Mainz, Germany, 2017: Travel Doubts & Musings

So that’s me home again. I come through the door after another blast of a weekend, and…everything’s exactly as I left it. As if nothing’s happened.

Oh no. The inevitable “back to reality” that comes after a great trip: I’m only staying here a month, which is almost up now. And as time goes on, it becomes less like weeks and more like days until my passport expires. So what now? I need to go back to Scotland for a while?! Real life?! Surely not.

The tail end of my time on the road for now. As the summer draws to a close, I explore Mainz, having only visited briefly twice before. I’m in between the Hauptbahnhof & Römisches Theater here – near the Mainz University of Applied Sciences, where flatmate Peter studies. We occasionally grab a drink or bite to eat when the chance comes.

View north over the Old Town (Altstadt).

I also drop by Wiesbaden again. It’s been a few months and I manage to catch up with an old flatmate there. With her and friends, we talk about UK politics – Brexit, the EU, the recent UK election. It really feels like things are changing, that we’re in some transitional period.

But just in from the Three Capitals Trip, it’s a strange time. Not for the first time in the past couple of years, I’m ambivalent. No, it hasn’t always been plain sailing. I’ve seen some incredible places, had some great relationships, and countless unforgettable memories.  However, it wasn’t only that. Every day was new challenges, new problems; overcoming things – sometimes internal (mental, emotional, psychological), sometimes external (physical, financial, logistical, organisational). A real marathon of self-development & self-discovery, seeing how I handled whatever life threw at me. It’s definitely an internal one I’m contending with now.

Not even properly unpacked, I just sit reflecting on the past two years. After so much adventure, and so many places, questions that have grown louder & louder come to the fore now.

  • So what’s it all about?
  • What do I really want from life?
  • Why are we here?
  • What is the point to all this?
  • !!!

I didn’t have a particularly religious upbringing, and it’s never been a big part of my life. Which adds to it, in a way. How? If I’m not religious or reverent in any form then, nothing means anything, we have only events, only circumstances, nothing more, nothing less. Not necessarily in a negative or nihilistic sense, just this is it, what happens is what happens and that’s it.

And to top it off, remember I’m just in from another top trip. Now that’s even more ticked off the list. But…is that it?  In the blink of an eye, all’s in past tense again. Gone. However, life itself still goes on. There’s always more:  more on the horizon, more needing done isn’t there? It’s seemingly never-ending. So I can’t just revel in and enjoy my past adventures. I need to think ahead to the next weeks & months now.

The above going round my head in circles, I realised I’ve reached that plateau of doubts, emotional & philosophical baggage:

  • Am I really doing this for more life-living, or is it more like life-avoidance?
  • Was this really a conscious, genuine decision to do something different, or  just a case of ‘can’t hack it’? Is this just an attempt to ‘opt out’?

Based on what I’ve got from the past two years, here’s my response to these and other ‘big questions’ that creep in at different points in our lives. A bit of a cop-out, I know, but I’d say this: the English language is just something we’ve evolved, and isn’t really designed for this kind of purpose. It’s a tool for us to communicate and co-operate and aid survival, in this reality, in this existence, in these dimensions. This doesn’t have to be cold, or crass, or materialistic, or unspiritual. It doesn’t have to be anything: At the end of the day, you only ever experience what your mind & emotions are telling you. In other words anything in life (e.g. now: you reading this article), we only believe it because that’s what our systems are telling us what’s happening.

Tools & Tips

Things to see & do in Mainz

I visited the old Zitadelle region too, also within walking distance. If you find your way to Jakobsberg hill, this hosts several Roman & Middle-Age Benedictine articles (Drusus Monument, amphitheatre of settlement Mogontiacum and commander’s building, Kommandantenbau). Nearby are also several main shopping streets (such as Hechtsheimer Straße & An der Goldgrube) and restaurants, although they can be pricey.

Another view from the Zitadelle.

Further recommendations, books, resources

So all the existential, evolutionary stuff:

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, which I think will make a nice transition into Sapiens. I’m no hardcore atheist and you needn’t be either. No matter what you believe, I can recommend this for the logic and science it advocates. I read this book about five years ago and it has definitely shaped my own views and thought process.

The Descent of Power by Robert Greene – a quick read, just a brief write-up of two speeches in eBook form. Another overview of human evolution, the world today, life now compared to the past, business & economic bubbles.

And of course all the other books I’ve mentioned on this blog, especially The Magic of Thinking Big & Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It also mirrors quite a bit the final chapters of The 4-Hour Workweek.

Tip: Use this link to see all other posts in the Books category, for help when the doubts creep in.

Random Takeaways

I seem to like Hessen. I’ve basically lived in every city in that region now. And if you follow my blog you’ll see this article builds on these previous posts – particularly in Frankfurt and Darmstadt. No, every day hasn’t just been a magical adventure. Absolutely not. More like the opposite as I talk about above: doubts, frustrations, stress. But a little bit of stress is good. It shows you’re pushing beyond your current comfort zone. Developing yourself. Enriching your experience in a productive way.

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