23 November 2010


Wenn es anders kommt, als wir es gedacht haben,
dann kann es auch eine Einladung des Lebens sein,
es so zu nehmen, wie es kommt.
Mit Optimismus, einer Prise Humor und mit Gelassenheit.
Jochen Mariss

It was in a small bookshop at the station of Düsseldorf where I was looking for a birthday card and saw a card with a beautiful photo of a growing crop. It was when I read a few lines next to it, that this card touched me. I read it twice and then bought it for myself. Lebenskunst

Yesterday, I was reminded of this card after a much needed catch up with an old colleague. She got married on a beach in summer, and told me about the great party they had and how special that day was to her.
I asked her how she was doing now, and she replied that she was pregnant. A brilliant answer to such a daily question. It wasn’t really planned, and even though she was still trying to get used to the idea of becoming a mother, she’s incredibly happy with it.

I also was very happy for her and said that it was so nice to enjoy some great news. Then she sighted. Simultaneously to being incredibly happy about her pregnancy, she had a lot of worries in her life. Her mother heard two weeks ago that she was seriously ill, and that news made her life into some kind of emotional roller coaster.
One message about creating new life, and another message about a threat to life – it’s the circle of life, but very difficult to deal with simultaneously, and especially, within one family.

It’s Lebenskunst, or the art of living, or savoir vivre. These concepts get a whole different meaning while we’re living, while we’re getting older. “Suddenly, you're old enough" ... We’re adults. When did that happen?” were lines of Meredith in Grey’s Anatomy, when she reflects on the development of her life and worries, from being a kid to now, working as a surgeon.

As a young kid, I had some serious little worries. Did the other school kids like me?  Would I get invitations for birthday parties? In secondary school, the bit bigger worries about grades started, about the future, about wearing the right branded cloths and about being accepted in this cool group of friends. But also, I was confronted with big worries on life, as a girl in my year committed suicide, and my grandmother died of leukaemia.
It was in secondary school when my personal worries grew bigger. I got weird pains, and these pains started to influence or rather became the cause of my worries. 
At university, my worries as a student developed, and started to involve money, and insecurities about living on myself while dealing with these weird pains. My family became smaller after losing my grandparents, yet we were growing increasingly together. 

Now, I am 27. Work, health, insurance, finances, relationships with friends and family and the future, they’re all frequent or less-frequent worries in my so-called life. 
One thing has changed though, the varied ages of people I encounter in daily life. I’m the youngest in my group of friends. Quite a few have settled, are starting families and new lives. Some of them have had merely bright sunny lives; some of them have had to deal with some very heavy stuff in their lives.  At work, I’m the youngest by generation. I hear my colleagues talk about their teenage children with teenage problems, working towards their pensions, and more and more, talking about health problems.  I lost a dear colleague almost two years ago.

I did become an adult and it didn’t happen suddenly. Experiences roughly from my 5th up to my 27th birthday have shaped my character, responsibilities, thoughts, worries, and altogether, my savoir vivre, or the art of living.

Lebenskunst. The art of living. Colours, such as optimism, a bit of humour and serenity, could certainly make the painting of life look more beautiful.
I’ll try to make my own art of living better equipped to changes, and start trying to see an unexpected change as an invitation to take life as it comes.
This post card and the few lines of Jochen Mariss couldn’t explain it any clearer.

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