So, today I was going to take the train across the river and only have to walk about 7-8 km, however through a misunderstanding I got picked up by my hosts at the train station. Either they didn’t understand that my intention was to walk (it’s kind of hard to explain without additional context why I’d choose to walk with Voldie in the rain when they can drive me in a few minutes – actually even with context it’s a bit hard to grasp for some), or they just thought I was being overly polite when I said that I would walk from the station, because there they were. And then it quite frankly seemed rather rude and unnecessary to decline. So I skipped another 7 km and gave mister blister some more time to calm the eff down. And they let me use their washing machine, so I once again have clean clothes. I’m not exactly complaining…
However, I do fully intend to walk the last 100 km or so over the next 5 days. This is not the preamble to me taking public transport the rest of the way, I assure you. I am admittedly getting rather sick of walking and being on the move every day, and I’m not looking forward to the rain that’s predicted for the remaining time (I have been very fortunate with the weather so far though), but I am very motivated to see it through. “I wanted to walk to Berlin but then I sort of walked to Stendal and couldn’t be bothered anymore” doesn’t really have the same ring to it.. 😉
But through the kindness of strangers I am dry, clean and relatively well rested for one more day. Which is not a bad thing…
I’ve actually wanted to say something about the kindness of strangers and about human contact for a while, but I’ve been too tired to do writing outside of daily updates.
I have of course alluded to my loneliness and how nice it has been to stay with certain people and be welcomed into their homes, but I have more to say on this subject.
I thought it was going to be easy to be mostly alone. Actually, at first I thought I maybe wasn’t going to be mostly alone – because as you may remember I started this whole project encouraging others to come and walk with me. And while I hadn’t expected that to be a daily occurrence I was sort of hoping it would last more than the very first day.
Regardless, as an introvert and HSP who enjoys quiet and her own company, I thought even if people don’t come along I’ll be fine. And I am, kinda. I mean I’m definitely talking to myself more than before, and to bugs and cows and trees and such (still totally normal, right?). And it’s coming up on 4 o’clock in my current flat now with just me and my tinnitus and not another sound of voices, cars, church bells or even birds (maybe because of the rain?) and it does feel ever so slightly weird.
In my normal life, back home – that seems to have taken place in a time and galaxy far, far away by now – I spend quite a lot of time at home, and don’t go out and do things very often. And that’s just fine and dandy, because I need and like a lot of alone time/downtime. But I do always have 3 cats around, and of course J is usually not far off (upstairs, in front of his computer.. ), so I still get my basic social needs met quite easily.
Because we are all social animals – even us introverts. I’m definitely not longing for a party, but a proper face to face chat with a good friend (and a hug) would be nice. Even when I stay in cities, and am not wandering through the woods alone, my interactions are usually limited to buying food or checking in and out of places I’m staying.
I noticed many years ago already how meaningful and important just small interactions with other human beings who are kind and friendly can be. I was super stressed at the airport for one reason or other, but every person I met, at the check-in, at security, at the kiosk etc., were just nice, and smiled and helped me. And by the time I was ready to board my flight I felt completely fine again, even happy.
Because of this I also realised what kind of impact me and my mood potentially have on others, and what kind of impact I’d like to have. I started making more of an effort to always be friendly and smile to anyone I was dealing with, be it in shops or at my work. In fact I once had an evaluation at work where my boss said it was so great to work with me because no matter what was going on I was always friendly and cheerful. Believe me, that’s really NOT the case. However, I do strive to be positive and friendly in professional interactions and in interactions with strangers (family and friends too of course, but they do get to see behind the mask for better or for worse), because I know how important it can be. That doesn’t mean you can never have a bad day. But I recommend as much as possible to not take it out on others (novel idea, I know).
So, now that I’m quite done patting myself on the back for my positive influence on others, let’s talk about others positive influence on me.
I’ve talked already about my lovely stays in Quakenbrück, at the farm in the tiny house, and in Celle, where I was welcomed into the homes of strangers and made wonderful connections and had interesting conversations about life, dreams and passions. But even small interactions like a chat with a man walking his dog who thought it was really cool that I was walking to Berlin, or this older cycling couple I met in the woods that complimented me on my German (yes, really!.. ), have a big impact on my mood and my sanity during a long day of solitary walking.
So, I notice over and over again how important connection and kindness is. Exactly how this will play a role in my future I am not sure, but I must share more of myself with others and open myself to connecting with them.
And, as they say – you never know what someone else is going through, so be kind – always.