nights left open to chance

The past three weeks I have experienced Berlin by night as never before. In so doing I began to understand why Mignon McLaughlin said that for the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned and nights left open to chance. From one night to the next I have seen countless different sides of  Berlin with old and new friends who, each in their unique way, have unlocked new worlds within me and the city I have come to love and call home. I realized anew that, as William Somerset Maugham said, “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person,” or a changed and ever-changing city. In the immortal words of Jack Lang, “Paris is always Paris and Berlin is never Berlin!”

Exactly one week ago I was sitting with a friend  on the bank of the Spree. The Öberbaumbrücke, which connects Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, graced us to the left, the diamond water swayed in front of us stretching into the cool darkness on our right and the East Side Gallery behind us walled us off from the world in a timeless moment. We spoke about everything from travel horror stories to family, to spontaneity, which Germaine Greer describes as the essence of pleasure: The absolute delight of treasuring the here and now.

I have found that spontaneity is itself something that I have to allocate time for in my life. Even as I write this I am struck by the seemingly inherent contradiction in my statement. Planned spontaneity? No, I would rather describe it as leaving enough room in our lives to treasure moments without always grasping at the unchangeable past or the uncontrollable future. Spontaneity also strikes me as another side of creativity or rather a necessary moment or phase in the creative process. It energizes and enriches our lives and making time for it is a responsibility we cannot afford to neglect. I will leave you with something that Rollo May said, “Creativity is not merely the innocent spontaneity of our youth and childhood; it must also be married to the passion of the adult human being, which is a passion to live beyond one’s death.”

Good night xxx

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