A light chilly wind carried the familiar smell of fallen leaves when I stepped off the plane in Berlin. Autumn was upon the city and along with it came an amazing array of colors. The last time I experienced autumn was nearly twenty years ago while living in Ohio. I didn’t find it so attractive back in those days. Back then, I associated leaves with a rake. To this day, I still dislike raking. Back to Berlin… Berlin has long been one of my favorite cities, and I was looking forward to seeing how the city grew since my last visit fifteen years earlier. I was even more excited to share the city and experience with Chris!
Our hotel was in the best possible location for sightseeing. It was a five-minute walk to Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Victory Tower to name just a few. The city was buzzing with energy and I was stunned by its growth. Construction was taking place everywhere and it felt like a new city altogether. The history of Berlin is well-known (naturally), and a piece of that history still lingered in the air. Yes, I know that sounds weird, but it is the best description that I can offer. Newly paved streets and modern buildings replaced the bombed out structures and horrors of the past. High-end department stores and trendy cafes lined Friedrichstrasse, and a brand new mall and train station replaced the vacant land that I remembered. New sights, sounds, and smells filled the city. I looked forward to exploring the city with Chris, and I was also on the lookout for any insights that this trip might offer. Australia taught me that insights, or life lessons, normally accompany my travels. Then again, it is more likely that I allow the time to see them when I travel.
Disappointment replaced excitement when the end of our stay drew near and I still hadn’t experienced an “ah ha” moment. It might be more accurate to say that I was obsessing on it by that point.
Chris and I set out to have one last dinner in Berlin before heading back to the hotel. That’s when it happened! We shared a conversation that was unlike any other in our eleven years together. It was one of reflection and much, much more. And it delivered my insight.
A world of memories and experiences exists within each of us. They are collected, sorted, assigned a value, and filed away to reflect upon at a later time. Naturally, some memories & experiences are better than others, but this is one area (perhaps the only area) where we don’t discriminate. Each and every memory has the potential to impact the moment at hand or the day ahead. We can start each day fresh, build on good memories, or create a foundation built upon nightmares from the past. My trip to Berlin reminded me of this choice.
The city of Berlin was rebuilt, and not on the terror of its past, but on a foundation of hope and possibility for a better future. Every person has this same opportunity. We are the builders of our life. Some of us just aren’t very good builders, so we tear down and rebuild over and over.
Memories can be a great place to revisit, but they aren’t meant to relive. It is much more fun to create new ones!
Speaking of memories… Here is a short video of the ones made in Berlin.