M: Good morning Solly. What can you tell us about the sky above Berlin today?
S: Good morning, Michaela. The sky is grey and the next rain shower is around the corner. Maybe even with some snow. How is it in Vienna?
M: Yes, pretty much the same here too. November weather. Cool, humid, foggy. I love it. Maybe snow later in the week. So how are you adapting to your new reality moving from tropical Bangladesh to continental Germany ?
S: Slowly but surely. I know feel that not only my body, but also my soul has arrived. About two weeks later. The memories of Bangladesh are fading, but I still feel a little like a stranger in Germany.
M: How so ? What do you experience ?
S: I look like and speak like I should be from here. Consequently people expect a certain behavior and mind-set, but I may not fit this. I was at a cafe yesterday and wanted a ‘caffee latte’. the menu had every type of coffee but this. So I asked him which one is the closest. He looked at me like I am coming from a different planet. I also asked myself what is me and what is the other person. Maybe he didn’t perceive it as such, but it may be my insecurity. Living abroad is always easy not to fit in and ask questions. But in your own country, it seems strange. at least, that’ s how I feel.
M: 🙂 That situation reminds me of the time I returned to Vienna after a long time abroad. I realised I had forgotten so much about how things were done here. There are quite funny stories of me saying or doing things that clearly showed I did not know my ways around here anymore. But if you think about living abroad – I always thought it was quite ambiguous, because when you are somewhat fluent in a language, people assume you understand, but of course you don’t fully get the context. It is just that I may be a little bit more lenient with myself in a foreign environment. Coming back to your own home county creates the expectation that at least this is the one place I know and understand all subtleties – and then…you don’t. 🙂
S: True. But it gives me a little bit of the sense I can’t hide and I need to fit in – almost like growing up and taking up responsibility. Living abroad always gave me more of
this feeling I can experiment more and I don’t need to commit to anything major. Did you experience that, too?
M:I know what you mean. Living abroad gives you a sense of freedom in terms of – if I don’t like it, I can leave. It is tempting to take what you like and ignore what you don’t like. But is living in New York any different from living in Germany in that respect ? So why could you not be creative and experience that sense of freedom in Germany too ?
S: Yes. Very good point. I think it has to do with our conditioning. It’s too close to family and that environment we grew up. Although, we developed as individuals and had so many new experiences, it seems as soon as we are put back into the old environment there is still an old program running that collides with all the newer conditioning. Maybe not even conditioning, but with our ‘contemporary’ ideas and concepts. Does that make sense?
M: Yes, that makes perfect sense. The “new” conditioning may have been “ successful, young, fun-loving. metropolitan, cosmopolitan Manhattanite Solly, always on the move” – and now you are outgrowing it. Its funny , when I left medicine, people said I must have screwed up, when I returned from America, people said surely, I must have screwed up again. I knew I did not. So it did not bother me so much and I laughed about it. But just imagine if something had happened that made my change less than voluntary – I probably would have taken it more personal.
S: Indeed. But for me it has a little different twist. I think it is more in myself, not so much in my environment. I am looking for a good way to explain it…. I know I didn’t screw up, I know I made all these decisions myself and they were not made for me, I wanted something else, and I feel it slowly taking hold inside me and it feels right, overall. At the same time, I realize that in social interactions I am sometimes not that confident and feel that I have to justify or explain myself. And then my ego kicks in and questions things. That’s why I wanted to talk about finding new values today. How do I find them? What are they? Will they make me happy? Will they allow me to live in my own culture? Are they independent from locations? All these questions popping up.
M: 🙂 Are you asking life for a payback guarantee ? How American of you.
But joking aside, I think there are several aspects to take into consideration. First of all, your path is your path and each and every single thought, intent and decision you have taken in your life have brought you where you are right now – to Berlin, in November 2010. That much we know and this is where you are. Secondly, you have your baggage – literally and figuratively – and this may weigh you down a bit. It just defines who you are – or better: who you think you are. So in terms of finding new values that work, one probably has to look at the old values and see them for what they are and whether you still need them. Thirdly – you now have a suitcase in Berlin. That is a start…so maybe empty the suitcase and see what is coming along the way to fill it up again…
S: On top, there is still a suitcase in Dhaka and a container in New York. : ) Maybe I should start consolidating them? That may be a first step in the right direction. I have that urge to have a base from where I can operate but where I can always go to and ‘hypernate’ if needed. What do you think?
M: Or you take a different approach and start practicing the “doing non-doing” – let life lead you where you need to go. All you need to do is let go of the urge you have to do something. Do you really have to do something right now ? Do you have to get your baggage from Dhaka or Manhattan and sort things out or are they safely in storage – and maybe this is life’s little gift to you – take away the foundation, so you may find your true basis – in yourself. Maybe this is not about creating another “pad” right away, but use the time of being stripped of the outer signs of your old identity, to simply turn to yourself ? What do you feel ?
S: Wow. That is pretty frightening. But could also be very exciting. I sense or have that ‘craving’ for a pad, for a home. I think I may need this to give me some sense of a fix point or security from which I can ‘create’ and unfold. On the other hand, I see your point, that I could easily fall back into a new conditioning that I grow out soon again. I am always challenged to find that point of ‘where it helps me to develop my potential as a creature ‘ and where it is just ‘madness’.
M: When I returned to Vienna, I knew this was the place I needed to go. There was no question about it in my mind and so that move was not so difficult. I already had a starting point. A city to live in and a licence to start a business. And then it simply developed from there. But it took 3 years to get to where I am now – and that seems to be quite rapidly, looking at where I started and where I am now. But in your case – I think your next step is to find that starting base, that “launch pad” – and that will become clear when the time is ready. I know that this is daunting, hanging in the air – but how is this more daunting than living in the East village or moving to Dhaka for a year ? Have you learned nothing in Asia 🙂
S: But it easier to be practised in Asia than in the West. 🙂 I find this thought really daunting. So I am thinking, I may just pick a starting point and see where it leads me.
M: Yes, simple as that. One day after the other. Find a starting point that feels “right”. There is not much you need to do about it – maybe give yourself time and follow your heart. Recognise when you are trying to force yourself…and recognise whenever your own expectations – and identifications – are in the way. This is your path and you are walking it. And yes – it is daunting and exciting at the same time…..but you cannot do wrong !
S: Yes. I need to look at it through the lens of excitement. I often forget this. Thanks for this jam session. They feel like this newer aspect of myself. They flow. The energy of creation just happens effortless.
M: It does flow effortless – we just don’t see it sometimes ( thinking about my own panic attacks..lol). Thank you too…I am looking forward to seeing things unfolding. You will be fine. You will be more than fine !!