During this journey and of course also already before that I have encountered many people. Aside from wonderful places which I was fortunate enough to visit these encounters especially were what made this journey special and shaped its unique style. To travel by bicycle every day means to be exposed and often to be unprotected. Not only unprotected from weather or bad road conditions but also exposed to people. Time and again we depend on their help and friendliness in order to solve our problems, overcome obstacles or to fulfil our daily needs.
Again and again very beautiful moments emerge through this. It can be during shared meals, storytelling or to curiously listen to each other in order to learn something new. Sometimes these encounters are negative as well, some more so and others less. Especially those negative ones linger afterwards and I work through them in my mind multiple times before I can let them go.
When a situation or encounter is uncomfortable I often catch myself treating the other person not as well as I would like to. Sometimes that happens because of my prejudices or because I am acting cold and distant, other times I don’t have enough patience and perseverance or I get very angry. These reactions may have had reason and seemed natural at least according to my perspective but still I am often not happy with how it turned out when I reflect on it later. Fortunately also the contrary happens every now and then and I am happy with how we interacted and treated each other. These varying encounters are the reason why I have been pondering for a long time the question of what it is that makes them special to me and what I can do to improve them.
Positive encounters help me to trust people and enable me to approach them openly. The negative ones though make it more difficult for me especially if they occur in large numbers within a short time. Often I need some time to process them. Afterwards it is important to me to focus once again on the positive aspects within myself and in others. That also means that I am working on improving these experiences. I try to be respectful and affectionate in my interactions while still being honest about my needs and either communicate or defend them if necessary.
Another element which is quite important to me is to be able to understand the situation and the person in front of me. During this journey from Europe to Asia this is not always easy. The first obstacle is usually the language barrier and the second are different learned values or a seemingly strange behaviour in a certain situation. In fact the latter can be a challenge even at home despite sharing a language and the origin. The only thing I can do is to keep on working on being open, to try to listen attentively and to put myself in his or her situation as best as I can. My hope is that in this way empathy can grow and we can be closer to each other. Despite being of different origins and the language barrier my often very human needs don’t seem to be fundamentally different from theirs.
In all of this I hope that through trying to be and give my best I can give other people the chance to do the same.