Prelude No.4 in E Minor
This journey despite great expectation at the beginning, did not start with pleasure. It was the summer of 2015, where I landed in Shanghai’s airport. As its transportation terminal, Pudong airport had and will continue to be a place of termination, where one story drowses and another one rises from horizon. The voice of fair-well was not rare here.
For me personally, I could not wait to begin my new page, dreadful two years had it been. Barely had anytime for the fortune of being alive, instead millions of lines read and written. Not exactly the kind of life within my anticipation, not to mention the failure of the last final exam which caused sever consequences. The way I saw it, Germany was a temporary escape from reality, far from the fogs of war.
I planned my journey to be non-sophisticated and at leisure. Before a fellow schoolmate’s call it was even supposed to be lonely. For the views I had no desire, all I ever wanted was a change of pace. But on the other hand, it could be nice to be accompanied. It didn’t start well for my poor fellow, his flight was canceled so I had to wait for him in Hamburg. I was exhausted, surrounded by loneliness and haunted by the ghosts of pressure. What good could amid thee? When good things of day begin to droop and drowse?
The first stop was Frankfurt am Main. I got off the airplane at 4:40am in Sunday, which was just not a good time for business. Whole country remained snoozing and the intruder found himself swallowed by emptiness. The streets contained evidence of a exciting night at the clubs and still the sun rises against all.
When the first stroke of liveliness casted away the shadows of the drunk, Frankfurt displayed its true face: it was a precious morning. Bangs of Church bells, smell of fresh bread at street café, birdies vanished on the roof tops and rang Guten Morgen. Soon the streets were filled with people fully dressed up heading to Church, human existence were perfectly in harmony with the rest, you could hardly tell if it’s truly a big international city for it was just so quiet.
Willkommen zurück, I said to myself. My soul swooned slowly as I heard the morning prayers falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of the past end, upon all the living and the dead.
Also Sprach Zarathustra
Hamburg was not a popular city for Chinese tourists, it was in the northeast end of Germany. Yet for me this was a sanctuary. Hundreds of years history, Hamburg remained the beauty of Europe
as it were in the Middle Ages.
Standing in front of the ocean against the historical Hamburger Rathaus, I felt for the first time since Zhejiang University alive. School was out, there were no lousy students and professors here, everyone was equally at ease, wondering their own business, yet not interfering their surroundings. Huge churches and statues stormed away never-ending egos of man, remained the tiny creatures admiring their ancestor’s teaching – love of the people, love of the nature.
I had not accomplished my objective. At the edge of the historical district lied the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Was it really so stupid to travel hundreds of miles for an artwork? My first visit did go well, the museum did not accept me for it was Monday. Feeling disappointed I returned for a change of clothes and went for a jog. It was nice. Everyday without a dance is a waste of life. In Hamburg, I jogged as if I was dancing with the great city.
The second day I woke up early, had a full continental breakfast at the hotel and got dressed up. I specifically wore my formal suit. The museum wasn’t exactly the kind that I was expecting, despite its classical decoration in the outside, it was fairly modern in the inside. The museum was so unexpectedly big and crowded with paintings and photographs, from the brith of civilisation to contemporary.
I made a mistake of going the wrong direction, transforming the tour to a time traveling. 21st century modern art, 20th century post-war art, Die Aufklärung, Renaissance. Going through the gallery is like going though history. Different from your everyday textbook history, art is not always the fairy tale of politics and warlords, but also the sparkling daily life of ordinary men and women. I am merely an ordinary folk myself, not wise enough to appreciate like an artist, but only myself. I don’t usually applaud to 21st century art, which was rather open-minded and chaotic if I may say so.
Through the long passage of future and past came the one, the one that I’d came to admire. Stood all alone against the reality, all those people and their sayings. Werde, der du bist. Nietzsche was no doubt a lonely man, but yet so fascinating a man’s word could become, that startled all who seek wisdom. The gentleman did no other but facing the ocean of fog, of the known and unknown destiny of himself. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that one’s worst enemy shall be thyself, and so wondered the wonderer, the ultimate question of life and universe. It is a book, a painting, an orchestra, it is a man. Und bist du erst wach, sollst du mir ewig wach bleiben, also sprach Zarathustra.
Cello Suite No.1 in G major
The answer, that you are here. That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
Finally arrived at Titisee Neustadt, I was tremendously excited, and calm. 10 years ago on my first visited here with my mom, I was astound by the beauty of Schwarzwald. It was so tempting that even the true evil would lavishly bow.
What makes Titisee Neustadt so famous was the Titisee lake, but I first enjoyed a few days in the town. It was a small town lying between two hillsides of the mountain, which is basically inside the mountain. Every morning I awake from the bottom of the town and go for a walk up one side of the hill, and in the afternoon a little detour to the other side for a cup of tea or what ever, away from the ashes and yelling in the big cities where men could embrace the grace of mother nature. I was finally at ease, at peace with myself.
The road to Titisee didn’t went smoothly as I expected, taken the wrong bus-line wasn’t the best way to travel in the countryside. Me and my roommate were left half way to our destination. August in Schwarzwald was generally cool, as the temperature hardly reached 20 degree Celsius. Walking on a country road with barely enough clothes, it took us a while to find the right bus station. There weren’t any people here, nor cars, instead of farms and cornfields made up most of the artificial landscape. Only through the faint sense of existence of modern commercial posters could you realise that you were not really lost in time.
It took us nearly half an hour to get to Titisee, crowded with tourists as usual, not around the lake but at the town. Titisee town was a paradise for Chinese tourists shopping for souvenirs, but that was not why I was there. What stole my heart was the lake, peaceful as in memory, barely any movements but so alive, as if you can see the fishes.
I took the boat to the centre of the lake just like I did last time. A lake, a sanctuary well shielded by the surrounding mountains. Blue skies, white clouds with the shape of a giant rabbit. We were alone in the lake, and this was the one time I thanked god for those people missing these views, they left the best of all for me. No I didn’t took a selfie there, such view could not be captured by digital thingy but could only be processed and treasured by heart. I reached for my book and put on my favourite album. From 1717, with love.
After a few “happy hour”, we encountered a minor turbulence due to the sudden change of climate. For the sake of not-so-peasant laundry duty we had to leave early. But it was good to be back, at least some things never change.
倍加马斯克组曲，Clair de lune
Hast du etwas Zeit für mich?
Dann singe ich ein Lied für dich,
von 99 Luftballons,
auf ihrem Weg zum Horizont.
We stayed in Munich for 4 weeks. Studying in Ludwig-Maximillians Universität is very different from ZJU. To me personally, European Union wasn’t all that unfamiliar, it was the experience of studying here that I craved. The classes were very interesting, I did a lot of work before every session which had proven to be very useful. The teachers were all expecting full participation of students, we often found ourselves discussing explicitly, but not in a bad way. Personally I believed that this was supposed to be the part were we could learn from each other, to see things from different perspectives.
Munich was a bit different from other German cities, despite almost completely destroyed during the World War II, the government beautifully restored a lot of Munich’s historical sites, the plazas and Rathaus, you could hardly recognise the difference expect much more modern than the beginning of the 20th century. Personally, I enjoyed the Deutsches Museum most. They disassembled hundreds of Motor engines and ships to tell audiences how they work, plus you got to see the inside of an actual U-Boot, it was fantastic.
But the most important was people. I met a few groups of high school students on the streets, working for the UN appealing for their volunteering programmes. I had a chat with one of the girls and she was just 17 years old. Frankly most of the 17 year-olds we see on the street back in China were always shopping or going to the movies, hardly anyone engaging with the real world, not to mention volunteering programmes. What opened my eye for real was her optimism, you could see the sparkling fire of hope in her eyes, while Chinese students’ were often gloomy and sleepy.
The rest of the days I followed a routine. Start the day with a jog and cock myself breakfast, go to the university for lecture or reading, Mensa for lunch and daily supplied fresh strawberries, another lecture and then head back to the dormitory. Life was so simple and full, without unnecessary stress and endless worries. Back in ZJU I basically had to rush for everything everyday, last semester I couldn’t have lunch for 3 days in a week, too stressful and busy.
At the end of the Journey, I got so used to the life in Munich that I wish I had been a full time student here. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what was it that I loathed to part with. Now, I can only conclude that it was myself. At the beginning I was nervous, stressful, lost in the pain of my failure and the misfortune of not being able to live the life I want. But just as it is, life and time goes on, man must move on herewith. After all it is not the life we live that shapes us, it is up to us to shape our own life.