To start something new, to have a new approach to life is always exciting. The unknown is scary and unpredictable but at the same time full of adventure and exhilaration. Living in the unfamiliar makes us feel alive.

Years ago when I was still living in Germany I used to work in a bank. Today it is a mystery to me how I ended up working there. I think I did it to make my parents proud. I spent five years of my life wearing suit and tie and being so unhappy that at times all I was thinking about was what bridge to jump off from. The best time of the day was to drive to work and drive home from work. Spending time there felt to me like being imprisoned. When I looked out of the window I felt that I was contained in these four walls that I was not allowed to leave while I was working and out there life was happening without me. My youth had ended when I was 17. After the first three months working I almost lost the job because my boss was convinced that I was not suited for working in a bank. He was so right and I wish I had left at that point. But my mother talked to human resources and was able to turn things around. After all, what would the neighbors have said if I would have been kicked out?

Anyway, I was stuck working in a bank. People admired me for having the job because it was considered a safe and well paid. And safe it was. Every day was the same. No surprises, no excitement, I felt like being buried alive.

On one of these absolutely depressing days my grandfather who was at that point well into his 80’s started to talk to me about it. He said,” Carsten I don’t know what your problem is. When I was your age I was in Russia as a soldier fighting in World War II. I never knew if I would have another day to live. You have safety, a good job and do not have to be worried to be shot at and still you are so unhappy.” I knew all the stories and I had seen the pictures. My grandfather loved to take photographs and come back from fighting his way through Russia all the way to Moscow only to have to turn around and try to escape the Red Army with hundreds of pictures. I had seen the rows of graves of German Soldiers with steel helmets with perfect bullet holes created by Russian snipers on top of them. I had seen images of burned out Russian tanks with corpses lying around them that only remotely reminded on a human form. I had heard the stories about the weather being so cold that he had to cut his fur coat of the truck he was sleeping in, people’s heads being blown off and the bridge that the Russians blew up with German and Russian soldiers on top of it. I had seen the images of his commanding officer who was in a tank on that bridge holding his head while the skin was hanging of his face. I had heard a lot and seen a lot of the horrors of war.

When he said that to me I looked at him and said,” grandfather, there is nothing worst then a boring life!” I had a point. As horrible as war is when you are in it you are always confronted with the unknown. You see your friends die around you and you know you could be next. Being at war and while I say that I do not want anybody to have to go through that must make you feel very alive. Whenever the end is near we feel that way. Death is always close but we push it away and in our illusionary safety do not think about it. We give up what we want to do for a safe life that is stale and boring.

Over the last 12 years my life has been very unpredictable. I never knew what would happen next or where the next paycheck would come from. Now I am ready for even more adventures and excitement. What will it be? Where will I go? Who will I meet? How will my new life look like?

We will find out…




“Excitement” Willimsburg/Brooklyn, Reflection of light in a puddle in pouring rain 03-07-08 at 09:47 PM.


Please check out my website at carstenfleck.com


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