I’ve an announcement to make, which will no doubt to bring shock and disbelief to the scores of people who read this website, namely my parents and the occasional random Argentinian man who accidentally stumbles across this site while searching for porn. I wish to inform all three of you that, on the 4th of October this year, I will be moving to Berlin.
*waits for gasps of horror and wails of despair to settle down into low key sobbing*
Yes, yes, I know. ‘Tis with a heavy heart that I announce my intent to leave England’s green and pleasant land, despite my excitement at the thought that I will soon be living in one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. I have no job lined up in Berlin. I’ll be staying on a mate’s sofa until I find somewhere to live. It’s going to be hard.
So, why am I abandoning my cosy life down in Albion for a big throbbing question mark in the Fatherland? I live in a tiny English village at the moment. Think pretty cottages, rolling hills, a cosy pub with leather armchairs and a fireplace, and lots of little country walks past berry bushes and crumbling farm buildings. It’s all very Shire-esque. Hobbits frolicking in the long grass, etc. You could settle here and lead a very pleasant life full of tea cups and doilies and walking boots and flat caps and endless tweed. It’s all very comfortable. And that’s what I hate about it.
Comfort is the enemy of adventure. It’s the polar opposite. Adventure, experience and learning cannot happen if you are safely in your comfort zone. Let’s continue that Middle Earth metaphor. Right now, I am Bilbo, in Hobbiton. Berlin is, like, the Lonely Mountain or something. And… Gandalf is… Ryanair? Okay maybe we’ll shelf that metaphor the time being. My point is, if you’re too comfortable too young, you’re not going to achieve anything.
You get comfy, you stop pushing for more in your life, and you stagnate. Your personality stops growing, you stop learning, you become more entrenched in the traits you already have. Nobody’s worldview, compassion or tolerance ever grew from sitting pretty in a cosy house for decades on end, seeing the same faces every day, following the same routine. In fact, Mark Twain put it far more eloquently:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
*slaps Mark Twain on the back in a manly fashion*
Well said, Marko.
If Bilbo had never left the Shire with Gandalf and Thorin, he would never have encountered the elves of Mirkwood, he would never have found a friend in the dwarves of the Iron Hills, he would never have formed a lifetime companionship with Elrond at Rivendell (Jesus Christ, I’m writing this all from memory, I didn’t realise how much of a nerd I actually am, ugh).
If he’d never wandered off to murder that dragon, Bilbo would have never learned about the world around him. He would have stayed at Bag End with his feet up, smoking his pipe, comfortable in his pretty village, forever vaguely intimidated and afraid of the world beyond. And it’s the same for me.
To anyone reading this who is at a similar point in their life, at the crossroads between comfort and the unknown, I implore you, choose the harder option. You didn’t ask to be born. You don’t owe the world a thing. Get out there and have your fun. It might be tough, you might have to make sacrifices, but, to paraphrase Nike (and Shia LaBeouf), just fucking do it.
I’m going to be writing regularly about my time in Berlin, and I expect the entries will fluctuate between loving it and hating it. Prepare for a lengthy article at around the one month mark written while I’m on an apocalyptic hangover about how I miss my mum and my dog and how I made a mistake and would hack my arm off for a Sunday roast. But that’s okay, that’s the truth at the heart of experience; if you’re not loving life and you’re not hating it, then you’re just existing, and at 23 that’s the worst thing I can imagine.