The end of the year is an important time for me. I sit and look back, and I try to look at what’s ahead as well. I am not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I do like to contemplate ideas and plans for the year to come. And looking ahead only makes sense to me when it takes into consideration the things that have passed. Life is an ever on-going sequence of learning from experiences.
Maybe I say this because I am a nostalgic person. Nostalgia is a phenomenon inherent to my being – but then so is Sehnsucht. While the first is definitely a temporal craving, Sehnsucht can be both a longing for the past and a longing for a different place – wanderlust, or in another German term: Fernweh. Sehnsucht can also be directed towards a person. Or, sometimes, it can be felt without a concrete goal or aim, just as an indefinite yearning for something you don’t even yet know exists. I have a lot of Sehnsucht inside of me. Sehnsucht for more. Not in an unhealthy, greedy way. I like to think that I am just hungry for life. Which is why my tendency to Sehnsucht doesn’t make me an introvert in the slightest. People tell me I always smile and laugh; and even my family marvels at my ability to make contact with strangers in a heartbeat. There are worse reputations to uphold.
What have I learned this year? There were beautiful journeys taken in 2013 – both actual travels in- and outside of Germany, and spiritual journeys. I have loved and lost, I have been loved and I have been hurt. I think now, after this last year, that my capacity for compassion is both one of my greatest strengths and my one greatest weakness. I also learned that it is worth taking a risk, even if it doesn’t work out the way you planned it, and it is worth giving chances.
I have realized that, try as I may, I am not very good at not taking things too seriously. I have given this a lot of thought and I have come to the conclusion that, while I am trying to not overthink as much as I usually do, I don’t think this is altogether such a bad thing. Life is a beautiful thing. Love is a beautiful thing. Our heart’s desires are a beautiful thing. People who take none of the above seriously at all are usually cynics, and cynicism has never quite worked for me.
There were two new countries on my list in 2013 yet again which brings me to a total of 32 countries I have been to. I have had a rule of one new country each year for three years now, but I keep exceeding that plan and going to more. Given that in the next years I do not know how much I will be able to leave Europe (for work-related reasons), I’m glad that I’m ahead of my game. The deal is to always have been in at least as many countries as I am years old. As some of you know, the big 30 is waiting for me in 2014. But to be honest I do not know if I could even manage anywmore with not seeing a new country for one entire year. That seems like torture. At least as long as there are still places to see that low cost airlines fly to.
Other than travel-related issues, what are my ideas for next year? I want to be more disciplined in order to achieve more – at work, for my blog and my music. I want to give my compassion, love and trust to those who are worthy of it. I want to be humble and grateful for the things I encounter, and I hope that they will lead me down roads that make me grow. Life has been so kind to me in the past. I can but accept the gifts of fate and try to make the very best of them. And I’ll try and cross any given bridge when I come to it.
I have to say that I look toward 2014 with great peace and joy in my heart, with much optimism and a lot of humility. And I want to take the risk. Again. I never want to lose faith in the fact that it will be worth it.