So, I was in Germany for the day job recently, and that was kind of fun. I found that it, like most of the places I go to, taught me a lesson. But I’m finding this lesson more ambiguous, or more powerful, but nowhere near as direct. India, for example, taught me about perceptions–mine, mostly. And Mexico taught me that my world is not the same as I think it is. You get the idea.
It’s always interesting to see some place that you’ve never seen before. I was with several co-workers in Germany, and that made it better in many ways. One of our in-country hosts took us around the area during one day, spending time at what we here would call a renaissance fair, where we saw all sorts of very cool things.
And, as usual, I got a little time to myself to just walk around. I like to walk places I’ve never been to. In fact, I don’t really feel like I’ve been someplace if I haven’t seen it on the ground. When I went to Melbourne (Australia), I think my co-workers were getting angsty at my disappearance in the early morning hours because I would get up and just walk through the empty city streets. I don’t know why I like it, but it’s a feeling that has really set in after Lisa and I spent so many days walking Chicago.
So I walked through Wertheim–the little city we were staying in–a couple times.
Wertheim is just a tiny place nestled in the hills of Bavaria. It’s a homey place. Lots of green surrounds it. Lots of old buildings that seem to be lived in by regular folks. Their open market is a bit touristy in the way of Nashville (Indiana, that is, not Tennessee). With the remains of the castle on the hill and old brick buildings about everywhere you look, and the cobblestone walks, well, if you squint just right you can make it feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Not surprising, I suppose, since the place was settled in 800 or so, and the castle was begun in 1000. It’s hard not to feel some sense of history in a place like this. It’s frame of reference is not, how shall I say, modern.
On the next-to-last night of my time there I got out and walked a bit more. I was tired, and I was feeling a bit at a loss because–to be honest–despite every intention to make more use of the time I had, I hadn’t written much of anything since I arrived nearly a week prior. I had worked a lot, and I had socialized a lot. But I just didn’t have the brain cycles to write. It made me feel out of sorts. I find this to be a good thing on the whole, but at the time it made me uncomfortable in ways I find it hard to really express. So let’s just say I was walking around and absorbing things on this next-to-last day of my time in Germany.
I found myself at a skate park (a co-worker had mentioned it, but I hadn’t thought about it until I stumbled upon it). It was a small place, tucked into a nook of the Tauber river, just a plot of concrete and a few graffiti-covered skate obstacles–a small half-pipe, some rails, a fun box. You get the idea. I stood there and read the graffiti. Two of the bits struck me.
The first read:
The second read: “If there is no risk, then there is no fun”
Somehow this made me feel better.
I took those pictures, and I walked along on the way back to the hotel room. That was my birthday, you see. I hadn’t really thought about it much throughout the day, but on my way back to the room, I imagined a couple local kids with their spray paint as they busily made their work for me to stumble along on my umty-umpth birthday. How did they know I needed to see those two phrases on this day? I don’t know.
I felt very close to them, though. It’s their lesson that I’ve walked away from Germany with. I just wish I could put it into deeper words.