a balloon filled with helium. So full that you think you’re gonna explode out of joy of a single small moment. The glitter of the ocean, the sensation of warm rain on your salty skin, a hug by that person you’ve been missing for too long. Or the first glimpse of a blue sky you thought you’d never see again!

With this, I want to encourage everyone with a story to share it. With the people they love, people they meet, people they’ll maybe never see again. Because there’s nothing worse than having to go through death, hell and life alone. And by sharing our story, we discover, that we’re not alone. We are story-tellers. And we all have more than one chapter.

So here’s mine.
In January 2015 I packed up my surfboard, my backpack, danced in the living room and took off to my favorite place: The ocean. More specific: Sri Lanka. The teardrop shaped jewel in the Indian Ocean.

What I didn’t know was that this would be the end of life as I knew it.

3 weeks later, it was valentine’s day, we crashed. Our motorbike thundered down the side of a small bridge, leaving me unconscious and my friend utterly devastatingly injured. I woke up with the high pitched sound of the broken bike and my friend uttering noises of immense pain under her breath.
It took us 12 hours and 3 different hospitals to get her from the mountains of Sri Lanka to a private hospital in Colombo.

As much as you might be interested in hearing more about my friend’s story, this is not my information to share. Thus I can’t continue here. All I can say is this: She will be fine! And she is by far one of the strongest people I know and I can’t wait to surf with her again. Because we will! I admire her for how she handled the incredibly difficult situation she was in, and the pain she had to endure. I will never stop re-living the moment when we had to separate hands to be taken off to two different intensive care units.

My story begins here.
On February 17 I had a stroke. Two, to be exact. As a direct consequence of the accident.

Yes, it came along with all the symptoms you hear of. The right side of my body went paralyzed, I couldn’t speak, only utter sounds, I couldn’t move and had no idea what was going on.
I wanted to speak, ask what was happening but could not react besides making those golden-retriever like sounds. That moment is engraved into my brain (literally and figuratively). I hope one day the flash-backs will stop.

The next hours I spent in a big noisy machine, being examined by many doctors and being wheeled around in a bed. But what I remember most is the deeply concerned look on the doctors faces, a certain person’s hand on mine and the overwhelming need to sleep. I hid under the covers.

I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). In the middle of the night, alone. That was when that little creepy devil of anxiety creeped into my veins. He snuck in through my ears with the beeping of the machines, into my eyes with the blinking lights and the emptiness of the room. Into my blood with every drop of the medicine. And there he settled.
Over the next 2 weeks in the ICU he had his fun with me. He made me scream, shake, squirm and cry whenever he liked. He’d creep up my right leg, whispering “stroke” and would cling to my lungs when I tried to breath or ask for help.

For two weeks I saw no sunlight, smelled no fresh air, no stars, no birds, no plant. Only a room the size of a cardboard box, artificial light and the beep-beep-beep of my heartbeat being digitalized. The devil grew, multiplied, called for his friends. And they came. Guilt and Depression. They picked me apart, left me sometimes apathetic and tired, then again crying and screaming, then begging, then whimpering, then senseless.

And they stayed with me. After I left the hospital. After I left Sri Lanka.
Anxiety was an ever present devil. He’s green, small, grinning. He hides in corners, in buses, in lecture halls, in cafés. And he’ll tell me that death is coming for me. Any second now. So I’d pick up the phone for help or to say goodbye. Break down on the street crying. Hiding. Not taking a shower when no one was in the house worried that no one would find me in there. Leaving the door open when I sleep, hoping that someone could tell the difference between death and sleep.
It is no life when you think you’re dying three times a day. It is merely existing. 

But as one devil shrunk with the help of therapy, meditation and medication, another one grew stronger and stronger. This one is less like a little creepy devil. It’s a deep dark black pool of dark water with slippery creatures on the ground, trying to grab your ankles as you flail your arms to stay on the surface. I didn’t. I went under. But the fact that I’m writing to you today means that I didn’t drown.
Having been left with daily symptoms of a strong concussion and the stroke, I could see less and less sense in my life. What would my life be if I couldn’t travel anymore? Who was I, if I couldn’t explore the world anymore?
Can an injured brain take the workload of a student life? What would I do if I couldn’t pursue my degree?
If all your dreams are shattered by a beaten and broken body, why dream?
When just walking down the street is an effort, what does the outside world matter?
When moving around the house is painful, why leave bed?
If every night is only a string of flash-backs and nightmares, why sleep?
Why eat?
Why drink?

Why live?

And so it went on.

Until I found the pills. All the pills. And there I was. On the edge of destruction. On the edge of suicide. On the edge of life and death.

But I couldn’t do it.
I am a person with a story! MANY stories.
My whole life I wanted to be the girl with the many tattoos, many jobs, many destinations and many stories. So I need to live to tell this one. I decided to build my life again.
Even though it still seems like it sometimes, I know that nobody gets everything.
I had more than many. From a beautiful childhood to a troubled youth, a loving family, safety and warmth. Life lessons. I have a good, beautiful body, a great brain (even though it now has holes in it) and an even better heart.
I was given the world, the ocean runs through my body and there’s the sand of the sahara in my shoes. I may never get all the opportunities other people were given. But that doesn’t define me. What defines me is my strength and my love for this life. It I’ll never teach great theories, write great articles or be on a big stage.. that’s ok.
I will teach people how to fight and how to be strong. How to love this world. The planet will be my stage. Maybe now, I won’t be as good or smart as others. But there’s a reason I’m still here.
All I can do in the end is give my best in being me.
As long as I feel there’s life. There’s the world. There’s me.

And all the things fighting for.

Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t just snap out of depression or anxiety. I’m still battling it every day. But I’m also discovering that it’s worth being strong.
There are days I don’t want to get up and I’m jealous and angry because it seems everyone else has it easier. Nights where the nightmares are grabbing, where death seems to be peeking into my bedroom. Moments that seem entirely dark, deep and endless.
But they become less and less – because I asked for help. And I received it. By many many people. And I remembered that I matter. I remembered that people care. Family, friends, kind strangers, therapists, doctors, kittens and meditation.

I will never again be the girl that wrote to you last year, Mila. But that’s ok. Because I have another story, another tattoo. I am more compassionate now. I take (even) less bullshit. And even though I’m still a bit shaky in the knees, I know I’ll be stronger. And there will be life.

I can see it from here.

Love,

-A.

12072577_10156055360375361_7192788681241110324_n

A day to believe in heroes

deckeneinsturtz-einer-tiefgarage-in-gretzenbach-2

Dear Mila,

Today is one of those days I’d like to be able to believe in God. Maybe it would be easier to understand why life goes the way it does. Why things happen that one can never understand or grasp, things no one will ever be able to see a reason or sense behind. Things happen because they do and they can shake you to your core and sometimes people will never overcome the pain those events bring.

Today is one of those days I’d like to be grateful. I am. But I am also furious, sad and numb. A day I’d like to be happy but I can’t, because I know that there are others who are not. And that it could be me, the one who today only feels deep, dark and inexhaustible grief.

It’s a blink of an eye, one movement, a little moment of hesitation or a single look over the shoulder that saved my family the grief which 7 other families have been living with for the past 10 years.

Today marks 10 years since the biggest fire department accident in Switzerland. On November 27, 2004 the roof of an underground garage crashed down onto the fire fighters who were beneath it, at that very moment, to extinguish a fire. Seven of them died immediately or on the site of accident. Three were rescued, one of them badly injured – my father.

They left children and wives. My father would have left me, my two siblings and my mother. Had he stood one meter to the front, November 27, 2004 would have been the day of his death.

I don’t know what saved my father’s life. Did he put on his boots a second slower than the other? Was it the zipper of his jacket that stuck for a little moment? Did he let someone else go in front of him? Or did he look back at the front door to make sure all his loved ones were fast asleep? Maybe it was God, yes, maybe he exists. Who knows. Maybe it was destiny. Coincidence. I will never know. No one ever will.

On my way to school that morning, I saw his car on the parking lot in front of the firehouse. “There was a fire early in the morning. I don’t know why he’s not back yet”, my mother said. Even though we have seen uncountable of those missions in the middle of the night, I knew immediately, that something was different this time. At this very moment, my dad was already lying underneath the debris – fully conscious. Weeks later I read in a newspaper interview what he was thinking about in those moments – almost certain about his immediate death.

“He was in it”, my mom sobbed on the phone.

Peeping sounds, tubes, doctors, a bustle, tears. Impossible to forget the moment when I saw him again, hours later in the hospital. He pulled the oxygen mask down from his face: “I told you I was going to be 99.” A crushed lung, a brocken back – but he was alive.

Despite the joy I feel that he is still alive, that we got another chance, I also feel the grief of the people who, today, are reminded once more how cruel their fathers, husbands, sons and friends were ripped out of life. It is as if I could physically feel their questions: “Why us? Why him? Why?” And I ask myself if they wish it had been us instead of them. Ask myself if they can forgive? Find closure? Keep on going? Are they still angry? Did they find consolation?

To all those question, I have no answer. But there is one thing I know and I want you to know that, too, Mila:

– Those men were heroes!

For years they risked their lives in their spare time, to save others. From 9/11 in New York to November 27, 2004 in Gretzenbach, Switzerland – never cease to believe in heroes, Mila!

They are among us – and when they are taken away from us, that’s how we should remember them.

To me, at least, that’s what they will always be. So today may not be the day I start to believe in God. But it’s another day for me to believe in heroes.

gretz5Jahresrueckblick-27 deckeneinsturtz-einer-tiefgarage-in-gretzenbach  TIEFGARAGE Ceiling of an underground car park collapsed in GretzenbachLove

-A.

Courage is the pillar of happiness

Dear Mila,

I have not forgotten about you. I really haven’t. Au contraire – I do think about you a lot. Like, a lot a lot. Almost every day, I sketch out letters to you in my head, I see things that I want to show you, have discussions I feel the need to tell you about. Every thought I want to share with you, I put down in my notebook, immediately.

Nevertheless, no letter from me arrived in your mailbox in the past few months. The last one I airmailed from Sri Lanka. A country that has deeply touched and inspired me, where I experienced new and surprising things. On my desk, you’ll find a stack of more than a dozen letters, written in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Indonesia but also France, Spain and Portugal. All of them unfinished. They were supposed to take you with me, take you on a journey through my life on the road. They were to show you what I learned and saw. You were meant to feel the wind in your hear, the salt on your skin and the spice on your tongue.

They hold tales of broken hearts, tears, hope and sundowns. On how to make new girlfriends with cookies and drawings in Sri Lanka, what it feels like to hold back tears when saying goodbye to 140 cats and one heroine. In another one I wanted to tell you how freeing it felt to cruise three countries all by yourself and camp out on motorway service areas. About the beauty of being a woman. In a letter from France I wanted to assure you that it’s good to show weakness and that a true traveler will sometimes find hell in a place that was supposed to be paradise. You should have been warned to be careful about who you surround yourself with and I wanted you to feel with me, when I realized that other people are inspired by my travels (I have not yet found a word for the feeling).

And yet, despite all these adventures and experiences, no letter fluttered from me to you. Why?

It’s simple, dear Mila, and yet difficult. I lacked courage.

Yes. The girl that sleeps alone on motorway service areas, rushes into big waves with a smile, sleeps over at strangers houses in Morocco, zigzags through central america as a hitchhiker and would take on a fight with every man in the world to save a kitty cat, lacks courage. What you have to understand is, that in my letters to you I turn my inside out. Like a magician disclosing his tricks, I reveal, to you and everyone who looks over your shoulder when you’re reading my letters, what’s really happening inside me. That is scary!

When I started writing these letters to you, I had just turned 25. A quarter-century. That birthday was a milestone for me. Now, it was time to make my dreams reality. No more excuses, fear or concerns. After all, I was an adult now, right? I traveled to those exotic destinations that let the words bubble out of my fingers, so to speak. A wonderful friend stood by my side, encouraging me to keep writing. My dreams were suddenly turned into plans. I wandered the world, helped where I could and wrote about it. The responses I got for that were a-amazing. It’s a privilege, to write about your own life, you see? My future became reality.

But after my return to Switzerland, I got into a slump. Traveling is who I am. It’s in my genes. I am born with it. I cannot remember a time in my life, that I have not dreamed about discovering far away countries. Never have I not felt that call, that pull of my wanderlust. There is no reason or trigger. It’s just me. Some people are born singers or dancer. Me, I am a born traveler. As much as I love my home and all the people and animals in it, I still need to go away, to let my heart do a dance, to be able to write.

He who has once taken off, who has left the laziness, the fear or the prejudice that have kept him back, behind, he will never again be able to let it be. The leaving, the discovering, the horizon. You can only perceive sentences through words and words through letters. Just like that you can only discover the world through single steps. Small and big. Until they grow into travels. But he who has once experienced the vastness, dimensions and inconceivability of the world, he who has tried to to see and feel it with open eyes and living senses and mind, attempted to grasp it with mind or at least hands, he cannot go back. Back into the narrowness of before. Because no matter how big the before was, it will never be as big as the world.

All of a sudden I now felt pulled down by every day life and the fear, to be judged by others for my letters to you or the be laughed at. The feeling that my life might be only the slightest bit different from the others, that it might be worthy of being written about disappeared slowly but steady. Once more, I felt like I had nothing to offer, no accomplishments and my future was moving further away than ever. I was ordinary, boring and see-through.

So why now? Am I writing this letter on a beach on the other side of the world? Am I in California to visit you? Or am I about to hike up the Machu Pichu tomorrow? – No, I am typing it in the university library in Zurich. Not really exotic, is it?

But I have learned a lesson that I feel like sharing with you.

In the past few weeks a campaign has repeatedly caught my eye on my Facebook main page. The Save Kimi – Be Fur Free Campaign by four paws. Through the daily posts of Four Paws I realized the effect one single person can have. I saw the campaign grow and how more and more people took part in it. Almost daily I new pictures of protests around Europe popped up. People with Kimi-Masks lifting posters up in the air. But all of this was only possible thanks to the hard and inspired work of the four paw-activists. People who dare to fight for a better world, who raise their voices and do not give up. Even while facing to lose their fight. That is courage!

I realized that, if I wanted a future where my words and deeds reach people, I needed to work for it. So I need to dare, even when there is the possibility, that others look down on me. I, too, want a better world. For me, for you, for all of us. That’s my dream and that’s what I have to keep working for. In my letters to you, at university and in my daily life.

Dear Mila, dreams don’t come true by themselves. They require a lot of courage and effort. But they are worth it.

In that sense: until my next letter!

Love,

– A.

 

HP2283

Photo on 25.10.14 at 16.47 #2

Anm.: Courage is (one of) the pillar(s) of happiness is a quote by Perikles.

There is magic in the taste of tea

There is magic in the taste of tea

Dear Mila,

Before you keep on reading this, please go to the kitchen and make yourself a cup of tea. Add some milk, if you like, maybe a little bit of sugar. Now, make yourself comfortable.

Are you hugging the hot cup with both hands? Can you smell it’s intensity? Can you see the dark color? – Good. Because in this letter, I will try to describe to you where the tea you are drinking right now comes from.

It is 7.30 in the morning, somewhere in Sri Lanka’s highlands. „Hello, how are you? Pen please? Candy, please?“, I am welcomed by school girls, about your age. Their long, shiny black hair is plaited in two tight braids on each side of their face, bumping up and down as the girls run towards me along the windy road.

Sheepishly, I shake my head – I am carrying neither pens nor sweets with me. They eye me up and down for a second – but before I can determine whether their look expressed surprise, amusement or dispraise – they are gone. Giggling and shouting they run downhill, through green tea plants, along hidden paths. From time to time I catch a glimpse of white uniforms or bouncing braids from far away.

My attempt to follow fails miserably. Me – old fart – is not able to run downhill with children anymore. So I stay behind to enjoy the cold of a little stream, gurgling blithely through the plantation. The water is crystal-clear, just like the view. I gaze towards the valley. Well around fifty children in white and blue uniforms miraculously appear out of the shrubbery and swarm into a colorful building. Between the school and me there is only green as far as the eye can see. To the horizon and beyond. The tea plants snuggle tightly against the curvy relief of the mountains, row after row, plant after plant. Only a thin street disturbs the intimacy, winding itself up the hill in lazy curves, cutting through the green.

The crescent moon still clung to the dark blue sky– only at the horizon the blue frazzled to purple to then fade into light pink – as I slowly but steadily jolted towards sunrise in a Tuktuk.

I was heading to „Lipton’s Seat“ on the very top of the plantation, which used to belong to the family Lipton (Ice Tea). Mister Lipton had the habit of riding his horse up there to show his guests his dominion. Right he was – for it truly is a kingdom.

In the south a cliff, abundantly overgrown with vegetation, falls some hundreds of meters steep down and opens up the view to Sri Lanka’s lowlands dotted with lakes and hills. Fog hung in the valleys like soft cushions for the villages that were just about to wake up in the first light of day.

In the north the tea plantations glisten like green sapphire. The small flower lined road that had led me here remained silent and empty of any sign of humans.

With gravel scrunching beneath my feet I scrambled up the viewing platform. Like a throne it lays there, overlooking Lipton’s kingdom. The morning sun freed itself from the pink clouds within minutes and flooded all surroundings with it’s warm light. I could not hear a single human sound, only the singing of thousands of birds filled the air.

In this moment I did not have a choice, Mila. It overtook me. I danced. Had to dance. Nothing could have made this moment, this place and this view more perfect. And so I danced along the light of day into the morning.

On my way downhill I not only meet schoolchildren. Meanwhile, the surrounding villages have woken up and every fifty meters I am greeted by a polite “good morning ma’am”. Men, armed with shovel and rake or in black uniforms, are on their way to work in the tea factory, where the tea you are drinking right now, is being produced every day.

I pass a group of tea pickers (“Hello, Good morning!”) in brightly colored Saris, loudly chatting away,. The big containers in which they gather their harvest are already slung around their foreheads. During my visit in the factory later in the day I learn that alone in this plantation 1500 pickers are at work daily, harvesting several tons of leafs a day.

On a small elevation along the street I sit down to take in the busy awakening of a village. A child spots me from far away – white skin is very eye-catching here – and waves and shouts overexcitedly until I wave back in a big slow gesture.

The simplicity of this morning strikes me and I feel a deep desire for peace. From up my hill I observe the slow bustle with this certain rural leisureliness – villagers watering their vegetable gardens and shaking out colorful blankets in the window or hanging laundry in the front yard. Smoke comes out of the ovens of the painted houses while the women are baking Naan bread and are preparing breakfast.

All of this there is to discover – in the midst of the endless plantations who’s plants soon will be the drink you are holding in your hand. Who knows, maybe you are drinking a tea that was hand picked by the woman who greeted me so friendly this morning? This, Mila, is the magic in the taste of tea.

When I return to my guesthouse a few hours later I am hungry and tired. But happy. I received this morning as a present from Sri Lanka to me. I will carry it as a reminder of piece and beauty within me, wherever I go.

Maybe, next time you pour yourself a cup you will see Sri Lanka’s green hills, too.

Love

-A.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Image

 

Have you ever been in love?

Image

 

Dear Mila,

Have you ever been in love?

Do you know the warm fuzzy feeling that spreads across your body? The smile that secretly sneaks onto your face at the mere thought of the person who somehow managed to touch your heart?

What about the dark emptiness, the silence and the disappointment of an unfulfilled love? Or even the lightness of lifting fog after one finally manages to let go of a person they have been holding on to for way too long?

You are still so young, Mila, and have a lot of years to come to discover these feelings. They are intertwined, inevitably a part of all of your lives and without them we would be so much poorer.

 But traveling, too, is life. And with life comes love. Places you come across become love affairs. With some it is love at first sight – your time together is passionate, full of sunsets, adventures and laughter. But be wary, you might be left with nothing but sand in your shoes and a return ticket to the grey rains.

 Maybe another one is shy and you need to first discover the most remote corners, climb the highest mountains or dive deep down into the blue ocean – until it lays it’s soul bare for you.

 Do not be tricked by false promises – or else, love will quickly vanish. Even if Photoshop and glossy magazines try to seduce you with muscular mountains, sinuous forests and the white smiles of tropical beaches. You might soon see these promises turn into an unsuspected reality.

 Some places reject us. No matter how hard we try to get close, they keep their beauty hidden behind high walls of culture and language, they are not to be conquered – and so we meekly steal off, vanquished.

 But when love arrives it is unexpected. Unhoped-for. You may choose where you are going. But not where you will end up. Because when it happens, it happens fast. If you let it. You can not be ready. All you really can do, is to admit that you will probably never be.

 All of a sudden you find yourself surrounded by magic. Now, rain does not mean grey but green. Behind every corner a new exciting secret is to be found. Carefully you now discover the unknown body of valleys and mountains, lakes and forests. It is not always easy. You may even need to learn an exotic new language to dig deeper into the soul of your chosen one. You will have to expose yourself, too. Are now vulnerable while you lay bare more and more of yourself. Finally you lower your hand – used as a guard, the camera lifted up like a shield – it is time to exchange the lens with the heart.

 Every love story has an ending, too. What remains is the memory. Whenever I see the milky way in the night sky I cannot help but return to Nicaragua. The country that gifted me with a night in the stars. Egypt took me by the hand to show me the treasures of the ocean. France perfumed itself with the odor of pine trees and coffee on a cool morning. With Australia I danced through the night while the USA taught me patience. Never will I forget Morocco’s smile and warm hug.

 From all my geographical love affairs – just as from all my human ones – I have learned and been given something. We are connected in good and bad moments alike. One led me inevitably to the next and each and every single one holds a piece of my heart.

 Everyone can fall in love. You too! If you dare to go away. As scary as it seems: every journey begins with a first step and every love with a first glance.

 Love,

– A.

Today I was a bird

Dear Mila,

800px-Mount_batur_and_lake

Today, I was a bird.

On the back seat of a motorcycle I sped through the sky.

Past arms waving hello, past smiles that reflected my own. – „I was here.”

Engraved in my heart these smiles are the proof that I lived. In the heat – soaked with sunrays and the smell of gasoline – dark clouds moved from the jungle-covered volcano towards the sun, as if they wanted to pull her into the dark crater of the mountain.

Green rice fields and those last rays of light turned into a twirl of colors of freedom that I seemed to dance through in pirouettes and loopings.

My wings spread out wide I flew towards the sun – only seconds before she had reached the edge of the world. – “ Is this still desire or yet bliss?”

Heat turned into the chill of a foggy morning and wings became roots. The feeling of burned feet on cool grass. Mossy trees as majestic as Dubai’s skyscrapers, a singing silence.

Carefully I left behind my footprints in the soil of eternity – in this small piece of a forgotten kingdom of nature.

From the old age of the trees I turned into a child again, rolling down a hill in laughter. In dirty clothes and with grass in my hair I gasped for air.

A meadow as exciting as a rollercoaster, a woman as giggly as a little girl. – “I swear I will never forget.”

 

This is the beauty of travel, Mila. You can be everything and you will be everything around you. There are days that are nothing but breathtaking, so full of freedom and laughter, so hard to describe. It is those moments that fill you with life and gratitude – nobody will ever see what we see. Being a child and immortal at the same time. Whenever you life a day – yes even a moment – like this, Mila, try to describe it in your heart and remember it, hold it dear, when the skies are once again grey and the clouds have reached the sky. When monotony and daily burdens tear you down remember there will be days when we soar over the jungle like bird.

Love

-A.