It’s taken a while to write about this, but as the title suggests, I had to absorb a few other pieces of information and experiences, which have effectively contributed to the telling of this tale.
An interesting aspect of the beginning of my hitch, is that from within moments of approaching my “starting point”, the clouds burst into a sudden downpour of rain. Ha, nice timing, I thought. I was amused with this, and also relieved to know that there was ahead a bridge under which I could stand, and still be next to the flow of traffic. Though it took a substantial (to the point of ridiculous) amount of time to get the first ride, as in a previous hitch, it was with people who had organized a ride online via mitfahrgelegendheit.
The driver and rider were going to Stuttgart, which was written on one of my signs. Seeing this, they spontaneously decided to include me in on the ride. This would take me 9/10th of my way! Getting to my destination involved only two rides. The second driver went out of his way to bring me precisely to the doorstep, of my destination.
I like to make a friendly play on the letters of the signs, by forming a kind of smiley face with the umlaut.
The return trip was more consequential, I found. Of course, everything one experiences, has to do with the way one chooses to interpret it. Though it involved 4 times as many rides and took me hundreds of kilmeters out of my way, it introduced a lot more information which I deemed relevant and actually, life changing.
Now wait, first the context. I was leaving a guy [drum roll or yawn] with ambivalent emotions – sadness, hopes and fears – whom I have adored, who isn’t exactly reciprocal in his admiration of me.
The first ride which occurred promptly within two minutes; a tall, handsome, fashionably dressed guy in sleek leather pants; warm, smiling, driving a British car which I noticed had a very cool interior design. Often I don’t notice dress or the exterior of machines, unless something is outstandingly beautiful or ugly. ha! Talkin’ about the material world. Michael, born in the vicinity, was on his way to work as a speech therapist. He was pleasant, and we had a nice conversation in that short duration of time until he was heading into Stuttgart, beyond a reasonable place to drop me off.
The next ride, who fortunately stopped at a rather inconvenient place, was Caner. I have to point out, that I get a lot of double and triple takes from the pedestrians who are not accustomed to seeing someone hitch hiking. I enjoy looking at the people commuting on bike, strolling of all ages, backgrounds. Though Caner was heading as well into Stuttgart, I spontaneously opted to get in the car, figuring I’d deal with where he would let me off, when the time comes to make that decision. He was also handsome, around the same age as the last driver, early 30’s. He’s was as distinctively ethnic, as he was well dressed and polished looking. Of Turkish decent, Caner is an insurance broker, whose German based company deals with high-risk. We also had a pleasant conversation the whole time. I’m interested in a lot of things, and have learned bits and pieces about a lot of topics; having lived in a lot of places and worked in jobs ranging from; being a sous chef and waitress in restaurants in Washington D.C. to slinging out lattés in espresso bars, to working in the administrative end of finance and industrial utility companies during the years I worked peripherally in the corporate world in San Francisco (temporarily an Executive Assistant in Charles Schwab) to teaching skiing. At the Ski Valley in Taos, New Mexico, my workday started in the glaring snow within pristine mountains at an elevation of about 9,500 feet = 2895 meters. By the way, it was while working at Taos Ski Valley that I saw a sign hanging on the wall, which has indefinitely been a theme in my life which I’ve wanted to aspire to ” Make your work your play, and your play your work”.
Though I have been warned previously about ‘getting stuck in the middle of Stuttgart’ or any city for that matter, as opposed to remaining on the highway en route to one’s destination, I followed Caner’s judgment. Upon leaving him, I walked over to the other side of the street, within the city perimeter, but close to the edge, at a point where the entrance to the highway was not that far removed. He’d seen other people hitching there, it has a place for people to pull over. I had a nice view from this hill, looking into the town beyond.
By virtue of a previous hitchhiking trip, I had studied and memorized (via a German atlas) all of the German States/Länder and some of the cities residing in them.
It was sunny, relatively mild, and I was, so I’m told, in the most conservative city and state in Germany. I didn’t let that dissuade my spirit. In not too long of a time, a woman with a smiling face pulled over. Gaby, Gabriele, was warm, friendly and had a sparkle in her voice; a delightful spirit. She explained she was on her way to a point on the highway where she could let me off, yet actually in the direction of Munich, southeast. I wanted to go north. I didn’t care, I took the ride to get out of the town. This proved to be a pivotal ride, in that she spoke about a lot of things that were quite relevant to what I had been feeling and ‘going through’. As two females together, we drifted into the topic of ‘relationships’ and the emotional aspects of life; as opposed to business and commerce!
I eventually informed her why I was there, and as I started to go into a few more details about my relationship, she responded to certain things I mentioned with a lot of comments. She elaborated about her own experiences in a previous relationship. Basically, without prying, but just responding honestly, the conversation started drawing out a lot of my emotions. In my fatigued state and within just hours of leaving my friend, tears started to well in my eyes. I felt that it was uncanny that this woman and her messages, which resonated as quite enlightening, had suddenly appeared. I pointed out to her that I appreciated what she was expressing and felt that it was strangely synchronistic in timing, that she picked me and had so much to contribute with her insights. To this she responded, “there are no accidents”. I believe she was coming from a Christian perspective, which mirrored my own spiritual one; believing that intention attracts that which will reflect it. Her points, after revealing ‘herstory’ as opposed to ‘history’, was that a person must first love him/her self, before being able to love someone else. And that it is each of our responsibility to follow the route which allows us to be happy. She pointed out that I appear to have “a high tolerance for suffering”, which is an exercise in futility, in a world designed for us to aspire to be happy and fulfilled, as a measure of well-being.
There’s nothing cool or admirable about resisting this, because a person can not inspire, help or serve other members of the human community, if he/she isn’t aiming to be at his/her best and feeling their best, physically and emotionally. Incidentally, this specific point was talked about in this video I just checked out, a PBS feature of Wayne Dyer talking about “The Power of Intention”
Speaking of intention, the next ride was with a young man, Dieter who lives in Munich. At this point, I was without question, heading south and east, going several hundred kilometers out of my way. Rather than getting closer to Berlin, I was on my way to Munich, in Bavaria. Dieter talked continuously. Said that he had decided at the age of 25 that he better start concentrating on how he was going to make his living in this world. He then moved to Munich/München, the financial and publishing hub of Germany, with the intent of finding work. Starting with a job at a “call center” after moving to this wealthy business center, he subsequently changed jobs and applied the skills he learned to work within the call center department of the large US technology firm, Insight, which works adjacently in the same technology solutions as Microsoft. He recognized while working there, the corporate, culture clashes between the American company and the German ways of doing things, and bounced out to start his own company. As the geschäftsführer / managing director of his company, it proved to be so successful in establishing contracts for businesses, installing Microsoft systems, that the giant Microsoft itself, was forced to contend with this little player. They negotiated a contract with his company, in order to participate rather than compete, in their European business strategies and operations. He is young, proud and now has 17 employees, doing what he loves as the primary sales person.
With respect to business sales, he talked of the need to not only establish a rapport with the administrative department directors, but specifically with the technical liaison person, who with their technical knowledge and expertise, is the primary ‘obstacle’ – the person to convince that implementing this system is worth their while. Dieter spoke enthusiastically the entire time, and wound up driving me through the heart of Munich to take me to a place on the autobahn north of the city on the A9, where all traffic will lead to points north. The great thing, is that now I had a personal tour guide who was able to elaborate on the various architectural icons, which are at the core of this city’s history. Having missed the skyline of palaces and religious institutions, instead my attention was drawn to business and commerce architectural feats we were driving by. “The Olympic Stadium“, a vast tent like structure which was the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics. The tower of the “BMW Headquarters” and “BMW Museum”. The new sports facility, “The Allianz Arena“, which lights up in the evening with a color corresponding to which ‘home’ team is playing there that night. As an aside, funny how sports arenas are branded with the financial God (Dog spelled backwards) who forked out the money, i.e. the stadium in San Francisco, CA is “AT&T Park”.
Munich is home to several professional football teams, including FC Bayern sports club. This stadium was among those central to the World Cup in 2006. The stadium looks like a big padded bubble, branded throughout with Allianz who funded it. “Allianz’s” global headquarters is based in Munich. It’s ‘the’ insurance company of insurance companies; which insures, insurance companies. 😉 Not bad, in terms of prestige among the heavy-weights in the multinational court. With a global presence and certainly many subsidiary off-shoots, they are the second largest international insurance and financial services organization in the world. I just read that Allianz AG was founded in Berlin in 1890 and shifted its headquarters to Munich in 1949. Uhh, and there’s some bad press in wiki alluding to Third Reich affiliations.
Well, as it is March, I missed the Oktoberfest and Hofbräuhaus, signatures of this town…and hadn’t known that Siemens is based there. Nor had I realized that the “Max Planck Society” is headquartered in Munich, with dozes of institutes in the city (from astrophysics to biochemistry to quantum optics), and branches all over Germany as well as in Rome and the US. Incidentally, Max Planck is considered the founder of quantum theory.
This brings me circling back to Wayne Dyer, who in his presentation regarding his book “The Power of Intention”, mentions two people who influenced him; Max Planck and Carlos Castañeda. Carlos Castañeda influenced me as well, when in fact, I once decided not to continue with a university course in Economics, because I found it to be so wrong, and against my beliefs of what is important. Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking. In this blog, https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/spring-soltice-11-hitchabout-there-are-no-accidents/ I pointed out the writings of the economist John Maynard Keynes which resounded with me, in this article written in Monde Diplio (the English online version of Monde Diplomatique. Dyer quoted Planck accepting his Nobel Prize; “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clearheaded science, the study of matter, I can tell you that as a result of my research into atoms; there is no matter, as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force, the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter. ” I mention this, because it substantiates the fact, that there are no coincidences, ‘shit happens’, for a reason 😮
Dieter left me off with a smile and his business card. The next ride which arrived swiftly, was another attractive, professional man, Uli, short for Ulrich, who lives East of Munich, not far from Salzburg, Austria. He’s involved in Management and Leadership training. I was intent on probing and discussing with him aspects of his work. We chatted during the duration. Uli has a wife and several kids and loves the land and nature where he lives.
I was cordially left off by him at another large rest stop/gas/restaurant station along the A9, where I waited for only a short time, before another young guy dressed in business attire asserted that he could give me a ride, while talking on his cell phone. His name was Philippe; young, professional, cute and smart guy (what’s up with that 😉 whose mother is French and father a German university professor. We spoke a bit in both languages, though he’s quite capable in English, and has lived in both Munich, Germany and France. He’s a headhunter for high level personnel with legal aptitude and expertise; hiring them for large international corporate clients. He had studied international relations and law, with a minor in Asian studies. Sensing that Asia will be the next global business power, he had done his thesis on this topic. He illustrated this idea mentioning that in the 19th Century, the world was ‘Euro Centric’, in the 20th, ‘America’ was the focal point and in the 21st C, by virtue of population numbers alone as well as growing industry, by mid century ‘Asia Pacific’ will be dominant.
Philippe has lived and worked in Singapore, where he was planning to move the following week, to begin a new job within the same company he had worked in previously. I queried whether he might feel isolated or insulated living in an Asian country as a European, to which he pointed out that there are large numbers of expatriates there. He said he has a number of Singaporian friends as well. According to wiki; the population of Singapore has the sixth-highest percentage of foreigners globally, just over forty percent. I hadn’t known that, nor that English is one of their official languages, next to Malay and Mandarin. I did however have an inkling that it’s a modern and technologically sophisticated country, as a lot of countries in Southeast Asia appear to be. He pointed out that if he was in need of an operation, he wouldn’t hesitate to trust the medical system there, as much or more than in the Western World.
His unique perspective from what he’s studied and having lived in the country previously, introduced to me a new way of looking at things. He mentioned that from the Western point of view, Singapore might appear to have a harsh penal system, but then, people do learn their lesson and are effectively thwarted from going against the law. I know that vast numbers of young black men are jailed in the United States, which is a huge financial racket in itself, in which ‘correction’ and rehabilitation often are not a part of the process. One can’t really judge a system in a sweeping glance.
Philippe spoke of Democracy, as having very different interpretations in different places, and the fact that you can’t try to just force or stamp a country with a democratic system, and think that it’s going to stick. Another way of looking at this, is to realize that a people’s core beliefs, influence how they will interpret things. For example, whether they value the individual as having the highest authority, or the group/state. Indicating that the Chinese philosopher “Confucious” had a system of ethics and rules of behavior which centered on the group and relationships, as opposed to the individual, Philippe went on to show some more examples of how even a system that appears ‘socialist’ on the outside, can in effect manifest a democratic process in their decisions, even when in fact the majority of the people are voting to maintain something, that is ‘better for the group’. In light of this fact in the Asian world, democracy plays out differently. He mentioned that when the government of Singapore had wished to modernize in their attitudes, and introduced a more liberal law, that in fact most of the population resisted. Philippe pointed out, that this in fact demonstrated more of a true democratic process, in light of the fact that the majority ruled against something that the Government wished to proactively impose, which would have given individuals more supremacy. It’s quite a contrast to the huge influence that money and power have to sway the ‘democratic process’ in the United States system of “Corpocrisy” (my coined term).
Having studied Cultural Anthropology and had a growing interest in business, global politics and environmental affairs, I found this ride incredibly informative and valuable. I did have one more ride for two highway station stops, with an elderly man who spoke next to nothing, to whom I mirrored and returned the favor of silence 😉 The last ride was with several young Berliner guys returning after working at a book conference in Leipzig. After I’d been dropped off by them at an S-Bahn station, I was still carrying my “Berlin” sign, when some guy (who was with a few people inline skating around cones they set up in the concrete underground highway underpass) jokingly pointed out to me, “hey, you’re (already) In Berlin”!
Destination 2 rides, return, ’bout 8, but with a ridiculous amount of new information to pack into the experience!
“When you change the way that you look at things, the things you look at change.”