Early on in our life we are facing the question which road we should take. Left, right, 70 degrees backwards, clearly we have endless choices. These are major crossroads colouring my last decade of existence.
1. Choosing a 2nd language to study in grade 9 (or so) – I was around 16.
2. Choosing to be an exchange student in the US – I was around 17.
3. Choosing 2 advanced classes for the end of high school – I was around 18.
4. Choosing the road after high school – I was around 20.
5. Choosing a specialised field within my bachelor studies – I was around 21.
6. Choosing work and travel – I was around 24.
7. Choosing further education – I was around 25.
8. Arrived at work work work. But was choosing a foreign land – I am 27.
- I had to choose between a 2nd foreign language: French, Spanish and Latin (English was mandatory since 5th grade). I could have easily opted out of learning a 3rd language altogether but I was fascinated to learn more about how different cultures perceive our world through different descriptions. Being German, I opted for French for the fact that France is a neighbouring country, hence potentially most useful. Also my heart was bringing beautiful images of the Eiffel tower or croissants to my mind. In other words, I had decided against a road which would lead to become a doctor or working in the medical field as that would require some understanding of the Latin language.
- As I navigated through the road of high school and realised that life was quite demanding and not only guns and roses. Deep within, an urge to explore the world attuned me to stories of some students from the village who chose the road of becoming an exchange student in in Canada or the States. Eventually I couldn’t hold my travel genes back and followed a path which would put me into a real diaspora. Stripped naked of what defined me as a person, my usual surroundings were gone and I was challenged to listen to my core, what was I all about? In the distance, the familiar is no longer available. You don’t have a choice but to get to know yourself better. Something of you remains the same, it is called culture shock. A story which always remains with me is standing at a football game among some new American friends who were talking in heavy accents. I had no idea what they were saying, yet had “integrate” into the group. Strategy? Smile and pretend you know what they are saying even though you don’t.
- Back in Germany, I had to choose 2 advanced classes for graduation, no opt out road available. I noticed for the first time that society “forces” you to choose a crossroad and glide further down a branch. Maybe the school wanted to ensure we follow the road of our passion, or that we are challenged to ask ourselves what our passions are. English and mathematics seemed most appealing to me. After my American experience English sounds obvious, and I loved the exactness of things which becomes visible through maths. A mathematical equation looks like the very core of truth (that was before I discovered the sphere of irrational numbers).
- Since my parents were running their own business I always carried a special business gene. My parents worked and enjoyed life at the same time, nobody told them what to do or when to complete what. In a sense they seemed free or put differently they were facing the market with their entire humanness. There was no one in between (like a manager) who would cover their backs. If the customers wouldn’t buy, we wouldn’t have anything to eat. I was fascinated to understand the motivations of a business more and what internal mechanisms are at play. Because of this background I choose to walk a similar road and decided to study the field of business. Nevertheless, I never looked at the field of business as being a specialist area for the reason that business was the underlying theme of our world. If you want to survive you need to have money to buy your apples.
- Similar to choosing advanced classes in high school, the bachelor asked for a specialisation as well. Maybe society grows old like a with different branches. We as the whole are asked to slide down our unique little road, no staying general allowed. You have to follow your life path and institutions, like schools and universities are offering different roads to pursue your passions. I remember many “marketing chicks” who were very happy to no longer study maths related classes as they were able to focus solely on their chosen road. For me, however, it was a bit difficult as I wanted to keep the big picture view. I was fascinated of all kind of subjects, yet had to obey the system. Hence I chose the field of management control. A manger in a business would need to have the entire overview of what’s going on in a business. On the contrary, I was trapped in the spheres of taxation, accounting principles and the like. Diving into the details of a category of its own.
- Once the bachelor was done (what a relief!), I came to the end of a road and landed on a huge empty plaza standing in the sunlight, I felt as free as it could get. But as I looked around the plaza there were so many options and roads to take!! I had reached a place were I was miles of years away from home. It was only me standing there and I had to make the next decision of where I wanted to go. I spotted a road with many footsteps in the ground and a sign was saying “road to the master”. Then I spotted a tiny trail which was covered in green, it looked kind of mysterious and unknown and got my heart racing. Yet in order to get to this trail, I would have needed to cross a bigger road which had lots of traffic, a motorway. I wanted the challenge though! I would be able to cross the big road to get to the trail. So I jumped onto the big road, found a place between some cars but had to go with the traffic. I had started my 8 months’ internship at a multinational corporation. It was such a ride! I almost forgot about the trail but returned eventually, going on a 4 months solo backpacking adventure through South East Asia.
- The small little trail was absolutely worth it and quite funnily it had brought me back to the big plaza where I started from in the same place. But as I looks at my hands and down my torso, I was changed myself. My legs were tanned and I had experienced that you can be home at any given moment in time, home doesn’t need to be defined in terms of the physical location. A storm seemed to come up forcing me to quickly pick the next road now, the plaza was not intended for a standstill. This time I was choosing the road I remembered, the road with the many footsteps. They had been washed away by now but my memory had the picture captured. So I walked the road to the master studies, it looked steep but better than any option of the big motorway. Quite quickly though, I realised that the road to the Master was splitting into various directions again. How fun all these decisions are! I remembered some of the heads which became visible straight ahead but adjacent a sign said “Road to Innovation”. I didn’t even think about what I was doing but turned. I started my Master in Sweden in the field of Accounting and Control.
- Now I’m looking around my room in our shared London flat. It seemed that I’ve walked a mile of eternity. It feels like I am on the motorway among the big guys for quite some while now. I wonder when I will reach the plaza again and how I will get there? It occurred to me, however, that we can actually go to this plaza at any given moment in time. They speak about meditation; I’d rather refer to it as the metaphysical room. The room where Murakami’s little people are. The place which is not visible but there. Yet I realise that I can mentally beam myself there but my heart is still in my current road, feeling itself through the way.
I know that eventually I will be standing at the plaza again, with my heart in my chest and my diamond in my belly.
PS: I first published the story image on Tumblr and the picture decided to take more than 80.000 different directions on its own, meaning it went viral. I can only imagine which placed it has seen.