So many conversations with people who we meet circle around this topic. Somehow it’s a bit dangerous for people to think themselves into our position. There is a pull towards the freedom they perceive in a journey like this, but then their real world calls them back, with all its obligations, commitments and its comforts. It is always an opening into them telling us about their lives: the newly married couple where the wife is the main carer for her previous life partner who had had a heart attack over 20 years ago and needs the level of care of a 1-2 year old child. The car park attendant with a family with teenage children who would love to go travelling but at the same time is scared to take the step. The sixty year old doctor who is an avid mycologist and who is counting the days to his retirement so he can go traveling. The Dutch couple from Venezuela who cannot settle again in Holland but needs to go where they find a Latin culture, somewhere where they can make their dreams a reality. The melancholic Spanish woman who has been on her own for over 20 years and whose dream it is to own a mobile home like ours. The colourful lady whose partner cannot fully commit himself to the relationship, who would love to go on a year long trip with him. The teacher on the point of retiring who feels young in her heart but her health and her husband are keeping her from following her dream.
I have always thought of this journey as a rite of passage, a journey I would take when my children have grown up and left home. It was always meant to be an outer as well as an inner journey for me.
We find that we are not just travelling in our waking lives, but also when we sleep – our nights are filled with vivid dreams. We are travelling in two parallel universes: Every night, I have at least three if not more significant dreams.
I dream a lot of my children, but also of my parents, especially my mother, whom I haven’t dreamt of for years. In the first dreams she was terminally ill, and there was a sense that I should put my journey on hold to spend time with her. She’s been getting better with every dream though, and last night she wasn’t ill at all, just a bit tired of having to organize a big family gathering. My father has figured too, and again, it started with him being very ill and old, and he’s getting progressively younger with every dream.
We live stories in our waking lives, but also in our dreams. In each case, we are given an opportunity to grab life with both hands. That seems to be the one important thing – to live everything to the full.
It’s my father’s birthday tomorrow, so I’ll add a picture of him, three weeks short of his death two years ago. Was habe ich doch für ein glückliches Leben gehabt (I’ve had such a happy life!) he kept saying, right up to the end of his days. This is someone who went through the war, managed to study when it was even hard to just find food in Germany, built a family home, lost a child, went through his fair share of toil and trouble, lost his wife 6 years ago, had a stroke – and yet he was full of sunshine.
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