Two days ago I was still walking the Camino, now I am sitting here on a bench in Bilbao on the riverside with an amazing view on the Guggenheim museum. What I miss the most from the Camino are those beautiful people you meet there. For a certain reason, people with a specific mindset are drawn to the same places. Interestingly enough this is not necessarily dependent on the physical beauty of the place itself. Because of that, this post does not only concern itself with places in the physical sense but also with environments humans create which can be independent of a physical location.
The Albergues on the Camino, definitely no five-star hotels, are a good example that the physical beauty of a place is not an essential quality. It is the people that bring
I find it hard to pin down what the factors are exactly which make those places what they are. Each of those environments has its own customs of human interaction as people develop habits to simplify communication. They tend to use a very specific language, a sociolect, which oftentimes only members of this specific environment are able to fully understand. Like this, places become symbols for ideas, revolutions, belief systems, etc. Sometimes it might even feel like a place comes to life with its very own character and personality. Some might welcome you with open arms, others will give you the hardest time to get to know them. With some, you will have a love-hate relationship. To be honest, with a few places I feel like they shouldn’t even exist, but in this post, I’d prefer to talk about the nice ones.
The inherent social nature of human beings combined with the opportunity to travel long distances in a relatively short time enables us to create social groups with very specific interests. May it be an international conference of scientists in the field of visual perception or your local soccer team, for the right person the right place can change everything. It is on us to create these kinds of environments. I want to challenge myself to not only visit those places but also to build them uniting people that think alike.
It may take mental, physical, financial effort. Still, visiting those places can become like a drug, it can become a meaning of life. If it is done in a sustainable way for everyone included and of course also the environment there is no better thing to do in my opinion. Investing time in a project on one’s own has its own merits but sharing experiences with other people is truly the top of the rock. Being yourself you can only get so far. Whereas, input from the outside once in a while can be such a gamechanger. One can get inspired so much by spending time with likeminded people. Thus, I guess the takeaway of this post is quite superficial on the one but so essential on the other hand: Do what you love and do it together.
Over the course of the Christmas holidays, I spent quite some time reflecting on all that I have experienced this year. The everyday life in Darmstadt comes with a whole new set of challenges. While I was falling back into old habits in the last few weeks, I remembered some of the things that I deemed to be important at an earlier point of time this year.
In the spirit of this, I want to follow my own words and create such an environment, I was talking about earlier, myself. Hence, I and a few fellow students are organizing a conference for Cognitive Science Students in Darmstadt this year. Furthermore, I want to start a small meditation group. If you are interested in any of this shoot me a message! 🙂