I am sitting in the train station in Kassel waiting for my train to take me to Munich, where I then go on to Italy. Although Kassel has been an incredible experience, my trip to Germany had some big challenges when two events that I had blocked time for, both fell through at the last minute. As a result, I had some last minute scrambling to do and am leaving out of Munich when that was not necessary because the event in Munich never got scheduled even though I had many, many back and forth emails with the point person there with them saying it was confirmed.
Because I am a human being, I have my moments of getting so frustrated. Here I had set aside days, booked travel, and spent countless hours of back and forth and research for logistics only to have events cancel at the last minute. I do not have an assistant and all of this took my time and my money all for nothing. Even as I write these words, I feel the frustration rising in me. Inside I have this voice that says things like, “I do so much for free. I am not rich. I can’t just throw money around at nothing and be dragged along for nothing. What the hell is the matter with people?! Etc…” But I know those thoughts only imprison me. They only make a situation that is already not so good even worse. I cannot control others, but I can control myself, my thoughts, and my feelings.
So, I take a deep breath, let go of the feelings of frustration, get present to how grateful I am for the incredible kindness and generosity of the people who took such good care of me in Kassel, and prepare to board the train about to arrive…
…Now, I am on the train and laughing at how yet again life shows up in ways not expected or necessarily wanted. I was waiting in the wrong place to be able to quickly board the car I was supposed to be on. I am running down the platform with two suitcases and my big bag of office and kitchen (I am travelling for two months and doing all very different kinds of things which require very different clothes and shoes, which is the reason I have so much luggage.) The person who is in charge of checking tickets is yelling at me in German and I have absolutely no clue what she is saying. I apologize and tell her in German that I do not speak German only English, “Ich spreke nacht Deutsch. Ich spreke English.” She continues yelling at me in German. OK so much for that attempt at communicating.
I feel flustered, embarrassed, and when I board the train, I feel like crying. I even paid extra to be in first class because I knew that I might need some extra help and I assumed first class would afford me that opportunity. So, as it turns out, I paid extra for first class and even extra on top of that to assure me a good seat and when I look at my ticket, I can’t for the life of me figure out what seat I am supposed to be in. I try to pantomime with the kind gentleman who checks my ticket to see where I am supposed to actually be sitting. I fail miserably. So here I sit in a seat that I paid much more for in order to help bring some ease to my challenging journey, only to find out that it did me absolutely no good. Oh, the Universe is cracking up with this one!
And luckily, now so am I.
In these situations of laugh or cry, I usually get to laughter pretty quickly thank goodness.
As for Kassel, I had such an incredible time at the Youth Symposium with young people from about 15 to 19 years old who attend Waldorf schools across Germany and the various organizers and supporters of the Symposium. This event requires an essay for young people to be able to come, and they self-select to want to go, so it is a higher caliber of people who attend.
The larger presentations I did were a little overwhelming because for some reason the organizers of the event chose on purpose not to have a translator for me, and I could feel a lot of what I was saying not being understood. However, the workshop in the afternoons and breakout sessions in the evening, along with absolutely wonderful impromptu conversations that happened during breaks, were really rich and beautiful. In the smaller sessions, if I said something that was not understood, we could take our time explaining to one another until we were all clear about what each of us meant. I led the 3-day workshop on living lives of purpose, passion, and power and began the process with the approximately 20 young people in helping them uncover their core purpose of being. In the evening there were open forum style conversations where people could enter and leave various conversations as the wanted. My favorite of all though were the conversations that formed during break time. The young people who found me and started talking to me during those times were really clear about their questions, thoughts, and what they were looking for support in. I felt deeply enriched by these interactions.
The organizers of the event did have a translator for me, Francesca, for when I needed, but it was very funny because she is Italian and although reasonably fluent in German and English, she is not a translator for a job, so it is not actually her skill. She turned out to be the most wonderfully delightful and fun person to be around though, and she was so very helpful in so many ways, not just translating, watching out for even my smallest need and making sure I was well cared for. In a very short time, I felt like I had known her for a very long time.
On Saturday evening, there was a huge festival (I guess there was close to 20-30,000 people there) in the hillside park. The park is 590 acres and has castles and other buildings on it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergpark_Wilhelmsh%C3%B6he) One of the logistical organizers of the Youth Symposium, Antje, told me some of the history of the park including one of the wonderful parts of the place is that the man who built the castles and owned the land had it be a public park from the very beginning, even when he lived on it. There have been multiple people and organizations involved in the park over the years, so there is interesting influences from different eras. But the most amazing part of the place is all the lakes and streams that have been created on the hillside. Systems of lakes gather rainfall and then various tunnels underground and channels direct some of the water like streams down the hill. At the very top of the hill is a large castle with various statues and steps for waterfalls. Behind this is the largest lake that stores rain for many months at a time. Underneath the ground is a tunnel that goes to the middle of the park where another smaller lake is. Once the upper lake is full enough, manual wheels on both ends of the tunnel in either lake are turned to open the tunnel and within 10 to 15 minutes a HUGE water fountain comes shooting up out of the lower lake. There are no pumps and no electricity; only the force of water pressure and gravity. This event was held in the evening so there were lights shining on the fountain, and it was absolutely breathtaking. The fountain continued for about 20 minutes until the pressure slowly wore out. I absolutely loved it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hercules_monument_%28Kassel%29) At the end of the show, Antje was very kind and took me back to my hotel since it was late and she wanted to make sure I got back ok.
The next day, when Francesca realized that my following two events had fallen through, she immediately went into support mode and helped me transfer on Monday to the home of Antje and her family where Francesca was staying, since I was now unclear where I would go and where I would stay. The whole family and Francesca immediately made me feel at home—so welcomed, cared for, and supported. It was such a healing experience to have this warmth and welcoming after the break down of the other two events.
One day Francesca took me to thermal, mineral water pools in the city where I was able to swim and sit in the sauna for hours. It was so wonderful to be able to have heat and swim in naturally salty waters! Made me miss my home in Belize, but made me extra grateful for my new friends here in Germany who were giving me such great opportunities to have such wonderful experiences!
The family there was so incredibly kind and generous, and I loved them immediately as well. We all went along with a delightful and funny man from the country of Georgia to a site outside of town that is an old sacred site of the Celts. Somehow, in all of my research of the Celts over the years, so much of my focus was in Ireland, that I actually somehow missed that they had a strong presence in Germany as well. It was a very beautiful grouping of jagged rocks that appear out of nowhere on some hill tops. When I climbed to the top of them, I could see for miles in every direction—rolling green hills, deeper green of forests, cows dotting the landscape, and towns nestled into various valleys. We went in the evening to watch the sun set and there were many clouds in the sky that blocked the actual sun, but made for a beautiful array of colored tapestry in every direction. There was a wind blowing and an art/musical installment of metal pipes of various sizes funneled the wind through creating the most beautifully eerie haunting sound. And then Antje and her daughter sang a gorgeous song like angels who had descended from the clouds swirling above us.
I stayed an extra day relaxing and working, living in the home of my gracious hosts. This morning of my leaving Bukhuti, the delightful man from Georgia, picked me and my luggage up from the home, took me to the train station, and made sure I was safely settled for the train before he left. Although our communication in words was limited because of the language barrier, the communication of the heart and spirit was loud and clear. So much appreciation, gratitude, and love for one another. I am deeply touched and wish I had ways to return the generosity. I offered him money for the time and gas, and he laughed and shook his head and said, “Oh, you crazy Americans.” I laughed too, and told him I could not help it; it is in my nature to want to offer something in return for his kindness. He told me he knows I will do things to care for others and that is just the way the world works. If we all watch out for one another, then the world is a good place. Simple words, simple moments, but such big importance and big impact. Indeed, if we all just cared for others, then all would be cared for… and truly, the world would be a good place.
And as I bring this entry to an end and get close to the stop that I think is mine, I turn to an English gentleman who boarded the train a few stops back with a group of English people on holiday, and I ask him if this next stop is indeed Central Munich, and he lets me know, that yes, I am correct. This is my stop.
This support has me think back to my entry into Germany, with no sleep at all on the flight over, and the help and kindness I received from a sweet guy at the airport in Frankfurt and later, from a very helpful and kind young man on the train on my to the center of Frankfurt where I spent a day and evening trying to recover from jet lag before heading to Kassel.
My trip to Germany has reminded me about the profound gift of caring for each other for no reason other than it brings us joy to do so. It has reminded me of the passion and enthusiasm of youth and reaching towards the unknown because anything less is a waste of life. And it has reminded me to be grateful of all the many miracles that take place even in the midst of struggles.
Danke Deutschland! Thank You Angels in my life.