Feeling whole.

Almost exactly 3 years ago I arrived in Berlin after almost 9 months of traveling. Being loaded with new experiences about places, people, and myself.

I came back not because I felt ready or done with traveling. I originally thought I wouldn’t come back to Germany for a while. I felt overloaded and still searching for my place in the world. I needed a safe place.

So, I thought, I would find this back home.

Still, there’s not a week passing by in which I don’t think back to my travels. And the feeling that my journey was cut too early.

Fear brought me back. Fear of not having enough savings left to get a good start to whatever came next. Fear of wasting my time while ‘just traveling’.

Traveling wasn’t always sunshine and good times. More than once I felt homesick, alone, afraid, and utterly lost. Every time I picked myself back up, had someone around to pick me up – or just let the whole range of emotional wave crush over me, swirl me around and splurge me to the shore.

I embraced the ups and downs, listened deeply and took care of myself in a proper way. A good coffee, slowing down, connecting with other people or staying alone. I was present in the moment. Or dealt with questions around my values, worldview, and beliefs. I felt every moment so intensely.

The last three years have been a lot of new experiences back home as well. But, somehow, I couldn’t find the lightness I had while traveling. Or a grounding like Big Island Hawai’i gave me.

Something in my head keeps repeating that I came back too early. I wasn’t done with traveling to myself yet.

 “When you came back, you were different, changed. You felt relived, had so many ideas and new attitudes. Where did all that go?” my brother asked me when we talked about my weird feeling while enjoying a delicious coffee. 

Yes, where did all that go?

I took some time and wrote down what I could remember was different while traveling. 

  • I was curious every day.
  • I said yes to invitations.
  • I had only the most important things with me.
  • I lived simply with accommodation, food and beverages.
  • I enjoyed to treat myself to small special things.
  • I learned to make mistakes while trying new things.
  • I was often alone, but never lonely.
  • I met a wide variety of humans.
  • I had heavy thoughts – but I felt light and free.
  • My thoughts had space and time.
  • I took care of myself.

And yet, when I tried to live after these at home, in Berlin, during the pandemic, it didn’t leave with the same wholeness. 

What is „a whole“ or „feeling whole“?

When reading more into system thinking, a repetitive definition is that

„a whole is always more than the simple sum of its parts, [it’s] paying attention to the diversity of elements, the quality of interactions and relationships, and the dynamic patterns of behavior that often lead to unpredictable and surprising innovations and adaptations.“ (Daniel Christian Wahl)

Nature functions in wholes. Our organizations, companies, societies, and cultures – all these systems around us function as wholes. And also, we, as individuals, we are also our own wholes.

So, maybe ticking off my list doesn’t help to create my wholeness? Maybe there’s more to it, more to the in-between that’s missing here?

Maybe it’s also not coincidence that this year took me back into working with systems and system thinking through different activities. The last four weeks I read the book ‚Designing Regenerative Cultures’ and worked in a Regenerative Design Lab with nRhythm on my holistic context and what a regenerative organization means for me.  

I learned that having quick, smart solutions or innovations to our wicked problems is not the most important thing in the complexity of our world. It’s about asking and living the right questions. 

I grab a pink sticky note in front of me and write down a thought that hits my mind:

„What if this is all part of my spiritual journey?“ 

In the second half of this year there might be some soft, calm traveling again.

I guess I will take this question with me.

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