My recent travels to Kraków and Berlin have been intense – not in that crazy-big-city way – but in a way that creates a heavy heart once you know the history that lays beneath your feet. I’m also writing this draft on the day of the Brussels attacks… So most definitely in a very reflective mood.
Certain experiences in my life reminded me that perspective is life greatest gift. That is why I love to travel – to see things through someone else’s eyes, to remind myself of how lucky we are, to imagine, just for a moment, what it would be like if you lived ‘that’ way. Curiosity of the world fills me with that desire to see things from a different perspective. I genuinely feel that it’s what drives me to be a positive person – there is always someone else who is in more challenging circumstances than you.
Take Kraków for example. I loved Kraków, for its bustling small town, bright coloured vodka and pierogi (polish dumplings, my gosh), but I was also fortunate enough to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, the German concentration camps where many polish and other european Jews and gypsies were killed during Hitlers reign. I don’t need to go through the history (you can Google it). But what I felt standing on those railway tracks leading into the camp was immense gratitude for the choices that we are able to make. It was a pathway to death for the Jews and they didn’t even know it. They were told they were going to a better life, to better work. Most were gassed within 24 hours of arriving at the camp, or died a slow and painful death through disease or starvation.
When was the last time you thought you didn’t have a choice? When was the last time you surrendered to your ‘fate’ at work, with friends, in your relationship, or ‘having’ to go for a drink when all you wanted to do is eat ice cream on your couch….My guess is that it was probably recently, where at the time you thought it was the worst thing ever. Oftentimes we play the victim, starting each of our sentences with “I have to…”, sighing every time our social calendar gets filled and feel helpless when we get bad feedback at work. In every moment, we have a choice. Even if some choices aren’t your ideal at that time, you still have a choice to feel a certain way, to see things a certain way. Not everyone does in this world. I am so guilty of this, often catching myself having a whinge about my commute to work (I live in central London, have a waaaa) or how busy I am during a week with a social calendar (have another waaa). So join me… next time you are about to think that you’re stuck doing something you don’t want to do, think again. Make a choice.
And Berlin… again, had a super crazy fun time with friends in Berlin. Highlight was definitely walking around the arty districts and peaking into all of the packed bars full of young somethings and eating the most giant schnitzel you have ever seen. What I didn’t expect, which seems obvious now, was how… basic the city would look and how stone cold it felt. Those ugly 80s buildings tell us that the city was rebuilt in a hurry after years of bombing and a wall that separated East from West. Imagine not being able to see your family, having to live your life suppressed on the side of a WALL.
Some perspective needed here. We are SO lucky.
We can pave our own paths to glory, make that choice, cross borders, apply for jobs, vote, eat whatever, make the world our oyster. I left Berlin with that gratitude and its sitting with me a few weeks later as I plan the rest of my holidays for the year, in my not-bombed London flat, having just started a new job to take myself in greater places.
Perspective is life’s greatest gift. Every day is just a little too precious to be giving away with a cranky lease on life. That’s not to say you have to be happy all the time…but it’s a reminder to be grateful, non?
Some happier snaps indeed…