a new chapter of de.light at the end of the tunnel

After being so exhilarated with my recent quest and adventure, and wanting nothing more than to devote my full attention, time and energy to describing and adding to it, ultimately, life got in the way. My present only source of income, after having been cut off from an earlier employer who had subsidized my housing – which afforded me the luxury of time to devote to my own writings – I have had to throw all of my time and attention into making my living. That is, I do business writing, on the topic of consulting. I learn a great deal through the subject matter which I write about, however, I’ve calculated that since my aim is quality rather than quantity, and I am paid per page, my income works out to about 4.50 euro/hour. In other words, it relegates very little time for me to concentrate on any of my other pursuits; of doing outdoor physical sports, writing my blog(s), my children’s book, playing bass guitar and composing music; all which in a perfect world, would and should have priority!

Part of de.light at the end of the tunnel, was the awakening recognition of how I was robbing myself – through the relationship I was devoted to – of celebrating myself & the pleasure of living life devoted to creativity to the fullest. I have realized during this process of awakening, that in fact, I am the only person responsible for the choices that I have made, which have lead to me continually being beaten down and not valued. I have therefore decided to share this letter I wrote, which in itself, is part of my process, of trying to understand, why I chose to commit myself to a person who didn’t value me. I am trying to finally resolve, a series of unfulfilling and unsupportive relationships, with the attempt to break the trend and my own tendency, to keep jumping back into the fire. As my dear father says: I’m like a moth attracted to the flame. Maybe some of this is the adventure of a conquest, but it is rather, a thinly disguised self-loathing, of never feeling that I’m good enough. It’s about time to resolve it and move on, and to start shining the light from within. I share this very personal letter to my ex-flame ha! the irony in that choice of words! I promise to once again continue with stories of my last adventure, and more to come. It appears that Carol the ex-patriot, is about to return from Berlin, Germany to the States, to continue my adventures from there. And if I play the cards right, I will be bounding on even wider adventures – with the help of financial security through grants and sponsors – to assist and support my ability to devote 111% of my precious life’s time towards doing what I passionately love to do the most, and which I do best.

the end of the last chapter:

To the ex-flame,

As usual, I wrote a long email to you, but decided to rewrite this instead. I have already told you many times the things that gratify ‘you’ and what I loved about what we shared. However, there are many things that I did not like, and which I tolerated. I mostly felt very alone, isolated and neglected during our relationship. There was a part of you that I completely respected, a voice that spoke with authority….But that’s not the point here, this isn’t about you, it is about me.

I have not loved and adored ‘myself’. Deep within myself, I have never felt that I deserved love, or that anyone could love me. That’s why I got together with you, and returned again and again, for you to mirror this self-loathing, right back to me! You reflected with your behavior, anger, disappointment, criticism, disrespect, annoyance and disgust with me, exACTly what I felt about myself and what I felt I deserved in life.

At times you may have thought that you saw someone who is confident & arrogant, who appears to know it all, who is fearless and adventurous,
but the other side of this
is a woman highly critical of herself, not confident, and feeling replaceable by anyone.

I was like an object on the periphery from the start when you were together with K. and even when you were ‘together’ with me. You rarely included me in your life or wished for me to know you, or wanted to get to know me. You didn’t value me, support and appreciate who I am and what I do, rarely wanted to spend time with me alone; to go swimming, hiking, traveling together, go on adventures, to go ‘out’ to art & music events, dancing, or even to take time to talk about life.

Hidden there, barely visible, is me, who at times feels attractive, graceful, intelligent, talented, patient, creative, devoted, faithful, compassionate, loving… Every once in a while you would see this part of me, and I think you hated seeing me confident; assuming that I act like I know everything and only want to take advantage of everyone.

It’s true that I am selfish, fearful & not very generous, believe me, I know my negative attributes! I have an addictive personality and such feeble self esteem burning beneath the flicker of confidence and superiority, that I chose to be with you, as you beat me up emotionally and physically.

I have to forgive myself, for incessantly giving all of my power and devotion to you, instead of honoring myself.

all the best,

carol

Italian Hitchabout August 2011 | de.light at the end of the tunnel |

I’ve never passed through so many tunnels en route to anywhere in such a short period of time … wow, northern Italy and Switzerland, what a delight.

I calculated that I hitched a total of 3955 km = 2,457.523 miles ‘-) Flawless (when you’re only looking from the positive point of view of everything ‘-) and lots of fascinating encounters with lovely geography and people!

This journey was a personal evolution, moving with intention & zeal towards, rather than away, from something. The paths I choreographed and the surprises & synchronicities that arrived along the way, all had something to teach me.

-.-.-.-.-.-
I made the decision to finally make my way to Italy, with the particular aim of seeing Rome for the first time. Wow, what a pleasure. It was a great experience for all of the senses. I hadn’t had much time, but definitively got a taste. I now have a list of places and people to visit, when I roam back to Rome again. For example, recommended by a pleasant and smart couchsurfer, Leprotto Reale in Reggio Emilio:

Towns not to be missed because of their historic significance or beauty, or both.

Near Reggio Emilia:

Canossa
Castell’Arquato
Colorno
Carpineti

On the route from Reggio to Rome:

Gubbio
*Assisi
*Siena
Pisa
Perugia (In July the Umbria Jazz Festival takes place in this town, featuring artists such as Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, B.B. King, Pat Metheny and others)
Urbino
Orvieto
Viterbo (near Rome)
Arezzo (the town where Roberto Benigni filmed “La Vita è Bella”)

The trip was planned and anticipated through primarily the tools and communities on the internet.

I applied my membership in http://www.couchsurfing.org to seek out hosts along my way. I used http://maps.google.com | get directions | to plan my route; isolating strategic towns that could be interwoven into my direction, south to Rome. This was after I had already arrived from Berlin to the South of Germany in Baden-Württemberg.

Berlin to near Tübingen, Germany

From southern Germany, my first stop was Torino/Turin with a great couchsurfing host, Stefano, after he responded positively to my request. He introduced me to another couchsurfer, who happened to be a friend of the other couchsurfer in Reggio Emilio, whom I had already confirmed was my next planned second stop. As my brief letter to her mentioned I was south of Torino staying with a host in Chieri, Piemonte, Italy, she realized that she was familiar with the name. Turns out, she knew the friend of the man hosting me, whom I met the next evening, and two women were sms’ng one other about me the American couchsurfer.

A number of photos are of my visit with this second couchsurfing host, Giovanna in Reggio Emilia. She happens to be in the hospitality community professionally. She runs a bed and breakfast which she renovated. The property had been owned by her deceased grandfather. It had been a vineyard, and still is. It is producing grapes, though not using the ancient tools and materials that were used to produce the wine back in her grandfathers’ time. She has preserved these antiques and incorporated them into the lovely setting, grounds and interior of the casa. Giovanna was a fabulous host, and I recommend the place for those of you who may wish to travel through the area and get a taste of the beauty. The place is like a New Mexico style hacienda, the land and mountains to the south magically reminded me of the beauty of northern New Mexico. Reggio Emilia is a lovely town, known for it’s high quality opera. Giovanna’s grace, savvy, perceptive and direct nature made for the beginnings of a genuine friendship. She introduced me to the town of Reggio Emilia, and to a number of interesting people, most of whom are local couchsurfer members. Her bed and breakfast website:
http://www.casaledeinoci.it (for sms or calls +39 349 4505233)

My plan was to follow the route that google mapped out for me

but the rest was then left to serendipity/synchronicity, in terms of being stopped by the police on the inception of my second hitching trek which diverted my route as well as the various different people I met along the way. I hadn’t known that hitching – even standing on the turf of the restaurant/gas stations – is forbidden, adjacent to the major highways. Instead of heading south via Florence/Firenze to Roma, I was now riding with a pair of truckers who were heading East to Pescara on the Adriatic coast. One of the truckers witnessed the police basically kicking me out of the property, and as soon as the police were driving away he interceded, waving me towards their truck to accompany them. If I hadn’t already been talking in Spanish for a while with a friendly Cuban woman who worked at the station, she perhaps would not have let me back through the locked gate to the inside, where she was throwing out trash at the same time as the police were driving away. At this point one of the truckers had now approached the fence.

To be continued! and probably even the text I’ve written so far edited!! More to come, this ride with the truck drivers from South Italy, Pescara, the Moroccan 5 star restaurant and my introduction to the 5 points of the Muslim religion, Rome & my tour guide who enriched the quality of my experience there, more random events, the tail end of the Zurich street fest (electronic music) and more of the ride back.

Berlin to Mössingen 693 km
Mössingen to Torino Italy 594 km
Torino to Reggio Emilia 338 km
Bologna to Pescara 361 km
Pescara to Rome 208 km
2194 km

Rome, Italy to Mössingen, Germany 1,064 km
Mössingen, Germany to Berlin 697 km
1761 km

3955 km total = 2,457.523

Merely pause with your mouse over the images, to see the title text of the pictures.

I will happily & humbly accept donations supporting the evolution of my art, via the PayPal portal. As yet, I have no sponsors ‘-))
PayPal mail to: carolinberlin@dbzmail.com
BLZ/Routing Number: 322 271 627

the missing dimension | Quantum Consciousness |

In January of 2010, I blogged about an earlier ‘hitchabout‘, which I mentioned then, is a wordplay, aligned with the concept of the Aboriginal Walkabout.
During this hitchhiking adventure, a number of synchronicities took place. I recognized then, two repeated themes which surfaced during this journey. One of these was on the subject of Native American spirituality which came up repeatedly. One with respect to a dreamcatcher that was present which is a Native American legend. The other, my introduction to a hint of the concept of the changes that are taking place presently in the world, through a meeting which took place among North and South American Indians in 2003, with some of their insights captured in “The White Road“.

The other recurring theme was neuroplasticity.

In “The White Road“, the indigenous people describe that they are certain that not only is all past information of the universe stored in our bodies, but that we are constantly provided with new information from the Cosmos. It flows through us so that we can consciously perceive the information, tune into it and learn to understand it.

Within the concept of neuroplasticity, I mentioned to one of the driver’s a book written by a professor of Neuroscience, Antonio Damasio, “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain“. In the process of formulating new thoughts or tasks, the neurons involved are not located in specific areas, but the brain creates convoluted neural networks spanning different lobes, encoded across different regions, depending on the different associations that are being built in the process. Ultimately, the author talks about the interdependence of emotions, in the reasoning process.

In the field of Neurology, it is understood that in the process of creating thoughts, and specifically, the essential nature of the meaning behind a thought, can not only expand our minds, but also in essence, affect the rest of our body, either beneficially or harmfully.

I mention these, because at the time of the writing, I was compelled to delineate a germinating theory of mine, explaining the how and why of incidents such as synchronistic events, precognition, ESP extrasensory perception, clairvoyance and telepathy as well as multiple discoveries…

I proposed then “that in the formulation of a thought that is taking place within my brain, and a similar meaning pattern that is outside of me; that those concepts, resonant in meaning and intent, intercept one another.”

But first, let me backtrack and relate one perspective that radically shifted my focus. My intention then was to make a point of the power of “thought”, until I read some words on the subject of thought by Sri Chinmoy. In this paper he distills the difference between ‘thought’ and ‘mind’, saying that the former is typically generated by the ego, involving ‘desire’ – among typically a lot of chatter and noise – and the latter, more to do with ‘aspiration’, typically involving silencing the mind and opening the heart.

With this in mind, allow me to introduce the missing dimension: “quantum consciousness”. I’ve rewired my theory, having been introduced to the work of a theoretical quantum physicist, Dr. Amit Goswami.

Deepak Chopra, an Indian American physician, states that “we live in the Age of the Higher Brain, the cerebral cortex that has grown enormously over the last few millennium, overshadowing the ancient, instinctive lower brain.” He has been among the pioneers of quantum medicine. However, it was from the writing of Amit Goswami, in his paper, “Signatures of the Divine“, that I learned of his concepts, and how they can be applied to illuminate my theory.

In the introduction to the paper, Amit says “This entire paper is an exercise in how to take the straightjacket of scientific materialism off our back.” Parallel to what the Native Americans stated in “The White Way”, with reference to the fact that “They perceive that at the present time, doors are opening to different dimensions, and as multi-dimensional beings, it is up to us to now move through them, and leave the prison of our limited consciousness behind.”

In the world of sub-atomic particles, a new dimension is introduced, unlike the causal laws in physics, in which the “observer” affects the outcome of that being measured. With respect to the ‘double slit experiments‘, (believe me I’m no physicist nor mathematician) within quantum physics, this link contains a basic explanation for the lay person like me, to get an idea of the terminology that Dr. Goswami uses.

The conclusions drawn in the double slit experiments, is that “the electron leaves the source as a particle, becomes a wave of potentials and interferes with itself when it hits the wall. This phenomenon is known as a wave-particle duality, the concept that matter and energy exhibits both wave-like and matter-like properties…The electron once leaving the source goes into what is known as superposition, (in which) the electron takes every conceivable and inconceivable path, through both slits, through one slit, through no slits rebounding against the sheet, around the experiment. However, upon measuring this, the wave function collapses, and is forced to go through a single slit; going back to behaving like a particle, no longer demonstrating the interference pattern of waves. Quanta, the discreet bundles of energy that basically, in the form of electrons or protons demonstrate not linearly moving from one energy level around the orbit of an atom, but jump; discontinuously appearing in this or that orbit.

In Signatures of the Divine, Amit “argues that quantum physics shows us the way, by giving us back downward causation and its agent—Quantum consciousness (popularly called God) acting through the observer. In Newtonian physics, objects are determined things. But in quantum physics, objects are possibilities for consciousness to choose from. When an observer looks, the observer’s consciousness chooses among the quantum possibilities, to collapse an actuality of experience. Quantum collapse is downward causation.” Upward causation would be for example, describing “a flow” experience, as occurring because of “muscle memory” or some other biological/chemical function occurring in the body.

My intent in correlating his concepts with my paper, is not to attempt to prove the existence of God; I have more of an allegiance with the concepts of the psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung, who coined the term “synchronicity” as well as “collective unconscious” and illustrated in his theories a world of archetypal images that are essentially meaning. I see the quantum aspects which Dr. Goswami alludes to – the “supramental”; as consisting of archetypes of meaning, describing what we experience when collapsed into biological functions as intuition.

Amit further states that “We create our own reality through quantum collapse involved in making an observation, but there is a subtlety in consciousness. We do not create reality in our ordinary state of consciousness, but in a non-ordinary state of consciousness.

Here is where the distinction between “thought” and “mind” arises, and where intention, coming either from conscious or unconscious processes, over-rules. Amit describes the results of the Nobel laureate physicist who first thought of the paradox of Wigner’s friend: Goswami stated that “After many decades, three physicists at different places and times, Ludwig Bass (1971) in Australia, myself (Goswami, 1989, 1993) at Oregon, and Casey Blood (2001) at Rutgers, New Jersey, independently discovered the solution of the paradox: consciousness is one, non-local and cosmic, behind the two people’s local individuality.”

Amit talks of the ‘speed limit’ imposed on the universe by Einstein, in which no thing can travel faster than the speed of light. “Quantum physics, besides discontinuity, gives us another amazing principle to operate with–non-locality. The principle of locality says that all communication must proceed through local signals that have a speed limit.” I concur, adding that thought is not limited by this, but instantaneous, moving from past, present to future. As you read, and actively think about what I’ve written, you will process the ideas through images you create. Creating new links from the outside, or drawing from within; memories, dreams and reflections of ideas. All of these imprint the screen through which you are looking.

However, Goswami, as well as Chinmoy specify a distinction between ordinary thought and a consciousness within which we are all enfolded. “Quantum non-locality is–a signal-less interconnectedness outside space and time… The situation is saved by the idea of unconscious processing, a part and parcel of the creative process. It is conscious processing that costs time.” He writes about this also in his book Quantum Creativity (Goswami, 1999).

My guess is that when you have a sudden flash of insight or intuition, that this is an a-causal, non localized, immediate apprehension or grasp of a concept; connecting the web of neuro synaptic connections within our brains, along with the entangled hierarchical relationships with events and people – experiences – outside. A leap occurs, discontinuously triggered either from outside or inside – it doesn’t matter – at which time the energy that is oscillating at the same frequency from both sources, coalesces. Sort of the same concept as having receptors in our brains that are similar to the chemical makeup of a substance outside of the brain, thus triggering the response. If the receptors weren’t there, there would be no perceived affect. And in the case of the subtleties of meaning and intent within conscious awareness, when a symmetry occurs with similar archetypes, a concept can be received and ignited, occurring as a sudden realization.

Even more elegant, perhaps information goes back and forth through a conduit like an umbilical cord, or worm hole, from what we see and perceive through our senses of matter, connecting with meaning structures, instantaneously, in another space-time, thus explaining the phenomena of intention manifesting in matter, and information received expressed as intuition.

What does this mean? In terms of free will vs. determinism, nature vs. nurture… both are true. Regarding the emotional/physical/mental aspects of a human being; your physical body is pretty much limited by your skin’s surface on the outside, though even this can be influenced and permeated by the mind. With respect to the emotional/mental sphere, ‘thought’ processes ‘appear’ to occur localized within the brain. Yet, regarding the ‘mind’ and the supramental, this is as much a part of a gigantic fabric of energy wave particles that permeate all of matter; and when one has the experience of a realization of an object of knowledge, without thought, it simply is there in the mind anew.

Just as our physical body contains miles of DNA, encoded with information from the past of all life, so does our conscious (potential), consist of an energy fabric of waves, in which we are immersed, and through which all archetypes of ideas, present as vibrating possibilities, like seeds of meaning omnipresent in all energy.

We only recently discerned that as the oceans that cover three quarters of the surface of the planet, our bodies are also made up of 75% water. And until also fairly recently in history, man did not have much of a grasp of what air is and what the earth’s atmosphere is made of, nor realized that much of the chemical make-up of our bodies consists of the same elements found within the soils and rock of our planet. Scientists still haven’t figured out why the mass of the universe, surpasses the weight of all of the planets in the cosmos, revealed through calculations measuring how fast the universe is expanding.

We are however creatures living within the limits of our world(s), with lots of ‘noise and clutter’ of information all around us, much of it we don’t need or use. Therefore, we remain more or less distracted and confined, within the world we perceive with our senses. Perhaps every thought or idea, discovery or invention, is part of a supramental | a priori | state of existence, in which all concepts have always existed, and it has been only through various triggers, that these became ‘conscious’ throughout mankind’s time on this planet; erupting among different people(s) during various times. Perhaps all “ideas/concepts” mathematical laws… already exist within themselves, and are the basic building blocks of consciousness; archetypes of truths which have always been present within the kernel of the entire ‘becoming’ of the universe. And this web of consciousness, present within the seed of all life that ever did and will happen; a blueprint not contained with a particular space-time location, but everywhere at once as a hologram of possibilities. An idea which could potentially be ignited, to collapse into an event, when the leverage occurs to unite the connection; of which the essential element must be a similar meaning. Meaning or intention, as energy in its purist form.

Therefore, when Native American Indians of the Amazon talk of being directly given information from indigenous plants upon ingesting them, or Aborigines ‘becoming’ or ‘dreaming’ the thing which they need to be connected to, this has nothing to do with the traditional material/linear way of thinking. This has to do with directly apprehending something, through a matching of intent. The intention, conscious or unconscious, transported and arched to the concept, via the ‘waves’ of emotion. A conception, is already present within the cells and systems of life on the micro level, within animals plants. So the world as we know it, with homo sapiens and their ‘brains’ at the top, is actually ‘upside down’. Humans are conduits to intelligence and highly sophisticated processes, that appear to be conscious, yet occurring readily and immediately, within the minutest fabric of life. We appear to be the last to ‘get it’. In a funny circular kind of way, science is finally showing the head of the snake, it’s tail.

As I was somehow coming to an intuitive conclusion, that the lines that I describe within my dream (in the caption of this worm hole diagram below)
are energy, no they’re space-time, then I thought, could they be all of these, and I linked to this information.

http://www.grandunifiedtheory.org.il/book/time01.htm

“The three media — time, space and energy — are waved together. Each has its own properties and behaviors, but one cannot exist without the others….Energetic activity means space and time…In space, different energy levels appear from time to time. Their activity brings about the appearance of swirls, which cause changes of time and space (phase transitions).”

The connection between “Space, Time, Energy & Matter” are discussed clearly for the layperson in this paper, in which Bernard Cloutier reveals the unfolding of our understanding, through scientific discoveries. In his description:

“Quantum mechanics deal with the way that energy exists only in discrete packets, or quanta, at the ultra microscopic scale of the fundamental building blocks of the universe rather than in the continuously varying amounts we are familiar with in classical physics. For example, the single electron of the hydrogen atom flies around the nucleus only in certain orbits that correspond to specific energy levels. The electron cannot occupy intermediate orbits but it can jump from one orbit to a higher or lower one by acquiring or losing a quantum of energy in the form of a photon.

Quantum mechanics describes how the electromagnetic force, the weak force and the strong force interact with matter. The model on which quantum mechanics is based uses the same idealized concept of dimensionless points used in the model of an ideal gas. It presumes that the fermions that make up matter (electrons, quarks and their antimatter partners), and the bosons that transmit energy (photons, gluons and weak gauge bosons), are dimensionless entities that differ only by their various attributes such as mass, charge and spin. ( Later, it became evident that a new concept called ‘string theory‘ was the only way to reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics.)

According to this theory, fundamental particles are the manifestations of the vibration of extremely small regions of space, various modes of these vibrations giving rise to all the known fermions and bosons.

String theory eventually postulated the existence of six “curled up” dimensions in addition to the four “extended” dimensions we know, (right-left, up-down, front-back and past-future) to provide all the vibration modes required to give rise to all the known fundamental particles.

What does this last string of references have to do with my point about consciousness? That’s precisely it, consciousness is not a point from my ego localized here, and your ego localized area, but is a multi-dimentional interwoven mesh of energy waves, that together with sensory perceptions and awareness, which we (I and you) perceive as “subjective”, in so far as we are only consciously operating within the four dimensions of space-time. Consciousness is perhaps like a primordial soup of collective unconscious and/or a supramental reservoir; from which just as the DNA in every cell has the blueprint of the entire organism encoded within, our “mind” taps into this collective “consciousness”, within which we are contained. Consciousness is not ‘in our brain’, which can spin off all sorts of debris (some of you may think of my ideas as just that !-) called “thinking”, but a channel, tunneling into this multi-dimensional vibrating entity that encodes information regarding meaning which is implicit, to and from which we all have periodic lapses. ‘-)

Ironically, what has taken me 7 pages to describe (and still working on simplifying), Bill Hicks, the now deceased comic, was able to convey with humor and eloquence in 60 seconds, in the 8/8 part of a live show recorded, called Revelations.

hitchabout Paris

hitchabout from Berlin to Paris, frankly, i think this particular time i took a bus back!-) but definitely had a good experience hitching there ‘-))

Hitchabout Prague

another hitchabout, this one was Berlin to Prague and back!

Hitchabout Budapest

These were pictures i took when i did this hitchabout from Berlin to the Eastern side of the Czech Republic to visit Czech guys i met back when they were living in Taos, New Mexico… then on to Budapest to catch the tail end of the Sziget Music Festival and back to Berlin. Another positive testimony to humanity – the great people i met and stories i gathered…sometimes even when we barely had a common thread of language, yet could communicate nevertheless…

another hitch-about | Berlin > Zurich

Yet another hitch-about, albeit with specific destinations in mind. From Berlin I would go to Mössingen in southern Germany to visit my beau, then to Zürich – a small hop away relatively speaking – to meet a person for the first time who had responded to my ad as a ‘bass guitarist looking for musicians’ on craigslist. We had had a number of email correspondences and telephone conversations regarding the possibility of forming a band together. Craigslist is more typically used by Americans, Germans and probably many Europeans haven’t quite caught on. http://zurich.fr.craigslist.ch/ The timing was right to go to Zürich following my first stop, since it was a mere 191 km, as opposed to close to about 693 km from Berlin to Mössingen.

It was the morning of the 17th of August, 2010. I set my alarm and woke up at 7am, anticipating being on the road at 9. That was without considering the fact that I still hadn’t thoroughly packed. It was 11:30 when I was approaching the location of my starting point – one which I’ve used several times, adjacent to the Messe/Exhibition center in Berlin. There, at the entrance to the road that leads to the A9, people have less than a minute pause for a traffic light signal to: see me, decide if they want to bother to stop and whether they can negotiate around the other traffic to do so, with not much of a shoulder on the road to pull over.

My first ride appeared without me even noticing, I heard a honk and turned around to see this big white van had pulled over. I opened the door, scanned the surprisingly young and handsome guy, and hopped in while there was a wake of no cars. Within 40 seconds or so, he distinguished my English accent in the German I was speaking, and blurted out, “I’m American”! He was in fact a dual citizen – US & European passport. His American father had been stationed in Germany during the 1st Gulf War, where he met his German mother. They had lived for a while in the States until he was six or so, and the rest of the time he has lived with his family in various towns in Germany.

Currently he lives in Berlin, and works as a body guard, and on this particular occasion – a driver and escort. He was on his way to Nürnberg to pick up a Japanese film crew from the airport there, who were attending a film festival. He was going to be their personal chauffeur for a week. He spoke of having been the personal bodyguard for a year for Kate Winslett, while she was shooting the film “The Reader” in Berlin. He dropped names of various different film stars, and had stories to tell about a number of them. He also mentioned that Kate had requested him personally when she had returned to Berlin to attend the Berlinale film festival.

http://www.berlinale.de/en/das_festival/festivalprofil/profil_der_berlinale/index.html

We slid into the topic of what it must be like to be famous, and barely ever having the chance to just openly walk in public, or go anywhere with freedom. He mentioned that one time during an event at the Berlinale, he and Kate and her entourage had managed to walk out the front door of Hotel Adlon, adjacent to the Brandenburg Gate (where Michael Jackson had dangled his infant child out the window to receive lots of bad press), without any press or paparazzi hovering at the door recognizing who they were. They wandered to the Brandenburg Tor/Gate, where she commented on how wonderful it was to be so liberated to just walk out the door.

He had done some training with a Police academy in Berlin, and had started out in leadership positions pretty young, getting ‘boy scout’ points for good behavior and responsibilities he took on. He explained that being a body guard also require being able to use a weapon, so it was relevant to the skills he had already been developing. I was again and again amazed that I was sitting there speaking English with this guy, and delighted that he was so communicative, fun to talk to and quite attractive. I enjoyed his company, and discovered upon asking, that he lives with a girlfriend, and has a great cat. Ahhh, the endless glimpses into other peoples lives and comparisons – between healthy, happy relationships, and the one that I’ve been in. What I hadn’t realized as I was first getting in the van, is that he was going to be driving three quarters of the length of my trip – wow! I hadn’t realized just how far south Nürnberg actually is.

In the interim, after being left off at the last Autobahnraststätte/highway rest-stop before my driver was heading off towards his destination, I walked around, approaching people to ask If they’re going in the direction of the sign I was gesturing to in my hand. It was there that this little mini antique camper truck with a round man inside, said he was going my way. He was a jolly old guy – like an incarnation of Santa Claus – with long white hair, minus the beard. Wolfgang was his name. He was putzing along in comparison to the majority of traffic, which isn’t to say that it was that slow. He was traveling around on a big loop through different areas, as he does several times during the warmer months. Just stops where he feels like it, and enjoys nature. Said he has a wife at home who won’t travel further than a 14 km radius from her home, if she goes out at all. He doesn’t make his trips in the winter months. He was so jolly that I felt very warm and comfortable in his presence, in the passenger seat. We chatted in German about languages and their various roots and evolution & movement to different cultures. He spoke a remarkably clear German, with seemingly no particularly strong accent or dialect. He explained to me that he had been raised in a rural area where the various local villages had no schools, and he was a student at a boarding school, where the only solution to all the different dialects was for the students to learn high German, to have a common ground. He was going further along in my direction, but I had to step out at one point because I wasn’t making good time.

The next driver who came after quite a pause, was an outdoorsy, cowboy type guy, now that I think about it. Without ceremony, he answered that he could take me as far as Heilbrunn. He was driving a sleek, black automobile. He had a quiet, serious demeanor. As we drove, I learned that he was coming from a horse show in Nürnberg, that was still going to be taking place till that Sunday. People who work for him would be transporting the horses in trailers back to his ranch after the show. http://www.silvernugget-ranch.de/ He wasn’t riding this time, but selling paraphernalia, among them handmade cowboy hats and saddles, which he showed to me in his trunk when I was leaving his company. These leather saddles were beautifully crafted with hand sown chamois interiors. He buys these hand-made goods at horse ranches several times a year; primarily in Idaho, Oklahoma and Montana. He’s been many times to Texas and California, and has visited both Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico numerous times. I had mentioned to him that I’ve lived in both of these towns. And when I mentioned that I’d also lived in San Francisco, he lit up, saying that his favorite restaurant there is “the Stinking Rose“. I love garlic too, I commented ‘-) He said he loves Lake Tahoe in California, particularly in the summer. He has had a ranch for years where he teaches riding and has 3 stallions which he breeds. People bring their mares and he trains the offspring, not before they reach 3 years old. These young colts have already been bought upon their inception.

The restaurant where he left me off, was a bit remote and felt more like a place where locals were hitting a sandwich shop. After asking a few people which way was the entrance to the road towards Stuttgart, I proceeded to walk to it. The first place was the wrong entrance, and no sooner had I walked back to the other yielding turn lane, did someone almost immediately stop to give me a lift. Most of the other traffic appeared to be local, but Michael was a chauffeur with his own car service, on his way to the Stuttgart airport. Ironic that I was getting rides with professional drivers! He says he drives mostly politicians and managers! Ha, high-end driving, don’t mess around with the small stuff 😉 At one point he was on the phone with someone, and when he got off, explained that this conversation just assured him a big amount of cash for later in the winter. He had just received confirmation that two ski trips for December in Austria had been booked, in which he would be driving the German local skiers on a bus to the ski resort, stay there and have the chance to ski himself and have free lodging. Booking this early, in August, gave the people much better rates. He said he has a lot of connections with hotels….

It was still light outside when my last driver gave saw my sign and offered a lift to close to my destination. I had practically reached my ending point. This was a young guy, Jens, who’s an architect and musician. He said he has several projects presently, two Kindergarten schools and a ‘mobile’ church. huh? I didn’t quite get it, sounds like something you’d find in Texas or Alabama, a rolling Baptist church on wheels that shows up at the rodeo on Sundays ‘-) Jens also is a drummer who plays in one cover band and another who play their own music and also percussion in a local orchestra. Wow, busy guy! He said he’d been stuck in traffic for almost 2 hours, within the short distance of commuting home after his work day. I discovered that his live-in girlfriend also plays in the orchestra, so I guess they have a lot of time together with their various extracurricular activities.

These were just the rides that brought me to Mössingen, in the South of Germany, in about 9 hours. Driving oneself, one could make this trip in 6.

I can’t find my notes at the moment to even remember all the rides I had when I departed from Mössingen to go to Zürich, but I made quite good timing, and as most of the time, had pleasant rides with people whom I enjoyed talking to. I often ask a lot of questions and offer information. Here in Germany I like to point out that where I’m from in Pennsylvania, there’s such a resemblance in the land and climate, that many Germans had immigrated there 200 years ago, and stayed. And that there are a lot of family and town names in Pennsylvania which are German.

I always find it interesting to learn about a person and his/her life, and often the people who have picked me up give a lot of information about historical or relevant insights into the locality I’m in…

The rides to Zürich over a period of several hours were also informative and pleasant. Each were comfortable. The last ride was with a couple who were Spanish speaking, from South America. That was funny. I started to speak with them in Spanish and they got a kick out of it. They were a couple who live in the suburbs of Zürich. The woman passenger gave me their phone number and said I was welcome to visit them if I’d get the chance.

I felt slightly uncomfortable only once, when I’d accepted an offer to take a ‘return’ ride from Zürich over the border to Germany, with the same businessman, who has houses both in Switzerland and Germany, by Bodensee. That was the first time I’ve ever arranged to have an additional ride with someone, and I guess that I should have had my antenna up. He mentioned that he would be in Zürich the following Wednesday, and that he could drive me on this first leg of my trip back, that he has a house near this lovely town Konstance, by this large lake Bodensee….Well, he phoned me as promised, and I decided to take him up on his offer. However, within minutes of him picking me up, I started to think that maybe he had anticipated or expected something more from me, ’cause I saw in my peripheral vision him scanning my body. At that point, I made it as clear as I could without blurting out something rude, that this was not my intention. He wound up dropping me off at a place on the outskirts of this town Constance (English spelling) that I thought wasn’t such a great starting point, but hey, I made it all the way back to the middle of Germany. At one point, I was still on my way back to Berlin, but then received a call from my beau who was now in the North of Germany, and I made the decision within minutes of the conversation to just continue to where he was, rather than returning to Berlin, because I was equidistant at that point from both regions. I’m sure that the guy who overheard the conversation and observed this spontaneous change of plans, was pretty amused.

I have even received a facebook event invitation from one of the other drivers on my return trip, to attend his birthday party in Köln/Cologne in October. And with another driver who’s a lawyer, I discussed the economic melt-down in the United States. He assured me that by no means were the US investment banks the exclusive culprits in this scandal, but that various European and other international entities also contributed to this incident as they also invested in the surge and with the aim of milking large profits.

Here are the mileage details:

Berlin to Mössingen is approx = 693 km

Mössingen, Germany to Zürich, Switzerland is approx = 191 km

Zürich Swiss to Lubeck De, approx = 953 km

Lubeck to Berlin germany approx = 313 km

2150 km total = 1335.95 miles

I have to say at this point that I have too much happening presently to embellish any more details about the hitch back.

I can say that I found Zürich to be charming. First of all, the New Yorker who I went there to meet, asked me via sms, when exACTly I would be arriving at the Haupt Bahn Hof/ Main train station? Huh, I reiterated via sms, I am hitchhiking, and I can guestimate, that I’ll be there by no later than 1:30pm. I did arrive in time. It was lovely weather, and I asked if in between the meeting of musicians and the festival that we’d all be going to that day “Zürcher Theater Spektakel”, if there would be anywhere near there to swim. http://www.theaterspektakel.ch/ Wow, was I naive! As we got off the tram and entered the grounds where the festival was taking place, looming out before me was this immense lake. It was rather ridiculous, and I think that I felt a bit embarrassed for even having asked the question, not having realized that the most obvious association to Zürich, is the fact that the city is nestled around this huge banana shaped lake that is visible from many points. ha! So, as it was a warm, lovely, sunny Sunday afternoon with loads of people out on the grass and sand, I was in the water swimming within minutes. Ahhh, was that fantastic, out beyond the docked sailboats and looking along the coastlines.

I had had some nice conversations over the next days with different locals. One man whom I spoke to, when I saw a Jewish man across the street dressed in fundamental attire, told me that there was a significant population of Jewish people living here, four separate groups in fact. I was thinking about the large numbers I’d seen in Brooklyn, and then was wondering about what other cities in the world are populated by the Jewish Diaspora. This same man also informed me about the general location of the spread of the different Swiss populations, the German, French, Italian and Romansh. Romansh descended from a form of Latin from Roman era occupiers of that region, and is spoken by residents of the canton of Graubünden. Someone told me about Julia Pass, named after Julias Caesar, as we talked about the Alps. Around 221 BC Hannibel, a Carthaginian military leader, crossed it with elephants. I was told that the water that runs down the south side of the pass goes to the Danube, and from the north, flows into the Rhine. I’m not exactly sure why we got onto that topic, but it’s a good story!

The one thing I wanted to say also, is my delight in strolling up this narrow street to a park that the architect friend of the New Yorker, who became my second host, pointed out. I arrived at this park on a high perch, and then glanced along one side wondering why these two men were standing there with such a peculiar posture, facing one another, their legs spread apart and their elbows out and hands on their hips. I moved closer to get a shot, and then realized that there in between their stances, were inlaid chess boards! I then wandered over to find a corner busy with activity, banter, discussion where at least a dozen men were seated at the periphery of this corner chess board. They were for the most part, well-dressed, active observers. After about 20 minutes, when the two who I originally noticed had finished their game, I approached this group and asked in German if anyone was interested in playing? I’m sure that most were bewildered with the fact that I even had the audacity to ask them, or with my German…but one younger guy sitting there perked up and said, sure, he’d play.

I couldn’t have found a better chess opponent, because he was so keen on the game, that he started from the beginning to inform and educate me about different strategies, that there are a number of different ‘first moves’ that have certain names. He said that a person needs to move the pieces to occupy and control the center, and basically just gave me a lot of education throughout our play. I actually held my game and played a good match that was fairly equal. He said at the end, that what was more impressive than my chess playing, is that I had the courage to approach these strangers and even ask to play. And he said that he was sure that most of these men wouldn’t have the courage to play with a woman opponent, because if they would lose, they’d lose face among their group, and would have a difficult time playing that down! That was encouraging that he pointed that out to me. In fact, last evening, I just had a young kid say to me after I had gone over and jokingly said to him that it must be a good book that he’s reading, if he’s so absorbed in it in the middle of a crowd … He wound up joining and talking to me and an Irish guy for a bit about different things, until his friend arrived. He said that it was refreshing to know that people could still approach ‘strangers’ and converse, and not be just isolated in their separate groups, and that he really appreciated it!

Back to Zürich, the only other things to add, is the picture I took of this elderly woman in her leopard dress suit which was uncanny, in the luxury department store, Jelmolí. http://www.jelmoli.ch/ It was a nice salesperson in this music store who helped me decipher where I needed to go to meet people there. http://www.upbeat.ch/ And not far away in the same neighborhood, I discovered a cool internet cafe, that is, restaurant/cafe with WiFi internet access. It was called “Z am park”. http://www.dailytonic.com/z-am-park-in-zurich-switzerland-by-aekae/ I glanced out the window from my seat and saw why it was named this, from the street sign. One street was named Zypressen and the other Zurlinden Strasse – both referring to trees – Cypress and Linden. The street the cafe was on dead-ended at the