Friday, November 28, 2008

Alles für diesen Moment - by b

Alles für diesen Moment

Here is an image from our last hour or two in Munich. It's a large billboard at the airport... we saw it from the train as we were leaving town.

Kristin generally doesn't notice billboards ... (billboards are supposedly my domain while she is much more versed in the things I tend to miss --- e.g. the inner emotional lives of people). This time, though, she pointed out the tag line: Alles für diesen Moment (All for this Moment).

Living for the moment is something I have been working on for some time ... with a lot of help from Kristin. It's one reason we are in Spain.

Living for the moment is not always an easy thing for me. I made myself a reminder, a sweatshirt that says "Hineni" which means "I Am Here" in Hebrew. Here is one interpretation:

"Presence. Full attention, in present time, to whom you're with, and to what you're doing, answering call of the moment. Distracting thoughts of past and future are momentarily lost in the strength and clarity of light of the present."

It is meant to help me focus on the present... this can mean everyday things like focusing on my kids and not my email. Or being fully engaged in the conversation i am having now and not answering my phone for another. It can mean having confidence that i will remember an amazing moment and not interrupt it by taking a photo. It can mean not dwelling on the past at the expense of this moment and not fretting so much about the future at the expense of now (which enables such things as going to live in another country for a year). Some of these things are easier for me than others... I am working at it.

Germany seems to struggle with this as well. It is a country where the past lingers. While Kristin's funny and very warm cousin Frank drove us around Munich he asked if we would to go to Dachau which is nearby. Every kid after they turn 11 or 12 should go he said. We decided that this will be better on a future trip.

Dachau, along with Germany's many other museums and memorials to a monstrous atrocity are only part of the story. War itself, and its aftermath, were hell. The country (the cities) were bombed mercilessly from the air --- as can be seen driving and walking around. WWI was a nightmare for soldiers. WWII for soldiers and civilians. Kristin's mom, as a young girl about the age our kids are now, was bombed where she was living. She managed to escape falling, burning beams of wood.

So the past is inextricably woven into the present in Germany. For me, especially the first few times I visited, enjoying the present was not easy. The most simple, innocuous images, scenes and objects transported me to a very different time. A train was not just a train, a pillow was not just a pillow, a walk in the woods was not just a walk in the woods.

Each trip I make to germany, it is easier for me to just be. This is in part because I am simply getting better at living in the moment. And also because I know Germany much better now than when I first visited as an 18-year-old with my cousin Don. It's no longer an idea and collection of symbols--- but a place and collection of real people.

This trip was filled with many moments that I really loved being part of. If you regularly read this blog you have already seen the gleeful look of the kids throwing snowballs, and the relaxed look on Kristin's face in the mountains at Neuschwanstein (she always gets like that in the mountains). I have no image to share of running alone (in my Hineni sweatshirt) in the pre-dawn light and snow next to the Isar River (that'll have to be my own memory). But here is something I did snap: Frank with one of his daughters. Alles für diesen Moment

Alles für diesen Moment