Truth be told, I was a bit distracted. We were talking just a bit too much to each other to be able to fully appreciate the commentary now being played back to us as we were driven on a guided hop-on-hop-off tour through the city of Dortmund, the city we all grew up in (if we ever did). Ten old class mates who had finished school 40 years ago and who met for the day to catch up with each others’ lives and to relive the past for a few hours.
Had we not looked out from our roofless double-decker bus at the city being described to us, we might have thought that the city we were ‘introduced’ to was a city as ‘beautiful’, ‘innovative’, ‘vibrant’, ‘full of history’, and ‘dynamic’ as Berlin, Munich or Hamburg. The story of Dortmund someone had prepared for the city tour was impressive: century-old history, kings and kaisers, the heart of the Ruhr-Valley and Germany’s industrial centre for decades, a few years of ‘confusion’ (“Wirren”) during thirties and early forties followed by extremely successful economic re-structuring by the establishment of high-tech innovation parks and a world-leading service sector. The story wasn’t wrong, but it clearly didn’t match what we were seeing. However, someone clearly believed that this story truthfully represented the story of our city.
I’m writing this on my way back to Tating, on the train that is just passing through the city of Hamburg, crossing the Alster, passing by the hotels Merkel, Putin and Trump stayed in over the past couple of days, along the “Messe” where all the meetings took place, passing through Schanzenviertel Station that was closed off during the disturbances and protests with barbed wire.
Different people with different backgrounds and interests will tell you different stories about what happened in Hamburg over the past few days, why it happened, and what was achieved.
Why is the ‘truth’ so complicated? Is it not straight forward and simple?
I don’t think the truth is ‘straight forward’ and it’s not ‘simple’ even for ourselves, never mind when we want to share ‘it’ with others, never mind when it is being prepared for public consumption, like in the case of a simple city tour or a more complex G20 meeting.
Not being an expert in psychology (or anything else for that matter), but reflecting on my own experience, especially over the past few years, I think the ‘truth’ is so complex that I wouldn’t be able to deal with it in all its complexity. It has to do with self-protection and self-preservation, an instinct to survive. It’s an attempt to stay healthy (physically and mentally) and to survive by focusing on those aspects of the truth and the reality around me and inside myself that allow me to be at least ok, and happy at times.
Writing here is part of my life, a daily routine. It’s part of what I am doing to survive. It’s about aspects of what is going on inside and around me. It’s about how Pádraig is getting better, about his incredible determination, his smiles and his humour. What I write here is not the ‘full story’, it can’t be. It’s not ‘complete’, it doesn’t represent the ‘full truth’, but it is truthful. I want to write a more complete story one day but it will require a different approach.