I was sitting outside studying about our evolutionary psychology tendency to resist change in my certification course around mid-day June 3, when I realized I was presented with an opportunity to apply what I was just learning about.
As a human species, we all have a strongly-ingrained survival mechanism to resist change. One way to combat resistance to change, or mental rigidity, is to understand adaptability. As I was getting comfortable with my daily routines, my father came outside and asked me if I'd like to join him on a trip to Germany. The trip came abruptly because my father's dearest friend passed away and he wanted to make it to the funeral.
A long time ago in the old country, my father had a friend from his college days. A massive heart attack put him into coma and for the next 10 days, his family was watching his life whittle away. Once the funeral arrangements became known to my dad, he was on the way to attend. I reckon my mom sent me as moral support.
At first I was pumped and then that human tendency, resistance to change, kicked in and I had some worries about studying, staying healthy, getting sleep, and far more. However, I caught these limiting thoughts and chose to practice exactly what I had just learned. This was an opportunity for me to adapt and get out of my comfort zone. More importantly, it was an opportunity to be there for my father. So, I said yes!
We left in less than half a day and I wanted to see how I could prepare for the lack of sleep, urgency my father places for learning in sight-seeing, nutrition and exercise, studying, etc.
Like any other attempt to have everything run smoothly, mine didn't. As the old saying goes, if you want to make G-d laugh make a plan. On a side note though, I think it's important to clarify, this funny proverb should not prevent making a plan. Also, I still expected great things to happen and had an acceptance that it might not happen the way I thought.
June 4, Toronto:
The flight to Berlin was bright and early. It took us to Toronto for a 9 hour layover. While in Toronto, my father and I took the time to explore the city. As Rudyard Kipling writes in his poem If, we wanted to "fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds' worth of distance run" and see as much as possible.
To name a few, we met up with a friend of mine whom I connected with through one of Mindvalley's online quests, visited Nathan's Phillips Square, and walked around the city. We flew out late that night.
June 5 - 9, Merseburg, Bad Durrenberg, and Halle:
Meaning of The Raven of Merseburg:
There's an old tale about a bishop of Merseburg accusing an innocent servant of stealing his gold ring.
The bishop ended up killing the servant, only to find the ring years later in a Raven's nest after a severe storm that destroyed the bishop's cathedral. To show remorse and ask for forgiveness, the bishop built a cage for the raven. Today it can be seen as a symbol of forgiveness to the town.
The salt wall and spa and effect of salt air for healing, Johann Borlach (1687-1768)
At the beginning of the 18th century, Dr. Johann Tolberg observed the effect of brine for illness alleviation. It was discovered in Bad Durenberg, since brine has similar contents as water in the Dead Sea in Israel, then salt air must have a similar effect on different diseases. In Durenberg, they have a drip instillation on the graduation works, where the brine is dispersed to the grading walls. Inhaling the salt air, will liven the person's mucous membranes to solve and eliminate mucus from inside the body.
Composer Handel in Halle
I used to not care for classical music...
Now, I have come to appreciate it by learning about the composer and his intention. The piece is not just a sheet of black dots, but rather an expression of the soul. Handel said, “Learn all there is to learn, and then choose your own path.” I learn to choose my target and continue to grow.
Turns out this fat fellow Handel’d it for me. There’s so much more in music to love and to hear
Litvishen synagogue for shabbat
How I stayed active, ate fairly healthy, minded to hydrate A LOT, to sleep, and to meditate
I knew that when I would be traveling with my dad, I would be focusing more on family, places, museums, monuments, and focus less on full workouts. However, I knew I wouldn't need to cut them out completely. So, in the mornings I would perform various body weight workouts, movement techniques, and stretches to get in a quick 10 min workout before an ice cold shower (the water was so cold in Germany!). Also, we probably walked about 10 km a day so that is always a plus.
My favorite meal
The train rides in Germany invite wonderful countryside sights of the green grasslands. When I wasn't enjoying the view, I took the time to read Life of Pi or listen to The Model Health Show podcast about embracing one's story and breaking through limiting beliefs.
June 10-12, Nürnberg, Füssen, Schwangau, and Hohenshwangau:
The fairytale look of Neuschwanstein Castle inspired Walt Disney to create the Magic Kingdom. It is the photo in middle third row.
June 12-13, Munich:
On Wednesday night, my father and I arrived in Munich and visited the main synagogue in St. Jakobsplatz. After speaking with the JCC security outside, we went on to take pictures (on the right) outside the Synagogue, a Jerusalem stone clad with large glass sky-roof-box tops it. While my father had plans to stay shortly and head to the Marienplatz, G-d stepped in led us otherwise. "Where are you from" a strolling by rabbi of the synagogue asked us. "We are from Houston," I answered happily. He invited us for evening services, which permitted us to enter the JCC. We prayed with the other members and were shown the larger synagogue by another head rabbi, a young and energetic man from South Africa. He lives in Israel and comes to Germany regularly to assist the first rabbi who invited us in. He showed us the main synagogue, took pictures of us, and ended our tour at the community's kosher restaurant, Einstein. At this dinner, I sensed a confident trust in G-d's guidance from my father. "This was G-d's doing, my love, I did not bring you here." We both felt that the events up to the amazing meal were spontaneous and of G-d's loving will.
The BMW Headquarters and Olympiapark
The Möbius strip has neither a beginning nor an end and formed the original basis of the worldwide recycling symbol. The idea is that for the sake of the environment, all raw materials and goods should be used within a closed circle, which includes recycling.
One of my favorite things to do is walk through farmers markets and this one was amazing. It had an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and more.
Residenz, Marrienneplatz, the English Gardens, and our dinner at
June 14-16, Berlin:
Similar to the train rides, I used the time flying from München to Berlin to digest the information my dad shares in every location.
My father educated me in the following about Treptow park. In 1945, Berlin was ferociously defended by Germans. Even 14 year old German boys were put on the Eastern frontline, chained to their machine guns. By then, they were no match to the advancing Soviet Red army. To the Soviet people, the fall of Berlin was most symbolic in what they call Pobeda, a total victory. Their determination in taking over Berlin was just as stunning as their horrendous losses. Treptow park commemorates that Victory over Nazism. Buried underneath the giant green mound are the remains of 700 unnamed Soviet soldiers who fought and fell in the battle for Berlin. The top is crowned by a magnificent monument to the soldier who holds close to his heart a child and a sword, standing on top of a crushed swastika.
The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 and stood until 1989. It was constructed to divide Berlin into East and West, where the East was governed by Soviets with Communist Germany and the West by the Western Allies. The second photo is of the Topography of Terrors promenade displaying the rise of the SS institutions and Nazi police in the Third Reich and the crimes they perpetrated throughout Europe. In the final picture, my father and I stand outside the Brandenburg Gate which has played different political roles in German History.
On our last night my father and I enjoyed a wonderful concert by András Shiff at Konzerthaus Berlin. I have been to a few concert buildings, but the acoustics were the best I had heard. I could distinctly hear the individual instruments play. It was a perfect way to end the trip in remembrance of my father's dear friend, with the music he loved. Afterwards, we ate one final meal with a celebratory cigar and, to our surprise, encountered the conductor and maestro himself, a very approachable and friendly man, so we asked for a photo.