“I am quite good at coping with this long-distance relationship”, I can hear myself mumbling while I grab my suitcase from the luggage belt. I terribly hurt my knee. Ouch! It is Tuesday morning at 8.45 am and I just got off a 16-hour-flight from Singapore to Berlin. And yes, I talk to myself in public! Probably because I have a sleep deficit…
I drag my luggage home, smear some makeup in my face and “shower” in a big cloud of vanilla dry shampoo and Miss Dior perfume. Nice! Then I rush to the office and arrive exactly one hour after landing in Berlin (thank you Tegel Airport, you make my life so much easier!).
Wow, I look like a freshly peeled egg! Now coffee!
During the last few weeks, I was jumping around the globe like a bouncing ball. I went from Berlin to Copenhagen, Hamburg, Vienna, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, changed planes in Helsinki, and went back to Berlin. It was a mixture of working remotely from my boyfriend’s office in Asia, celebrating a fairy tale Austrian wedding and attending a friends’ graduation. I don’t know when exactly my youth fascination for travelling transformed into this nomad life, but it happened at some point between growing up in Northern Germany’s fallow lands, applying for a student internship in New York and meeting the love of my life.
Screw this jet lag. Coffee. More coffee, please!
I open my laptop and accidentally stumble across a quote by American entertainer Conan O'Brien: “Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen”. I take a sip of my mediocre office coffee and reminiscence about his words: Indeed, it is really hard work to keep my relationship sane, but at the same time amazing things happen to me while I am squeezed between moody strangers and crying babies in airplanes. I learn a lot!
Our problems shape our lives
In the shoreless world above the clouds I often realize that we all have one thing in common: our PROBLEMS. Every human being is suffering from personal issues. Everyone on this planet has PROBLEMS in one way or another. What exactly is a “problem”? According to Oxford Dictionaries, a problem is “a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with and overcome”.
However, those unwelcome matters are not visible at first sight in the blue skies. The crowd in an airplane can be fascinating: young families, Indian women in colorful robes, tired corporate employees, Chinese families, happy couples, backpackers and drunk expatriates – and they all have their own problems, as we all do. You might think “Well, I don’t have any problems right now”, but give it a couple of days, and they will naturally come to you just as the earth orbits the sun.
Here is a list of problems that I recently discovered or overheard in conversations with friends, acquaintances or strangers on international airports:
I am totally over-worked, I can’t do this anymore.
My relationship is tiring. I want something else.
I am out of money and it sucks.
I don’t know what I want in life.
I am worried about my mother, she’s lonely and she deserves better.
I want to have a relationship but all my lovers turn away from me after a while.
I feel like I am missing out on something.
I need to lose weight.
My partner wants to get married soon, but I don’t want to.
I work so much – but for what?
A good friend of mine died recently.
I want to be more creative and express myself, but I don’t have the time.
I am lonely and depressed.
I don’t get pregnant although we have been trying for so long.
I want to have an open relationship.
I am bored at work. There is nothing challenging about it anymore.
Somebody cheated on me.
I feel like I am a failure.
My brother won’t talk to me anymore.
I cheated on my partner and it might destroy what we have.
I have worked a long time on this, and now it’s all gone.
I have existential fear.
I am always afraid that something bad could happen, and this fear paralyzes me.
Problems all around the world 24/7
I made this list because it demonstrates one thing: everyone on this planet is struggling, overthinking, doubting, questioning and suffering from external life circumstances. There is not a single person, living or dead, that doesn’t suffer from personal problems.
When I am in aerospace and reminiscence about the people sitting around me, I can almost feel what kind of problems are woven into their lives. WE ALL HAVE SO MANY PROBLEMS! However, it is a huge mistake to wallow in self-pity and to regard our problems as disturbing factors that have to be denied or erased.
Actually, the opposite is true: problems are guiding us on our life path! Our problems tease our inner strength and often lead us to life-changing decisions. They shove us out of the comfort zone, kicking us in the ass. Our nagging problems are great teachers because they know our soft spots and aggressively hammer into them. Until we slip out of the cocoon and spread our wings like a butterfly.
My valuable ten seconds
I take another sip of my mediocre office coffee and happily tickle my typewriter. I kind of like my job... I realize that RIGHT NOW there are indeed no problems in my own universe.
Wow, what valuable ten seconds!
Although I still have a jet lag and my vanilla-smelling hair looks greasy, I realize what I have learned during those 16-hour-flights. When I am in aerospace, my travel experiences can sink into my soul. I float away from my prejudices, cultural norms and indoctrinated rules. I notice that there are a thousand views on life, and that they are all different. I even realize that my mother language shapes the way I think.
In aerospace, it is all neutralized: no exact date or time, just speeding over time zones. No missed appointments, no angry brothers, no deadlines, no cheating, no financial issues, no need to feel like a failure.
Damn, I am back on earth!
To be honest: how could we ever be proud, released and relaxed, when we don’t experience the hard work on mother earth? How could we ever feel this exciting spark of “something never seen before” when we always stay in an isolated place?
When the next problem knocks on my door, I won’t treat it as an enemy. I will make a bow, shake its hand and say:
“Welcome to my life, now go ahead and teach me your lesson
before I gloriously overcome you!”
Do you like my article? Read more in my book Perlen statt Plunder / English version: Pearls of Power and take an inspiring journey with me!