When I took this picture, I was standing next to the biggest station in the world in Shinjuku/Tokyo. If you are in Shinjuku during rush hour, you can't help but wonder:
These millions of people... are they happy?
Does it make them happy to get pushed into subways by men wearing white gloves till their faces are squished against the glass?
Are they content to sleep in-between train stops because they don't get enough sleep at night?
Was it a wish dear to their heart to see blinking neon ads and shiny, colourful banners everywhere so they need to go to parks sometimes just to wind down?
Are they happy?
I don't have a definite answer to that, but as far as I could guess, they are, as a people, more content than German folk or Americans. It is hard to describe, but in my experience, Japanese people live more compartmentalized and, thereby, aren't as prone to feeling lonely. Loneliness is one of the main factors of being unhappy, so if you are surrounded by either family, or work mates, or even millions of people in the train station, it might make them feel as a part of something bigger (?).
The people I met there were unusually content. If they worked as a waitress or in a store, they didn't look at bankers jealously, but the were as proud as they should be. This was a very new experience for me, as in Europe the people are always looking to others for appoval, better jobs, to their neighbours, friends etc. Who earns how much, who has how much power... it isn't as obvious in Japan and if there are discrepancies, they are dealt with in a more dignified way.
I think beyond these compartmentalizations and similarities, they strive for something to set them apart (like identical twins). They flock to strange TV shows, they watch strange (!!!) soap operas, they might even be interested in unusual sexual fetishes. They are a bit bottled up and held back, but they are among the friendliest people I have ever met, when you get to know them a little bit. I made great friends there and they welcomed us into their homes and treated the two big white guys like family.
Personally, I have never felt more alone than when I looked at these millions of people in Shinjuku station. At 6'4", I towered over them and my hair is much lighter... It was like a sea of black hair around me. Black hair and black suits...
I loved it in Japan and I will tell you more about it, but I could/would never live there. Visit again? Of course, when's the next flight :)
I know that this is my second blog in one day, but bear with me...
This picture is me, 4 years ago. Did I change? Of course I did. Who is this person in the picture? What dreams did he have? Where did he see himself in 4 years time? In the place where I am now? No, he didn't. But then, isn't the point of the future that we don't know where we end up? What fun would it be, if we already knew where the path will lead us...
I thought about something tonight. Growing up is a painful, but necessary process. There is no doubt about it. However, do we have to change into a person that fulfills the characteristics of an "adult"? Do we have to like staying home all the time, being content with a life that's ok instead of awesome? How many grown-ups do you know, who still live life to the fullest? Who try and make the best of the time they have on this earth or on this very day? Who live intensively? Not many, I bet. And those that do, they aren't really called grown-ups or adults. They are laughed at, called childish, and told "grow up already".
In the end, these people are the ones laughing. They know that they tried. Maybe they failed. Maybe it didn't work out. Maybe... it wasn't meant to be. But they tried.
Note to self: long exposure times can make a b00n photographer look professional
I realized something today. The old saying "If life hands you lemons - make lemonade!" might not be as far-fetched as I had thought originally. As you may or may not know/care, I'm in the process of finding a job that suits me. And with me I mean my personality as well as my abilities (biiiig difference, believe me!). Just now as I was sitting here typing this entry, I realized that it's all about doing something that you love, that's the easy part. But it's actually all about loving something that you do - and that's completely different.
Just like getting what you want and loving what you have are two completely different things, doing what you love and loving what you do are like one situation looked at from 2 angles. I just need to find a way to combine a job that I'm good at and trained for with the love I find for doing certain things.
I'm a scientist by education. So if I want a job where I can work with people, I can concentrate on teaching students. If I want to be creative, I can create imaginative experimental setups or write research papers in a way that's neither dull nor plain. If I want to travel, I can give talks in the whole world and if I need flexibility in my day, I can rearrange my workload accordingly. I actually find that I already have a job that I can love doing, while I do something meaningful.
That's the plan. I'll let you know, if it works out.
I have always found it to be true that quality goes over quantity. This is especially valid for poetry and prose. What I mean is that it could very well be that there is only one aspect, paragraph or even one sentence in a book/poem that redeems it in my eyes. It has happened more than once that I could remember quotes from books I really did not like when I read them but the fact that there was something so profound to be found in them that it would stick with me for years - you have to give credit where credit is due.
Why am I telling you this? Well thank you for asking. This picture I took on a plateau near my home and it was a windy, cool day in summer and this path had a very eerie vibe about it. It made me think of an aspect in the book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel.
In this book the author describes the fairy roads that lead from many places in this world into the fairy realm and most of the time, the people who dare to travel them, get stuck there and are never heard of again. Well, this road reminded me of this (in my opinion quite unnecessary, tedious) book, but the fact that it stuck in my brains so deeply that random situations can bring it forth - maybe it wasn't such a bad book after all...