There are few places today where you can retreat from the noisy daily life. One of these places are churches – and especially those old churches built some hundred years ago. I like to sit there on one of these wooden benches (not very comfortable, but you are not supposed to relax there), and have a look around. How did they do this, I often wonder, how did they built this church with the simple tools they had at those times?
And what a contrast those big churches were to the small huts of the normal people, without light coming in, full of smoke and dirt. Here, in that church, the sun could come in through the glass windows (glass – what a luxury), and there was so much room in it! Today, with our skyscrapers, churches aren’t extraordinary buildings anymore. But whenever I sit in a church like this, I try to see it through the eyes of a man or woman living in the 15th century. And I am awestruck.
With my fellow employees I visited the Monastery of Zinna in the Mark Brandenburg, a region 1 and a half hour by bus away from Berlin. In the Middle Ages it was a very known monastery, inhabited by cistercian monks. They were known for their simple life, nothing but work and pray (Ora et labora in latin).
This ceiling above is in the abbot’s chapel. It is very ornamental, without any persons or saints on it. But it sure tells a story – the problem is, today we can’t read those kind of stories anymore. In the Middle Ages, people used to tell stories by using pictures, and everybody knew how to “read” them.
For me, the ceiling is telling about the paradise – the birds, the flowers, the plants. What are you “reading” ?
Last year, during my holidays in Denmark, I loved to sit and watch the harbour. Not only the harbour, where the big ferries from Norway or Sweden arrived and set off again, but also the marina with their sailing boats in all sizes. There is always some activity, somebody cleaning the boat, or bathing in the sun.
I also loved to see the contrast between the quiet water in the harbour and the white crests of the waves outside it. I admired each sailor leaving the harbour, boldly ploughing through the water crests, setting off for some far away country.
In older times, wells were the places where women met: they had to fetch the water from the well and often enough this was an opportunity to have a nice talk with the neighbour.
Where do we meet today? Around the copier in the office, waiting in the queue? Or talking about how this wonderful thing could be seduced to do what it should do? Or in front of the refridgerator with the coffee machine on it?
And what about the meeting places in our neighbourhood? The newspaper stand? The gas station? Are there real meeting places in our neighbourhood?
I am no productivity expert, but having a full time job and thus blogging in my free time I am keen on becoming more productive. I am working with to-do-lists, but very often at the end of the day there are still too many items on that list. I thought about ways to solve the problem. So, if you too are not happy with your to-do-lists, just have a look at my guest post on Fresh Focus!
Most of my really good friends are women, and most of them are freelancers. Not always because they wanted it to be from the beginning, but because they are unemployed – although all of them are highly qualified persons.
I am lucky. I have a job. It is not the job I have been trained for, but I got into it because I had gone to a course on programming for the web and a person with that knowledge was needed. I work at a university, not as a lecturer, but as an internet editor in the communication and marketing department, and this department is a part of the administration of the Berlin University of the Arts. It is an interesting and sometimes challenging job, and I have a regular income.
Every time I meet Gertrud, one of my freelancing friends, I am fascinated. She’s got a one-woman business with cosmetics, and it is very hard for her to earn money though she puts in a lot of work. She never complains; she’s almost never grumpy. I told her once how I admired her for her energy to encounter all the difficulties in her life. She looked at me and said: “Well, it wouldn’t help if I would complain and whine – so what’s the use of doing it.” Wow!
So she taught me to go on, to keep on trying in spite of difficulties.
The second thing I am learning from her is self-responsibility and self-organization. At my job the general goals are defined elsewhere – for example not only to present the University with a website in German, but also with a website in English. Me and my collague then have to define the sub-goals and organize the proper activities. My friend has to define all the goals herself – general goals and sub-goals, and then to convert them into activities. Nobody controls her, nobody says “no” to her ideas – and nobody helps her. She is completely on her own. That impresses me a lot, and I try to learn from her. And not to forget: I learn is to appreciate the “luxuries” of being employed…
This is part of Robert Hruzek’s group writing project “What I learned from Friends”.