Brückenschläge und Schlagworte

Clipped Wings – On Feeling Grounded

Within the last few months, I have had more than enough material to write about. Short trips were abounding, and not just inside of Germany. Now things seem to be calming down. And I feel torn – not for the first, nor certainly the last time in my life – between enjoyment of the quiet, unexciting weeks and months ahead and my ever-present yearning for adventure. It is in this pensive mood that I feel it is time for another post in my thoughts category. A personal one. And yet I am not sure if stripping my soul isn’t the last thing I want to be doing. I might only find out in writing this. Bear with me.

Castle Hohentübingen, Tübingen, GermanyAs of lately I have chosen my piano keys over my notebook more often than not. Music comes easily to me these days, more easily than words. Or if words do come, they are often corny and kitschy, and lyrics forgive that much more lightly than prose does. Writing has been unusually difficult for me.

I think this is largely to do with the fact that I am not allowing myself any plans for a decent big trip this year. My wings are clipped. Work commitments have a lock on me, and in many ways it seems like in my generation everyone just has to pay their dues in their twenties. So I need to get a grip on myself, focus, and get some stuff done this year. I can’t keep meandering about. Mainly because my work contract won’t last forever. And didn’t I always say that I would want to do something different when it runs out? Yes, I did. And what will that be? Hell if I know. And so I find myself back in that same state that I was in when facing the end of school. And the end of my B.A. And the end of my M.A. And I wonder if it will always be like this or if I will ever, you know, get somewhere. Arrive somewhere. And be there to stay.

Neckarfront, Tübingen, GermanyJust a few years back, it relieved me to know that the meandering might never end. I felt suffocated at the thought of being tied down to one plan for all times to come. And now I wish I had a plan, any plan at all, to live up to. Not a forever plan, though. Just a plan.

I hate to say it, but I think it is to do with age. My desire for security isn’t decreasing as I grow older. I want reliability. I don’t want to be in constant doubt. I want my safe havens, my harbour to return to when I’m out in the world.

And yet things are more difficult than that. Because while I want all that, I do want adventure. I want to venture into the unknown, I want to not know what’s in my life tomorrow, I want the thrill of jumping off of high cliffs into the turquoise sea, of turning a corner in the labyrinth of an unknown old town and coming across something beautiful, of crossing the border into a new country and the sound of a stamp being made in my passport. I want the sound of motors on airplanes and busses, I want trains to whistle as they swish past me, I want ships to part the sea and make waves that will crush loudly onto sandy beaches. I want the unbearable noise that comes about in remote corners of nature and that is all animals, water, and trees and not a single man-made machine.

Market Square, Tübingen, GermanyI still want it all. Looks like life hasn’t disillusioned me enough to think that’s impossible. Thank God for that.

Only recently did it come to me that the term Sehnsucht that I refer to so often is not the only German word that describes a specific kind of longing. There is also the English germanism Wanderlust which translates literally to a desire for wandering or, the initial meaning of wandern, for hiking. And there is Heimweh, which means being homesick, and its sister term Fernweh – being sick for strange lands, for the wilderness and the world away from home. I wonder if it is something innately German to wish yourself away to another place, to get caught up in dream worlds, in utopia – since we have so many words that describe an act of craving that which is not in our lives.

All these things I feel all the more right now when I feel like I cannot really act upon them. Then again, maybe, just maybe, being forced to stay put will do me good as well. Maybe being grounded keeps you grounded. Maybe I need to re-root myself a bit before I can embrace the world again, and grow into home soil. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of weekend trips and hometown tourism to be done. Just not the big scale discoveries of the world out there in all its glory. But when I get to do that again – boy, it will be marvelous!!

Still I must say that I wonder if I will ever find a life that allows me to integrate both sides of me – the girl that wants security and the one that doesn’t give a damn. I wonder if Heimweh and Fernweh will ever give me a break. Or if I am just an unstable spirit whose search will never end.

Neckarfront, Tübingen, GermanyAll the pictures were taken in Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, in the old town and at the castle. They show paths that need to be walked and the ground that I need to keep to. For now.

10 Kommentare

  1. Ha! I really, really, really enjoyed reading your thoughts just now. I quite like the term „fernweh“ by the way 😉
    I don’t exactly know your age, but mine is 32 (almost adding another year to it actually) and I still got the same feeling. I kind of found my balance though.
    I have a steady homebase: a house of our own, in the countryside. Feels almost like a weekend away each evening when I bike home, so that’s a good thing. Found myself a husband. Got some pets, a nice garden in which flowers bloom & vegetables grow. Together we made a masterpiece: our daughter.
    But the wanderlust (another great word) hasn’t calmed down. We need to go out and about. And no, not just a week away to the coast. We need to explore. Something different each time. And just like you, sometimes we are tied down (mostly because of financial reasons, we both have the luck to work in education, so plenty of time to go about wandering). But we try to budget right, so we can afford at least two big trips and 3 or 4 smaller ones each year. I think most of our friends would call us crazy. Almost everybody we know saves up to get a second car, a cleaning lady, more comfort, the perfect bathroom. We do as well, but only very, very, very slowly. And everytime we have to spend a huge amount of money on one of those items, I struggle with it. Because, hey, with that budget, what adventure would I be able to take? So even with a steady homebase… you’ll always keep on wandering 😉

    • bridgekeeper

      Februar 14, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      Thank you for that long and personal comment, Annick! I am 29, so I have a few years to get to where you are 😉 It sounds like you’ve pretty much all figured it out. I think it’s quite essential to find someone who shares the wanderlust and understands about Fernweh. Because I agree – I don’t see it ever going away 🙂

  2. Love this posts and soooo get the feeling you´re having…

    • bridgekeeper

      Februar 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      I bet you do, Milene 🙂 but then you are the one wandering about trying to calm down the Fernweh, eh? The funny thing is, it’s even there when you’re out and about I guess. Maybe the best word for that is an English one for once: Drive. That constant drive to see more, experience more.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this and sharing it with the world. I hear you and in my own way, understand what you’re feeling. My hope for you is that you find comfort in the loving truth that things are always changing…so be excited and welcoming of surprises. They will come! And venture out into your passions no matter what the world says!
    Just as I was reading your post, I spotted in the top right hand corner your quote from Mark Twain. I came across that quote somewhere else last week and saved it for myself as well. I was reading it again yesterday. I say all this to remind you to enjoy where you are now while at the same time having faith that you will be sailing out of the harbor again, probably before you ever expected and in new, adventurous ways.

    • bridgekeeper

      Februar 14, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Thank you, Amalia, for your kind words! Yes, that Mark Twain quote is brilliant. It is pinned to the wall above my desk in order for me to never forget it.

  4. What beautifully written prose! These are the types of thoughtful pieces that I long to read but seem to show up far too little in a world obsessed with easy-to-digest top 10 lists. I’ve always found it interesting how the German language has so many precise terms for longing. I’m not sure whether it’s something innately German or whether Germans just have succeeded in better connecting with it and describing the feelings attached to it. I think almost all of us feel both Heimweh and Fernweh, but some people seem intrinsically better at numbing themselves to it. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them—like you, I’m torn between being rooted and wanting to be out there doing as much as I can. I guess it’s a burden, like any other, that we have to learn to live with 🙂

    • bridgekeeper

      Februar 14, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      You say „unfortunately“, Ryan? I think we are fortunate to be in touch with our souls and spirits as much. It drives us to discover, and ultimately, to be more insightful and understanding when we look at this beautiful world. It’s an interesting idea that Germans just have been better at capturing this feeling in their language… we are a precise people with a thirst for precise vocabulary I guess 🙂 Thank you also for the compliment on my writing. I have never been big on list posts – I’m sure that is one of the reasons why my blog is small. But it’s quality 😉 which is all fine and well since I’m not writing it to support myself. Just because I love writing.

  5. For everything there is a season, leaving, returning, walking and working, longing and thinking. Enjoy the diversity you got inside although it pains you at times. Everything comes at a price, but would you want it any other way?
    (I just started to finally upload the posts on the second half of my big trip, changes of infrastructure – meaning everyone except for me travels with some internet connecting device these days – prevented me from doing that while on the trip and med school ever since then. Now I take it as a getaway during the second half of this double semester.)

    As I posted something on Istanbul today, another remark on Sehnsucht: It’s Özlem in Turkish and there are quite a lot of girls and women of Turkish descent in Germany who were given this name.

    My crazy love and longing still is Bosnia, how does this happen in some places and not in others? I guess it’s just the same as falling in love with a person.
    But while I’m itching when I think of going away, being here is quite intense right now, too, so I get my new horizons on a daily basis without having left this town since early October except for Christmas break.
    Less aching to you, too, don’t let your wings be tied too tightly.
    And see you on Sunday! <3

    • bridgekeeper

      Februar 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      <3 thank you dear. I know you understand so fully well what I am talking about. And the love for Bosnia we share. Yes, I do think it's like falling in love. I've mentioned this in a previous post in the last paragraph: Yes, countries like people. See you Sunday! xx

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