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#27: Where is the common thread in your life?

How did you get here? Which people, moments and meanderings of your life have led you to this point and made you the person you are today? Where else will the journey take you?

I love those public book shelves where anyone can leave books they’ve read and take others home. I’ve discovered a lot of reading material there that would have never found its way into my hands otherwise.

The most recent discovery is Andreas Altmann’s Reise durch einen einsamen Kontinent (Travel Through a Lonely Continent) – not a travel guide that makes you want to set off immediately. No, a refreshingly honest and personal document of a real journey through Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. A narrative that will make even the biggest globetrotter doubt whether he really wants to travel to these countries, only to realize: a hundred times yes!

The world is not perfect, quite the opposite. Two weeks on the manicured beach of a hotel resort, that’s not travel. That’s a vacation – well within your comfort zone, with all the comforts of home, but please: lots of sun and the ocean and cocktails with those miniature umbrellas.

I’ve done it often enough and it has its raison d’être. But the older I get and the better I get to know myself, the more I realize that I want to travel. And not only that, I want to write about my travels!

I needed the one to find my path to the other.

What’s refreshing thing about Altmann is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He is capable of self-criticism, reflection and laughing about himself, has a distinctive way of writing. Before Travel Through a Lonely Continent, I didn’t know him at all, and just like that, I found a role model, an inspiration.

Altmann describes how he was overcome by a fervent desire “to work as a reporter. As someone who gets to visit the world and write about it afterwards. That took time; I only got from longing to reality through detours. An early talent looks different, I suppose. But writing is a gift that can take its time. Many things must blossom early, must show themselves immediately. Not finding one’s own voice. That comes into the world rather laboriously, rather shyly.”

Do you believe in coincidence? Just this week I was reading old texts, blog posts about my pilot training in Arizona bound into a book. I’ve always loved writing. I recognize my own voice in those words, but as an embryo of what it is today.

It’s interesting how things collide, add up to multiples of their sum. A book, a quotation, reading my old texts. What would one be without the other?

All the imperfections, the alleged mistakes of life; the many things I’ve learned since then; all the nonsense I’ve done – together they make sense, as if it was always meant to be.

Where is the common thread in your life? What has always appealed to you, to what do you always find your way back? It’s fascinating to see how everything develops and how the path becomes so clear in retrospect. Just as Steve Jobs described:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”


Yours, Ulrich

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