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