Imagine. Imagine how we are deeply connected, like the trees in Peter Wohllebens’ book, and that you are more or less conscious of that connection: a vague memory of when we were still amongst the stars. I sometimes feel that and it makes me feel afraid and fulfilled at the same time. Fear, because paradoxically it creates loneliness when it comes to earthly matters. Fulfilled because of the knowledge of connection. Wouldn’t it be nice when someone recognises this, sees this and shares it with you. When you find the grace of comfort in your vulnarability and are being brought a little closer to fulfillment. Someone who shares your darkness with loving attention and takes you smilingly by the hand to stand in the light. I believe that this is possible between people, sometimes. I wish all of us that special someone.
I see the paradox between fear and fulfillment also in the story of my lang walk. With that also the story of my walk between Passau and Belgrade starts. You can read the first chapter below here.
The late train pulls into Passau station around midnight. The high speed train I was on got into trouble in Frankfurt and the Deutsche Bahn found this old shabby train to take me to Passau. The sweating, silent man in the seat across from me hastily leaves the compartment. On the platform it is as hot as it was inside, but there is a cooling breeze here. The late arrival doesn’t affect me. I have booked the same pension, with a view on the Danube river, where I spent my last day a year ago.
Early morning in Passau is already muggy. Today I can do all the things I didn’t get the chance for last year. It is Monday, last year I was here on a Sunday. I spent all my Sundays last year in big cities like Regensburg, Aachen, Worms and also Passau, with all the shops closed and not a soul in the streets. The ‘Ruhetag’ that the Germans spend with family and friends. Strange how quickly you get used to the fact that we don’t have that in the Netherlands anymore. Marjo wrote on philosophical note to me; that is good, it prevents you from being pushed out of your rythm of peace and attention. It must be true, but I didn’t feel any peace and attention then, all I felt was fear and alone-ness.
I have thought a lot about this part of the walk. I have planned and looked ahead. On this part of the walk I want to be less strict with myself, enjoy myself, see the views. It is a well thought through choice. I roam the streets of the old city, filled with shops, terrasses and the inescapable hordes of tourists. The baroque “Stephanskatedral” hosts the largest organ in the world. Every day, except for Sundays of course, you can come and enjoy a small concert. The sound comes to you through ingeniously placed tubes and openings. Impressive and touching, the way the heavy tones fill the enormous space and find their way into your body and soul. They make me feel what I have decided with my mind. More peace, more enjoyment. The surrounding sound makes me experience the interior decision.
On the southernmost point of Passau three rivers meet; the blue Danube, the green Inn and the black Ilz, so named after the colour of their water. I visit this point a couple of times today, to see the endless flow of the water and the passing launches. Which is the colour that the water brings to Vienna, I wonder. The brain and the eyes say brown. I, who will be walking the next five days towards Linz, have another colour in mind. It could be silver. Or gold, in the late sunshine. I, who makes the choice to live this walk.
Can you choose to be happy and joyful, to stand in the light? Who knows. You can always choose to live. It is going to rain tomorrow, the weather forecast tells me. It is reinforced by the innkeeper and some older guests who also warn of storms to come. You could go by bus, they say; you could wait it out, they say. But tomorrow I go walking. To live my choice.
Rainer Maria Rilke, a great Austrian poet, brings fear and fulfillment together.
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”