Friday, November 9


In my excited descriptions of my first opera experience and other recent posts, I have revealed that I am currently studying in Munich. For this post to be properly understood, more context, specifically of a temporal nature, is necessary. I arrived in Germany at the end of August, a little more than two weeks before my study-abroad program started, so my grandparents and I could visit those relatives who did not immigrate to North America (i.e. all of them). I return to the United States at the end of January in order to enroll in the spring semester at my university. Roughly, that amounts to five months abroad. Keep that in mind. Not necessary to keep in mind but fun to share, being in Germany this long requires a residency permit, and I like to think it brings some flair to my passport, certainly more than those barely visible Frankfurt/Main stamps.

It has been an exhilarating time. My hometown had a population around 1,400, and though I still maintain that Spokane is a good-sized city, it really does not compare to Munich on most fronts. Merely having a choice between movie theaters is kind of a big deal for me. Not only having a choice in that regard but also in museums, galleries, theaters, opera houses and more still is a bit much, but I have enjoyed them at every chance. The idea has been a different museum and church every Sunday and at least one live performance every week.

What is more exciting still is that though I would be quite content to solely remain in Munich for my entire European stay, that is simply impossible when all these other cities of renown and all their culture are only a short flight or train ride away and the chances of an opportunity like this ever appearing again are so slight, there is simply too much. I have been to Dresden, Salzburg and Cork. Paris, London and Istanbul are all on the schedule, and should the finances still look solid after making all arrangements for travel over the Christmas vacation, hopefully Prague or Lausanne, Switzerland can be added to that list as well.

When I bother to step back and give this a little thought, I find myself a little surprised at myself, especially in consideration of how quickly I found my habits and schedule back in Spokane and refused to break with them. In the United States, it would not be uncommon for me to decline any number of offers to shake it up a little, opting for an afternoon of reading over a canoe trip with my dad or preferring to do homework instead most any other idea that might get kicked around by my friends at Gonzaga, but that has shifted now. The question is no longer whether something might fit my schedule, but how I am going to deal with my regular schedule to make this special occasion or trip possible. More bluntly and aphoristically, to just bloody do it and work out the details later. Sure, I may have to stay up a little later to finish the assigned reading or whatever, but it is not worth missing a whole freaking city over.

Really, this is no great revelation. The imperative to "live everyday as if it were your last, without regrets of missed opportunities" has finally been grasped during since my arrival in Munich, but it has taken on a great immediacy here too. I still do not know when I will die, but I do know when I will leave Europe. For the remaining two and a half months, I intend to not regret a single missed opportunity. And this is what has been so electrifying about my time here and has been a greater lesson still than the history of Germany since 1945 or all my language work. More than anything else, it is this concept that I want to take back with me and keep with me for the rest of my life.

But how? Admittedly, this is a unique time, one might not strain themselves to call it a frivolous one in spite of the classes I am taking. Those admittedly minor responsibilities I have gathered back at Gonzaga will kick in again when I return. Eventually more serious responsibilities, like family, will be mine. Through substantial gifts, especially from my grandparents, money has not been such an obstruction to my pursuits either. I will need a job someday and support myself too. It is not so easy to mold these around every passing opportunity.

For now, I think, the simple awareness of the need to take advantage when the situation presents itself is enough. Too long have I lived without it, at least in any practiced sense. The rest will be dealt with as it arises.

1 comment:

Emmett said...

I think it might be something about being in Europe, where it's something like a two hour flight to get from England to Germany where it's nearly twice that long to get from Salt Lake to Spokane. Plus the fact that you're in a foreign country means every day is different from what you're used to, so the rut isn't nearly as deep.