Project

Everybody needs a project. No doubt about it. The question is: what kind of project it should be. One that really excites you? One that really challenges you? One that will change the world a little? One that supports your family? One that realises a dream you’ve always had? One that realises someone else’s dream?

Whatever it is, it has to be one that keeps you going and interested, it has to make sense to you.

This year, Pádraig and us arrived in Santiago, finishing the Camino we started many years ago.

Next year, we’ll go on a roadtrip himself and a friend had planned, or at least part of that journey, through the USA and Canada up to Alaska. One of his friends gave him a guidebook to Alaska when we were still in Hamburg.

After the summer, this journey will become our new project. It’ll keep us going.

Don’t settle down and sit in one place. Move around, be nomadic, make each day a new horizon. You are still going to live a long time, Ron, and it would be a shame if you did not take the opportunity to revolutionize your life and move into an entirely new realm of experience.

Sanya

It must have been today, four years ago, that I went to China. I was going to change planes in Amsterdam. At check-in at Dublin Airport, the person behind the desk took some time checking my passport and my ticket, enough time for me to think “there must be something wrong, what is it?” And then he said, “Sir, the names on your passport and the ticket don’t match.”

Not good news when you have less than an hour to departure. I had booked the flights and I was pretty sure that I had booked them in my name. What was the check-in person on about?

He gave the passport and the tickets back to me to check.

I had taken Pádraig’s passport instead of my own. I had grabbed the first German passport from my desk at home without checking that it was actually mine.

The funny thing was that what had called the attention of the check-in person was not that the person on the passport did (1) not look like myself and (2) was more than 30 years younger.

Using some magic, that day Pat managed to get home, find my passport and bring it up to the airport, all in time for me to get on to that plane to Amsterdam and then to Beijing.

I was terribly excited. I was going to get a front row ticket to the Beijing Opera, a great day in a great city, and another flight to Sanya on Hainan Island in the South China Sea where I was going to give a presentation using Skyfall and Adele’s title song the same name of this brilliant James Bond movie as a theme for a keynote on the future of the localisation industry. Let the sky fall. When it crumbles. We will stand tall. Face it all together.

SteifeBrise

Germany never stops to amaze me. And I should know better! Looking for batteries in a supermarket I saw a machine where the shop offered to its customers to peel asparagus, never saw anything like it in my life – though it’s important to note here that Germans go MAD about asparagus! Then, when we went for a walk on the ‘beach’ of Vollerwiek, I was reminded that there is such a thing as a beach for dogs, a ‘Hundestrand’! Of course, both the ‘Badestrand’ and the ‘Hundestrand’ are ‘kostenpflichtig’, i.e. you have to pay to go to the beach.

Not today, though. Earlier, we had the Donnerwetter of all Donnerwetters with rolling thunder and lightning combined with torrential rain. This afternoon, it was still so windy, there was still what they call here a “Steife Brise”, that if almost blew Pádraig out of his wheelchair.

You wouldn’t believe it but he days here are extremely busy. Busy in such a way that at the end of the day I’m asking myself what happened with that day? It just disappeared into nowhere. It’s a bit like life feels at times. You wonder where all the years went, what happened to them. That’s why it’s good to take time out and do things you remember. I’m mixing old memories with new ones these days. Not always easy, but I have that feeling it’s worthwhile doing.

Holiday

Everybody expects something slightly different from their holidays: some just want to hang out on the beach; others read and chill out; or visit museums, go on cycle tours, walk, do nothing. Ultimately, it has to be different from what we do otherwise.

In our case, this year feels like the first year that we are on an actual holiday. We are in complete control and can do what takes our fancy.

It’s like it used to be. But then it couldn’t be more different.

Watt?

No, not the one you’re familiar with (the one related to the light bulbs) but that part of land in the North of Germany that gets flooded with the changing tides. Every day. And there’s one ‘Watt’ called ‘Katinger Watt’ that is special, because it is also a nature reserve. More importantly, it has one of the most beautiful and peaceful cafés. And this is where we went today.

It was one of those afternoons we’ll remember. I think we were happy for a while. And what more could you ask for?

The idea was to swing back into some kind of routine today. We were all too tired, getting up not close to seven but more towards nine o’clock With some exercise for Pádraig in the morning and getting a few things worked out, we had a brunch, rather than the planned breakfast. Following on to this, the day gained its own dynamic. In other words, not much of what I had planned for the day worked out.

Did that matter? – Not at all. Plans change and at times beyond our control.

How is life supposed to be?

The perfect day. Breakfast out in the garden, a bit of shopping, and a walk out into the sea towards the Arche Noah.

It’s incredibly hard to do it and it’s truly amazing to be able to do it. Pádraig had been here on a day trip from Hamburg, but now he’s back in the house. He’s eating and drinking and when he’s having an ice-cream, guess what, he can eat the waffle too. Sounds like not much of a big deal, but it is. He is doing things he used to do, more and more of them. He’s going places he used to go, more and more of them. And he is enjoying it. Are we looking back at the way it used to be? How do we react when a little boy comes over and asks what happened to him and the mother asks would we like her to take a picture of the three of us when I’m (hopelessly;) trying to take a selfie? – You could say, none of this is like the way it is supposed to be. But how is life supposed to be? How?

CreatingMemories

Many things could have gone wrong. But they didn’t:)

Even while we were away, an absolutely brilliant workman put in an anti-slip wood-look-alike floor into the bedroom and the living room downstairs, and we managed to get a lot of the German-based equipment going tonight, having driven through some of those 10km-long traffic jams on the German autobahn, then catching up on time at 100m/hr on the no-speed-limit Freie Fahrt für Freie Bürger roads.

I am conquering old memories that make me cry when I look back at them. Like all the time we spent in Tating, the months that shaped our lives. The dreams and ideas we had then. The ‘problems’ we all had. The care-free summers on the beach, in my sister’s restaurant.

But we’re not looking back, we take what is ours and make it part or our future. There’s no reason, no need, and no way we’ll be stuck in the past. Life happens today. Not yesterday. Each day we’re creating new and more exciting memories we’ll look back on one day and say: wasn’t that incredible?

I can tell you: it is. Incredible. And it’s unbelievable. It’s exciting.

The way life’s supposed to be.

North

We’re driving up North. After a morning of therapy sessions, lunch and a quick bag-packing sessions, we left Pforzheim to go to Tating. I had booked a hotel to stay overnight (noting that one of us was a wheelchair user). A few hours into the drive, we received a phone call from an angry hotel owner telling me that next time I’d better ring rather than just booking online. What if he had overlooked my note about the wheelchair user??!! They had no rooms left on the ground floor – and they had no lift to go up to the next floor. He felt really inconvenienced with me having booked this room we now couldn’t take and which he needed because there is a big exhibition in town. I answered that getting this phone call on the motorway on our way to his hotel wasn’t really convenient for us either.

Anyhow, after just a couple of phone calls, made from a truck stop on the motorway, we found a place in a pension-hotel, or rather: in the olde house of the old owner of that hotel.

This is just the living room. There’s also a kitchen, WC and bathroom. All for €60 for the three of us. It’s as if our ‘retro’-journey was continuing…

Sauseschritt

Codo’s “Ich düse, düse, düse, düse im Sauseschritt und bring die Liebe mit von meinem Himmelsritt. Denn die Liebe, Liebe, Liebe, Liebe, die macht so viel Spaß, viel mehr Spaß als irgendwas” is so retro that it is now super cool. You really have to listen to it, to watch it. Crazy stuff. Literally, out of this world!

It’s the story about a world dominated by hatred but conquered by love via spacecraft Codo ‘manned’ by two girls bringing love and defeating hatred. The story is from 1983 and a band called, what else, “Deutsch- Österreichisches Feingefühl” – a name as ‘affengeil’ as the song published at the height of the Neue Deutsche Welle.

When I watched the video and listened to the song I thought that everything is really quite simple. Black and white. Right and wrong. Love and hate.

Let’s make a test.

Take an imaginary sheet, draw an imaginary line through the middle of it and write all the good things on the left and all the bad things on the right. I’m sure you won’t find it difficult to decide whether a ‘thing’ should go onto the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ side of the sheet.

Of course, it’s not always that easy in ‘real’ life. Knowing what is the right thing and then doing the right thing is often much more difficult and much more complex than one would expect.

Talking about tests: Today, I did a course to become a Certified Hocoma Lokomat user, meaning that, thanks to the generosity and training provided by the Therapy Centre here, I will soon be certified by the company that develops this robotic walking equipment, to use it with patients. I’m thrilled.