Saturday I left the house, took the city train to Friedrichstrasse, picked up the Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, found a bench in the shade of the trees of the Tiergarten so the sun wouldn’t burn me to a crisp, and set out to read before turning my steps back home. It was a beautiful summer day. The French – German fair was in full swing at the Brandenburg Gate. The Academy of the Arts had its doors wide open and showcased the final projects of this year’s graduates. Tourists flocked to the Reichstag waiting for their turn to ascend to Sir Norman Forster’s dome. White ships wound their way past the city’s most famous buildings, packed to the last seat. People demonstrated in several spots for several causes.
On my way I walked past, rode with, sat next to, and even exchanged some words with dozens of people from all over the world. And all these people were just like me. They all had their own stories, loves, hopes, talents, strengths, dreams, fears, worries, plans, convictions, struggles, believes, burdens to carry, families, and friends – which I don’t know of and never will. Faces that emerge from the ocean to become a dot in my reality just to dissolve in it again in a wink; not more than a fleeting memory.
There are millions of us. In an attempt not to drown and dissolve in the ocean, we steer for what distinguishes us. We pile up differences like they could turn into life rafts that are kept afloat by the stack of those we cast out. The higher the stack of rejects the higher our chances seem to stay on top and stick out. Then we wonder why we are constantly fighting small skirmishes and big wars while being ineffably lonely, unassuageably scared, and infinitely lost.
Since diversity is our key to survival through adaptation there will always be differences. Science, the long story of evolution, has proven that it is actually when these differences mix that we are most creative, most flexible and thus strongest.
While time and space matter in magic, the magic of friendship, of turning temporary dots into fixed stars in the sky over the ocean that can shed light for us, amaze us with their beauty and guide us when we are lost, depends on more. It takes courage, an open mind, the willingness to bestow trust and to share, steadfastness, and the gift to spot and to head for the common ground in the midst of our diversity.
Common ground, shared interests, that’s the place friendships start and from there we dare to endeavor to experience the yet unknown. A network of friends is like a celestial map – a tool to reach unchartered territory as well as a way to find back home, maybe even to predict the future. Though such a network of friends will always be too small to prevent wars (after all our brain isn’t capable to keep up true personal relationships with more than 150 people at a time), it can show the world what it can be.
This batch of bags of From Berlin With Love have been created for Yael with her dareling daughter Gili and our mutual friend Sophie in mind. It is easy to speak about friendship when looking at them. It’s harder to stick to these rather simple convictions in times of crises. But it is in crises when we need to remember them the most. Thank you to Yael, Gili and Leah for distributing them in Sarona, a park in Tel Aviv, Israel.