On day 40 of my walking tour, around the 1150km mark, I reached my next big destination: Hamburg! In Berlin, my first goal, the exact moment was pretty clear. It was when I walked through the Brandenburg Gate, the most well known attraction. My next big goal was also clear. There is only one way to count from 999km to 1000km. But Hamburg?
Where did I have to go to reach it? If you ask 10 people you will get 10 different answers. Was it at the City Hall? Or the Alster with its Swans?
Was it the Michel (Church of St. Michael), or the harbour or the new Philharmony?
Or was it the Reeperbahn red light district?
Hamburg has so many fascinating faces!
In German we have a saying: “Der Weg ist das Ziel”. It roughly translates to: “the journey is your goal.” In life, it is not about the goal you set but how you reach it and the journey you take. It was not so important how I define the Hamburg goal. I will probably not remember the moment anyway. What I will remember is how I walked on day 37 to day 40 on the Elbe dikes through the rain, through unspoiled fauna and flora next to the shoreline, how I walked under huge forest trees and past beautiful old farm houses,
how I spent the night in a hut ruin that was so overgrown that I hardly found it, how there where hundreds of tiny little frogs on the forest path, how a horse was frightened by my cart and a dog by my hat, how my GPS got me lost, how I had to pay R175 for two beers and all those little things that make a journey so memorable.
How often is the journey not so much more important to us than the destination or goal. Why do we buy sports cars? The destination is not interested in our way of transport. But it does matter to us! It is so much more fun to travel with a sports car than to travel with an old sedan. Well, the way I have been travelling it is more like getting from A to B in an old donkey cart which has a charm of its own but you get my point. If you need to go from A to B it does not really matter to B how you get there. On the other hand, the journey is very dependent on the destination. Without a formalised goal our journeys in life will be aimless and random. Goals give us direction and every goal is the starting point for a new journey. And so a goal is but a fleeting moment in history but such a strong glue between our journeys.
Sometimes the goal of a journey is to identify itself. A wise friend of mine told me the other day: “There are two important dates in every human’s life. The first is the day he/she is born, and the second is the day he/she realises why!” To me this whole pilgrimage is a journey to discover the “why”. That is the big goal at least.
Day 41 will see me take the next steps in reaching my travelling goal (or glue point) which is Osnabrück.