On April 29th, 2014 I’ve started my big travel around the world. I did not have a clue that it was going to turn into such a long journey. Planned was a two month trip along the east coast of Australia and six weeks of traveling around Southeast Asia, especially Bali. I paid lots of money to make sure that everything would turn out the way I wanted it to … well, this was the first lesson I had to master on this trip: Never plan too far ahead because life often changes course suddenly.
The idea of this journey was born out of a harsh situation, to say the least: I was in the middle of a break-up, which had been going on for 1,5 years, we could neither live with nor without each other. Both of us couldn’t let go …
The relationship itself had been another 5 years of struggle. However, after years of living together with a person with huge personal problems I was so fragile that I broke into a thousand small pieces after breaking up. My life was based on anorexia, depression, alcohol, cigarettes, party, and …. I suffered in silence pretending to be fine and nobody knew what was going on inside of me.
I was studying physics back then, tried to concentrate on my studies, and finished the academic paper that caused me three more months of depression and going through hell but I made it, somehow. I signed into my final exams hoping this would get me out of trouble and sadness, but it didn’t work out …. On February 10th, 2014 I had an oral exam, the last one before my finals. I studied a lot, but … as I entered the room I could not talk. I am a very talkative person but that day I could not say a single word, as much as I tried! I failed ...
I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, I had never failed an exam, yet I couldn’t make this easy one? After that day I felt more sadness than ever before, fell into an even deeper depression, drank more and more alcohol to ease the pain, and wondered why I failed my relationships and studies. Nothing seemed to work out for me.
Long story short … Two months later I passed the exam with an A+ and decided to intermit my study for one semester instead of taking the final exams right away. I hoped that a short break would help me to get better again.
I knew that I had to leave. I knew that I had to get out of my old life to clear my mind and that I needed to learn English. So I started to look for a place where I could improve my English: „USA, UK, Malta“was going through my mind as a picture appeared in my vision and showed me where I was meant to go. It was the image of the red rock in the heart of Australia: Uluru!
I never would have thought about going to Australia but the message was very clear. I called my dad and told him about my idea. He said I was mad, Down under was too far away! But to me, it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore. I knew that I was going to do it anyway.
I remember myself sitting on the plane on April 29th, 2014, and writing in my journal: „[...] I am afraid of the unknown and I feel ashamed about my English. [...] But I know that faith and love are stronger than everything else in the world and I know that everything will be fine at the end.“
I did not know anybody in Australia nor had I ever traveled alone before and my English …? A disaster. I could not say a single sentence in that language! I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy but it didn’t have to.
As I arrived at the airport in Sydney I knew straight away that I was going to stay a year. People said that it was mad, that I had to go back to finish my exams. But again this didn’t matter to me because I knew that my exams would not run away from me while this opportunity was given to me only once and I didn’t want to miss it.
I bought myself a camper and started to travel criss-cross around Down under and I loved it. This turned into the most amazing time of my life. After six months of cruising around, I arrived in the small unknown town of „Broome“ in the northwest of Australia. I was on my way to Perth and wanted to stay in Broome for only two or three days to wash off the red dirt of the outback in the beautiful turquoise ocean …. But once again life had something different planned for me and I got stuck in Broome.
I needed a job. It was wet season and there were not many job offerings in that small town, my English was still not good enough to work with people, it wasn’t easy for me to find work anyway. After weeks of looking for a job without any success I decided to leave Broome which made me sad a great deal: I was already in love with that tiny town. On the day I wanted to set off a miracle happened: Someone offered me a job out of the blue. As a carer! I had never been a carer before! I did not have a clue what I had to do but I said to myself that I was going to learn it and give it a go. That way I was allowed to work with one of the most amazing and loving people I have ever met in my life: Andy!
Andy is a paralyzed man sitting in a wheelchair, with a heart as big as the ocean. Working on his side wasn’t easy at all. Not on account of the duties I had but because I had to accept the fact that Andy couldn’t move anymore. He couldn’t take care of himself, was helpless and confined to a wheelchair. These broke my heart a lot. I cried every night before going to sleep and could not understand fate nor the world. „Why should such a lovely person suffer such a fate?“
However, I soon realized that this job wasn’t about earning money, but it was there to remind me that I am here for a reason, and there is a purpose in my every-day-life.
Andy and I became close friends soon and he shared his story with me: He used to be a backpacker just like me. Traveling the world for months and months, being sporty, running marathons, being a gym teacher …
„Looking at you reminds me of my old days. I was like you, a free soul, a traveler full of energy, a butterfly! I could not sit around doing nothing", he told me one night. "Fifteen years ago I came up from Adelaide to Broome with a camper like yours and all I had were the van and some clothes. I didn’t know what I was going to do here but life turned out the way it had to …“
He used to be a young energetic man until one day … 30 years ago he had a car accident. He didn’t put on the security belt, the car turned upside down, the other two passengers survived without any injuries and Andy endured only with lots of luck and ended up in a wheelchair. Today he is the owner of three big businesses in Australia.
One night after Andy had shared his heartbreaking story with me, I was lying in the hammock in my beautiful peaceful villa at his resort – Bali Hai – reading my book, as I suddenly saw my feet. I put the book aside and looked at my feet. It was as if I was seeing them for the first time in my life! I moved my legs, got up, started to walk, run and jump: „Oh my God! I can move my feet, Andy cannot!“, I realized and begun to weep. This was the first time in my life that I recognized the value of my feet and my healthy body. Don’t we take the most important things in our life for granted?
I remembered my own accident which I had had with a friend on the beach only a few weeks before I had met Andy. I hadn’t put on the security belt just like Andy, our car had turned upside down as well and I had been stuck in my seat. I recalled the moment when the accident was just about to happen and I remembered that I knew that everything that was going to occur from that moment on was out of my control!
After recalling this scene I knew that I hadn’t met Andy coincidently. He reminded me that the person sitting in the wheelchair could have been me. I knew that he was a sign telling me that I had gotten a new chance to change my life for the better and that I had to be grateful for this opportunity and make the best out of it. And I realized that I didn’t need to go back to Germany anymore!
Life can change quickly and I knew that I did not want to waste my time doing something I wasn’t meant to do and being somewhere I didn’t want to be …. I did not have a clue about what I was going to do, but I knew that I didn’t want to go back to my old life anymore.
And again no one understood why I would give up the studies that I had spent so much time and energy on. Passing my final exams would have brought stability, security, and money into my life.
„You are mad!“ they said. „You can’t give up your studies! You only have four more exams to pass. Think about all the advantages this job would bring you. Come back, finish university, and then you can do whatever you want to.“
But my soul was longing for higher purpose and wisdom and my heart was a seeker of love and freedom. They were not to be satisfied with some academic degrees and I knew that I did not need a piece of paper to improve my knowledge and wisdom. This was just not worth my time.
It has been a long journey and a long story with lots of ups and downs. There were moments of doubting the path and thinking of giving up, but today I am glad that I stuck on it and didn’t quit. I had many goals for this journey that I all achieved and I had one aim: I had promised myself that I was not going to stop traveling until I’d find myself.
Today, three years later, I realize that I have achieved my aim as well. It’s been a long and rough way to go but I made it.
I still don’t know where I’ll be next month but this doesn´t matter because I know where ever I will end up, I will be fine there.
If I have learned one thing during the last three years, this was „trust“: Trusting my inner voice, to trust in life, and to have faith that every single thing will fall into the place at the end, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now. The most painful situations sometimes lead us to the most beautiful experiences in life.
Now, if you are sitting somewhere heartbroken and sad or unhappy with your current life, reading these lines make a change, break it up and get out of it no matter what it is! Nothing in the world is worth wasting our life on if it is not our purpose. Don’t wait for anyone to come and take your hand because that might never happen. Do it yourself! Don’t ask anybody which way to go you are the one who should make that decision. It is your life and its map is hidden in your heart. It is not going to be easy but it is possible ….
(Text written, on April 29th, 2017)