Walking alone

I went for another hike yesterday, from Konz to Trier Pallien along the Moselsteig path, which makes it significantly longer than if one went as the crow flies, or along the more direct Jakobsweg which I will be walking later this year.

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate over the last few years has been the ability to go walking by myself, to give myself some personal space for reflection and peace of mind. It’s something I’ve never really been able to achieve in any other activity, but something which seems to be particularly possible, particularly enabled when I go off by myself for a few hours into the woods, or up a hill. I don’t know why, but there is something about feeling alone, really alone, with yourself and with your thoughts which is appealing, and which helps me feel somehow calmer and more at peace by the time I return.

A friend of mine will also be coming to see me in Trier in a few weeks, which I am also really looking forward to, as it’s someone whom I haven’t seen in quite a while. It will be good to see him again, and I feel lucky that I am so easily able to stay in touch with my friends and family in this way.

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Mannheim, Heidelberg, and thinking about life…

This weekend I went with a friend to Mannheim and Heidelberg, two cities to the south east of Trier in Baden-Württemburg. It was a great weekend, and we managed to get a lot of sightseeing done, even if the weather made it a bit difficult at times.

Mannheim was a bit of a strange place, arranged on a rigid grid pattern without relatively little of the features which make other German cities so distinctive. Heidelberg on the other hand was much more aesthetically pleasing, but accordingly far more touristic. I am glad we got to see both.

This weekend has also been marked by Karneval, which is basically a huge party celebrating the beginning of Lent. Today I got to see some of the celebrations taking place in my neighbourhood of Trier.

This week I’m looking forward to trying to get back into my normal life. I have been having a lot of thoughts about the future (as is clear from so many of my posts), and I am starting to feel now that I am getting closer to a resolution…

Fear of the Dark

My hearing is starting to come back, after having lost it apparently temporarily with the ear infection I had last week. This temporary disability induced a lot of panicked and difficult feelings in me, bringing me back in part to the time back in September and October when I thought I could have skin cancer.

It feels morbid to be so preoccupied with thoughts of death and decay, but is feels in some way unavoidable and like something which I need to keep forcing myself to confront and come to terms with. Without being too Freudian, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me how much these recurrent fears and thoughts drive my behaviour, and how much they can destabilize me and shake me out of my pleasant everyday routine.

Our culture at the minute seems to be gripped by an ever-present “fear of missing out”, which seems to be particularly adept at inducing decision paralysis in our generation, the under 25s, who are now facing their quarter life crises and grappling with the “real world”. FOMO (and its counterpart YOLO) always seem to come back to death; without death at the end the concepts don’t even make sense, and yet we are sometimes a bit shy about vocalising this.

Last week for school I taught a lesson on The Dead Poets’ Society, which is a popular choice of book for year 10s in German schools. The message of carpe diem runs throughout, but even then fear of death always seems to lurk in the background, without being given a name to or vocalized. Every so often there is an article in the press or elsewhere talking about the need for people to talk more frankly and openly about death, but the issue still weighs too heavily on most people. I often wish I could talk about this more openly in real life, but for now it will have to remain an idle thought on a Saturday afternoon blogpost.

Where and what is the future?

This question still jabs at me.

It seems like every few weeks I come to some sort of conclusion about what I want to do, and then a series of doubts start to creep in, and I suddenly want to throw everything up in the air and start over, and stop thinking about any of it. This is silly of course, but it’s a very easy, and oh-so-appealing trap to fall into.

Once again I’m caught between that ubiquitous desire for stability, vis-a-vis that part of me which wants to throw caution to the wind in the search for some kind of grand adventure. The problem is that you can’t have your cake and eat it. We all need to make money, and keep going – somehow.

There are seemingly infinite things I want to do, infinite experiences that I want to run out and grasp. I tell myself over and over again that I need to reign myself in to some extent, and try to keep a more realistic grip on things. I wonder how much of it is simply driven by an unrealistic, racing-thoughts type ideation, which is taking me on flights of fancy which ultimately will lead nowhere?

It is hard to know. We are told to follow our dreams, but I still have no idea what the dream is.

 

Getting settled

Today was my first day back at work after the holiday, and although I ended up staying a lot longer than I anticipated after school was over, it was a nice feeling to get back into my routines and get used to how things are going now that I’m back in Trier.

In the past week I have also been thinking a lot about what I’d like to achieve now that I’m back here before I leave, which will probably be at the end of July. I want to continue down the road I’m on, getting better at German, getting fitter, and gradually clawing my life back from the stressful mire I found myself in in 2017.

When I was at home in Derry I was plagued by a kind of obsessive anxiety about what I’m going to do once I leave Trier, and whether I should pursure teacher training. Thoughts (and worries) about the future have probably been occupying too much of my mental space lately, and I’ve decided that I need to give myself a breather, and let myself regain some space to think about things more seriously.

I have also realized that this blog has now been going for over a year, my first post having been written in December 2016. It’s a strange feeling to look back and think about how much has changed since then, but it is also satisfying to realize that what has changed has changed for the better, in a variety of different ways.

I have a lot of plans for the coming months, and it’s likely I will be very busy. And yet I am not feeling daunted, but rather optimistic about what 2018 is going to bring.

Our first flat party…

Last night my flatmates and I hosted our first real “flat party”, which ran from 3pm in the afternoon until around 2am in the morning. It was not quite what I had expected. The level of preparation my German flatmate put in was unlike any student party I had ever been to in the UK, though that’s not to say it wasn’t enjoyable. It was.

It was an intense evening, spent switching between German and French and English due to the make up of the guests. I found it strange how easily this came to me, and at times it felt a little bit disconcerting; my Tunisian flatmate would speak to me in French and out of instinct I would answer in German. It’s an experience I haven’t really had before, but which I suppose is natural in a multilingual group.

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Today I am feeling a little bit worse for wear, but I’m also looking forward to the week to come. I have about four weeks left at school before the beginning of the Christmas holidays. I am hoping to finally finish the Couch to 5K running plan in that time: this week has been a bit of a set back as I’ve had a chest infection the entire week which is only now starting to clear up.

On the whole things are good. This is one of the first winters where I can say that I really feel content, with no worries about exams to come and no essay stress. It’s a good feeling. I’ve also managed to get my insurance company to pay out for some medical bills, meaning that I’m no longer as financially pressed as I was just a few days ago. Onwards…

Feeling like Writing…

Since my last post on Monday I decided to set up a second blog, here:

grainnebaker.wordpress.com

On this blog I have posted a few bits and pieces, old and new, and will probably keep adding to it, with the aim of having a place where I could collate all my writing in one place.

I realized that I needed to give myself the space to deliver some kind of creative output, even if it isn’t up to much. Nevertheless, the act of writing, has, over the last few days, made me feel more energetic and purposeful than I have done in a long while. Despite being sick, and the weather being terrible, I feel good about it and about life itself, and have given some serious thought to the future and where I am heading.

On the whole I am enjoying my time at school, and I am blessed, even if the money is not so good, to have such an easy-going job which allows me to do such rewarding things without demanding too much of my time. I am not sure if I am cut out for the 50-60 week of a full time school teacher, but that’s something I still have time to think about, as well as everything else.