You know those books where the character wakes up in a parallel universe? The worst is not a completely different world - like Alice in Wonderland or the Wizard of Oz or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. At least in those books the characters really know they’re in a different world. They explore it, change, and come back to the original world with some deep knowledge and perspective. I’m talking about something more like 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. A parallel world almost exactly like the one you’re in, but maybe one thing changed. That’s how it feels to be alive right now!
As everyone else, I had dreams and plans for what I would be doing at exactly this time. But all of that has shattered, changed, adjusted and now, somehow I’m in Austria. I cannot go back to where I came from. Nor can I move forward to where I want to go. I’m stuck in the middle in Austria.
Don’t get me wrong - Austria is a very nice place to be stuck in, especially right now. And the countryside is straight out of Sounds of Music! But there is just something off, a discomfort within me. I don’t feel comfortable most of the time - the language, the extreme smoking everywhere, the storms with thunder and lightning. The unexpected that comes with traveling - not all of which is the fun stuff.
Usually, I would be fine handling the changes, but in the time of Corona, with so many changes happening in every other part of my life, it’s been extremely difficult to adjust.
Austria is a more stable place for me in the past few months. And as that, it’s given me some time to start to process all the things that have happened. And by process, I mean, letting go of everything I planned and be in complete shock.
So the only thing I’ve been able to do is to wander aimlessly. Austrian countryside is filled with indescribable views.
So I walk and walk and walk. Sometimes for 8 hours. Somewhere on the way, I stop in a small village and eat. Then come back to my AirBNB, sleep, and repeat.
Aimless wandering feels incredible. You don’t have the worries of normal life (so how do I survive the apocalypse?). Or what you have to do next. Or how you can’t do what you want to do next and you don’t know what to do instead. Walking and climbing hills all day puts you into the body. Just one step at a time. Take in the fresh air, hear the birds, look at the mountain, eat an apple from a tree, did I mention the wildflowers?!
There is no future and no past. Only now. Only your body walking one step at a time. One with nature. It feels incredibly productive - I walked all this way! But also completely unproductive - I just walked in a circle and ended up where I started. But something inside changes. I was happy today. Nothing is solved, but wildflowers and beauty are out there and real.