|Somewhere that took me ages to find: Fischerau in Freiburg im Breisgau, August 2013|
A canal overlooked by overhanging buildings in continental style with a small path on the left side
It's Friday, not that I do typical weekends given my working pattern and exams next month. Still catching up from the overspill a few months ago, but getting there slowly. I there was ever a demonstration of the tortoise and the hare, I am definitely feeling like the tortoise and have a feeling I'll be feeling like one for a while yet. I like comparatively being a tortoise though, as I can't make myself be creative on cue. Things need time to organically grow and develop, although when put up against a time limit I do seem to be able to crack things out as and when required... if required.
The title: it's a tough one. I have been told this. It's not particularly helpful... understatement... so I thought rather than me telling you the obvious of 'how I cannot change my lifeworld without detrimental harm, disrespectful blah blah, I have felt the same etc etc', I'd take you on a journey. Journeys are sometimes fun, we often learn on journeys and journeys can challenge us. Sometimes they challenge us through a gentle prod, but other times they boot us into cold water and give us a hard shock. Not quite sure where this journey is going... but bear with me.
The photograph shows somewhere I found really hard to find. It's a place I really wanted to visit while I was at the language summer school I attended in Freiburg. I had seen pictures of Fischerau (Fisher-ow if you want to be a tourist) before I went and decided it was one of the definite "go to" places that I wanted to visit and photograph. I didn't make masses of plans of what I wanted to do or see in Freiburg - that made me anxious and I wanted to enjoy the experience of the summer school and take up opportunities I felt had let me slip by before. I wanted to be brave, be a yes person for opportunities (which I still try to attest to now) and moreover, learn German in Germany and learn through doing. I wanted to prove to myself, and sort of others too, that I can. I can do this, I will do what I have hoped so much for. Not because I deserved it, but because I felt like a failure after the experience I had prior in studying abroad. I wanted to prove that it wasn't the fact that every time I touch something, it falls apart. Or that I was not a failure and my degree was going down the drain. I was not at the space of self-acceptance that I am now, I was still trying to do the 'expected', mainly by myself but also by others.
Anyway I digress, back to Fischerau. I had seen photos of it, but given my map reading skills and lack of a smartphone (only got one properly after I returned from Berlin) I had a bit of trouble finding it. I was busy doing other things, taking up other opportunities and just never passed it. It got to about a week before I was to leave and I decided I needed to find it. I needed to put some actual effort into finding this place rather than just waiting for it. It took a few times of me wandering around town and taking different back streets to find it. I think in the end I found it about 2 or 3 days before I was to leave back for the UK. It was tucked up some backstreet with no sign posts, no directions and only tourist guide books could take you there, it seemed. I'm not one for walking around with a guidebook as I like to 'blend in' and not look like a tourist. I had to remember where it was in my head visually to get there. It look times of me ending up somewhere else. It took times of me finding other things which were equally nice and less touristy. It took times of enjoying the moment of where I was rather than being only concerned about finding what I wanted.
Fischerau was hard to find, hard to get to. Not quite the same as people, I know, but there is some slight overlap in my journey to find this little picturesque alleyway with trying to get to know people. Firstly, we are not all the same. Some of us are not books you read and take you straight to where you want to go. Some of us feel the same frustration back at not getting people, who don't get them; or they might feel frustration, loneliness, or other things. It might differ depending on how we feel that day or on what's been going on in our lives. Some of us are not spectacles to get frustrated at and molly coddled. Some of us work really hard to figure out others, because humans are complex you know, but even if we don't get it we don't go and tell those to their face that "I just don't get you". Power differentials raise their heads here, as does confidence and past experiences.
I had to work hard to get to Fischerau. I didn't just wake up and just end up there. Human relationships are the same, on whatever level. I didn't give up just because I was doing what not else that was more convenient and intuitive.
Anyhow, the impact of our words leaves a lasting legacy. Hurtful words can leave scars. Using the words like "you're difficult'" and "I just don't get you" or even worse. These words take no account of the fact that our perspectives and lifeworlds are radically different. When I was trying to explain this to one of my colleagues, I sort of ended up looking like I was trying to do the hand jive, gesturing my hands horizontally over one another without touching or meeting. Very crude way of describing it, but given she doesn't study this I wanted to get the message across without citing an entire academic paper at her. How beautiful summary is.
I could go technical and academic off on a tangent, but I'll save that for another day. But to touch ground, these sorts of comments hit on big time into power differentials (person with differing stance having less power, less valued, minority), deficit model and view (you're the weird one, so you need fixing, you're responsible for that, you need 'normalising') and rejects any kind of respect (impacting on future interactions, self-acceptance, self-perception and self-belief). In short: don't. It also opens up self-questioning of, "why am I so hard to get?" and voilà - you've opened Pandora's box. Congratulations, my friend.
I am very much a supporter of looking at the context as a whole. Humans are social beings (apparently...) so 'blame' is not always solely attributed in one place. To see this, we need to reflection on ourselves and what we do etc. Technical word one of my friends likes: reflexivity. I think we miss this in our busy lives a lot of the time, sometimes through no fault of our own, but it is so vital. To be challenged allows for reflexive thought... penny for your thought.
I did get to Fischerau and I did take a photo - hence the photo above! It was hot that day I remember, I don't think there was a day when I was in Freiburg it was less than 25 celsius. Even the evenings were lovely and warm there...