At the end of September 2011 I hit the road all by myself to discover the world between Stuttgart, Germany and Beijing, China. The trip had been my first adventure of that scale and sure enough a lot of uncertainty appeared, once the stress of work and moving had died down. At my first stop in Venice, I sat down inside a church to listen to the organ player practicing his music and started thinking about the upcoming adventure. I ended up writing the following text, which I never published:
Don’t we all know it in one form or another: the alarm clock goes off and a standard procedures is almost dreamlike executed. Shower, breakfast, go to work, same colleagues, lunch, go home, dinner, and so on. Our daily routine is well defined, the people surrounding us, the work we do, our apartment.
The human being is lazy and used to routines and patterns, is what one reads and hears today. And of course everyone is an exception. But one hardly ever is able to honor what one has got. In Venice I sat down in the San Martino church, where an organist was practicing. A good reason to sit down and to start thinking…
The last few days I have been thinking about, what I am actually doing. A giant project I am about to realize. Besides the well known risks of such a journey, what does it mean to travel through the world all by yourself and not being able to rely on well defined structures?
At home, so many things are routine and well defined, even though I occasionally had to fight for the routine to take place (like the weekly choir practices and sports). The apartment in which I woke up was always the same, the options for breakfast were limited and well known, my girlfriend was always there, the workplace didn’t change, colleagues were everyday the same… the list goes on and on.
It’s especially the people around me, giving me something to hold on to and who support me, when I am in difficulties or questions arise. I have a Comfort Zone around me. As long as I don’t leave it, I feel perfectly fine, everything is well defined and there is typically nothing unexpected happening (even the occasional train delay is well known). Am I aware of my Comfort Zone? Who are those pillars supporting me? In my opinion, it is important to think about these questions. It’s more than just to realize, who are the people I can rely on. It’s about thankfulness and appreciation for all the little things which are taken for granted. Is the refrigerator full when I get home from work? Is the apartment cleaned up? Is the table already set and I just have to sit down and eat? Is there money in my bank account? It’s just there, no need to worry.
I am on my way now. All by myself. The goal: Beijing. Where is all that I am used to? Where are the people supporting me? Whom can I ask? Where will I sleep tonight? What will I eat for breakfast tomorrow? In the next few months, I will rarely have a questions to all of these questions. It will be my task to find people helping me out, when I need help, ask the most basic question or don’t understand the simplest thing in a foreign country. I have definitely left my Comfort Zone in many respects.
This time, many things are different: While the experience I gained during my last trip come in very handy, this time there are two of us. The mutual support and company of the other help in case of troubles and give a feeling of security. Taking the other into consideration and giving him or her attention also means the there is less freedom compared to one traveling in his or her own.
No matter what: Both Lenka and I are excited about the adventure ahead of us and we hope that we can transmit some of the joy and curiosity through a few blog posts.