Imagine an aquarium with fish that know nothing about the ocean, a light-flooded marble that’s never been thrown. Think of one of these snow globes and its’ sunken little houses immersed by liquid that’s supposed to look like sky. Imagine its’ snow and how it’s drifting when you shake it, sinking down on this village that’s framed by a dome, sitting in your hands. Imagine you live in one of these houses, knowing of the world around.
1 Where are you from?
“There you go! Welcome to Switzerland! Welcome to the Valais Alps! The outside temperature lies between +1 and -3 degrees, we are at an altitude of 1600 meters above sea level, cigarettes cost 8.30 CHF a package and I hope you brought some warm memories with you as the next months are going to be coooold.”
That’s what someone could’ve said to me when I arrived. I would’ve liked it, the sarcasm. I would’ve had a companion with whom I could’ve shared my thoughts and feelings during the following months. But no one did. From one day to another I was the new waitress of the cold mountain, I was alone and I had to manage myself.
Did you ever notice that people always ask: “Where are you from?”, instead of “Where are you going?”. Why do people always want to know what was, instead of what is going to be?
Are you the new waitress?
Yes, I am.
What’s your name?
Aaah. That’s a nice name. We don’t have that name here. Where are you from?
I’m from Germany, Düsseldorf, I say.
And then they start singing: “Wärst du doch in Düsseldorf geblieben”, a famous line of an obviously well-known German song saying “You’d better stayed in Düsseldorf!”
Oh, beautiful, I think and I smile politely every time they ask me and every time they sing it. Man, if I had stayed in Düsseldorf I wouldn’t need to listen to this crap every time they ask me, I think. Maybe I should start saying I’m from Cologne…
I chose to say I’m from Düsseldorf, because I’m sure that here no one knows the city I was born. I was born in Essen. But I don’t consider myself being from Essen, anyway, because I never really lived there. I only spent my first one and a half years in that place, and you can imagine that I don’t have a lot of “Where are you from”-question-related memories popping up in my head from that time I mostly spent either lying in my baby cot or cruising around on the family carpet, exploring my first 4-room apartment on all fours.
So I say I’m from Düsseldorf, because that was the first place I really felt kind of free and happy living on my own. It was the first city I chose to live after I had finished my studies of German language, literature and education, after breaking up with my first boyfriend, the city where I started to make music.
So that was back then. Eventually life had led me here, to Grächen, a small village with around 1400 inhabitants on top of a mountain and a well-paid job that I decided to “stop by” at on my way to somewhere else.
We’re always on our way to somewhere else, aren’t we? Or most of us are. Looking for progress, inner fulfillment, success. But here no one asks me for my way, or where I’m going. Not even how long I’m planning to stay. So consequently, everyone thinks that I’m staying forever.
2 The Welcome
After realizing that I’m going to be alone on top of a freezing snow-covered mountain for the next five months, that I chose to live in the middle of nowhere with people who live life from day to day until these days eventually become childhood, youth and adulthood, instead of striving for a life that’s filled with memorable encounters, tasks and moments, in other words for what I call a happy life, I tell myself to calm down, to relax and to breathe. I know that I need to be good to myself now, so, as no one else welcomes me here, I do it myself:
“Melissa! Look at YOU! You MADE it! Welcome to the VALAIS ALPS of SWITZERLAAAAND! You’re here! Haha! Isn’t that great?”
And I answer: “Yes, it is, yes. Wow, thanks! That’s… a lot of snow!”
“I know, I know, it’s going to be cold and stuff, but the first step is done, and that’s always the toughest one! So, CONGRATULATIONS! You thought about saving money in Switzerland since, how long was it? You were still living in Ireland, weren’t you?”
“And you were working in a call center at the East Coast dreaming of being a teacher in Africa!”
“That’s right!” I need to smile.
She, my inner voice, is a blessing. I got to know her around the time I left Germany and moved to Ireland, around 2 and a half years ago. Well, I didn’t get to know her first then, I knew her before, but it was not a very strong relationship until that point, I’d say. She came and went and I couldn’t be sure of whether she’d show up to help me in trouble full moments or not. I couldn’t rely on her and she seemed to be busy anyhow, being in trouble herself or just being unavailable, traveling around maybe, not bothering with my negativity, letting me learn lifes’ lessons myself.
Today, she is there. In course of the time we developed to be one, a team, and in moments of doubt, loneliness or fear, she’s the one in charge, directing, trusting, and showing the way. She helps me to keep track in life, to love and not to fall from optimism. She knows how to do it because she knows me well. And I trust her, which is a very good feeling. Being here already and waiting for me even before I arrive, she must have traveled faster than me. Always, it seems, she’s one step ahead of me. But that’s beautiful and soothing. I am happy to meet her here. I didn’t expect such a warm welcome.
“And then you went to Barcelona, because you couldn’t find a job in Switzerland before the winter season started, isn’t that true?”
I nod. “That’s true. Barcelona is such a beautiful city”, I say. “I would’ve loved to stay there longer.”
“But you couldn’t because in Spain it’s impossible to save thousands of Euro in a couple of months!”
“Yes, that’s why I came here, obviously.” I twinkle.
“Indeed! But THINK about it!”, she says, “Don’t forget about the successes you’re gathering on the way! You found a job offer online while you were still living in Spain, right? Then they invited you to an interview here and you came and you introduced yourself and they TOOK you. And then you went back to SPAIN and you kept on working THERE and then you QUIT. And now, LOOK at YOU! With every step you’re getting closer to your DREAM!”
I smile. My heart is beating warm. I know she’s right.
“Really! You’re doing a great job! It’s great that you’re here! Everything is exactly the way it should be!”
And I listen to that young woman and she’s so positive and nice and I’m impressed by her impact on me and I say: “Wow, yes, I know. Thank you. You’re very kind! … This place is TINY!”.
And she says: “Melissa, listen! You’re here for a reason, so don’t look at the streets, don’t bother about the snow or the people and if for whatever reason things don’t work out well for you here, don’t panic. It’s gonna be fine.”
“I know that, yes. Thank you!”, I say. “I’m not a panicking type of person, you know that. I’m more a trusting kind of spirit. I trust life and I trust myself. Everything’s going to be fine.”
And she exclaims: “EXACTLY! THAT’S the spirit! Don’t forget that you left your family and friends to earn some money for your biggest dream, WILL you?”
And I answer: “Well, family and friends… It’s not that I have a fixed place on this planet yet, but…”
And she overhears my negativity and she interrupts me by saying: “You know, it’s probably the best decision you’ve ever made!”
And I am very happy to hear that and I can feel my heart beat and my body getting warm and I say: “Thank you very much! I think so, too. I really want to do this. Will it be tough here, though?”
And she answers: “Yes. But I’m here to help you.”
3 The mission
As it shows, things do not work out well for me here and there are days when I feel like my inner voice has left me in charge to learn how to deal with all that shit, that’s slowly but steadily accumulating around me. Apparently I feel like on a “No-shit-left-behind”-tour, an “Extend-your-limits-by-all-means”-project, an “Eat-that-shit-before-you-quit”-mission. And in a way I really am. I chose to be. That is, I chose to be on that tour by expecting this whole thing to go wrong or to develop in an unpleasant way before I even signed my contract. In fact, I knew that a challenging experience was about to start before I booked my flight, and I predicted that it was going to be a negative one before I went to the airport.
Ever heard of the Law of Attraction? Well, that’s what it teaches. Expect negativity and you’ll attract it. Maybe that’s the reason why I did, but another reason, and for me a more plausible one, is that I not only wanted to save some money, I wanted to learn, so I attracted a lesson I hadn’t learned so far.
I always want to keep on learning and to be challenged in all possible ways, because for me gaining experience is achieving wisdom, and I steadily want to grow wiser during my life, for myself, the world and my children. And another thing is, I am so highly curious, that I actually don’t care if things go wrong, because I take these interludes as tasks, homework, lessons. And I love it. I tend to see positive in the worst of shit. Some people laugh about that “spleen” of mine or call me naïve, but let me tell you one thing: Call me any name you’d like to give me, naïve, blind, whatever, in the end I’ll be the one still breathing no matter how deep I’m in that shit. I’ll make my way out of it, take a shower and dance.