Drizzle covers the motorway lanes in a wall of white drops. Light reflections everywhere. From construction site signals, headlights, brake lights. It's 5:30 p.m. and it's already dark. It's December in Germany. Suddenly there's a traffic jam. I have to brake hard. I have a truck behind me. Who doesn't seem to care much about the stopping cars. I can barely see anything. But I do think a lot. One thing above all: Please don't let it be over! A wave of panic is gripping me. Why is the truck not stopping? Then he finally slows down. I'm sweating. My hands are tied to the steering wheel. Standstill. But my heart is racing.
When I get home, I start to think about that incident again. Why I was so scared. About The End. After all, we all have to die. But not now. Not now. That was the key thought. At that time I worked 40 hours a week and sometimes additionally on weekends. The tasks were fun - but the daily routine was the biggest shit. Sleep, traffic jam, work, traffic jam, eat, sleep. I hadn't lived at all yet! The thought struck me like a blow. I kind of existed - but I wasn't alive.
Today, two years later, I close my eyes at the abyss of the deep red canyon. My legs are hanging down the gorge. My hand touches the rough and dry grass beside me. What if. I smile and an overwhelming peace is filling me. Not now? Not anymore. How I lost my fear of death.
Life. What is life? It is exactly the period of time that is available to us between the moment when we scream at our parents for the very first time and then shut the fuck up forever. Everything we say, do, think and decide in between is unique. As unique as pressing the trigger of a Polaroid Camera. Our life is not a memory card where you can delete things whenever you don't like them. The recorder keeps running. There is no stop button. No rewind. Time is the most absolute thing in the world. It is breathing down our necks. It's the bad feeling in the nightly alleys of the city after the party. It runs when we start running. And it slows down when we slow down. We can't pass it, we can't catch it, we can't nail it, we can't speed it up. And don't bring it back.
The crazy thing is, that we basically never asked for it. Suddenly we were there. Along with our time. We didn't have to order it, pay for it, buy it or fight for it. And therein lies the most important insight: it is a gift. Something that was given to us. Unconditionally. More valuable than any paycheck. More valuable than anything we could ever possess, even if we were billionaires. How unbelievably wonderful is that?
When I think about that, the moment around me crystallizes for a moment and floats over my outstretched hand like a glittering snowflake. The past, the present and the future break in rainbow colors into cascades of experiences, disappointments, expectations, enthusiasm, infinity, finiteness.
And then it happened. All at once. After my contract at work ran out in February 2017, I cut all anchors for the very first time and travelled alone in a car through the entire USA for four months. My childhood- and life's dream. Fulfilled at the age of 26. Pretty awesome shit! That's what I had been saving for since I was 16. That's what I first talked about when I was 6.
In the narrow alleys of Chicago, the starry nights in the most beautiful national parks of the world and the sunsets between the Atlantic and the Pacific, I slowly began to detach the golden band of my gift. I scraped my feet on hot asphalt, had an oil change in the middle of nowhere, listened to very emotional music on never-ending roads and cried on and off without a reason while driving. Because of joy, loneliness, overwhelming freedom. I desperately tried to classify my experiences and emotions. Were they good or bad? Until I realized they were neither one nor the other. They were just life. I unpacked it. The paper was torn off. I had dared to touch it, move it, use it. The time that had been given to me. It no longer breathed into the flapped collar of my rain jacket. I held it in my hands and suddenly carried it in front of me as a guiding light.
Shortly thereafter I founded my own company, became a digital nomad and started to travel intensively again. I broke up with a long-term relationship that had a different concept than unpacking adventures and burning off dynamite. I bought a tiny house and renovated it completely on my own in 16 days and nights. I fell in love with someone who, in an eerie and beautiful way, is the male version of my totally nuts self. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis - an incurable and lifelong chronic disease causing the more or less permanent inflammation of your bowel. Time and life exploded like a landslide in all colors. In sparks of enthusiasm and horror. It awakened invisible, powerful fighting spirits and made things possible whose existence I would not even have dreamed of after a bottle of red wine.
With a broad smile I set up a brightly coloured flamingo in front of my house, I stormed into the small bistro on the street with pink paint in my hair and I ran at 5 in the morning through the brightly lit house by singing loudly with my suitcase in one hand and purple heart-shaped balloons in the other hand. The gift of life was suddenly uncovered. Completely. The paper was torn off. The filling material was gone.
I close my eyes at the abyss of the deep red canyon. My legs are hanging down the gorge. My hand touches the rough and dry grass beside me. What if. If I died now. I shrug my shoulders. The only thing that still bothers me, is the awful feeling of leaving friends and family behind and making them incredibly sad. But it's not about me anymore. I've lived the shit out of my life over the past two years. I've done everything I ever wanted to do. That's all I could do. Of course, there would be more. Hey, I'm only 28! There are things I'd miss. But it would be okay. I don't think, "Not now!" anymore. I think, "It would be okay." It's pretty weird. And just wonderful. As fulfilling as a hot cup of chocolate after a walk in the woods. With cream and cocoa powder and caramel sauce. Because we only live once. And we got the greatest gift you can get. Time. Lifetime.
Let's not lock it in a closet of everyday life and fear. Of doubts and lack of self-confidence. You can do it! And the first step is to take the first step and get out. Take one thing you always
wanted to do. Something big, something small. Doesn't matter. Just something you care about. And the tear off the paper and DO IT!
We all will die someday anyway. So why the hell not livinig before? In such a way that we don't have to be afraid of death for one single day anymore.