It’s been a long time now that I wanted to write this article and there’s a lot of stuff going on these days in Berlin, that I would like to talk about, too. So, I better finish the article on the people I meet.
Since April and May this year, I have met many people and thus many influences. I learn from the personalities that cross my path. Here I would like to focus only on a very short and specific period of the year for two reasons. The first one is that the article would become a book if I included everyone prior and past this period, because the world brought me luckily many enlightening, inspiring and motivating encounters. Second, the people of this very short period of let’s say eight weeks, were those that I needed to meet to be able to not lose myself.
From the end of July till the end of September I have been working in an art-gallery on board of ships. Yes! Such a thing exists and I really believed in the project. For the doubts that came up, the people I met, helped me to find answers, bit by bit. Person to person.
Let’s start in early August.
Mr. Artist is a wonderful person from New York and even though not yet a full time artist but surely has an artist’s mind. Ship life was not really something he liked that much since he did not feel as old as the other passengers. No matter his age, he felt and behaved like a young person, while many people of the same age already start talking about how they will pass away soon. Mr. Artist is open, funny and empathetic. He made me believe in myself and made me laugh. I managed to open up and relax in his presence. Also, thanks to him, I did not forget who I was and what I know. Pretty much right from the start I learned to test and expand the rules that were established by others. That was important. My hunger for life outside ships grew.
Ms. Scarf was the most important person and friend to me. With her I felt again the pure love a friendship between two women can bring, like one of these childhood friendships, you know? Ms. Scarf is from Thailand and has a great artistic education and expression.
We met sometimes in the smoking room and one night I was a bit drunk already and we started talking about how I felt isolated by the people working around me and she just had the same problem. People often put a stamp on you either due to your origins, looks or whatever. We gave each other hope that things would become better. Often we just met during my break and she was working and we exchanged looks and smiles that would tell us everything we needed.
After less than a month I was transferred to another ship and the night before leaving I had a farewell meeting but only after the official part was over, and I had not managed to meet Ms. Scarf, the Musician (another nice character I met), convinced me to try to find my friend. It was already after midnight when Ms. Scarf and I met on the corridor and she was about to do her laundry. She asked whether the party was still going on and I said, that I didn’t know. She decided to make it a party and well, I could not have had a better farewell. She and her friends prepared drinks and sound and even food and we talked and danced in the pool area. We had so much fun, breaking the rules kind of fun and just letting go and exchanging. It felt so good! The next morning Ms. Scarf and I managed to meet during her break. She had only slept two hours that night. She gave me a scarf, a beautiful batik piece of organic fabric that kept me warm after us parting.
Mr. Road Less Traveled
Mr. Road Less Traveled was a very nice and smart person who I met during the second week of my job in a political discussion that emerged among some guests and me. Well, politics is never something one can win and we both soon withdrew from any attempt to convince our republican chat partner and started a conversation in parallel where we figured out that we actually have a great way of exchanging. If I remember it right, all it took was a mere reaction in both our eyes when we gave up on that topic of politics to know that we had better things to talk about. I learned a lot about Mr. Road Less Traveled’s life, how things turned out for him and how he learned from everything and took his own conclusions. Some topics were partners, divorce and how to have a good relationship. But also job, isolation and jealousy, which was something I had to deal with more. We met in the evenings with so much pleasure and in the end I met his wonderful life partner and she also taught me some things she had learned about life and love. They were really motivational and I am so grateful for the book tip I received from him. Ironically I got this book tip twice which is one of the reasons that I am actually rereading it again now. Also, the content needs to sink in better. But “The Road Less Traveled” is about how you approach life and manage to go through your relationships and how you are on good terms with yourself and the people around you. It is a lot about discipline and dedication to the truth, values that help up us to improve.
On my flight to the job in the end of July, I met Mr. Courageous, a short encounter and a conversation that lasted about seven hours, I guess. Interesting were the moments in between, the attention and conclusions Mr. Courageous drew from simple hints and observations, some so precise and so deeply hidden that I was really surprised and I wonder till now about how he accesses this kind of information. Mr. Courageous helped me simply by giving me hope and by believing in living the moment. Once you seize the moment you are no longer afraid. At one point of our short e-message exchange he also recommended the book “The Road Less Traveled” and that is another surprise if you consider that the book was written in the end of the 1970s, so it is pretty unusual that two very different people recommend it nowadays within 24h.
Mr. Motivator was a great surprise encounter. In the beginning, I mistook him for an employee. Such a young person on board of a cruise ship. Well, there was a lot to exchange with this young Canadian lawyer. To me it is a pleasure to meet special and intelligent lawyers, because we usually share similar ethics and life views. I was in a moment where I had to learn to stand up for myself and believe in what is right to me. By then it had been years that I managed to stay away from typical company hierarchies, so being in such structures was quite challenging. Mr. Motivator showed me what he saw in me and the reflection of his observation helped me to move and get out of a situation that was not good for me. Also, I learned to simply have some fun and finally break the rules so that life became more human again. I remember for example a night in the piano bar, me singing while seated on top of the bar like in an old black and white movie and some secret kissing on the sofa beforehand. Yes! That was really nice! Mr. Motivator is definitely my B&W movie hero!
Ms. Travel, Mr. Macabre & Mr. Chess
I met all three of them in the first week on the new ship that cruised Europe. Ms. Travel and Mr. Macabre were travelling together. Mr. Chess was a very nice and intelligent colleague of mine, very clear minded.
Ms. Travel is an open woman and a good observer. She loves exploring new things. Besides our lovely chats, there was one evening when we were sitting with some other guests and Mr. Chess and all of us had had some drinks. Ms. Travel reminded me the next morning that drinking too much makes people aggressive and I reflected on the night before and realized that I and the others had lost our tolerance at some point. Yes! I learned from her to remind myself more often on the importance of listening.
Mr. Macabre is a friend of Ms. Travel’s who went through a separation and started looking positively at all the options life offers him. He has a cookery side business that he would like to do full time and what I learned in the exchange with him is that we are all going to be fine if we continuously seek our path. He said: In a year from now, we all will be doing something different, and he is right. I moved on.
Mr. Chess was a colleague of mine, very positive and helpful and always with an open ear. He is my Mr. Chess because one night we played and I had some fun, even though I was losing fast. But he taught me some strategic moves not only in chess but also in life. His book recommendation was “Real Artists Don’t Starve” which I am reading now. And yes! It is true! He made me accept, even though he was sad about me leaving, that it is OK when something is not for you and to go out and do your thing. He always knew what to say, had an honest access to himself and therefore he is good with people. Also was he one of the few male colleagues I had, who were attracted to me but also respected me and my decision and managed to be only friends. Thank you very much for this! Had I not had Mr. Chess with me on the second ship, I would not have survived the whole thing mentally and intellectually. At least I introduced darts to Mr. Chess, not sure if I left any other impact.
Mrs. Lady and Mr. Barcode
Well, I almost forgot to mention Mrs. Lady and Mr. Barcode! I met them when the ship reached Warnemunde and we traveled together to Berlin by train which is a three hour ride. Without having planned anything, we took the same train and wagon on the way back. They frequently visited me in the gallery afterwards and went with me through my hopes and crisis. And they helped me especially with the incident of sexual harassment I had to go through. Mrs. Lady and Mr. Barcode were simple travelers, loved discovering naturally what life brought them. With them I learned to trust my guts and they were more than happy when they learned that I had quit my job to start over somewhere else. I won’t forget you! Mr. Barcode got this nickname actually because his father co-invented the barcode. Can you believe that? Pretty nice!
So, among many other interesting personalities and helpful people, these are the ones that especially helped me to learn at a high speed about life’s matters. Now it is about me to be patient while moving, observing, listening and filtering when entering other people’s realities. I need to figure out my own version of all this now.