An editor’s foreword is the exception at futurdrei, but this is an exceptional contribution. Therefore, such additional attention is appropriate, as we try to do it justice:
It’s common to watch the others around us, to observe how they act and present themselves. However, to call the following just an observation would not suffice. It is not just an account of the people and the place of our studies, it can be a reminder to choose our own paths, and someday it will also fulfill its titular claim.
For the time being, this text offers an opportunity. To take a look through the eyes of another, carefully, as to not interfere. To picture the campus, its steel and glass coming into sight – or perhaps to just imagine going out the main door . . .
The place in front of the university is empty. It is cold and foggy, but also quiet and peaceful. There are almost no sounds except birds flying from one tree to the next and leaves falling from the same trees to the cold and wet ground. Still, this silence is unusual here. The time has come for a new aspect of this place to reveal itself, like a layer which has always been here and finally has the opportunity to come out and to entangle everyone who believes to know this place. Inside, you can see only a few people. The faces are difficult to recognize even when you know them well. Inside the building someone plays music that can be heard outside. It is a well-known and popular song by a German artist.
Im Sturz durch Raum und Zeit
Fliegen Motten in das Licht
Genau wie du und ich.
A blink of an eye before. The place in front of the university was overcrowded. It was loud and hectic and the air was cigarette smoke, which is odd, smoking being the deadly sin of this generation. There was no oxygen left to breathe. They say smoking makes sick and wrinkled and sallow. And that it kills people. This is probably the reason why so many do it. Those who smoke know that they get sicker and sicker as the days go by. People who don’t care about other people’s opinions smoke. And impostors do it, who want everyone to think that they don’t care what other people think, when in fact this is the only thing they really care about. They hide from everyone around them and even from themselves. The mask of indifference only works well when you are already completely numb inside and indifference has eaten away everything else. Otherwise it just looks put on. And no one likes people who are not real.
To get into the building you had to fight your way through billows of smoke from laughing students who bumped into you and rarely apologized for it. The atmosphere on campus was nonetheless pleasant, which may seem contradictory at first. But there is a place for everyone.
You can be the laughing, smoking student, dressed in the most expensive luxury brands from top to toe as a replacement of an elitist uniform that tells others around anything they think they need to know about you.
Or you can be the student who feels close to nature and spends a lot of time outdoors, sitting in the grass and listening to the wind whispering through the trees while his thoughts are floating to distant galaxies and music becomes his religion.
Or you can be the student who spends days and nights at the library, flowing like an astronaut through space and time, constantly searching for the truth and possibly getting lost on the way. In other parts of the world you wouldn’t be called an astronaut, but a cosmonaut. When you think about it you realize that everything in life is all about perspective.
Or you can be the student who enjoys the sun alone by herself on the roof terrace on late summer afternoons, away from all those who want to be seen and crave for attention by creating unnatural alter egos.
Or you can be someone else every day, sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes laughing, sometimes thoughtful about the things in life and about what this place means to you. In order to get closer to yourself, you must think about it here at some point. Otherwise you will stay the same and if this is your ambition, then it doesn’t make any sense to be here at this point in your life.
So, why are you here at this moment? You could be somewhere completely different, surrounded by other people, other trees, different opportunities and different challenges. The challenges could be easier and the opportunities could reveal an alternative freedom of action. The weather could be different. The sunset could look differently, maybe more beautiful, but then you wouldn’t see any mountains, at least not these mountains from this perspective. It wouldn’t get so cold and foggy in the evenings. Or maybe it would get a lot colder than here in your alternative place to be. It might not be so quiet, it could be urban, hectic and fast-paced and exciting and grueling. When you are here, it means something for this place that is created in a constant process of exchange and togetherness by all the people who decide to spend a piece of their given time here. And in reward, this place helps them to find out who they really are. Or at least what they really want or what they don’t want at all. Even this kind of introspection helps a lot to grow. The people and this place affect each other constantly. A thousand individual truths overlap and together they form this reality at this place at this time in the very moment when this song is played inside and can be heard outside.
Nur ein kurzer Augenblick
Dann kehrt die Nacht zurück.
The past few months have not been easy for anyone here. The ubiquitous feeling of having missed something is palpable. There is a fear to not have used the given time here properly, the fear of having wasted it. There is the feeling of not having appreciated things as they should have been appreciated. There is the feeling of not seeing the path that lies ahead. These feelings can be seen in the faces here. The people must now function again as before. But it doesn’t feel the same as before and it’s unclear when they will have adapted completely to the new situation. If you can always be available, you might mistakenly feel like you must always be available. Many might now feel like machines that wake up, work, eat and sleep. There is little time in between for the things that make the days and nights come alive. And even that can be seen in their eyes: they do not feel truly alive. If you look closely, you can see them trying not to drown in the uneasiness that comes with the current time.
Some of the people here are similar to each other; others are very different with almost no commonalities at all. The only thing they have in common may be that they share the same mindset with each other. This common ground creates a feeling of security in a world in which security is an almost esoteric construct, similar to balance, empathy and genuine interest in other people. What is important is that they are here, together in this place, at this time in this situation. It is more important than ever that they show commitment to each other and for this place. They do not leave each other alone during this unusual time, even though it takes a lot of energy to show up trying to create normality. And by doing so, normality is slowly recreated. The song can still be heard.
Irgendwie fängt irgendwann
Irgendwo die Zukunft an
Ich warte nicht mehr lang.
Liebe wird aus Mut gemacht
Denk nicht lange nach
Wir fahren auf Feuerrädern Richtung Zukunft durch die Nacht.
The doors of the building open and the warmth coming from inside can now be sensed.