This is a new keyboard and a new screen. And by the time I will be reading this again, both might seem archaic.
But I also have the feeling that I will need to run whatever I am writing through some kind of spell checker. So, all a bit of a train wreck of a moment really.
Oddly enough I am on a train now. It is easy to forget how easy it can be to travel by train today. I have flown a lot in my life and also driven a lot. But train journeys are somehow the fun mix of the two. I arrived at the Frankfurt train station about 10 minutes before departure. And now, this giant thing, is heading to Paris at a high speed and through very few turbulences.
I didn’t want to write about trains really, or spelling. I am trying to somehow recall moments when, in my lifetime, some horrific things happened and how I managed to deal with them.
So much happens all the time. And a lot of it is actually really terrifying. This very train might have driven into something or someone at some point recently. It would take kilometres to slow this thing down to a stop.
But here we are. I am simply writing.
I remember when the planes hit the twin towers and I personally “fell off an emotional cliff”, like so many others. Our office was near Ground Zero and so it didn’t reopen until it was time to pick up our stuff. I am mixing it all up now, but I am not sure if I was fired before or after. Oh, before. Now I remember. I had been moved to Toronto at the end of 2001 and fired from my job there. It was over speakerphone. Cheap videoconferencing was not there yet, at the turn of the century.
This is in no way horrific compared to what anyone in the World Trade Center had to experience, of course. It is also in no way comparable to what so many people in Iraq had to endure when a globally backed revenge killing was unleashed upon them, despite them not having much to do with what happened to people in New York.
I can write that now, I think. Back then it would have been betrayal or worse?
I have lost my job a few times in my life. But I have kept my life.
And once I was able to keep my life, it would then twist and turn and it would let me flow into something different and unexpected.
It is impossible to expect what the unexpected might be. No matter what some people say, there is a certain level of unpredictability in everything, and data and other “measurable stuff” is really just an excuse of emotional laziness sometimes. Or maybe for something worse.
And yet all of humanity seems to be training towards that.
Preparing for the unexpected.
I have this book about the importance or preparedness and the reduction of risk. It is a very simple and very easy to read book with some really good advice how to avoid practical risks. It is also from 1939. And that would be really funny, unless of course one were about to get killed by a global conflict.
It feels as if a lot of what is currently happening in the world is somehow a repetition of so many patterns from the past. And it is not a repetition of the incredibly beautiful and inspiring things. It appears to be a repetition of readiness for destruction.
Perhaps almost a giddiness for destruction. It’s the worst kind.
As I am writing this, in Karlsruhe Station now, there are bombs falling not very far from here, and thousands of people are being killed. Just because they happened to be born into a certain place and at a certain time. Just because some decision was made on their behalf in some room behind some closed doors, maybe in the middle of the night. Possibly a pencil moved slowly over a piece of paper with a map on it. And boom, children are crushed by buildings into which they tried to take refuge from rockets that create jobs for some families on a different continent or in another country at least.
How can the world watch this and not do something about it? Well, some parts of the world seem to be watching and slowly clapping. While there are also people who want to stop the killing and are silenced.
Some silence themselves. No external support needed. They just very rationally compare numbers and data and stories. Some perhaps not even created by humans.
What can the outcome of all this be?
How on earth will some of us survive? How many will die?
I look inside myself and despite it seeming outrageously selfish, I arrive at the conclusion (right now) that I need to make and think and feel. And the creations, thoughts and feelings need to be somehow positive and somehow a little flame of love against a hurricane of hate.
It’s crazy. But that’s all I have.
Or maybe it is not a flame. I like to think of it as one, because it has something spirit-like about it. And many of the things I make either come from fires or need to survive fires to exist.
Or maybe everything does.
Perhaps all of us here are the result of a burning something playing with some other burning something else.
We live in the proximity of a star that really can bring certain death to us. And that star is hurling through space which is also absolutely deadly to us. And we are sitting on this spinning ball of molten metal, covered in a very thin crust of other materials and water, under an incredibly thin blanket of air, the atmosphere. All in themselves actually also deadly.
Our life is protected by a magnetic field among other things. Just the thought of that is crazy.
The level of deadliness is of everything so immense, and the chances of being alive so slim. We should be probably celebrate every single moment we are alive and share the joy of that very fact with others who happen to be alive with us right now.
There is only a tiny window between being born and then dying again anyway.
Where do we come from and where are we going to, before that and after that? I assume that we emerge out of the immense consciousness of the universe and are then swallowed by it again. Possibly to come back to the tiny point of view of the individual? To then look at the crazy mess our previous self might have created?
Or is life a punishment? Is it a window of time in which we are chosen to experience deterioration, punishment and pain?
Unless of course we dance through life. Unless we are aware that this is a beautiful place into which we are thrown. And there is beauty in everything if we only look hard enough or soft enough perhaps.
I have completely lost my train of thought now
And the literal train I am in has stopped.
Now going again.
After 9/11 and after I lost my job I flew back to Germany to visit my parents. I then took one of the old cars parked in front of their house and I drove to Paris.
For some inexplicable reason, Paris had the ability to somehow heal something inside of me. I do not speak French and I am lactose intolerant. So, these two things put together already make Paris an unlikely destination for me.
But the place has amassed so much beauty. There is the sky above Paris. There is the ground below Paris. There are the places in which some of the most wonderful creative stuff keeps being protected from the elements and from people.
Paris is literally a magical place.
Not sure how, it manages to pull me back, again and again. As if I were a glowing piece of snow, pulled into the orbit of an ocean covered planet again and again and again.
I am so ignorant. Looking at Paris and walking through the streets I do not understand much. I bring innocence to the place. I do not expect to be loved or known or recognized. I can’t connect the dots of Paris.
But it does feed that little flame.
It seems like some kind of magical asylum in which love is kept alive on all kinds of drugs. But it is love. And I do not mean the love to someone only. That too of course. I mean more of the love for the divine. The love for the universe or god or whatever name we might dare or dare not to utter for this everything.
I have never taken the train to Paris before.
I am not even in France writing this.
And i wonder what will happen once I arrive.
There is the possibility that life has stabbed and blinded me to the point where I will be barely able to experience anything. And possibly nothing truly profound.
But even just the thought about the possibility of feeling some of that divine energy that inspires and cleanses at the same time is healing. Even just the thought is worth so much to me.
When I visited Paris in 2002, I walked into the Louvre and stood next to the Mona Lisa. I took a series of photos of those visiting the painting. A friendly guard came over to me and explained that while I might be enjoying taking pictures of people here, the people here might not enjoy me taking pictures.
I loved the symmetry of that expression. I think I had found something right there and then.
I will not be able to repeat that series of photographs today. I did not bring my camera. I will be in Paris for only a few hours. The louvre is closed because it is Tuesday.
I could be disappointed.
But for some reason I am excited. Paris is preventing me from repeating something I have already experienced.
I have the tiny chance of experiencing something new and utterly unexpected.
The complexity of all this is beyond anything I can put in words.
So here I am. In the most horrible of times, in beautiful times.
On a grey day in November.
On a fast train heading towards a somehow inexplicably magical place.
A place that has had a profound impact on me throughout my life.
And yet I am going to arrive as if it were for the first time.
In a completely different version of everything.
Also, as a completely different version of myself.
I probably should close my eyes now.
This seems all too much.