Oliver, called Oli, is a colleague of mine at the Alanus University of Arts and Social Science. He is also studying art-pedagogy-therapy, expressing himself as a singer and songwriter and visual artist in the field of realism and classical graffiti.
What immediately comes to my mind is music – because I can totally dive into it. Because it is the musical backdrop for all those little things, that happen everyday.
It allows me to dive into the depth of those little things, even when it's just thoughts or things that I discover outside. I love walking through nature and to get inspired by it. I often carry my guitar with me or at least something to write. For me it is incredibly fulfilling, when encounters happen – be it with an animal or a human, or when I discover of a „hidden world” somewhere in nature, where you can completely dive in to – and music allows me to illustrate that. And for sure, listening to music opens new perspectives and dimensions, too.
What else makes me happy... Very often, when I feel, that I can give something to people, in every way, be it by simply listening, small favours or surprises. I am generally one from the empathetic side of life. When my environment is happy, I am usually happy, too, that is very important to me. It can be exhausting sometimes, if you always want to balance everything. I am not that good at taking my time and space to recover and to respect my own needs. It makes me happy to see others happy, but it is a task to recognize my own limit, when I have to set borders in order to maintain my happiness or well-being.
That's really a difficult question, because when you're happy, you actually don't think about it, you are just experiencing the moment. Often, it's the joy of the unexpected, that brings happiness, wonder, that gives you an experience beyond the everyday life.
In general, I love new encounters.
That's interesting, because I worked a lot on that question during the last semester... Like where I can actually locate this feeling of home, in the world and in my body. I instantly came up with smells of my childhood: For instance, we had a lilac bush growing in front of our house. And I love lilac, every time when I smell it, it gives me an incredible feeling of home like no other smell. When I worked on this topic, I used to place a flowering branch over my working place, to get in this state of feeling...
Also, of course... People. Especially my mother, my sister and my niece resemble home to me. In my family, they have always been my source of support. No matter what happens, these people see my very core, no matter how I might change. And this matters. When my niece was born, I got an even more intense connection to my sister. I spend a lot of time with the baby, before I moved to Alfter... And it is incredibly to feel that love, that welcomes me whenever I come back. Feeling this ongoing connection to people is simply beautiful.
My friends mean the world to me. There is this handful of friends where you know for sure, that they will be at your side for your entire life. I know my best friend for nearly twenty years and we're still doing a lot of things together. It was a big step for me to move, to look back from the distance and to experience, what this distance changes. One part of my new living place is, that I am constantly getting in touch with new people, which is great; the other part is, that I am missing the feeling of complete familiarity, when communication becomes unnecessary. The feeling of “I don't even have to say something”.
In general, I am a person who loves the silence. When you get to know people, you are talking very much, you exchange, you get to know each other. But within that kind of clear familiarity at home, you just share a glance and everything is clear. Like this great moment when my friend and I both fell asleep while watching a movie, because the situation is so entirely relaxed and familiar. We also do a lot of music together, and even there, communication is incredibly intensive.
But there is this decisive point... You need travelling, to become aware of this feeling of home. When the counterpart is missing, the feeling of home becomes rather self-evident. Home to me is not necessarily linked to material things, I don't need much, but I enjoy having my own space. I believe, that it's important to have a space where you can retreat.
At first, as it is the case with many people, my parental home.
I find it really interesting, but I am the only one in my family, who does somehow artistic things, no matter if through music or painting. I often asked myself why this is the case. I have three older sisters and I am the youngest child, my parents divorced at some point. I was mostly raised by my mother, who is very empathetic, very sensitive. She has a giant heart, but words aren't her favourite way of expression. Maybe I got a good portion of that from her and have therefore searched for other ways to express myself, to communicate and to be understood since I was a child. From a very young age, I started painting – and I basically never stopped. It was very important to me to discover, that there is this source of expression that doesn't need words, but which is so intensive.
Then, it was very formative for me when I started to make music. I was already 18 then, but this really shaped me. It was the beginning of a period of reflection in my life. From the very beginning, I tried to write own songs, even if I didn't knew anything about how to play music. I just grabbed my guitar and tried to find a form of expression. That mixture of an inner reflection and the longing for a corresponding expression did incredibly moved me – and still does. I explored new ways of thinking then, I encountered a different kind of people, who really inspired me. It was the first time that I felt like being completely seen, because we had a similar way of thinking. All these incidents finally brought me here.
… It's hard to put in words, but I think most of us have experienced, that the first great love is something really important. For sure, it was in my case. We separated one year ago, we had been together for five years then. She is – in contrary to me – a very rational mind. It was a shaping experience in how total otherness can complement other. Being really different, but treasuring and loving the differentness of the other.
I mentioned before, that I enjoy being amongst like-minded people, when communication happens naturally and you feel completely understood. That relationship, that encounter was so special to me, because this 'understanding' happened on another level. I experienced an incredibly intense complement and therefore support and I am very thankful for that.
What also shaped me, is the encounter with my best friend, in the first grade at school. With him, I started to make music. He is a very energetic, impulsive guy, who sometimes likes to tumble into things head over heels. That doesn't always end in positive results, but the positive outcomes changed my life for sure. Because it were things, that I would have never managed to do by myself. And of course i can say, also mistakes shaped my life in a very hard but intensely learning way.
Feeling understood allows you to open up to the world. Because through the eyes of the other, you can get an idea about what role you may play in the world – what your own qualities are and where you can use them... Therefore, you need other people and therefore I love people! I am incredibly grateful for that mirror. Maybe, because of that it makes me happy to make other people happy; because I can give something back that way.
Priska's question: Do you remember your childhood dreams and how could you transfer them to nowadays life?
I think I am doing pretty good here... Because I was looking for this artistic expression from a very young age, and I am really happy to made my way to this university of Arts! And what else.. fireman? (He laughs).
A big dream, that still exists and that I really want to fulfill… I would love to encounter a whale. In my imagination, that would be incredible. I would probably burst in tears and simply experience... that feeling of how incredibly small I am. I don't know why this matters that much to me, but this is really a dream of mine. I would just jump in the water and hope, that I can join in swimming for a while. I would love to fulfil that dream.
Oli's question: Are you living your dream at the moment? And if not, what keeps you from doing it?
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