My path of life

15 Jul

Diesen Beitrag hielt ich am 07.07.2018 – so oder so ähnlich – in freier Rede und in Englischer Sprache im Munich English Advanced Toastmasters Club in München:

When I was 16, I spent a year as an exchange student at a US High school, where I encountered the well-known poem by Robert Frost which in parts I still remember today:

The Road less Taken

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, …
and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

Dear Toastmasters,
I do not know why, but paths and ways have always run through my life like a common thread.

After I finished my high school in Germany, my Curriculum Vitae – the path of my life – seemed very straight forward. I studied industrial engineering at a private dual university of applied sciences, actually the first one of its kind. After my diploma in 1998, I moved to Munich to start my first job in the controlling department of a local car manufacturer.

At that time, I worked hard during the day, and often I partied hard during the night. The rhythm of my life seemed to be “Life is a high way, I wanna ride it all night long” – except that my favorite vehicle was not a car but a mountainbike.

As years passed by, I unconsciously felt something was missing in my life – but I could not say what it was. I travelled a lot in search of that something to fill the void inside me.  I hiked through woods and jungles, I scuba dived the nicest seas, and climbed the mountains … and still had not found what I was looking for.

Accidently – or should I say: by chance – in 2007, I found the Way of St. James. Today I know the way actually found me. At some point on my pilgrimage, I came to that point, when I almost drowned. I almost drowned in a river of tears – my own tears. It was like a broken dam of emotions, setting free the tears I had been holding back for the last ten or more years. I realized that as a woman living and working in a man’s world (engineering and the automotive industry actually IS a man’s world), I had not allowed myself to show or even feel any kinds of emotions.
Of course, it took me some years to find words for all those emotions I had not been able to express in years – like anger, fear, frustration or emptiness. And it also took me years to learn actually to feel these feelings instead of covering them up inside me. But by doing so, I not only reconnected with myself, but I also discovered empathy enabling me to connect with other people around me as well.

Eventually, I subscribed in several educations and trainings as a naturopath and as a stress pilot next to my regular job. This enabled me to accompany people to a healthier, stress-free life.

At that time, I realized staying any longer in my deadhearted, senseless but well-paid job at the car manufacturer would cause me getting severely ill sooner or later. Therefore, I quit.

That was six years ago. Since then, my life has been full of ups and downs and twists and turns. Two of the funniest probably being me studying theology about 20 years after resigning from church as a paying member – and me as a vegetarian since almost 25 years joining MEAT.

But there are even more paths and ways joining the common thread of my life: I recently learned to be a guide for other pilgrims, and I served as a Pathway guide in Toastmasters. Maybe the reason for all of this was the biblical saying I chose as a thirteen-year-old for my confirmation. I had forgotten about it for quite a long time – but recently, it suddenly came to my mind again, because it seemed to fit my life quite well.

I chose Matthew 7, verses 13-14:

13 For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Whether my life will lead to destruction or to life, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, I do not regret any of the twists or turns. Because every single of them has made me the person I am today.

A small detail I discovered while researching for this speech, is that I remembered Robert Frost’s poem mentioned in the beginning the wrong way. First of all, the title actually quotes “The road NOT Taken” and the tenor is you’ll never find out what happened walking the other path.

For me, this doesn’t matter so much: I prefer to sum up Roberts Frosts poem with the quote of Franz Kafka: Paths are made by walking them. So let’s discover together, where my current paths – MEAT & Developing Leadership – will lead me.

As the pilgrims say: Buen Camino!


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