Hold the space for the things you don’t know
My lovely cousin from the States came to visit for a couple of weeks. We decided to take a roadtrip up north to visit our grandparents. A day before I put the ride online for car sharing, not expecting anyone to jump on at 6:30 in the morning… But as things are supposed to happen, we picked up this young man Kher, a refugee from Syria. My cousin was driving and I started chatting with him immediately and since he taught himself German and English perfectly within one and a half year, we could continue in English and share our stories altogether. We all knew about the current political situation, especially with the US and Syria, we knew about what the media is telling us about refugees and I knew my cousin has never met a Syrian refugee before. And I knew he is working for the military. But here we were, in my tiny car together, facing a 400km ride up north. And there was Kher, chatting the hell out of his life, how he decided to leave his country six years ago, in his early twenties, when the war started and how he eventually left his family since his father believed it would only be a short riot. How in his teen years, he would question the Islamic believe he grew up in and he would look at other religions for guidance until, at the age of 16, he found that religion itself is not the answer for him. Something he hasn’t shared with his family because it would cause them too much sorrow. How after he first fled his country, he did stay in Saudi Arabia, as a refugee in a shelter, not being able to work and not being able to express his religious opinion, since they would literally kill him for it. How he stayed in turkey for one year and worked in a factory, doing the same work like the Turkish employees but getting payed less, since he was a refugee. He shared with us how he always dreamed about coming to Europe since this for him was the place where he could be and live free. He happened to come to Germany, meet a family he could stay with, learned German and English, works and has his own little place and feels secure and happy to be here.
At this point and many points before, I can’t express how impressed and humbled I felt about his story. My heart jumped for joy and gratefulness that this young and extraordinary human being happened to share the space with us and his story and that the place where he finally found peace happened to be my home country. Everything he said and the way he said it and every smile he cracked with every sparkle in his open eyes delivered to me the beauty of his soul quality, which enabled him to take on the journey that he so willingly shared with us. What an inspiration and a gift it was for me to have him with us in the car that day.
But this is not, where the story ends. I could feel that he was having an impact on my cousin, too. I have to mention at this point that they are only three years apart and that my cousin had a similar moment about religion, only as a Christian, which was the belief he was raised in. He actually just shared his story with me a few days before Kher happened to share the exact same story – only with different believe content.
And since synchronicity comes in series, I knew that my cousin’s dream was to become a pilot and he is pursuing this dream at the moment within the army. Kher had the same dream- he just wasn’t able to fulfil it since he simply happened to be born in a country, where he is not able to live his dreams.
Something that struck me the most was, that this young Man who has gone through so much, did not share one thought of resentment or condemnation. He was just happy to be in a peaceful place, willing to educate himself more to find more options for him to find another dream.
Later we stopped over in Münster to pick up a young woman to come to Hamburg with us. She is from Iran and is doing her master studies on Physics in Germany at the moment. She would share with us a great Iranian mix of nuts and how life was in Iran. My cousin was cracking up. He said this would actually literally be the beginning of a bad joke: A Syrian, an Iranian, a German and an American are sitting in a car together… But it wasn’t. It was simply a slice of truth, which is, that the world is made variety and that Germany happens to be one of the countries where you don’t have to travel in other countries to find this truth.
I could tell how much the stories of our passengers would tap into my cousins believes about these eastern countries, their inhabitants and about refugees generally. But I could also tell how willingly positive, open and excited he was about changing his mind. Something inspirational has happened in the car that day and everyone could feel it. When we split ways in Hamburg we all agreed that this must have been the best experience we’ve ever had with car sharing so far, and that we will never forget this ride.
My cousin and I would talk about it the next few days. He realised that he had a spiritual enlightenment that would change the way he lives and deals with information. He felt he was so ignorant about what he wanted to believe, about Syria, Iran its people and refugees. Now he could finally let go of his false believes since he has encountered real protagonists of media stories, who happened to share his look onto the world and dreams. The only thing they did not have in common was simply their place of birth.
All this made think more and more about how we’re filling the gaps of the things we don’t know with foreign believes which we receive from other people’s opinion, subjective experience or the media. I was thinking why we seem to have such a hard time to simply say: “I don’t know anything about it, because I have never experienced it.” Maybe knowledge has become this huge idea of value, that we’re stuffing ourselves up with it, in order to feel rich as today we seem to be able to accumulated so much of it, from every corner of the world. I started to look at myself, and the way I was thinking in everyday life. I could quickly tell how much my brain just loves to create a feeling of knowledge by assuming things and being judgemental. Whenever I would move within the city for example and see someone who was maybe just having a bad day, my brain would come up with some sort of judgmental explanations about their status. Something like: “Oh man, this person so not have control over their life. What a victim.” I was pretty surprised, almost amusingly shocked about this voice in my head that would pop up, offering me this sort of perception. Although it was happening automatically I didn’t feel like this was part of my spirit or original nature. I guess it is a pattern, as so many things, that have sneaked in at some point in my life. But if it is not part of my original nature and something I don’t need in my life, I can direct it back out of the door. I decided to watch it more closely and started to embrace it with a joyful and warm but firm: “I don’t know.” By doing this I could feel a lightness entering my everyday life. This made me realize how much assumptions and judgements are actually weighing and have weighted me down. Today I’m thinking about these type of thoughts like every other material thing we accumulate in our lives – it comes with the need of being cared for, looked after and being managed. By simply holding the space for the things I don’t know, I’m not even triggering my brain to go down a chain of thought, that would keep it busy and occupy this potential place for thoughts that might be more useful, fun or creatively constructive- or would simply put my brain to rest, so I could immerse more fully into the moment and be present. By doing this I feel more free and peaceful and today the thought “I don’t know” is accompanied with a smile and automatically delivers me into the moment. It became almost like a hobby and brought a surprising amount of joy and peace into my life, which is why I wanted to share this with you since it’s the goodies you need to share.